In Turkey, where Islam is the predominant faith, an early April 2018 report of the Turkish Ministry of Education surprised and also angered its conservative establishment. The report titled “The Youth is Sliding to Deism” observed that an increasing number of pupils in İmam hatip schools, who are expected to be the most religious ones, started to question the faith and abandon Islam in favor of deism. The report's publication generated large-scale controversy amongst conservative Muslim groups in Turkish society.
Al – Monitor Turkey pulse reports:
Titled “The Youth is Sliding to Deism,” the document shared surprising observations about the very young people that Turkish society often expects to be the most religious: the students of the state-sponsored religious “imam hatip” schools. The report says that because archaic interpretations of Islam cannot persuade the new generation on issues such as the “problem of evil” (why God allows evil to take place), some imam hatip students have begun questioning the faith. Instead of adopting atheism, the report added, these post-Islamic youths embrace the milder alternative: “deism,” or the belief in God but without religion.
Progressive Islamic theologian Mustafa Öztürk noted the deist trend a year earlier, arguing that the "very archaic, dogmatic notion of religion" held by the majority of those claiming to represent Islam was causing “the new generations [to get] indifferent, even distant, to the Islamic worldview.”
For the staunch supporters of the government, deism seems to be just one of the many conspiracies that Western powers have cooked up against the glorious Turkish nation. Yusuf Kaplan, a columnist for the pro-government daily Yeni Safak, said deism was spreading among the children of conservative families, while the children of more secular families were going for the more radical edge: atheism. The underlying reason, according to Kaplan, was the hedonistic, materialistic and degenerate culture coming from the West. Turkey had to stand up to this cultural erosion by further Islamizing its education and media, or else “the imperialists could occupy the country, mentally, from within.”
For other Turkish commentators, however, the real reason for the loss of faith in Islam is not the West but Turkey itself: It is a reaction to all the corruption, arrogance, narrow-mindedness, bigotry, cruelty and crudeness displayed in the name of Islam.
It seems that the Turkish authorities’ efforts to promote and impose Islam are counterproductive and lead to a faster secularization of this transcontinental country.
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