Moral decay is bigger worry than the economy

By Linda Bowles

June 1996 – According to primary exit polls, Americans worry more about moral decay than about the economy. They fear our society is slowly coming unraveled. These worries and fears are justified.

Our books, movies, art, television and music are a unified chorus of smut and anti-social messages. We burn flags and crosses; we curse and scream in public places; the media make celebrities of serial murderers; our children are taught about condoms in the third grade; the Boy Scouts are under attack to embrace atheists and homosexuals; the family is being legally undermined; churches are pressured to rewrite Scriptures to accommodate those who are proud of their transgressions; religious apartheid is officially sanctioned and practiced by the government; and bewildered taxpayers are told they have no choice but to pay for liberal propaganda on public television, pornographic and blasphemous art, and the killing of unborn babies.

The full syndrome describing our societal illness is well documented and includes mindless violence, child abuse, divorce, drunkenness, AIDS, teenage suicide, drugs, street gangs, rape, illegitimacy, abortion, pornography, sexual disorientation, lying, cheating, political corruption and Wall Street scandals.

All over the nation thoughtful people are asking: What has happened to us? Who is responsible?

There is no mystery. For 30 years, we have allowed the systematic, step-by-step dismantlement of a structure of morals and standards carefully put in place to protect us from the primeval forces of our Dark Side.

No-fault living has become the order of the day in America. “Sin” is an archaic idea. Right and wrong as moral concepts have been abolished. Moral discernment has been deemed judgmental and discriminatory. God is scorned – but tolerated if He stays in His place.

We seem to have forgotten that the greatest period of prosperity, good will and civility in America occurred when children prayed in schools and politicians openly solicited the blessings of the Creator.

An examination of the content of political discourse in America reveals a significant shift from the spiritual to the secular.

Until the latter half of the 20th century, references to faith in God and moral codes were standard in the editorials and political commentary found in newspapers. This followed a pattern clearly evident in the founding documents, the inaugural addresses of presidents, history texts and campaign oratory.

In volume 1 of Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville described the connection between self-governance and spirituality. Speaking with admiration of the founders, he wrote, “They must know that liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

This theme was echoed by George Washington in his famous Farewell Address when he argued that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

And this same theme was openly expressed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren in an interview with Time magazine, February 15, 1954: “I believe no one can read the history of our country ... without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses.”

Such words and sentiments have effectively disappeared from the political commentary on the editorial pages of most newspapers. They are politically incorrect.

Even cartoons with religious messages are being censored. Johnny Hart, who produces the comic strip “B.C.,” is one of the most widely read as well as one of the most beloved cartoonists in the world. However, “B.C.” did not appear in the Los Angeles Times on December 25, 1995. It did not pass muster with the editors. It depicted a Christmas-tree angel shouting “Behold!” But that was not the problem. What the editors found offensive was an entry in tiny print between the panels. It said: “Luke 2:10.”

What they did not find too offensive to print was a week-long series of Garry Trudeau’s comic strip, “Doonesbury,” which carried the fraudulent message that the Catholic church historically encouraged and performed homosexual marriages.

The selective sensitivity of this major, liberal newspaper reveals its editorial biases (religious intolerance) and brings into full view its standards for what is mainstream and acceptable in today’s America (homosexuality) and what is fringe and taboo (Luke 2:10).

Each of our lives and all of human history can be understood in terms of a struggle between good and evil, between that which is the best within us and that which is the worst. The rise and fall of civilizations mirror the ebb and flow of this struggle.

Perhaps that is what Thomas Jefferson was thinking when he said: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.”