In the spirit of the approaching new year, conservative Christian polling organization The Barna Group has listed their 12 most significant religious findings from 2006 surveys. Among them is the rise of teen dabbling in Wicca and other “occult” activities.
“Three out of every four teenagers have engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity. Among the most common of those endeavors are using a Ouija board, reading books about witchcraft or Wicca, playing games involving sorcery or witchcraft, having a “professional” do a palm reading or having their fortune told. Conversely, during the past year fewer than three out of every ten churched teenagers had received any teaching from their church about elements of the supernatural.”
But while it is interesting that this result (which I blogged about back in February) made his “top 12”, the real interesting thing is George Barna’s predictions for the future of religion in America.
“There will be new forms of spiritual leadership, different expressions of faith, and greater variety in when and where people meet together to be communities of faith. Ecumenism will expand, as the emerging generations pay less attention to doctrine and more attention to relationships and experiences. Barna predicted that there will be a broader network of micro-faith communities built around lifestyle affinities, such as gay communities of faith, marketplace professionals who gather for faith experiences, and so forth.”
In other words, modern Paganism will continue to move towards the mainstream, and religion in general will gravitate more to questions of practice, experience, and community than doctrinal belief (a trend that also benefits our faiths). Not that Barna will say this outright, he is instead placing his hope for the future in a group he dubs the “revolutionaries”.
“The Revolutionary community – which incorporates divergent but compatible groups of people who are seeking to make their faith the driving force in their life – is reshaping American faith in ways which we are just beginning to understand.”
These “revolutionaries” are the Christian part of a “widening gap” Barna detects between the casually religious and those who make religion a central part of their lives. Of course the problem with religious communities becoming fractured from secular society and ever-more devout is that the chances for religiously motivated violence (from between faiths and between believers and the “secular” world) from these isolated demographics increases. Is Barna hinting at a future “revolution” headed by his Christian “revolutionaries”? A group opposed to the Pagan and Secular future Barna predicts? I guess we will have to wait and see, but keep in mind that classic line about lies, damn lies, and statistics.