The Millennial Generation and the Radical Quaker Faith

The majority of the millennial generation identify with wanting to seek spirituality. But what spirituality? Perhaps Quakerism, holds the key.

Quakerism is a radical faith built around peace, equality, simplicity and truth, with a huge history of activism.

Faith and Young People

The young adults of today don’t want religion. Instead they favour spirituality and hold human rights above any creed or doctrine.

Millennials are the emerging adults of our times. Ranging in age from 18-34, this generation consists of those who are starting college, completing college (with record debt), getting married, starting families, and trying to land jobs that might turn into careers.

Few have any interest in joining a religious institution — they are often deeply suspicious of them and see them as ultimately hotbeds of corruption, greed and fear-mongering — entirely at odds with and corrupting of an authentic spirituality.

Millennials are less religiously affiliated than ever before. According to the 2012 Pew Research Center report, none of the established religions show a rise in numbers. The report finds that nearly 1 in 3 do not belong to a faith community and of those, only 10% are looking for one.

In a qualitative study of a 100 teenagers in five major U.S. cities, the report found that millennials are not, “The spiritual consumers of their parents’ generation, rather they are seeking both a deep spiritual experience and a community experience, each of which provides them with meaning in their lives, and is meaningless without the other.”

What this shows is that young people are not interested in the straight-jacket of organised religion. Just like every generation before them they seek a sense of belonging, but unlike previous generations they are comfortable finding this outside of religious institutions.

What can Quakerism offer to Young People?

With no creed, Quakerism certainly overcomes the obstacle of being told what to believe. As every Friend is on his or her own path of there is a clear sense of individuality combined with a community of fellow seekers.

In his article, Could Quakerism be the radical faith that the millennial generation is looking for? Chris Venables writes:

“Quakerism, with its openness to spiritual learning from whatever source it may come, has much to offer millennials in this new religious landscape. We are a radical and hopeful faith, rich with 360 years’ worth of wisdom, history and resources.
We have seen young adult Quakers organising, experimenting and pushing boundaries in the true spirit of our tradition. New forms of fellowship and worship have emerged; often based around food, worship, learning and shared activity. Nottingham and Westminster have Quaker communities shaped by young adults with new meeting times, informal locations and a culture that is accessible to young adults.”

Chris Venables

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