Is America too Religious?
Robert L. Wichterman
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The United States is the only major democratic nation with a social-religious-conservative political movement of any importance. We are different -- truly atypical! Many of the E.U. nations, though, hope we will abandon our Judeo-Christian ethics and worldview, and adopt their relativism and secularism.
The editor of an Austrian publication wrote that tensions between the European Union and the U.S. "are caused by the fact that Americans have double standards, while we have none." An American commentator, who writes in Germany for Die Welt, observed that the European elite ". . . are yearning for an end to American unilateralism, their moral crusades, and the influence of the fundamentalists and evangelicals." It appears that the Europeans want us to be like them: secular, socialists, pacifists, and post-nationalists.
President Bush's predicament is that he is "too American." They dislike both his moral standards and his piety. My rhetorical question is: If we were to become, morally and ethically, like Western Europe, who would protect them, and us, from the world's bogeymen? Russia? China?
In addition, we are disliked for other reasons than just our moral/religious values. In 2004, a Pew Foundation survey in Spain determined that 73 percent of those responding held an "unfavorable" or "very unfavorable" view of the United States. In both France and Germany, 60 percent had that same conviction, but in Great Britain, only 33 percent felt that way. In the same Pew review, 76 percent of the Spaniards condemned "American customs and ideas." The words used to describe us were "greedy, arrogant, and violent."
An explanation of these extremely negative impressions, advanced by a Spanish academic, is, "Young Spaniards think they know the United States without having ever been there." (Compared to other E.U. nations, relatively few Spanish tourists visit the U.S.) As he noted, Hollywood's films about America, which are quite popular there, depict a country in racial turmoil, with a coarse, unhappy, and violent society.
In 2006, when the Democrats recaptured the U.S. House and Senate, the socialist members of the E.U. parliament celebrated it as "the beginning of the end of a six-year nightmare for the world." The French author, Bernard-Henri Levy, hoped their victory "would rid America of the moral values maniacs."
Some American political commentators/experts were predicting recently that the social-religious-conservatives would retreat from the political arena. Their reasons are that they will listen to Dr. James Dobson of the Focus on the Family, and the talk-radio superstars, and neither help nor vote for Senator John McCain for President. In my memory, there has not been a greater difference in the publicly stated positions, aims, and doctrines of the Republicans and Democrats. I cannot imagine many loyal Americans not going to their polling place and voting for their choice for President.
The results of this election, for both Congress and the Presidency, will determine the political direction of the United States, both domestically and internationally, for the foreseeable future. If I am wrong, and the values/evangelical voters do not support Senator John McCain for President, then the European elite's wishes will have been fulfilled.
America, though, still has an attribute that Europe has lost: a moral compass. It has been, and is still, being battered, bruised, and beaten by the secular forces that want either its total extinction, or a new civil religion. Our Judeo-Christian principles have given us a firm foundation on which to build our nation, and a bright beacon with which to lead us on the right course.
Approximately 60 percent of Americans attend the worship services of their faith every week. In Europe, that figure is less than one percent. This is why Islam, with its Sharia law, is becoming stronger there. As G. K. Chesterton observed, "When people stop believing in God, it is not that they believe in nothing, but they will believe in anything." Columnist Cal Thomas wrote recently "A society that forgets what it stands for, quickly loses its ability to fight against threats to its existence." In Europe, there is no longer any truth worth dying for.
The answer to the earlier rhetorical question about who would protect Europe, and us, if we were to become morally and ethically like they are, is no one. Truly, without a strong, committed United States to have kept them free, there would be no European Union today. We saved them from Soviet domination during the Cold War, when the motto of many Europeans and British was "Better Red than dead." France and Italy still resent us for having restored their countries with Marshall Plan money. (No good deed goes unpunished.)
Perhaps it is human nature to despise the person, or nation, who saves you from a catastrophe because you are unable, or too weak to save yourself. I don't completely understand that reaction; but it is the world in which we live. *
"Everything that deceives can be said to enchant." --Plato