“This rapid and widespread falling away of the young from institutional Christianity is the first harvest of what sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton dub “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”.
According to Smith’s research, MTD is the default religion of nearly all American young people, both Christian and non-Christian, who are a generation of theological illiterates (Mormon youth are a fascinating exception).
MTD teaches that God exists and wants us to be nice, and that happiness is the point of life. In MTD, God, who is “something like a combination Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist”, doesn’t have to be involved in one’s life unless one needs something.
It’s the perfect pseudo-religion for an individualist, consumerist, prosperous culture. You can see why a generation raised on MTD would have no interest in traditional religion, with its truth claims and strictures.”