William A. Barr had a business career in engineering and has published many articles and books.
In a large London auditorium in March 2007, a standing-room-only audience paid $40 a ticket to witness a public debate between atheists and defenders of the Christian faith. A canvass of attendees afterward gave the atheists 1,205 approvals against 778 nays.
Low attendance in most European Christian churches makes it obvious that the present generation there has lost its former allegiance to the Christian faith. What is more, now European Union atheists do not simply ignore religion but are more inclined to boldly confront the Christian establishment for its "theological hocus-pocus." Michel Onfray, France's foremost exponent of militant atheism, has written a manifesto that has become a best seller in France, Italy, and Spain. He and other atheists have long since left the minority closet and taken to the public rostrum with bravado.
In the last fifty years, say, in the last two generations, European Christian churches have experienced decided erosion in membership, attendance, evangelical vigor, and national influence. The great European medieval cathedrals such as Chartres, Canterbury, Seville, Siena, and dozens of others have been reduced to tourist attractions rather than the compelling symbols of universal Christian faith and observance they once were.
Atheism's open offer to emancipate European people from Christian restraints and superstitions has been called "reverse evangelism" with the hedonistic promise of uninhibited personal pleasure. Yet the erosion of churchgoers in the E.U. may not be entirely due to reverse evangelism by militant atheists. Several other factors causing Europe's backsliding from traditional Christianity may well be other worldly enticements such as television, sports, travel, recreation, and affluence. Other factors relate to the flood of Muslims into Europe made possible by the new open borders, common currency, and the economic normalization installed lately in the E.U. Europe awaits its new identity. Hedonism stands ready to step in as commercial unification has tended to overshadow ancient customs and ethnic traditions.
We must ask if America is susceptible to the same drift as Europe's. We know that the world is shrinking and is more and more interdependent. We know that America has been an historical outgrowth of Europe in many cultural ways, in particular, in our religious heritage. Are Europe's trends good indicators of our own trends in due course?
We must consider the consequences of secular hedonism if a critical mass of American people abandons Christianity as is happening across the Atlantic. What are the prospects of a Godless society here? We might ask what nations in world history flourished and how and why did they finally fall?
In answer, stability was and is the prerequisite. Rome had to remove the threat of Carthage before Pax Romana prevailed for centuries. In America, the slavery question had to be resolved before the U.S. agricultural and industrial economy could manifest prosperity and growth. No nation, empire, or culture has ever thrived without military/diplomatic self-confidence and the stability it brings. This is the first pillar.
With all threats to stability under control, the five remaining pillars of dynamic national progress, strength, and achievement are responsible citizenry, law and order, uniform values, protected wealth, and exemplary leadership. Together these are the six pillars of a thriving and enduring market, nation, or culture. As in architecture, so it is in national weal; remove any pillar and the structure soon collapses.
When Hitler's Nazi regime employed Germany's military might to run rough-shod over continental Europe in World War II, and Japan's samurai war-lords were doing the same in Southeast Asia, the United States of America was suddenly thrust into two death struggles-across the Atlantic and across the Pacific at the same time. After ten grim depression years and tenacious isolation, the U.S.A. summoned unity and resolve after Pearl Harbor sufficient to emerge in 1945 as the ranking world power, with dominant fleets of ships, planes, and tanks, fully able to prevent any rival to dictate its fate. Now, two generations later, we waver and cringe in the face of a small-scale insurgency in Iraq. Gone are the unity and resolve of the Greatest Generation that carried America to world leadership and unquestioned national security. Pillar One. We need you again.
The true measure of a nation, or culture, economy for that matter, is the sum of its parts, namely, its people. All thriving, vigorous nations in history have had the benefit of citizens who were good parents, well-informed, productive, and involved in the community. When the quality of responsible citizenry functioned, family nurture, sound education, and social concern, the foundation of Pillar Two was in place and progress was sure. We need you again.
America's crowning blessing, conferred by our august Founders, is our Constitution. It has served us so well that the United States has become the model of many other successful democracies since its unique ratification two hundred and twenty years ago. Not only are law and order essential to peace and security, they are necessary for social confidence. Prudent laws, efficient courts, and sagacious judges mete out justice, enforced by respected constabularies. The penal system should serve as a dreaded deterrent to those tempted to violate law and order in our communities. Pillar Three, we need you.
Another valid profile of a nation is the behavior of its people. Social mores are set by ongoing customs, ranging from civility to integrity. Our personal behavior and respect of others are conditioned by how most others act on a daily basis. When a critical mass of citizens abhors vice and pursues virtue, the collective character of a people is manifest. When the infection of "me first" and contempt for the feelings or welfare of the next fellow take hold, the Fourth Pillar, uniform values, is undermined. Oh, for the return of congeniality and mutual respect in our land!
Without question, the invasion of government as the middleman between the sacrificial giver and the deserving recipient is insidious, but to our regret and peril we are so blighted. First, government welfare in its various forms undermines the incentive to strive for independent self-sufficiency that should be every family's hope and dream. Gone is the sense of character and self-worth of the welfare recipient who gladly accepts redistributed money without regard to or knowledge of the time and effort of the taxpayer supplying those benefits. Gone is the elevating virtue of charity by the giver for fellow citizens who are hurting and in need for justifiable reasons such as old age, ill health, or special circumstances. Taken together we are deprived of being our brother's helper by the intercession of impersonal legislators and bureaucrats.
Secondly, private capital formation is essential to free enterprise and the prosperity it produces. Recent income tax reductions have demonstrated once again that prosperity is fed by the increase in disposable income into the economy while higher income taxes and steeper graduated taxation inhibit economic growth and employment. America's envious standard of living derives from private property, a sound currency, well-managed inflation, and sound economic policies when adhered to. Hard-earned goods and services personally handed to a needy neighbor can be noble and beneficial to both. Protected wealth and generous, direct benevolences constitute our vital Fifth Pillar
History is replete with dedicated, timely leaders who inspire and unite the people at a critical moment: Joan of Arc, King David, Charlemagne, Charles Martel, George Washington, and Douglas MacArthur to name a few. Often such leaders are warriors leading warriors, but many more are famous in other ways. For example, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan were leaders who deserve great credit among American presidents for other great achievements. Nevertheless, dedicated, exemplary leadership is the sixth and Last Pillar of progress.
All six of these pillars of progress, strength, and achievement have a common element -- moral will. Each pillar requires most citizens to transcend self-interest for the good of everyone. Such people carry a desire to bless one another for the sake of mutual and eventual benefit. "Morality" by itself can be relative in the eye of the beholder, but moral will catches the spirit that goes beyond avoiding punishment, which is a negative reason, or simple conformity, which is mundane, while moral will generates an altruistic concern, a motive instead which ennobles the giver and blesses the recipient.
In matters of national security, unity, resolve, patriotic fervor, bravery, service, and support all require citizens to put aside by moral will self-interest, aggrandizement, and convenience for the common good in times of crisis or threat. The Pillar of responsible citizenry needs parents who forego selfish pleasures and raise their children carefully, who stay well-informed and involved in local, state, and federal governance, and who become more valuable to employers by self-improvement and job performance. With a prevailing current of moral will, the justice system, the Third Pillar, needs fewer laws and fewer enforcers. All judges and other civic leaders would teach, preach, and practice moral will.
The ideal community is sensitive to the selfish, thoughtless exception among the vast majority that practice civility and behave according to uniform values due to moral will. In such an economy, private property is earned and accumulated by wage earners or salaried workers who contribute to society or the economy as one benefit and dispense charity to the needy as a second benefit, all due to moral will.
The Sixth Pillar, exemplary leadership, finds its leaders from those who inspire willing sacrifice on the battlefield and at home through moral will and therefore are expected to be the right man at the right time. When moral will pervades the population, quality leadership will manifest to the overall benefit of the nation and society.
It is plausible to paint moral will as idealistic and unattainable. Let us examine this argument by conceding that man's natural inclination is self-interest. Consider that notable civilizations down through history reveal large measures of unselfishness for the sake of mutual communal benefit. It should be recognized that populations can be conformed by harsh enforcement of statutes and laws to force communal benefit over reluctant, resentful, selfish constituents, but such despotic nations do not thrive; in fact they wilt in competition with nations where such programs are spontaneous and voluntary by moral will and the six pillars of accomplishment. The best example of this is U.S.A. winning the Cold War over 90-year-old Communist Soviet Russia without firing a shot. A second, more immediate example is our U.S.A./Mexican border and immigration problem in which Mexicans are desperate to live in a land that enjoys the six pillars and the prosperity and freedom they bring. Mexico and most other lands are poor for the lack of moral will.
Not that the U.S.A. is the full embodiment of the six pillars and moral will. We may have been the closest to it in past when we achieved victory in the Cold War. But our high standard of living today is a result of our past behavior. A close examination of our present reality against our past shows that we are in the process of losing our moral will, without which our traditional pillars of progress and prosperity will crumble.
Currently, terrorism is a principal external threat. The despotic rulers of the thirty or so Islamic countries, spurred by the poverty of their people, have resorted to the propaganda of envy to keep their thrones, using guerrilla tactics as their last resort. This would be futile except for our lack of unity. Another threat is the invasion of illegal aliens, a distinct violation of America's tradition of law and order. Again there is a breach of moral will as demagogues seek political advantage by appealing to the growing Hispanic block of voters at the expense of law and order and the burden taxpayers bear to finance their assimilation.
At the present time in the matter of responsible citizenry, the critical mass of informed and involved parents, voters, teachers, and public servants is losing its moral will. Too many parents are not nurturing their children properly. The "feminist movement" has convinced many females to neglect their families in favor of the work place. Ignorant people are susceptible to the demagoguery of politicians who promise something for nothing by way of the redistribution of wealth by the government. In this, America's essential moral will is eroding.
Among the "politically correct" orthodoxies of the present-day establishment is the notion that no one should be judgmental, so that a drug addict is excused, and not held responsible for his behavior, as he should be, if he is to recover from his misbehavior. Or that an abortion of an inconvenient fetus is a women's right.
Large sectors of the American population are separated widely on values as evident in the street demonstrations and political strife that characterize today's national scene. An army of tort lawyers seize on niches and squeeze class action tribute from deep-pocket producers and grieving victims alike. Such contention and exploitation flies in the face of our former moral will.
Graduated tax tables and a labyrinth of tax regulations make the government and politicians dispensers of welfare and benefits for political advantage. Moral will and altruistic compassion are lost in this arrangement.
Americans now find themselves more than a year from choosing a new national leader, if, indeed, the president can be the actual leader. The media coverage and the primary process inhibit any serious candidate from uttering remarks on personal conviction. It seems that our next leader must walk on water and sling mud at the same time. Which candidate could or would elevate America's moral will is a serious question.
Today we flounder, full of doubts, blocked by selfishness, and locked in fear. Cleverness trumps honesty. There is no shining light of virtue to overcome guile. The leadership of mere mortals is insufficient to inspire moral will. Only an enduring, transcending, holy authority can summon self-denial and the pursuit of virtue. Only the Word of God, is able to stand as an eternal source of spiritual knowledge and wisdom to render a universal and permanent moral foundation for all societies.
Our present national prowess is a residue of our former virtue. What would it take to recover our full potential?
We must return to the God whose name is on our money.
We must believe in the God who is honored in our marital and courtroom oaths.
We must thank the God who has blessed our fair land from sea to shining sea.
America: Before it is too late, arise and take heed! Take hold! Embrace God as before! Never spurn the loving blessings He showers on His own.
This is the clinching argument in the choice between hedonistic atheism and our noble Christian heritage. *
"By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes is his duty against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion." --Lord Acton