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25 September 2021
America At Risk: Where Shall We Find Truth
As America began to unite after the Civil War, Lincoln observed: “The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one.”
A century and a half later, many of us now realize that true liberty is not merely about individual freedoms and rights. It’s about social and moral balance in the community. It’s not about me; it’s about us. It’s not about individual “freedom” to act as I please. It always involves limits, mutual responsibilities and obligations before individual rights. This is self-evident, isn’t it?
“Not so,” say today’s “social justice woke” ideologues. They demand freedom to do as they please, even to change their sex. No restraints or limits. Personal rights eclipse responsibility, accountability and moral tradition. Their motto: “Me First…”
Traditionally, true liberty grants us the God-given freedom to do what we must do, not merely what pleases us.
True liberty means we’re unhindered by government or neighbor, free to meet our obligations and responsibilities, even if it they are unpleasant. Liberty is not about pleasure. It’s about character.
True liberty frees us to do what is rightly expected of us, guided by God’s Commandments, society’s just laws and customs, and our neighbor’s valid expectations.
BUT ---today’s social justice “woke’ ideologues disagree. For starters, the mention of God is taboo. When God is mentioned, they cease to listen. They cite the Supreme Court’s 1992 “Casey Decision” which proclaimed that “…at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life.”
In other words, God plays no role in human affairs. Life and liberty are defined solely on subjective terms. Each person is the origin of his rights and freedoms. Accountability is one-way. Subjective “rights” dominate without regard for moral tradition or oppressive religious norms which stifle individual choice.
In practice, this has come to mean that whatever hinders radical individualism must be - will be - eradicated …
Deny The Obvious
This view contradicts what every mature adult knows: “rights” without personal responsibility and self-restraint create excesses which destroy marriage, family and society.
Without personal responsibility, accountability, self-restraint and objective moral standards, radical selfishness speeds the inevitable demise of community.
Such selfishness is a departure from religious, moral, cultural and social traditions in favor of ideological materialism. It’s atheistic denial of nature’s divine origin. It’s an extreme form of secularism which allows no future beyond what we make for ourselves.
An example is the mantra, “My Body, My Choice,” a declaration that even the death of innocent children is a legitimate exercise of my “freedom.” I will take a life, if I choose; it’s my “right.”
This ideology is, of course, hostile to the belief that moral norms are God-given, not man-made. These norms can be discovered by human reason. Every person - regardless of race, color, ethnicity or personal predilection – has a moral nature.
The formation of character and the “common good” are the immediate goals of objective moral norms in every sane society. Objective moral norms are the bases of civil and criminal laws which serve Justice: they’re universal. Just laws serve the common good, not the whims of tyranny, however benign.
Moral norms give voice to the “better angels of our nature.” They are revealed in the Ten Commandments, then spelled out in the Christian virtues which originate with God, not with the State.
More than that, our God-given rights and freedoms find practical application in our Declaration of Independence, our Bill of Rights and various laws and customs which work for the good of all.
America also has the advantage of our Creator’s central role in our Republic’s founding and throughout our history. America was not founded as a theocracy but our Founders agreed that religion is essential to governance, to the everyday life of citizens and to those whom the people elect.
America’s religious history pre-dates our founding (see the monumental tome compiled by Benjamin F. Morris). Religion has contributed significantly to our identity. James Madison (author of the First Amendment) held that government must remain neutral between various religions but not between religion and irreligion. And Jefferson said that God gave us life and liberty as gifts.
The conclusion? From our beginnings, America has been a religious - as well as a secular - reality. To ignore God is to ignore our roots. Our First Amendment’s protections of religion, free speech and the press (among other rights) were intended by our Founders to validate the crucial need for moral voices in our Republic and - as John Adams often said – to emphasize the necessity of virtue in public life.
These days, the wisdom of our Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights is sullied by the ignorance, bad will and hatred for America by ”woke” citizens, media, courts of law, even schools.
For example, despite historic centrality of religious belief, the Supreme Court’s decision (1962, “Engle v. Vitale”) forbids mention of God and prayer in public schools. But many schools now teach racial strife and obscene behavior (also vividly portrayed on children’s cell phones as freedom of expression).
America’s problems are worsened by the avoidant silence of many elected officials. For example, some elected leaders ignore existing laws, allow rioting and vandalism, encourage violations of public safety, defund police, establish sanctuary cities, flaunt immigration laws. They allow unscreened illegals to flood our nation and even transport them to unknown locations. This occurs as the need for vaccinations is preached by officials who, at the same instant, risk the welfare of countless citizens. This inexplicable behavior facilitates the moral breakdown of public life and worsens America’s polarized dilemmas. See this analysis:
The Disaster at Our Southern Border - Imprimis (hillsdale.edu)
International problems add significantly to America’s dilemmas. In addition to preventable crises at our Southern borders, we face constant threats from China, a nuclear Iran, hovering terrorism, strained relations with our oldest allies and, most recently, our wretched behavior in the Afghanistan crisis. See this analysis.
Afghanistan’s Woes Will Haunt America (besacenter.org)
These distressing problems demand strong, forthright leaders. Sadly, government’s current style is avoidance and denial which beget appeasement … and history repeatedly says that appeasement is capitulation delayed.
Given these troubling facts, we would be remiss not to ask:
- What goals now motivate our “woke” government leaders?
- What values now inspire them?
- What moral imperatives now stir their consciences?
- What traits of character now dictate their decisions?
- What traditions do they now honor?
- To whom do they now pledge their allegiance?
- To what standards of moral behavior do they hold themselves accountable – if any?
- Where are they taking our America?
“Tolerance” Of Religious Leaders
In addition to problems of State, the silence of many Church officials about moral abuses further undermines American stability and confounds informed citizens.
For example, some prominent officials proclaim religious affiliation but repeatedly violate doctrines of their church … with impunity, for decades. Theology teaches that silence betokens approval. Thus, morally-errant officials are emboldened when their infidelity is routinely excused by the feeble rubric of “prudence.” This chronic avoidance has only resulted in greater perfidy.
Excessive tolerance by ordained leaders reveals 1) abnegation of their solemn obligation to confront moral decay by those in power, and 2) their failure to act as primary moral voices in our Republic.
Errant tolerance and appeasement by ecclesial and secular leaders encourage moral and cultural decline and facilitate the ongoing loss of American identity and unity.
Citizen Belief Also Diminishing
Beyond leadership problems in Church and State, there’s an even deeper malaise occurring - namely, the decades-long rejection of America’s moral and religious traditions by American citizens.
Extensive research attests to Americans’ increasing rejection of Christian moral values, traditions, religious beliefs and practices which, as we know, are the soul of our Founder’s ideals and the rationale for our nation’s founding.
Here’s an example of America’s increasing radical secularism:
Thus, in addition to troubled leadership in Church and State, we also face diminishing regard for America’s founding principles amongst citizens, neighbors, even families.
Certainly, some Americans have made (and still make) significant historic errors. Yet our history reveals a pattern of amendment and correction based on laws and precedents which detail our constant struggle to do what is morally right for the common good.
Yes, we have sometimes failed. Despite abuses, we have been an extraordinary nation before the world. We have sometimes violated our highest ideals … but our moral resources have kept us accountable to one another and compelled us to amend the injustices committed by some Americans throughout our history.
Therefore, when we reject our Christian heritage, we also reject our historic sources of inspiration and motivation, which have been at the heart of the moral infrastructure in our America.
Dare we risk such a loss? Woke, hostile ideologues say, “Yes. America is an evil nation. We’ll re-make America to our image…”
Dr. Alex Joffe, Senior Fellow at the Began-Sadat Center in Israel, believes America is going through rapid transformation based on our panic especially about race. Beneath our racial issues, he adds, are the problems of increased power and unprecedented control now held by technology companies and left-wing politics, much of it financed by our foreign enemies.
Dr. Joffe believes the outcome of our present malaise will severely curtail traditional American freedoms; social dependency will increase substantially. His analysis is here:
The Europeanized USA (besacenter.org)
The Nation’s Challenge
Clearly, our Republic is beset by unprecedented political and cultural conflicts. We are besieged by moral relativists. Socialism’s smothering facades promise to salve every urge … while true liberty and individual dignity slowly wane. The aggressive intolerance of today’s “woke” ideologies are destroying our nation by 1) radical re-education of children, and 2) hollow sloganeering which effectively seduces countless naïve adults.
Indoctrinating from Cradle to College (illinoisfamily.org)
We already see these results of abnegating our moral convictions:
- Christians who exercise their religious beliefs are openly accused of being “enemies of freedom.”
- Catholics on the Supreme Court are accused of destroying religious freedom and imposing their religion on citizens.
- Immigration laws are ignored as we open our borders to admit everyone, including covid carriers and terrorists.
- Respect for "the natural family" is oppressive and "negative othering" against LGBTQ+ people.
- Man/woman marriage is hateful “hetero-normative activism."
- Christian bakers and florists are fined for exercising their religious beliefs (while atheists freely exercise their atheism).
- Corporations force “Critical Race” programs on employees in what amounts to psychological brainwashing.
- Children’s books celebrate transsexuality and libraries hold gay readings for four-year-old children led by Drag Queens.
- “White” people (systemic racists all, including white children) are born oppressors and must repent publicly;
- Partisan media regularly skew facts, weakening our nation and abusing the First Amendment.
The question now is: Will our nation survive the current craze of self-deified “rights” which eradicate our moral traditions and our American identity?
The Central Dilemma
At the center of our moral malaise is the culture of death, society’s readiness 1) to end the lives of children by abortion, and 2) to “euthanize” young and old, often merely for convenience.
Americans once believed nothing was more sacred than life (e.g., “leave no one behind”). Courtesy and care for one another were common virtues. But legalized disregard for the lives of young and old has dismantled our moral principles and created a huge gap in our nation’s conscience (as we now leave our citizens behind).
The culture of death prevails in our halls of government. Some legislators argue for abortion and euthanasia as “human rights” or “medical care” or “right to privacy.” Democrat politicians just passed the Women’s Health Protection Act which seeks these (and other) extreme abortion goals (Fact Sheet WHPA 2021 revised.pdf (usccb.org)):
- eliminate all state and federal “parental consent laws,” including laws which allow women to view an ultrasound of their baby prior to abortion;
- prevent states from passing laws to protect babies at 20 weeks (as in North Korea, China, Vietnam, which do not protect enwombed babies during later development);
- force pro-life doctors and nurses to lose their jobs;
- deprive Catholic hospitals of all public funds unless they perform abortions;
- erase all limitations on taxpayer funded abortion, and dump the Hyde Amendment, which has saved two million lives;
- overturn all federal and state pro-life laws;
- make it illegal for officials to introduce pro-life legislation.
Finally . . .
Where is our disregard for life and moral principles taking us?
Relativism’s bleak, dispirited universe looms, with its cynical “Me First” mentality and repudiation of freedom’s humane attributes.
Let us not think today’s “woke” ideologues benefit America. They do not.
- They deliberately distort language, history, morality, rationality, reality itself.
- They wage war against nature.
- They seek to destroy our Constitution, family life, traditional marriage, education, religious freedom.
- In short, they seek a wholly different nation.
Every day, moral relativism penetrates deeper into our public and private lives, our families and schools, our government and work, our media, hospitals and churches. Elected officials employ stunning evasions, outworn accusations and risible contradictions. Mature accountability and respect for voter’s intelligence are rarer today than ever in my lifetime.
Where shall we find truth? To whom can we turn for fidelity, insight, candor and wisdom? To our leaders, schools, pastors?
We continue to ponder, to worry and wonder …… and pray…..