This week brought an update many might have predicted: Young Americans are less religious than ever, as about 35% of adult millennials identify as “non-religious,” according to the Pew Research Center.
What does this mean for the dating scene? For religious millennials, that means they’re an increasingly rare breed, making dating in the mainstream a difficult balancing act.
Collide is the latest dating app trying to help find that balance, in this case for Christians. The app, which launched in April with the tagline “Christian Dating. Reimagined ”and an elegant dove logo, comes across as a“ Christian Tinder, ”with rich scan profiles and photos as well as a few bonuses: the person’s denominational affiliation, their favorite bible verse, how often they go to the church.
The intention behind the app is admirable. As a shallow carbon copy of Tinder, however, the app does not meet the real dating needs of young religious.
What Christian Dating Needs (and Doesn’t): The words “Christian dating” may conjure up a buttoned-up image, but the truth is that many young Christians want something more progressive.
For some, that simply means using the secular options available. “As a millennial Christian, if I’m going to use a dating app, I’m going to use an established one, like Tinder or OKCupid, which already provide all the accolades I need when looking for a partner with a similar faith and values, ”said Brandan Robertson, director of the Revangelical Movement, Microphone.
But there are those who want something that narrows the dating pool to Christians.
“Initially, I thought Collide might be a prayer answered for Millennial Christians who are fed up with Tinder, like me, or who are afraid to use Tinder, Grindr or other dating apps for fear of being labeled as someone who doesn’t take God or their faith seriously, ”said Melissa, a 26-year-old evangelical Christian. Microphone.
Indeed, Collide co-founder Nelson Wang said Microphone that Collide sees young Christians as a “niche community” with specific needs. “We believe that having the same religious background creates a strong level of comfort and could potentially help bond deeper for people,” Wang said.
The religious mark is missing: The problem? Collide is about as deep as a kindergarten child’s version of the Christmas story, critics say.
“Collide is no different from Tinder, except it asks for your name, your favorite Bible verse, and has thousands of people under,” Robertson said. If a product is to establish itself as a religious alternative to a secular product, it is believed, it should offer spiritual or practical benefits, beyond the feeling of exclusion.
What Collide offers is not very helpful. “Why would I choose a match based on their favorite Bible verse?” »Said Melissa. Laura Turner of the Information service on religion approved, adding, “Grabbing your favorite Bible verse as the only identifying factor that appears on your profile – besides your photo – seems like exactly the sort of thing a non-Christian would think a Christian would do. “
Perhaps this is because the founders of Collide were not Christians, as Turner discovered: “Of the three, one is agnostic, the other is not religious and the other believes’ in God but does not follow a specific religion. ‘ “
Have righteous faith: There is a market for religious dating apps, but the success of these apps may underscore how useful it is for creators to have roots in their religious community.
Ishqr, a young Muslim app, is aimed at marriage-conscious users, based on Humaira Mubeen’s research on the needs of Muslim singles. JSwipe, the so-called Jewish Tinder created by David Yarus, has religious characteristics that are not superficial, but nuanced enough to be beneficial for a Jewish dating without falling into stereotypes – for example your denomination, and whether you stay kosher.
The kosher question may seem silly or not very sexy, but its practicality is key. Religious beliefs and observance encompass more than just a Bible verse and a few religious symbols. Religion is lived and religious millennials make it work in an increasingly secular world. To really hit the mark, dating apps must reflect this complexity, while retaining this very important ability to “swipe right”.