Have American teenagers embraced a Dairy Queen version of Christianity? Is religion just like soft serve ice cream—a sweet, insubstantial, feel-good treat?
That’s the main thesis of a hot new book on the scene this autumn: “Almost Christian,” by Kenda Creasy Dean. Or, at least that’s her basic thesis put in my words. She never uses the soft-serve metaphor. But I think it’s apt.
Dean analyzes a pile of data on what teenagers think about religion in America. She comes to different conclusions than the previous hot book about young people and religion, “UnChristian.” That earlier book says that America’s youth are good without God, “Almost Christian” says that America young people actually embrace faith, but their version is just treacle—a syrupy version of hard-edged faith. (Click here to read our coverage of “UnChristian” last year on OurValues.)
Dean calls this soft-serve religion: “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” or MTD for short.
This week, let’s take a look at the MTD theses she’s nailed on the door and see if they stack up to our own experiences. If you are a member of a faith other than Christianity, tell us if any of this applies to teenagers you know.
Here’s 1 of the 5 core assertions in MTD, according to Dean’s analysis: “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most religions.”
In response to this idea, she writes: “The issue is less whether God wants us to get along (affirmative on that) than whether that is all there is to Christianity, whether a personal decision to be an agreeable neighbor constitutes Christian identity, and whether enacting such a decision is even possible on a human level.”
What do you think?
Is religion just about being nice to others?
Does that ring true with what you know about teenagers and faith?
Please, tell us what YOU think. Leave a “Comment” below.