BYU’s Religious Freedom Annual Review on Wednesday, June 21, featured several sessions geared towards millennials.
Blythe Shupe, a communication specialist at the International Center for Law and Religion Studies spoke on communicating about religious freedom with millennials. Her presentation included a panel of specialists including Emily Hardman, the president of Amicus Communications and Chelsea Langston Bombino, the Director of Strategic Engagement for the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance.
Millenials are more comfortable with diversity and less likely to be religiously affiliated. Millenials are more likely to see religious freedom as conflicting with religious rights and discrimination, according to Shupe’s presentation.
Hardman shared survey results in which U.S. millennials were asked, “What is the most important issue facing our country today?” The economy was the number one answer, while religious freedom ranked in the “I don’t know category.”
However, in the same survey, 95 percent of millennials thought religious freedom was important. Sixty-five percent thought Religious freedom was a God-given right that could not be taken away. While 25 percent thought religious freedom was the ability to practice the religion of your choice.
Hardman said many millennials see religious freedom as discrimination, but religious individuals are only asking for the same rights as everyone else.
“Both sides want the same thing: to authentically live their truth,” Hardman said.
Questions being posed to young people continue to enforce the ideas that religious freedom is based on a narrow set of issues, specifically about sexuality, like birth control, Bombino said.
There is a need to rebrand religious freedom to connect with millennials using their own values like choice, equality and social justice, among others, Hardman said.
There are several talking points for individuals to frame their conversation about religious freedom with millennials. People should show how religious freedom promotes compassion and equal rights, both values millennials hold, Hardman said.