On The Common Beliefs of Teenage Americans

Christian Smith, professor of sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame, oversees a continuing studying of the religious beliefs of teenagers called the National Study of Youth and Religion. After interviewing hundreds of teens about religion, God, faith, prayer, and other spiritual practices, Smith and his colleagues have identified the common beliefs that the average teenager holds:

The Common Beliefs of the Average Teenager

  1. A God exists who created and ordered the world and 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.

Smith has termed this system of beliefs “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” (MTD). He clarifies that MTD is not an official religion but that it is simply a colonizing of many established religious traditions and congregations in the United States. The implication of all this is that the philosophies of MTD are dominating our churches, pulpits, books, and counseling and coaching sessions.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you agree with Smith’s list?


Scott Thomas and Tom Wood, Gospel Coach: Shepherding Leaders to Glorify God, 40-41.


2 thoughts on “On The Common Beliefs of Teenage Americans

  1. Pingback: OF INTEREST: Independent Thoughts from Around the Internet May 28, 2014 | End Times Prophecy Report

  2. Pingback: Weekly Points To Ponder – May 30, 2014 « Jason L Sneed

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