Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater. America’s Religious Decline, And The Unintended Effects Of “Progress”

ReligionAmerica is changing. Changing beliefs on social issues like homosexuality, marriage, and evolution, just to name a few, are indicative of this fact. As people have changed their minds on issues such as these over the years and decades, a general shift away from religions that are seen to hold viewpoints antitheticalto these more modern viewpoints seems to be occurring. Like it or not, many people just aren’t going to church anymore because of it. Many people still do, but it’s much more split today than it ever was, and more and more people seem to be lapsing from their respective faiths every single year. This begs the question: what will be the end result of having a nation that not only has largely changed its mind on some social issues, but which has also, as a side effect, has in many cases fallen from faith in their church, have forsaken many of the other teachings of those churches, and in many cases, have fallen from faith in God as well?

I believe there are many negative effects that are manifesting themselves in our society because of America turning its back on God and religion; effects that are too politically incorrect for most politicians and political pundits to talk about in depth. As more and more people opt to stay home Sunday mornings, they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater by abandoning the many good and constructive teachings of their churches; teachings that have been the direct causes of this countries greatness.

Many people fail to see that for all its perceived flaws, religion, whether in the form of Islam, Judaism, or Christianity, has been a unifying factor in our republic up to this point, probably the biggest unifier. Not only did it unify people in one common goal, but its overall aim was a constructive one. Sure there have been quarrels and even outright hostility between Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism, and between social classes and races, but despite all the madness, most Americans shared a common underpinning. That underpinning was in effect identical from group to group, despite their differences. At America’s core was a belief in God and his goodness and a belief that we are all children of God.  A core belief was that of a life after this one, and peoples entire lives and every single decision they made were molded by those beliefs, which had an inestimable effect in every single action they undertook.

Not only were people more unified in this country by those beliefs, but their respective beliefs resulted in a more ordered and constructive society. Believers of every stripe in this country believed on a very personal level in not only doing good, something atheists and believers alike both believe in, but also in recognizing that people are intrinsically imperfect and sinful, and they structured our system of government and our society accordingly. People believed in not only doing good things for other people, which both believer and nonbeliever alike can agree on, but in trying to temper even their very THOUGHTS toward thinking of other people and of their personal situations in a positive light because of their intimate relationship with and their belief in God. They not only did unto others as they would have others do unto them, but they did those things because of a belief that God loves and cares for us all and that it was only right to follow suit and love each other because of that fact. People to a larger degree tempered their private actions in reverence for their belief that God did in fact exist and was in fact cognoscente of their every action, both private and public. They believed they would one day be held to account for it all; everything they did and didn’t do; things that are common teachings in the scriptures of every religion.

These are all the effects of having a society based on God rather than being based on self. It was a more selfless society; a greater society. I’m not saying that because of this, people who believe in God are better than people who do not believe in God. I’m not saying that at all. In fact, Christian theology, as an example, teaches this is not the case when it teaches that we all fall short of the glory of God, all of us, believer and non-believer alike. But whether you believe it’s foolish to believe in God or not, it’s hard to in good conscience deny the good that usually results from a person who truly believes there is a God who sees their every action, knows their every thought, and expects them to do unto others every good thing he has done for them. Living in a society where a good number of people maintain beliefs such as these has had inestimable benefits to this great country in the past and many of those benefits seem to be disappearing.

Believers of all stripes are generally people who believe in boundaries limited by both conscience and by process, in part because of their stronger belief in the metaphysical. Many people on the other side of the ideological aisle are people who, because this world is all they believe in, and they desire tangible and more immediate results, are people more prone to maintaining an ends justifies the means mentality, since they aren’t worried about all the above things that believers worry about. Joseph Stalin and Mao-Tse-Tung, though extreme examples, and exceptions to the rule, are good examples of this, though I’m sure the very mention of them in this context is indeed politically incorrect.

John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other”. While many people have been tempered to think that such a statement is exclusionary and intolerant, Adams, as did most of the founders, rightly recognized the nature of a Democracy. They WILL cease to exist, and will likely lead to dictatorship if people do not VOLUNTARILY restrain themselves WITHOUT government coercion. I personally believe the historically religious nature of our republic, where people are expected to discipline themselves as a matter of religious doctrine, is largely preferable to one where that responsibility no longer exists per se, and where the government in effect takes the place of God.

In addition to all everything listed above, a religious country is a country that holds a truly liberal view of the relationship of the individual to their government, that is, liberal as the word liberal used to be used in the 19th and early part of the 20th century. Most religions teach us that every single individual is a special, loved, unique person. Governments tend to treat people only in respect to what the good of the overall masses will be; they are only a number, easily expendable if it benefits the whole. When the latter mentality takes hold, freedom eventually disappears, as will the republic that once fostered such freedom. Thomas J. Curran said, “The moment our democracy ceases to respect God it will cease to respect your value as an individual. The moment it ceases to respect your value as an individual it ceases to be a democracy.”

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