[Editor's note: This is the final installment in a three-part series about faith in the community. The first explored churches that faced dwindling memberships because they struggled to get people ages 18 to 35 to join. The second looked at churches that had successfully attracted people in that age group. This installment goes straight to the young people in that demographic to find out about their beliefs and practices and to share their spiritual journey.]
One Kokomo woman prays five times a day, often in her office, pointing herself northeast toward Mecca as she does. Meanwhile, a young man who works for her isn’t even sure he believes in a god.
Indiana University Kokomo’s athletic director found his Christian faith in college and now prays twice a day and meets often with his pastor. A New York native and Kokomo transplant worships at the Jewish temple in town once a month, essentially the only young person there apart from the student rabbi who travels from Cincinnati to teach them.
These are the faces of faith in the community. Young people here have a diverse set of belief systems, mirroring national trends.
Pew Research’s latest Religious Landscape Survey states, “The diversity in religious beliefs and practices in the U.S. in part reflects the great variety of religious groups that populate the American religious landscape.”
According to the survey, which included more than 35,000 people in the United States, the greatest percentage of people in the country are affiliated with evangelical protestant churches at 26.3 percent. But 23.9 percent consider themselves Catholic, and 18.1 percent are part of mainline protestant churches.
More than 16 percent of people in the country are unaffiliated — meaning they are atheist, agnostic or just don’t know.
Less than 2 percent consider themselves Mormon or Jewish, and less than 1 percent are affiliated with the Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu faiths, according to the survey.