The De-Christianization of America
Imagine travelling down the expressway, sunroof open, XM dialed in to the “’60’s on 6,” and lost in reverie until you catch a whiff of something—a bouquet with that certain rubbery tang. You glance down and notice the “Temp” indicator is red; you glance back up to catch the first puffs of steam wafting from the hood. You pull over, get out of the car, and raise the hood to an engine belching coolant in gray billows. As you wait for the tow truck, head in hands, the significance of those small puddles of antifreeze on the carport you’ve noticed, but ignored, for the last several days, becomes clear.
Something like that has happened in our nation. The national conscience, which for the better part of 200 years had been informed by Christian principles, developed a leak decades ago. It started as a slow drip, scarcely noticed. Left largely unattended, it progressed from a trickle to a stream to a gush that has led to the de-Christianization of America.
That is not to say that most people don’t identity as “Christian.” They do, although their percentage hasdeclined nearly twenty points since 1960 to 74 percent. Nor is it to say that the transcendent perspective of our founding has been written out of our rule of law—the distinctly Judeo-Christian premises of the Declaration of Independence remain the bedrock of the Constitution. Rather, it is to acknowledge that Christian values no longer shape our moral consensus.
Gallup Politics, documenting the “evolution” of that consensus for over a decade, found that the majority of Americans age 35 to 55 years now consider the following behaviors “morally acceptable”: gay/lesbian relationships (54 percent), non-marital sex (63 percent), divorce (66 percent), out-of-wedlock birth (67 percent), and embryo-destructive research (59 percent) among others.
On the abortion issue, public attitudes are more nuanced. As I pointed out in “Pro-Life Inner Conflict,” although 48 percent of Americans poll “pro-life,” only about one-fourth believe that abortion is morally wrongand that government should pass restrictions on it.
It is a moral slide showing no signs of braking. With 18 to 34 year olds polling up to 20 percentage points higher in moral acceptance of homosexual relationships (74 percent) and non-martial sex (72 percent) than for their elders, and with nearly half having no moral qualms with pornography or sex between teenagers, our plunge is poised to continue apace.
It should come as no surprise, then, that only 44 percent of Americans believe that government should promote traditional values. That represents a drop of 15 percentage points over the last decade. However, the notion that traditional (read: Christian) values should have no role in governance would have been unthinkable to our nation’s founders.
Writes Bill Flax in (Forbes,) “All [the Framers] thought the Bible essential for [a] just and harmonious society.” Quoting historian Larry Schweikart, Flax continues, “The founding documents of every one of the original thirteen colonies reveal them to be awash in the concepts of Christianity and God.”
Even Thomas Jefferson, one of the least Christian among the Founding Fathers, is quoted as saying, “No nation has ever existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I as Chief Magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example.”
Fast-forward to 1992. Continue reading here.