...according to Putnam
. Robert thinks that's because they've identified religion with the vices of the "far right." This trend isn't good for social capital and citizen participation. Putnam's hope is for religious innovation that will address the needs of the young. I do think there's been a fairly rapid increase in religious indifference and disbelief, although one that's not unprecedented in our country's history. I also think that social or cultural libertarianism is becoming more pronounced among many or most of the young, and the spiritual reaction against the excesses associated with the Sixties seems, in general, to be ebbing. Still, the study doesn't pick up the fact that the young who remain religious are often more serious about it than their parents, and unsatisfied relational and spiritual longings remain. Not only that, the young remain more pro-life than their parents. The always good advice is to detach religion from the political agenda of both the left and the right, but that's hard to do in a time where everything seems politicized. The idea that the problem the churches face with the young could be solved by becoming more politically progressive and culturally permissive is as ridiculous as ever. If the problem the churches are having with the young has any connection with similar problems the Republicans are having, it would be along the lines of quality of leadership and moral and intellectual self-discipline.