Moralistic Therapeutic Theism

In his 2009 book, The Emerging Millennials, Canadian sociologist Reg Bibby makes reference to Smith and Denton’s widely-read book, Soul Searching. They state that many American teenagers from several religious traditions practice a type of “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” Smith and Denton write:

The creed of this religion, as codified from what emerged from our interviews, sounds something like this:
1. A God exists who created and orders the world adn watches over human life on earth.
2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
5. Good people go to heaven when they die (Soul Searching, 162-3)

Bibby, on the other hand, found that Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is not as widely practiced in Canada as it is in the United States. So, what is widely held? Moralistic Therapeutic Theism. According to Bibby,

Canadian teens who are involved in religious groups at most lean toward a kind of Moralistic Therapeutic Theism, those those who are not toward a kind of Moralistic Therapeutic Atheism. The most likely to be into “MT Deism”? Occasional attenders.

For more information, read Bibby’s short report explaining the difference between MTD in the United States and MTT in Canada.

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