On Friday, Morning Edition wraps up its weeklong look at the growing number of people who say they do not identify with a religion. The final conversation in the Losing Our Religion series picks up on a theme made clear throughout the week: Young adults are drifting away from organized religion in unprecedented numbers. In Friday's story, NPR's David Greene talks to two religious leaders about the trend and wonders what they tell young people who are disillusioned with the church.
This is the second of a two-part discussion. Read Part 1.
A third of young adults in this country say they don't identify with any organized religion. NPR's David Greene wanted to understand why, so he met with a group of men and women in their 20s and 30s, all of whom have struggled with the role of faith and religion in their lives.
Maria Peyer and Mike Bixby are one of those couples who just seem made for each other. They hold hands when they sit and talk. They're happy to spend the morning cooking brunch with their children in their home in southern Washington.
Bixby and Peyer have known each other since they were young, but got married only a few years ago.
"It just hadn't been the right time, until it was. God bless Facebook," says Peyer.
"She Facebooked me, and asked if I remembered her, and then it just went from there," Bixby says.
Carol Fiore's husband, Eric, died after the plane he was test-piloting crashed in Wichita, Kan., 12 years ago. An atheist, Carol felt no comfort when religious people told her Eric was in a better place.
The Mile High Gliding facility at the Boulder Airport in Colorado is one of Carol Fiore's favorite haunts. And it's a perfect day for flying: clear, breezy and with a gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains.
Fiore used to fly gliders regularly, but a few years ago she stopped. Flying them had become painful.
"I felt, in a way, that I was searching for something that wasn't there," Fiore says. "I was looking for that laughter and that incredible time that I had flying with Eric, and he wasn't in the plane with me. I was by myself."
One-fifth of Americans are religiously unaffiliated — higher than at any time in recent U.S. history — and those younger than 30 especially seem to be drifting from organized religion. A third of young Americans say they don't belong to any religion.