America's Moral Condition
Robert L. Wichterman
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
How is traditional Christianity faring in America today? There is good news, and some not so good.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life interviewed over 35,000 adults in order to sketch our religious profile. 75 percent of us claim to be Christian. But only 51 percent, and slipping, say they are Protestant. Twenty-five percent of those from 18 to 29 have no religious affiliation at all, and nearly one-half of all Americans have left the faith in which they were raised for another faith.
About one-third of all Americans were born of Roman Catholic parents. However, less than 25 percent of them affirm they are still Catholic. Finally, almost 10 percent of those who call themselves "just a Protestant," rarely attend any church services.
The survey confirmed that though the main-line Protestant denominations have declining memberships, many non-denominational churches are growing. Of less relevance, but still interesting, is the fact that most members of conservative evangelical churches were raised in a Protestant denomination. "The American religious economy is like a marketplace -- very dynamic -- and very competitive. There are net winners and losers, but no one is standing still," said a Pew Forum executive.
In America, the doctrines of each of our major denominations have been transformed -- altered -- in the years since their inception. Events in the world, plus the leader's perceptions of what is Truth, have caused these changes. As with all political parties, some of these religions' ideologies, whether they are Christian or another faith, have moved to the left, becoming more liberal, while others have shifted to the right, staying traditional, or becoming more conservative. An example of the latter would include the Presbyterian Church in America, and many independent Baptist congregations.
Separate from Christianity, but equally traditional, is social conservatism. It is still strong in the United States, and is our only political doctrine that reflects the basic philosophy of our Founders. The opponents of this belief do not accept the principles from the Declaration of Independence, such as, "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . ." Their view is that they are nice sentiments, as are the Ten Commandments, but they are not realistic.
We are currently locked in political combat with these ideological liberals. Their objective is to eliminate all religious practices -- especially Christianity -- from our daily national life. The liberal media, including many of our "progressive" politicians, have subtly been portraying the advocacy of traditional ethics and mores as a threat to our freedoms. Yet, these virtues and principles are the foundation of our liberties. Those conventional rules, manners, and routines teach us how to control ourselves, and what actions and practices are acceptable in society. Freedom with no limits is anarchy.
In Europe, political parties with religious or conservative names still exist, but their ideology is no longer conservative or Christian. They capitulated long ago to social liberalism. This is what President Obama wants to change us into: a socialist democracy.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau is the author of the liberal-left's goal, which is the rejection by society of our standards of behavior -- especially our moral codes. Monsieur Rousseau proposed absolute individual freedom, with no restrictive laws or mores. I personally doubt that most American progressive-liberals are even aware of the chaos that could develop from their support of "relativism." There would no longer be any moral, ethical, or religious truths.
Due to the offensive undertaken by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party against the Judeo-Christian's position regarding same-sex marriage, and the party's embrace of the progressive agenda, columnist Dennis Prager, have labeled them "The Political Party Without Values." Their collaboration with organizations such as the ADA, NOW, the ACLU, and Act-Up confirms that the title is apt.
Robert Redford, Elizabeth Taylor, and Sean Penn are three of their well-known members. They have publicly espoused same-sex marriage, have characterized conservatives and Christians as "judgmental and narrow-minded," and Mr. Redford has described Fidel Castro as "a great leader and humanitarian."
Cal Thomas wrote, "Many Americans are growing tired of a government and culture that fails to produce the basic moral and spiritual necessities of life." And a Chilton Research Services poll found that lack of morality in the United States "is a greater problem than the lack of economic opportunity." Add to that the fact that over one-third of all births are out-of-wedlock, and it is evident that our challenge is to get off the slope that can only lead to our nation's moral collapse. But, as our culture has been sliding towards the abyss, too many Christian conservatives have withdrawn into the safety of their own fellowship. There, they have their own radio stations, TV shows, magazines, and subculture.
The real world should not be ignored. It is the duty of the morally and spiritually strong to lead the campaign to re-capture our culture, and to bring our nation back from the brink of economic and moral disaster. The United States is, thankfully, not an explicitly Christian country, as Saudi Arabia is an Islamic nation. Yet, as the Pew Forum poll disclosed, most Americans consider themselves to be Christians. Further, several years ago, a Gallup survey learned that 40 percent of them identify themselves as being "born again."
Why then have we allowed America's culture to become so vulgar, violent, and sleazy? We should be able to have a greater impact on the laws and regulations coming from the U. S. Congress, and our state capitals. We certainly out number the 25 percent who say they are not Christian.
However, liberals now control the reigning elite institutions of academia, the media, the entertainment industry, and the law. They are better organized than are we. In addition, 75 to 80 percent of print journalists are also liberal Democrats.
Conservative and Christians voters have been quite successful in electing legislators at the national and state levels who share many of their values and views. Why then don't our laws and regulations reflect those standards?
Because "politics is downstream from our culture," as was written by my son, Bill Wichterman. Our culture is formed and molded by the film and TV entertainment industry. There is rarely any movie or TV show produced whose lead character has a strong, positive presence, and whose conservative or Christian stance is central to the story. Lately, the media is even presenting our national heroes with a negative slant. It was recently written, for instance, that George Washington should not be honored, as he owned slaves. There was no mention, though, that he and Martha had set aside enough money so that their slaves would be freed, after their deaths.
In order for us to recapture our culture, and attempt to restore it, we must fight. The members of the conservative and Christian communities are as intelligent, discerning, and probably better informed than those of our adversaries. Groups of Christian lawyers have been defeating and thwarting the ACLU, for example, in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, by basing their defenses on the First Amendment's Freedom of Speech guarantee, rather than its Freedom of Religion clause.
Further, we must show the world that our lives reflect our faith. The national media was amazed at, but still gave extensive coverage to, the Lancaster County (PA) Amish, and how they were able to forgive the murderer of their children in the massacre at the Nickel Mines school. Then, as he had committed suicide, they also helped his wife and children with their needs.
We all know, intuitively, what is right, and what is not. This will be a long and sometimes bitter conflict. But, if we want to save our country and our freedoms, it is an engagement in which we must prevail. America was conceived and born as "One nation under God." Trusting in His wisdom and strength, we must complete, with confidence in His support and guidance, that which will bring many of our countrymen to also follow His path. *
"Doesn't it seem strange that President Obama, whose Administration orchestrated the most expensive bribery scheme in history in order to procure passage of his health care bill, soon thereafter flew to Afghanistan to insist that President Karzai work to eliminate the corruption in his government!" --John A. Howard