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August 27th, 2010
10:30 AM ET

Author: More teens becoming 'fake' Christians

If you're the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning:

Your child is following a "mutant" form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.

Read the full story

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Books • Christianity

soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Jason Czerwinski

    What?! Mutant? ALL CHRISTIANITY IS MUTANT. Did you ever think that you Christians, and all other religions (created by men), are wrong? Did you?
    Didn't think so....
    This is why I don't get along with people. Because they write stupid stuff.

    August 5, 2011 at 2:36 am |
  2. ryan

    Woody
    I guess that's doctrine based as to what God's plan is. The secular belief is that there is no God, just chance, coincidence, etc., one great big accident and therefore no one to thank or blame according to your perspective. Unless you'd like to assume complete knowledge of the universe and say that there is no being with complete knowledge of the universe. Is there hurt? Yes. Is there healing? Yes. Is there action? Yes. Reaction? Now, as far as sacrifice goes, I've got one for you. You have a son, he possesses more integrity and compassion than any being that you've ever met. To the point he rubs the hypocrites (religious and secular) the wrong way because He calls them out on their actions. His words and actions prove His sincerity. You have the opportunity to save Him from a mob that He has been irritating with righteousness, not arrogance, haughtiness, etc. What do you do? Have a child? Plug your child into the equation. Now, imagine that your child will be sacrificed for His killer's gain. Would you let a group of people beat and murder you child for their benefit? Tough pill to swallow, right? Between this story, the timing in my life, and an infinitely expanding universe that produces and sustains life I can stomach the supernatural. Who knows, I might have had the simple purpose of responding to you and not make it home from work today...? Or cancer tomorrow. So ask yourself, is your impulse survival or sacrifice? Rules or anarchy? Are we all entitled to our own set of rules? That's horrifying. Think about that the next time you're appalled by a molestation case. Why does indulgence usually result in a negative consequence...in a chaotic universe with no direction? It's a complicated matter worth putting some time and effort into. Hope you take the time to look and find what you're looking for. Can't get upset at a God that doesn't exist, or a God you don't have time for. And if no God then your disapproval is merely your DNA doing it's job, a series of chemicals, nothing worth talking about, no different then what happens in the most disturbed minds on the planet...it's all the same...just natural reactions. Take care.

    August 31, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  3. Gregg

    Does no one view the Bible, or the Koran, or any other religious book for that matter, as no more than a glorified Aesop's Fables? They are stories about lessons learned, lessons we see in all sects of society.

    Religion is not important, faith is. Church is not important, family is.

    This is not to say that the church is not family for some. I know this to be true even with in my own circle of friends and family, some turn to the church more than others. But, this is not a cause for outrage in the church. What they cannot seem to understand in those holy halls is that every person has their own demons, and for those demons their own saviors. I am a Roman Catholic. While I do not attend mass every week, or even every month. I know what the basis of the religion is, I know where the faith comes from, and it serves its purpose for me. Both me and my girlfriend are adamant about what we believe, but we do not attend church because we disagree with what the modern Roman Catholic church is. I stopped going to church when my parish began a campaign to raise money to build a 2 million dollar church. We had a beautiful church, a traditional New England style house of god. It had character, and was rarely full except on holidays. Now, we have a monstrosity, with no style, no warmth, no feeling of being a safe haven. Now the church has an ugly new building and an empty shell standing where we used to meet. It was wasteful and wrong. I could theoretically go out and look for a new parish, one that represents that which I believe. But, why bother. I didn't need to turn back to the church when I lost two close family members within a year of each other, I had friends, and I had other family, to help me. I guess that makes me one of the lucky ones.

    The church should not advertise, they should not seek parishioners, they should be there to be called upon when needed. If I go to hell because I did not attend church then, I don't want to go to heaven. God does not dictate that I must attend mass, the church does. God says I am to be a good man, not kill, not steal, not harm others in anyway. I honor my parents, though I don't always like them, and I believe whole heartedly in being good to others regardless of who they are, where they come from, or even what they do to me. I am not above anyone as a Catholic, I am simply a human who believes that God is there for me when I need him, but also that God and Jesus, along with all of their followers have provided me with the tools I need to function in my life without God by my side every step of the way. I can wake up and go through a day without him guiding me directly, because he taught me well when I was younger, and shall I need more than my earlier lessons, he is there for me to turn to again.

    I do not thank the church for any of that. I thank my family....for teaching me of the religion and then allowing me to grow as my own person. The church did not raise me and I am a better person for it, because I can function on my own, and think on my own. The amount of hate in the name of the church is sickening and only makes me walk further from the doors of their buildings, each time their name is used for evil, and it goes unanswered.

    August 30, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
    • ryan

      @Gregg
      You can never stand for something that you don't believe in. I agree that many have tarnished the church but that's because people have taken from it what they want for their own purpose. "I know what the basis of the religion is, I know where the faith comes from, and it serves its purpose for me." We should fit in God's plan, not the other way around. Could this simply be an excuse? I would never want the task of dissecting an entire belief system to cater to me...kind of wouldn't be a belief system. Also wouldn't acknowledge a belief system that I don't believe in. There's got to be a spiritual leader out there worth your time...maybe? Many believe in God just in case which doesn’t actually believe at all. Look for His timing, you'll find Him. He's worth humility and submission once you find Him. Sorry if you were looking for someone to agree with. I pray you understanding and encouragement. Have a Great day.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:31 am |
    • Woody

      Ryan writes "We should fit in God's plan".
      It seems that almost everyone claims to know all about God’s Plan. That seems to be a convenient answer to the most perplexing questions. Why did that little boy die from cancer? Oh, that was God’s Plan. Why were those two little girls born conjoined? That was God’s Plan. Why are there massive floods in Pakistan? You guessed it, God’s Plan. Does God send out a weekly newsletter or something? How do you get on the mailing list? I’d like to have as much knowledge about God’s Plan as the next guy. On of my other favorites is the old “God is testing you” line. Why did I have a flat tire on the way to the first day on the new job? God is testing you. Why is my mother in law staying the entire summer? God is testing you. Why is it that everything I like, is illegal, immoral or contributes to high cholesterol? Yep, God is testing you. If God is everything they say he is, he already knows the answer. So why is it necessary to test anyone? This whole religion thing is way too complicated for me.

      August 31, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  4. ryan

    maybe we should dig beyond "basic" then. what did Jesus follow? You can't put a great big man in a nutshell my friend. where's loves boundaries?

    August 30, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  5. Woody

    The word “Christian” describes someone who follows Christ.
    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. That’s true Christianity in a nutshell. That was the basic message of Jesus, as I understand it. 99.9% of organized religion is ritualistic nonsense. All the “hallelujahs” in the world are just adding to the greenhouse gas problem if the people shouting them don’t care very much about anyone but themselves. Maybe these kids are a lot smarter than their parents.

    August 30, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  6. ryan

    If the idea that our beliefs are determined by our upbringing or geographical location then why the rise in atheism in America, a so-called Christian nation (according to the rest of the world and confirmed in polls…yet quickly denied by the U.S. media when addressed this way), taking off? And why is China and others starving for Christianity? ‘Cause Mao Zedong established this, right? Lol…not quite. Evolution requires change, right? It has no direction, right? Is it a theory or philosophy? Use it how it fits, when it fits, right? Sounds like a fundamentalist move to me. Welcome to religion atheist. Christians, lets wake up. Christianity is something you live, not just profess.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:05 am |
  7. Ryan

    @David Johnson
    If "knowledge is power" as the academic world loves to instill omniscience justify omnipotence?
    I don't think God has knowledge has knowledge of evil. That would contradict His righteousness. Go figure.
    I pray that you realize your dilemmas exist for a reason. A non- existent God doesn't have any influence stirring our interest in Him (hints the non existent part). Neo atheists- why devote your purposeless) life disproving something irrelevant and seeking purpose in the process. That a contradiction?
    Sorry to involve myself in word games. Life is much too important than to waste time.
    Yeshua Ben Yosef, the Lamb, the ultimate Sacrifice

    August 30, 2010 at 6:11 am |
  8. Ryan

    @Reality
    Kind of angry, aren't you? What’s more preposterous...the belief in an almighty being that has expectations of his creations or a universe that came about by complete chance? Why do we battle between indulgence that provides consequence and sacrifice that has long term benefits? To "survive" or "love"? Where does science inform a man how to be a man? Does Christ set an example for all men that we ignore? Why does life seem like one sequence of tests when in all actuality we are matter we don't really matter? Why does the same science that rejects or supposedly debunks religion because of the preposterous idea of an almighty, all-knowing, always present creator, yet licks their lips at the thought of an ultra intelligent extra terrestrial with the capability to answer question break the laws of nature, have mind reading capabilities, so on and so forth? God-complex? Lol. Ironic? It’s called humility; we as a species lack it. We’re fine with defying and defining science, as long as it's us doing it, right? Could this God that stirs emotion in us, good or bad, stir for a purpose? Think a little. Quit being so “close minded”…wait, there's no such thing as an open mind, we all sway one way or the other. :o) Why don’t people get that? What a flake expression. Explore the idea of Yahveh a little. God pursues you that explains mankind’s fixation. Otherwise we define our own laws...scary. So the next time you hear about molestation case, rape, beating, etc...That just nature or is it free will gone wrong? Be compelled to love, you have purpose, you’re more than matter, you do matter…only issue is we have moral framework, sorry. Disagree? Revolt, anarchy is your solution. Wishing you the best with that. Have a beautiful life changing day.

    August 30, 2010 at 5:25 am |
  9. Faisal

    hey these are the prices that must be paid for negligence. God is going to rule whether they understand Him or not. he will throw them out of the kingdom or simply not accept them because they did not seek His Righteousness with a whole heart. tough sh it

    August 30, 2010 at 2:25 am |
  10. ybs

    To sum up the sentiment here... "all" religions are one big pile of dung surrounded by sheep that pontificate about its virtue or lack thereof! Most are still trying to justify having eaten it! :)

    August 29, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  11. Michael

    “Almost Christian” doesn’t mean “Fake Christian.” Another follow-up post by Kenda Dean.
    http://kendadean.com/318/almost-christian/

    August 29, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  12. Jay

    It's funny how everybody here thinks they're the one who has it all figured out. That Christians are the one's being brainwashed. All your PATHETIC arguments denouncing God and how can we have free will if God is all knowing. If you only knew how lame your prideful thoughts are. You think you've got it figured out but I'll bet most of everyone commenting here is generally unhappy and your lives are falling apart. You can pretend they're not and type away about just how happy you are but when you distance yourself from a relationship w/ God, your life is a mess. God Bless and despite your disapproval, I will pray for all of you.

    August 29, 2010 at 12:18 am |
    • NL

      Well, saying it is one thing, but can you explain how, exactly, these arguments are pathetic? Give logical reasons for this falacy that is so obvious to you. Most of us are open-minded and will accept the error of our reasoning when we see it.

      August 29, 2010 at 12:25 am |
    • Eric G

      Way to go Jay! Condecending, argument from ignorance and threatening. You have won the christian appologetics "holy trinity" award for post of the day!!!!! Your anger is natural. It is a genetic trait handed down from your primate ancestors.

      August 29, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.