From coffee shops to tattoo parlors, Monica Miller has spent months visiting local gathering places to ask young people how they view religion and spirituality. So far, more than 300 surveys have shown that Portland millennials have a deep interest in issues they consider spiritual, but little interest in organized religion.
“I think Portland is unique in that sense,” Miller, a visiting assistant professor of religious studies, told the Portland Tribune. “If there is a growing religion in Portland, at the center of it is not God but social and political issues, and that’s new. I have never had a young person (elsewhere) tell me their world view is combating poverty or combating hunger or combating racism or homophobia.”
This research is part of Miller’s Remaking Religion project, which uses “street corner culture ethnography” to gauge ideas, perceptions, and understandings of religion. Several students from Lewis & Clark are research fellows, helping conduct surveys and analyze information for the project.