CBS Spotlights Non-Religious Millennials Being Married By Friends

Tuesday's CBS This Morning zeroed in on "how a new generation of couples relies on the buddy system for the big day" of their weddings. Gayle King pointed out how a "decline in religious beliefs is changing the way many Americans are getting married these days." Correspondent Adriana Diaz spotlighted how "more and more Americans are asking their friends to do the honors" due to the significant percentage of Millennials who consider themselves to be non-religious. [video below]

King led into Diaz's report by reporting the "new numbers from the Pew Research Center...[which] show that Millennials are losing faith. Less than half say religion is 'very important' to them, and just half say they believe in God with 'absolute certainty.'" The correspondent noted that "the amount of Americans getting married by a priest in a Catholic church is down more than 60 percent since 1970." Diaz spent much of her report on the wedding of Megan Lantto and Patrick Bigelow, "who were both raised Catholic, [but] broke from tradition. They asked Pat's college friend, Matt Ferari, to officiate the ceremony — not a Catholic priest.

The CBS journalist highlighted that "the majority of amateur officiants receive certification from websites like the Universal Life Church, a non-denomination online ministry. In 2014, the church ordained 250,000 people, and expects a 30 percent increase this year. The site says ordination is fast, free, and easy, with no experience necessary." She provided some balance to the non-religious couple by including three soundbites from a Jewish rabbi, who lamented that "so many of the Millennials don't even want to give us a chance."

Later in the segment, Lantto, the non-religious bride, revealed that her "transition away from religion started when I became a little more political, and I realized that I didn't really agree with the politics of...my church and all of that." Her husband had underlined that "having a minister or priest up there who doesn't know us would have seemed fake."

Diaz did end her report by noting that the Pew Research study "did have some good news for believers: though less Americans are affiliated with religion, those who do, do so with conviction. Two-thirds of adults who identify with a religion say they pray every day." Anchor Norah O'Donnell replied, "That's good to know." O'Donnell also spotlighted how co-anchor Charlie Rose once officiated a wedding ceremony himself.

The full transcript of Adriana Diaz's report from the November 3, 2015 edition of CBS This Morning:

GAYLE KING: Fewer religious leaders are being invited to lead couples' vows. New numbers from the Pew Research Center this morning show that Millennials are losing faith. Less than half say religion is 'very important' to them, and just half say they believe in God with 'absolute certainty.' That's compared with nearly 70 percent of Baby Boomers. The decline in religious beliefs is changing the way many Americans are getting married these days.

Adriana Diaz is at First United Church in Oak Park, Illinois, with how this is shaking up the world of weddings. Adriana, good morning.

ADRIANA DIAZ: Good morning. At altars like this one, couples have been exchanging vows to have and to hold for centuries. But the amount of Americans getting married by a priest in a Catholic church is down more than 60 percent since 1970. More and more Americans are asking their friends to do the honors. We met one couple who, believe it or not, sat down with us an hour before their wedding for an interview to tell us why.

DIAZ (voice-over): Megan Lantto and Patrick Bigelow included many of the traditional marital trappings on their big day — the white dress, groomsmen in matching ties, excited moms—

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's the first one out of four, okay? (laughs)

DIAZ: And musical accompaniments as the bride walked down the aisle. But when it came to choosing a person to oversee their 'I do's'—

MATT FERARI: My name is Matt—

DIAZ: Megan and Patrick, who were both raised Catholic, broke from tradition. They asked Pat's college friend, Matt Ferari, to officiate the ceremony — not a Catholic priest.

PATRICK BIGELOW: Having a minister or priest up there who doesn't know us would have seemed fake.

FERARI: I believe I am quite qualified to say this: you've clearly outkicked your coverage by marrying Megan.

BIGELOW: I think Megan was probably a little nervous as first, knowing Matt. But he's — he's done a great job.

DIAZ: The majority of amateur officiants receive certification from websites like the Universal Life Church, a non-denomination online ministry. In 2014, the church ordained 250,000 people, and expects a 30 percent increase this year. The site says ordination is fast, free, and easy, with no experience necessary.

RABBI STEVEN STARK LOWENSTEIN: I, for one, happen to think that experience is pretty necessary to stand with a wedding couple, to make sure that they are getting off on the right foot.

DIAZ: Steven Stark Lowenstein studied for five years to become a rabbi. He says clergy are specially trained to support couples through pre- and post-marital counseling. But in the digital age, he says spouses can overlook that traditional support.

LOWENSTEIN: The world is changing so rapidly, that religion is, kind of, being relegated to a back seat. I don't believe that it has to be that way. But so many of the Millennials don't even want to give us a chance.

DIAZ: Thirty-five percent of Millennials — Americans 19 to 34 — identify as non-religious. That's compared to 17 percent of Baby Boomers, and just 11 percent of those over 70.

DIAZ (on-camera): What do you think are the implications of less religion?

LOWENSTEIN: I think that people will grow up, and they won't feel a connection to anything. And, to me, the thousands of years of history of the Jewish religion give us the tools that we need to combat any challenge that we face today.

FERARI: Do you take Patrick to be your lawful wedded husband?

DIAZ (voice-over): Megan and Pat are part of the 18 percent of Americans raised within a faith who've given it up.

MEGAN LANTTO: I think part of my transition away from religion started when I became a little more political, and I realized that I didn't really agree with the politics of — you know, my church and all of that. And I — I needed to make a decision for myself.

BIGELOW: I was raised Catholic. My mom is probably rolling her eyes as she's watching this right now. But, you know, I just — I went my own way. We — we're a generation, I think, that, kind of, chooses our own path.

FERARI: Today, their lives, which began on separate paths, will be joined as one.

DIAZ (off-camera): What do you think it is that you can bring to this wedding that, perhaps, a religious figure can't?

FERARI: I think I can connect the dots between Patrick and Megan, and how they've evolved this relationship—

FERARI (from wedding ceremony): You started this journey years ago just two miles from here—

FERARI (on-camera): Which, I think, makes more of a personal ceremony.

FERARI (from wedding ceremony): By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Patrick, you may kiss your bride. (bystanders cheer and applaud)

DIAZ (voice-over): A sacred bond sealed by friendship, not faith.

DIAZ (live): Now, the study did have some good news for believers: though less Americans are affiliated with religion, those who do, do so with conviction. Two-thirds of adults who identify with a religion say they pray every day. Norah?

O'DONNELL: That's good to know, Adriana—

KING: Prayer works—

O'DONNELL: You've been — you've married some—

CHARLIE ROSE: I did once, but somebody had already been married by — for the state and everything else; and they wanted to have a ceremony for their friends. And they asked me, would I officiate?

O'DONNELL: Oh! How nice—

KING: I bet you were good, too. (Rose laughs) I bet you were good.

Culture/Society Labeling Religion Atheism Christianity Judaism CBS CBS This Morning Video Gayle King Adriana Diaz Norah O'Donnell Charlie Rose
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