"So these two millennials are getting ready to sacrifice a goat..."

Just this weekend I was writing about the downward trend of membership in organized religion. This is particularly true among millennials, who are leaving the major, established churches in hordes. Does that mean that increasing numbers of young Americans simply believe in nothing? Perhaps not. One recent study indicates that while participation in church services is way down, something else is becoming more and more popular these days. Witchcraft and the occult.

Let’s all say it together, now. What could possibly go wrong? (Market Watch)

Interest in spirituality has been booming in recent years while interest in religion plummets, especially among millennials. The majority of Americans now believe it is not necessary to believe in God to have good morals, a study from Pew Research Center released Wednesday found. The percentage of people between the ages of 18 and 29 who “never doubt existence of God” fell from 81% in 2007 to 67% in 2012.

Meanwhile, more than half of young adults in the U.S. believe astrology is a science. compared to less than 8% of the Chinese public. The psychic services industry — which includes astrology, aura reading, mediumship, tarot-card reading and palmistry, among other metaphysical services — grew 2% between 2011 and 2016. It is now worth $2 billion annually, according to industry analysis firm IBIS World.

Much of the linked article deals with simpler practices such as astrology and tarot cards, but the owner of one “spiritualist shop” in New York City is offering classes in Witchcraft 101 and spell casting.

While everyone is free to make up their own minds, there are likely more than a few cautionary tales waiting to unfold here. Personally, I’ve never really seen the harm in astrology as long as you’re not taking it seriously. Reading your horoscope can occasionally be good for a laugh if nothing else. But when we have more than half of people in their twenties thinking that astrology is an actual science, something has clearly gone wrong.

Reading tarot cards is probably one or two notches higher up on the scale of alarming behavior but, again, if you’re going for a reading on a lark and not taking it too seriously it’s probably harmless. But when we begin talking about spirit boards and spell casting we’re definitely seeing something which should give us pause.

I follow a few different podcasts and blogs which deal with bizarre topics, including ghosts and the occult, and somehow these stories never seem to end well. Whenever you hear of somebody getting involved with an ouija board there only seem to be two possible results. Either nothing happens or something really, seriously awful happens. You never hear of anyone sitting down with one of those things to contact spirits from beyond the grave and then winning the lottery or finding out their mother’s leukemia had been cured. It’s almost always dark spirits following you around or creepy children speaking in the voices of ancient mummies or something.

Is any of it real? I don’t want to go all Halloween on you here, but if you happen to be a person of faith who believes in God, how can you summarily dismiss the idea of the Devil or demonic forces? And if idle hands are the Devil’s playthings, hands with a spirit board in them are probably his factory assembly line.

But hey, kids. We still have the First Amendment and the courts recognize a dizzying array of things that pass for religion these days. You do you, as the saying goes. As for me, I’ll stick with playing the lottery numbers from fortune cookies.