It used to be the case that people following no particular faith, or who didn’t believe in the existence of God at all were considered the “other” in society. As of now it is more so the case that not following religion is becoming the norm with the Office for National Statistics reporting that the number of Christians has fallen largely in the under 60 age category and the number with no religion has increased across all age groups, particularly for those aged 20 to 24 and 40 to 44. I interviewed two young women who are continuing in their discoveries of what faith is to them, in spite of those around them going on journeys different from their own.

Tell me about yourself and your experiences thus far including the platforms you’ve created to further your faith:

Kamsi: I’m Kamsi Ajoku and I’m 15. About me? I play basketball kinda? I don’t know I guess the most interesting bit answers the second part of your question. In terms of my faith, I believe I’ve been called to start a Youtube channel under my name that glorifies God and shares the gospel as well as other things

Joelle: My name’s Joelle Jean-Marie and I’m 15 years old. I'm a practising Pentecostal Christian and an advocate for encouraging people to deepen and strengthen their connections with God. Something I’m currently doing to further my faith is, well, I’ve joined my church’s youth group, I’ve joined Bible study classes, will be getting baptised in a few months and I recently started a podcast and use that as a platform to talk about faith, religion, my experiences, how faith and culture can intermix. Basically just my experience of different things I find interesting when it comes to religion, Christianity specifically.


What was your background like originally in terms of religion?

Kamsi: I was born into a Christian household and have been a “Christian” all my life but I only really became a practising Christian and pursuing faith when I turned 15.

Joelle: I was born into a Christian family, singing, dancing is a big part of our church services. I was very engaged with the faith when i was younger. As I grew towards my adolescent years, around 9ish to about 15 I just completely rejected the idea of religion, God, faith, everything and I was very lost. I went through a lot of deep, dark experiences and I think that’s really what pushed my back into faith and into believing in God and actively praying and trying to adopt more of a Christian lifestyle. You can hear more on my podcast, called Br4inSpac3 on Spotify, Itunes, Soundcloud.


Do you think faith is becoming less popular? If so, why and who do you think this is affecting?

Kamsi: Oh, it definitely is. Because popular culture goes against what the word of God says. With more liberalism and people feeling as though they are entitled to do whatever they want, people stray away from religion because they feel it is too restrictive and full of “rules”. It’s mostly prevalent amongst the youth, which I think is dangerous since we are the next generation.

Joelle: I just feel like people are trying hard to find other ways to detach themselves from religion so as a society we’re moving away from traditional ways of faith like finding God and moving more towards something else but I genuinely don’t think faith in itself is becoming less popular. Religion definitely is and I think that’s because of misconceptions about it and ideas that are being thrown out there nowadays by social media and celebrities and the general public. They spread ideas which discourage people from religion because of stereotypes about it causing conflict and religious wars leading them to think that religion isn't peaceful so what’s the point? People have this idea that if you can’t see God he’s not real so what’s the point in following religion? A religion that praises a God that you can’t see and therefore doesn’t exist. People also seem to think that believing in something is neeky, nerdy, geeky, like older people or extreme radicals are the only kinds of people who believe in religion and this is affecting the youth more than anyone else. People that are older are more set in their values but the younger demographic seems to be quite lost. There’s a lot of violence, gangs and I feel like a lot of it is down to not following any ideology or things like that.


Do you think religion teaches good morals?

Kamsi: I can’t speak on behalf of all religions but the basis of Christianity is love and forgiveness (as well as other teachings). The Bible talks about not “going to be angry” and promotes reconciliation. Things like that if you know what I mean.

Joelle: 100% yes and truly I think that religions are essential for morals, for values, and it is underestimated how firmly rooted in religion our own morals are in some kind of religion whether that is Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism etc. Certain things we consider wrong such as stealing, murder, are literally written in holy books. These are ideas we seem to want to pass as our own rather than admit that they were religiously founded. The laws in our country whether we want to accept it or not, the rules of society that have come to be established as universal have essentially been founded in some sort of religious base. The laws of the land, the Magna Carta, were based on the Bible and that’s a fact. The same goes for other countries, other cultures, other religions. It is essential if you want to be someone who has a backbone, who has an opinion, who has a strong belief. If someone comes up with an idea you can, generally speaking, find it in a religious text.


What are some perceptions of religion you think need to be clarified?

Kamsi: Oh my days that Christians are judgemental. Once it contradicts what people want to do it’s judgemental. Like, yeah, some Christians are incredibly judgemental and are really bad at conveying the teachings but most times, anything that goes against popular culture is politically incorrect and must be silenced. This is why I struggled to share my faith for so long. Now I can’t be asked to keep quiet - the basis of Christianity is love and we don’t aim to be judgemental. Any conviction a person feels in their heart, is the conviction of the Holy Spirit, not [them] attacking you.

Joelle: I personally find it quite sad that people tend to think religion is for old people, that it’s an outdated tradition but it really isn’t because it’s so prevalent in our lives and in modern society as I touched on. I just feel like the morals and values religion instills in people can never be outdated because they are what keeps people being good people, what keeps people behaving and being law abiding citizens. The perception that religion is restrictive or that it’s a constraint to your freedoms and liberties… I just feel like when you have something to live by you are more free than ever because you know what to base your life on. Obviously it is ultimately your choice what you make of it but it gives you guidelines to keep you safe and how to live your life in a good way. I think the judgements can be unfair and ignorant a lot of the time.


How do you think people can change negative perceptions to do with religion?

Kamsi: Conversations need to be had. The same way other topics are being discussed, religion needs to be discussed. Not from a biased perspective but all parties need to be ready and willing to learn. When that happens, misunderstandings can be resolved

Joelle: I think the main way is just education. As someone who at one point didn’t connect with my faith it’s all about making the effort to learn - that is the absolute best way to understand things. The trouble is that a lot of religious people feel uncomfortable in expressing their feelings for fear of being labelled as preachy or domineering or trying to push their beliefs on somebody so it’s important to open up, to display your faith if you have any, actively and openly and don’t push it on people but just show that you are calm in a way unique to those with religion and people will begin to understand where you’re coming from. I just feel like talking to people, not lecturing them about it, having open conversations between people of different beliefs helps to break down barriers.


What would you say to someone unsure about faith?

Kamsi: TRY IT! You’ve literally tried every other option and it hasn’t been working for you. What have you got to lose? But here you are with the opportunity to serve a) a living God that will b) never leave nor forsake you. Trust me, I’m a testimony to that.

Joelle: Honestly, like I said the best way to learn about something is to just try it and experience it for yourself. No matter what you hear from others it can never convince you to or away from religion how your own experience will. At first it will be an active effort you’re making but eventually it comes naturally to believe in God and to live in that way. People are open to try anything to escape prayer and faith and I think that is very much fear based, the behaviour of avoidance and fear of the unknown and because Western society is becoming so detached from religion, people are no longer familiar with their concept of religion and are afraid to explore it. The best way to become more familiar is to immerse yourself as much as you can, get different insights so that you can form your own ideas. I personally think that is the best way to solidify your own opinions and beliefs whatever they may be.

To conclude, there’s really no right or wrong when it comes to a topic like this with the main takeaway being that staying true to oneself is the most important thing to consider, regardless of what societal standards are at that time as we know how rapidly these can change. For more information you can find Kamsi Ajoku on Youtube and Joelle Jean-Marie’s podcast Br4inSpac3 on Soundcloud, Itunes and Spotify.


By Tahmina Sayfi