In the US are we losing our religion or failing to reach the youth: Churches continue to close their doors

Church Decline

2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Important Takeaways:

  • Churches are closing at rapid numbers in the US, researchers say, as congregations dwindle across the country and a younger generation of Americans abandon Christianity altogether – even as faith continues to dominate American politics.
  • About 4,500 Protestant churches closed in 2019, the last year data is available, with about 3,000 new churches opening, according to Lifeway Research.
  • It was the first time the number of churches in the US hadn’t grown since the evangelical firm started studying the topic. With the pandemic speeding up a broader trend of Americans turning away from Christianity, researchers say the closures will only have accelerated.
  • The Survey Center on American Life and the University of Chicago found that in spring 2022 67% of Americans reported attending church at least once a year, compared with 75% before the pandemic.
  • “Since the 1990s, large numbers of Americans have left Christianity to join the growing ranks of US adults who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’,” Pew wrote.
  • by 2070 that number will drop to below 50% – and the number of “religiously unaffiliated” Americans – or ‘nones’ will probably outnumber those adhering to Christianity.
  • “A church will go through a life cycle. At some point, maybe the congregation ages out, maybe they stop reaching young families.
  • “If the church ages and doesn’t reach young people, or the demographics change and they don’t figure out how to reach the new demographic, that church ends up closing.

Read the original article by clicking here.

Ditching Christianity for a safe space of ideas. America’s youth search for something different

2 Timothy 3:6,7 “They are the kind who worm their way into households and captivate vulnerable women who are weighed down with sins and led astray by various passions, 7who are always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Important Takeaways:

  • A mass exodus from Christianity is underway in America. Here’s why.
  • …a shocking rise in the number of people ditching Christianity — what sociologists call “nonverts.”
  • Pew Research Center estimates that Christians will be a minority of Americans by 2070 if current trends continue.
  • And it likely will, with the largest percentage of those losing their religion being young adults … around 30 and under.
  • While the trend toward atheism and agnosticism in Europe has been a slow but steady decline, Bullivant said, the increase in Christians dropping the faith didn’t really take off in the U.S. until the early 2000s, and the decline since then has been steep and quick
  • The generation born after the height of the Cold War — in the early to mid ’80s — didn’t grow up with propaganda and blacklist fears, said Bullivant, so there is a safe space for the idea of a nonreligious life to open up.
  • prominent people coming out and publicly questioning faith in a higher being — such as Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins — and it becomes OK to reevaluate what you believe… “They opened up a nonreligious space.”
  • “If you’re raised in small-town Texas or Idaho and everyone you know is some kind of Christian, you’re in a kind of bubble. And then with the internet, you start getting support groups online with thousands of members and that helps erode those bubbles,” he said.

Read the original article by clicking here.

U.S. COVID-19 death analysis shows greater toll on Black, Hispanic youth: CDC

(Reuters) – A disproportionate percentage of U.S. COVID-19 deaths have been recorded among Black and Hispanic people younger than 21, according to a U.S. study, a reflection of the racial and ethnic make-up of essential workers who have more exposure to COVID-19.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that from Feb. 12 through July 31, there were 121 deaths among people younger than the age of 21 in 27 states.

Hispanic, Black, and non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Native people accounted for about 75% of the deaths in that age group, even though they represent 41% of the U.S. population aged under 21.

The researchers looked at data from 47 of 50 states. Among the 121 deaths, 63% were male, 45% were Hispanic and 29% were Black.

Deaths among children younger than one accounted for 10% of the total, 20% of the deaths were among one-to-nine-year olds, while those aged between 10 and 20 years accounted for the rest.

A quarter of the 121 deaths were in previously healthy individuals with no reported underlying medical condition, while 75% had at least one underlying medical condition, including asthma.

The researchers said children from racial and ethnic minority groups, whose parents were likely to be essential workers, could also be over represented because of crowded living conditions, food and housing insecurity, wealth and educational gaps and racial discrimination.

The study appeared in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The findings of this study could be limited by incomplete testing and delays in reporting COVID-19-associated deaths, among other things, the researchers said.

(Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

Coronavirus pandemic now driven by younger adults: WHO

By Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales

MANILA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday it was concerned that the novel coronavirus spread was being driven by people in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, many of whom were unaware they were infected, posing a danger to vulnerable groups.

WHO officials said this month the proportion of younger people among those infected had risen globally, putting at risk vulnerable sectors of the population worldwide, including the elderly and sick people in densely populated areas with weak health services.

“The epidemic is changing,” WHO Western Pacific regional director, Takeshi Kasai, told a virtual briefing. “People in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s are increasingly driving the spread. Many are unaware they are infected.”

“This increases the risk of spillovers to the more vulnerable,” he added.

A surge in new cases has prompted some countries to re-impose curbs as companies race to find a vaccine for a virus that has battered economies, killed more than 770,000 people and infected nearly 22 million, according to a Reuters tally.

Countries putting their own interests ahead of others in trying to ensure supplies of a possible vaccine are making the pandemic worse, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva on Tuesday.

“(Acting) strategically and globally is actually in each country’s national interest – no one is safe until everyone is safe,” he told a virtual briefing calling for an end to “vaccine nationalism”.

Surges in infections have been reported in countries that had appeared to have the virus under control, including Vietnam, which until recently went three months without domestic transmission due to its aggressive mitigation efforts.

“What we are observing is not simply a resurgence. We believe it’s a signal that we have entered a new phase of pandemic in the Asia-Pacific,” Kasai said.

He said countries were better able to reduce disruption to lives and economies by combining early detection and response to manage infections.

While mutations had been observed, the WHO still saw the virus as “relatively stable,” Kasai said.

WHO also reminded drugmakers to follow all necessary research and development steps when creating a vaccine.

Socorro Escalante, its technical officer and medicines policy adviser, said the WHO was coordinating with Russia, which this month became the first country to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We hope to get the response in terms of the evidence of this new vaccine,” Escalante said.

(Reporting by Ed Davies, Karen Lema, Stephanie Nebehay, Michael Shields and John Miller; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Martin Petty and Ed Osmond)

‘Do you really need to party?’ WHO asks world’s youth

By Emma Farge

GENEVA (Reuters) – Young people must curb their party instincts to help prevent new outbreaks of the COVID-19 disease, officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) pleaded on Wednesday.

Tired of lockdowns and eager to enjoy the northern hemisphere summer, young people in some countries have been contributing to resurgences by gathering again for parties, barbecues and holidays.

Even in Geneva, where the global U.N. health body is based, cabarets and clubs were closed last week after evidence that nearly half of new cases were coming from there.

“Younger people also need to take on board that they have a responsibility,” said WHO emergencies chief and father-of-three Mike Ryan in an online discussion. “Ask yourself the question: do I really need to go to that party?”

Young people are less likely to suffer a severe form of the respiratory disease than their parents or grandparents, but the proportion of those infected aged 15-24 has risen three-fold in about five months, WHO data shows.

Ryan said young people were often reticent in giving their details or disclosing friends’ names to contact tracers. “It’s tough but it is what is needed to stop the virus,” he said.

Swiss newspapers said that in one night club in Zurich from which cases emerged recently, party-goers had given fake names including “Donald Duck”.

As well as reducing risks to others, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said young people should be careful as even a mild version of the disease might have long-term consequences.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Proportion of youth with COVID-19 triples in five months: WHO

By Ankur Banerjee and Stephanie Nebehay

(Reuters) – Young people who are hitting nightclubs and beaches are leading a rise in fresh coronavirus cases across the world, with the proportion of those aged 15 to 24 who are infected rising three-fold in about five months, the World Health Organization said.

An analysis by the WHO of 6 million infections between Feb. 24 and July 12 found that the share of people aged 15-24 years rose to 15% from 4.5%.

Apart from the United States which leads a global tally with 4.8 million total cases, European countries including Spain, Germany and France, and Asian countries such as Japan, have said that many of the newly infected are young people.

“Younger people tend to be less vigilant about masking and social distancing,” Neysa Ernst, nurse manager at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s biocontainment unit in Baltimore, Maryland told Reuters in an email.

“Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19,” she said, adding young people are more likely to go to work in the community, to a beach or the pub, or to buy groceries.

The surge in new cases, a so-called second wave of infections, has prompted some countries to impose new curbs on travel even as companies race to find a vaccine for the fast-spreading virus that has claimed more than 680,000 lives and upended economies.

Even countries such as Vietnam, widely praised for its mitigation efforts since the coronavirus appeared in late January, are battling new clusters of infection.

Among those aged 5-14 years, about 4.6% were infected, up from 0.8%, between Feb. 24 and July 12, the WHO said, at a time when testing has risen and public health experts are concerned that reopening of schools may lead to a surge in cases.

Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. expert on infectious diseases, urged young people last month to continue to socially distance, wear masks and avoid crowds, and cautioned that asymptomatic people could spread the virus, too.

Indeed, health experts in several countries have urged similar measures as they report that infected youth show few symptoms.

“We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: young people are not invincible,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing in Geneva last week.

“Young people can be infected; young people can die; and young people can transmit the virus to others.”

Last month, Tokyo officials said they would conduct coronavirus testing in the city’s nightlife districts, and instructed nightclubs to provide customers with enough space with good ventilation and to ask them to avoid speaking loudly.

In France last month, authorities shut down a bar where people breached hygiene rules and caused an outbreak.

(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee and Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru and Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh and Bernadette Baum)

Israeli forces kill 15 Palestinians in Gaza border protests: Gaza medics

A Palestinian demonstrator holds an axe during clashes with Israeli troops, during a tent city protest along the Israel border with Gaza, demanding the right to return to their homeland, the southern Gaza Strip March 30, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA-ISRAEL BORDER (Reuters) – At least 15 Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured by Israeli security forces confronting one of the largest Palestinian demonstrations along the Israel-Gaza border in recent years, Gaza medical officials said.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians, pressing for a right of return for refugees to what is now Israel, gathered at five locations along the fenced 65-km (40-mile) frontier where tents were erected for a planned six-week protest, local officials said. The Israeli military estimate was 30,000.

Families brought their children to the encampments just a few hundred meters (yards) from the Israeli security barrier with the Hamas Islamist-run enclave, and football fields were marked in the sand and scout bands played.

But as the day wore on, hundreds of Palestinian youths ignored calls from the organizers and the Israeli military to stay away from the frontier, where Israeli soldiers across the border kept watch from dirt mound embankments.

The military said its troops had used “riot dispersal means and firing towards main instigators.” Some of the demonstrators were “rolling burning tires and hurling stones” at the border fence and at soldiers.

Two Palestinians were killed by tank fire, the Gaza Health Ministry said. The Israeli military said the two were militants who had opened fire at troops across the border.

Palestinian health officials said Israeli forces used mostly gunfire against the protesters, in addition to tear gas and rubber bullets. Witnesses said the military had deployed a drone over at least one location to drop tear gas.

Live fire was used only against people trying to sabotage the border security fence and at least two of the dead were Hamas operatives, an Israeli military official said.

Gaza health officials said one of the dead was aged 16 and at least 400 people were wounded by live gunfire, while others were struck by rubber bullets or treated for tear gas inhalation.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement that Israel was responsible for the violence and declared Saturday a national day of mourning.

The United Nations Security Council was due to meet later on Friday to discuss the situation in Gaza, diplomats said.

Israeli military vehicles are seen next to the border on the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border, as Palestinians demonstrate on the Gaza side of the border, March 30, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israeli military vehicles are seen next to the border on the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza border, as Palestinians demonstrate on the Gaza side of the border, March 30, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen


The protest presented a rare show of unity among rival Palestinian factions in the impoverished Gaza Strip, where pressure has been building on Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah movement to end a decade-old rift. Reconciliation efforts to end the feud have been faltering for months.

The demonstration was launched on “Land Day,” an annual commemoration of the deaths of six Arab citizens of Israel killed by Israeli security forces during demonstrations over government land confiscations in northern Israel in 1976.

But its main focus was a demand that Palestinian refugees be allowed the right of return to towns and villages which their families fled from, or were driven out of, when the state of Israel was created in 1948.

In a statement, the Israeli military accused Hamas of “cynically exploiting women and children, sending them to the security fence and endangering their lives”.

The military said that more than 100 army sharpshooters had been deployed in the area.

Hamas, which seeks Israel’s destruction, had earlier urged protesters to adhere to the “peaceful nature” of the protest.

Israel has long ruled out any right of return, fearing an influx of Arabs that would wipe out its Jewish majority. It argues that refugees should resettle in a future state the Palestinians seek in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza. Peace talks to that end collapsed in 2014.

There were also small protests in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and about 65 Palestinians were injured.

In Gaza, the protest was dubbed “The March of Return” and some of the tents bore names of the refugees’ original villages in what is now Israel, written in Arabic and Hebrew alike.

Citing security concerns, Israel, which withdrew troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005, blockades the coastal territory, maintaining tight restrictions on the movement of Palestinians and goods across the frontier. Egypt, battling an Islamist insurgency in neighboring Sinai, keeps its border with Gaza largely closed.

(Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Michelle Nichols in New York; Writing by Ori Lewis and Stephen Farrell; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Gareth Jones)

U.S. gun control movement pushing Congress to act: lawmakers

People take part in a "March For Our Lives" demonstration demanding gun control in Seattle, Washington, U.S. March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

By Peter Szekely

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The youth-led U.S. gun control movement that flexed its public muscle with huge weekend rallies has already nudged Congress to enact minor firearms changes, but must remain active if it hopes to win more meaningful regulations, lawmakers said on Sunday.

The movement that erupted after the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has generated a national conversation about gun rights and has chipped away at legislative gridlock on the issue, they said.

A protestor holds a sign during a "March For Our Lives" demonstration demanding gun control in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Stro

A protestor holds a sign during a “March For Our Lives” demonstration demanding gun control in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong

“The activism of these young people is actually changing the equation,” Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, said a day after hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied in Washington.

Tucked into a $1.3 trillion spending bill Congress passed last week were modest improvements to background checks for gun sales and an end to a ban on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studying the causes of gun violence.

“These are two things we could not have done in the past,” Kaine said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “But the active engagement by young people convinced Congress we better do something.”

The spending bill, which President Donald Trump signed on Friday, also includes grants to help schools prevent gun violence.

The Trump administration also took a step on Friday to ban the sale of bump stocks – devices that enable semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns – that helped gunman Stephen Paddock massacre 58 people in Las Vegas in October.

A key focus of Saturday’s march on Washington, which was duplicated in 800 cities across the country and around the world, was an effort to turn emotion into political activism by registering participants to vote.

Americans will vote in November on the entire U.S. House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate.

Gun control advocates have called for universal background checks on people buying guns, bans on assault-style rifles such as the one used to kill 17 students and staff in Parkland, and large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Senator Mark Warner, another Virginia Democrat, declared in the wake of the student-led movement that he would now support bans on such rifles and magazines, which he had voted against in recent years.

“I think it’s time to change our positions and re-examine them,” Warner said on the CBS News “Face the Nation” program.

“I think this time it’s going different,” Warner said. “I think we can actually get it done.”

To win significant changes, lawmakers said the young gun control advocates need to maintain their drive in the face of powerful pro-gun lobbying by the National Rifle Association and those who see gun ownership as a right protected by the U.S. Constitution.

A protestor holds a sign during a "March For Our Lives" demonstration demanding gun control in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong

A protestor holds a sign during a “March For Our Lives” demonstration demanding gun control in Sacramento, California, U.S. March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong

“If they don’t keep it up, those that want no change will just sit on their hands,” Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican who formerly served in Congress, said on CNN.

Two Republican senators, Marco Rubio of Florida and Joni Ernst of Iowa, said over the weekend that while they supported gun control advocates’ right to protest, they opposed infringing on the constitutional right to bear arms.

Meanwhile, former Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum drew an angry response on social media for saying on CNN that, instead of agitating for change, students should “do something about maybe taking CPR classes” or take other training to respond to school shooters.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely; Editing by Paul Simao)

Angry and inspired: Democrats train new wave of candidates

Participants give their stump speeches at the graduation event of the Emerge Oregon training program for Democratic women to enter politics, in Portland, Oregon, U.S. July 22, 2017. Picture taken July 22, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola

By John Whitesides

ROCKVILLE, Md. (Reuters) – The 100 Democratic women who packed into a suburban Maryland conference room recently for a one-day training on how to run for political office were more than activists eager to battle President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans.

The teachers, students and business leaders were also a window into the future for a Democratic Party desperate for new blood, and into the booming effort to turn the left’s grassroots anti-Trump activism into a new wave of Democratic officeholders.

As thousands of potential first-time candidates explore political bids in what Democratic veterans say is an unprecedented surge of activity, a broad but informal network of groups is beefing up efforts to train them for the task.

The goal: turning neophytes into successful politicians who can win, giving the party a deep and diverse bench of up-and-coming progressive talent at all levels of government.

“This era of Trump has made everybody just want to run for office, and it’s not easy,” said Josh Morrow, executive director of 314 Action, which since its founding last year has heard from about 6,000 scientists, engineers and mathematicians exploring political runs and trained nearly 500 of them.

“No matter how accomplished people are, they need help when they first run,” Morrow said.

The surge of interest has given dispirited Democrats, long criticized as a top-heavy party lacking fresh faces, hope for a renaissance at the local and state levels after repeated setbacks under President Barack Obama.

Building from the ground up, from the school board to the statehouse, is a party priority after losing nearly 1,000 state legislative seats in the last eight years. Republicans also control the White House, both chambers of Congress and 33 governor’s offices, the most in nearly a century.

“Local offices matter, and as Democrats we have sort of forgotten that,” said Amanda Litman, a staffer on Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign who founded the group Run for Something after the 2016 election to recruit and prepare millennials for office.

For first-timers, the initial enthusiasm for public service can quickly give way to worried questions about the logistics of building a fundraising list, utilizing social media and crafting a message.

“I knew I had a steep learning curve,” said Thereasa Black, a lawyer and Navy veteran running for the U.S. Congress from Maryland. She attended the Rockville session run by Emerge America, which prepares women for office.

“This is a way to find people who are like-minded and going through what you are, and can help you,” she said.

A Republican spokesman said Democrats would need more than training and fresh faces to gain ground in next year’s midterm elections given the losses of first-time Democratic candidates in special congressional races in Georgia and Montana earlier this year.

“The challenges that Democrats face go much deeper and come down to fundraising and messaging,” said Rick Gorka, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, which sponsored a training program for about 4,500 volunteer field staff and operatives last year.


Geoffrey Dittberner, 30, said he had volunteered on campaigns before deciding to run for the Minnesota legislature, but he was still unprepared for being a candidate before he was accepted into Run for Something’s training program.

“There were so many things I didn’t know – fundraising, setting up a campaign organization – but they made it pretty easy,” he said. The group’s Slack application gave him access to a variety of resources, from tutorials to mentors and peer networks, discussion groups and on-call experts, he said.

Aside from new groups like 314 Action and Run for Something, about a dozen established organizations that have long offered training to progressive candidates also have been flooded with interest since Trump’s election.

Emily’s List, which for years has trained women candidates who favor abortion rights, has hired five more staffers this year for a reconstituted training unit. It already has heard from 16,000 women interested in becoming candidates this year, compared to 920 in 2016.

Emerge America has seen applications jump by 87 percent and added five new state chapters. The Maryland state chapter, which ran the one-day course in Rockville, had trained 250 women by mid-year. Last year, it trained 55.

At Emerge’s Rockville session, candidates were encouraged to listen more than they talk and delve into their own experiences to explain what motivated them to run.

“When we tap into our own personal story, we relate better to people in our community,” Diane Fink, executive director for Emerge Maryland, told the class. She asked them to put together a three-minute story that explains how they got started.

While Democrats nationally have battled over their core message, most of the training programs say they avoid telling candidates specifically what issues to emphasize.

“First and foremost you should be talking about what matters to voters, not to you,” said veteran Democratic strategist Kelly Dietrich, who founded the National Democratic Training Committee last year to offer free online training for any Democrat running for any office.

So far, more than 6,000 have signed up.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Generation born under Putin finds its voice in Russian protests

FILE PHOTO: Riot police officers detain an opposition supporter during a rally in Moscow, Russia March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

By Denis Pinchuk and Svetlana Reiter

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Protests across Russia on Sunday marked the coming of age of a new adversary for the Kremlin: a generation of young people driven not by the need for stability that preoccupies their parents but by a yearning for change.

Thousands of people took to the streets across Russia, with hundreds arrested. Many were teenagers who cannot remember a time before Vladimir Putin took power 17 years ago.

“I’ve lived all my life under Putin,” said Matvei, a 17-year-old from Moscow, who said he came close to being detained at the protest on Sunday, but managed to run from the police.

“We need to move forward, not constantly refer to the past.”

A year before Putin is expected to seek a fourth term, the protests were the biggest since the last presidential election in 2012.

The driving force behind the protests was Alexei Navalny, a 40-year-old anti-corruption campaigner who uses the Internet to spread his message, bypassing the state-controlled television stations where nearly all older Russians get their news.

“None of my peers watches television and they don’t trust it,” said Maxim, an 18-year-old from St Petersburg who took part in a protest there.

He said messages about the demonstration were shared among his friends via a group chat on a messaging app: “Half the group went to the demonstration.”

Navalny, who was arrested at one of Sunday’s protests, tailors his message for YouTube and VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook.

One of his recent videos, a 50 minute expose accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of secretly owning an archipelago of luxury homes, has been watched more than 14 million times on YouTube. Medvedev’s spokeswoman called the allegations “propagandistic attacks” unworthy of detailed comment and said they amounted to pre-election posturing by Navalny.

While older Russians may have turned a blind eye to official corruption during years when living standards improved, younger Russians speak of it in terms of moral outrage.

“Why do I believe that what is happening right now is wrong? Because when I was little, my mum read fairy tales to me, and they said you should not steal, you should not lie, you should not kill,” said Katya, a 17-year-old who was at the protest in Moscow. “What I see happening now, you should not do,” she said.

Like other students who spoke to Reuters at the demonstrations, Katya, Maxim and Matvei asked that their surnames not be published to avoid repercussions.


Young people actively seeking change represent a new challenge for the Kremlin. It has built and maintained support for Putin for years by focusing mainly on ensuring stability, which Russians sought after the chaos of the immediate post-Soviet years.

Putin came to power after the 1990s, when the Soviet Union disintegrated and millions found themselves destitute. But young people who do not remember those times have different priorities than those even a few years older, said Yekaterina Schulmann, a political analyst.

“Our political regime is fixated on what it calls stability, that is a lack of change,” she said. “The political machine believes the best offer it can make to society is ‘Let’s keep everything the way it is for as long as possible’.”

“Young people need a model of the future, clear prospects, rules of the game which they recognize as fair, and … a social leg-up. Not only do they not see any of that, no one is even talking about it,” said Schulmann.

According to user data compiled from a social media page for people who said they planned to attend Sunday’s protest in St Petersburg, more than one in six were aged under 21.

It is still too early to say whether the new phenomenon will emerge as a serious challenge to Putin’s rule. It could be a burst of youthful idealism that fizzles out.

In any case, opinion polls show that Putin will win comfortably if, as most people expect, he runs for president next year.

His most serious rival for the presidency, Navalny, trails far behind in polls and could be barred from running because of an old criminal conviction which he says is political.

Still, the involvement of so many young people has forced the Russian authorities to pay attention.

A Kremlin spokesman said youngsters had been offered money by protest organizers to show up. The Kremlin offered no evidence to support this allegation, and none of the young people who spoke to Reuters said they had been offered payment.

Several students said school and university authorities had warned them before the protests they could be punished for taking part.

Pavel, a 20-year-old studying to be a veterinarian who attended a protest in Moscow, said it was worth it to risk some of Russia’s stability in the hope of change.

“Yes, maybe it will be negative; yes, maybe there won’t be the stability that we have now. But for a person in the 21st century it’s shameful to live in the kind of stability we have now.”

(Additional reporting by Natalia Shurmina in Yekaterinburg, Russia; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Peter Graff)