Much has been written about the profound impact the post-World War II baby boomers had on American religion. But the lifestyles and beliefs of the generation that has followed--and the influence these younger Americans in their twenties and thirties are having on the face of religion--are not so well understood. It is this next wave of post-boomers that Robert Wuthnow examines in this illuminating book.
What are their churchgoing habits and spiritual interests and needs? How does their faith affect their families, their communities, and their politics? Interpreting new evidence from scores of in-depth interviews and surveys, Wuthnow reveals a generation of younger adults who, unlike the baby boomers that preceded them, are taking their time establishing themselves in careers, getting married, starting families of their own, and settling down--resulting in an estimated six million fewer regular churchgoers. He shows how the recent growth in evangelicalism is tapering off, and traces how biblical literalism, while still popular, is becoming less dogmatic and more preoccupied with practical guidance. At the same time, Wuthnow explains how conflicts between religious liberals and conservatives continue--including among new immigrant groups such as Hispanics and Asians--and how in the absence of institutional support many post-boomers have taken a more individualistic, improvised approach to spirituality. Wuthnow's fascinating analysis also explores the impacts of the Internet and so-called virtual churches, and the appeal of megachurches.
After the Baby Boomers offers us a tantalizing look at the future of American religion for decades to come.
"Robert Wuthnow of Princeton has just published a tremendously valuable book, After the Baby Boomers that looks at young adulthood through the prism of religious practice."--David Brooks, New York Times
"In a volume sure to change how pundits and clergy think about religion in the contemporary U.S., prolific Princeton sociologist Wuthnow assembles and analyzes a vast amount of data about the religious lives of Americans aged 21 to 45... Wuthnow argues that our society provides lots of structural support for children and teens, but leaves younger adults to fend for themselves during the decades when they're making crucial decisions about family and work. Though long passages of dense statistics make for a sometimes clunky read, this book is terrifically important."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Robert Wuthnow, [a] distinguished sociologist of religion...focuses on...a group that is not just the harbinger of the future but that already constitutes about half the country's adult population. Wuthnow has a great deal to say about marriage, weddings, marital happiness and parenting [and] describes modest changes in worship services and programs that might help congregations engage young adults, especially unmarried ones."--Peter Steinfels, New York Times
"Wuthnow has analyzed an impressive array of data and provided a thought provoking argument about the future, and the present, of American religion."--Matthew T. Loveland, Catholic Books Review
"[This book provides] a challenge to think more broadly about the future of the church, assisted by a leading sociologist's analysis of current trends."--Brian D. McLaren, Christian Century
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Robert Wuthnow: