Country a Mess? Blame the Church

(Townhall.com posted this column on July 15, 2009.)

As our great country accelerates its slide into economic and moral Hell, be careful whom you blame. The present boldness of liberals and timidity of conservatives are only the secondary causes.  Much of the blame can be placed at the foot of the church.

When I say the church, I don’t mean an institution like the Roman Catholic church, but the entire body of believers—those from all denominations who believe that the Bible is true, that people are sinners, that God sent the perfect God-man, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from our sins, and that we are charged with spreading that message and reforming society.

Believers are God’s ambassadors here on earth, called to be salt and light in the world and to the world.  When we follow our calling, individuals are transformed and societies with them.  Our country is failing because too many believers have abandoned this calling.

They began abandoning it in earnest in the 1920’s.  That’s when an anti-intellectual movement called fundamentalism led believers to separate from society rather than reform it, and to bifurcate life into two separate spheres—the sacred and secular.  Reason was given up for emotionalism, and only activities that directly saved souls were deemed sacred.  Everything else was considered secular.  Careers in clergy and missions were glorified at the expense of everything else.  That led too many believers to leave public education, the media, law, and politics in the hands of the unbelievers.  Is it any wonder why those areas of our culture now seem so Godless?  Take the influence of God out, and that’s what you get.

Secularizing public education has been the key to our nation’s moral demise.  Once public education went secular, the rest of society eventually did, especially when the products of that system became our leaders. As Abraham Lincoln once observed, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.”

The philosophy of the schoolroom is atheistic.  The question of God’s existence—the most important question regarding how we should live—is not studied or debated in our public schools.  Atheism is just assumed to be true and with it moral relativism. That’s a major reason why immorality dominates our schools and why our kids know more about political correctness than truth.  It’s also why we have a new generation of voters more enamored with “hope and change” than defending our changeless rights from an overreaching government. G. K. Chesterton’s observation about Russia has come true here, “Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.”

How did this happen?  In the early 1960’s, the Supreme Court, consisting of newly trained secularists, banned devotional Bible reading in our schools (apparently, for the 180 years before that, people just didn’t understand the Constitution!).   That decision, and several others, has stifled virtually any mention of God or the Bible in our public schools.  In effect, the most influential book in the history of the world is ignored in our educational system.  What kind of a quality education is that?  It’s certainly not what the folks who settled this land had in mind for public education.  In fact, the first public school in the new world began as a result of the “Old Deluder Satan Law.” That 1647 Massachusetts law established the school to teach kids how to read the Bible so that old deluder Satan could not deceive them.

Likewise, most of our first universities were established to teach and propagate a complete Christian worldview. Harvard’s charter read, “Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning.”
The founders of Harvard knew that all truth is God’s truth.  There is no bifurcation between the sacred and the secular.  According to the Bible, every vocation, every discipline, and every person is sacred.  Nothing is secular.  In sharp contrast, those running our country now say that everything is secular.   That’s a long way from our founding.

“So what?” you say.  “Who cares about morality and God?”

That’s exactly the problem:  Who does care?  When the church separates from society, it takes its moral influence with it.  But respect for the moral principles upon which out nation was founded—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—is essential to its survival. Our founders knew this.

Following the Constitutional convention, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government he and his fellow founding fathers created for the nation.  Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Franklin knew that freedom must always be defended; that the unalienable rights for which our founding fathers pledged “their lives, fortunes and sacred honor,” were never secure unless an informed electorate held their representatives accountable to uphold those moral rights.

Recognizing that only a religious and moral people will maintain a good government, George Washington declared in his farewell address, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports.” His successor, John Adams, wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” In other words, even the best Constitution cannot prevent immoral people or politicians from destroying a nation.  That’s why the church cannot abandon its calling.  But it has.

So if you’re a believer who is upset that life is not being protected; that marriage is being subverted; that judges routinely usurp your will; that our immigration laws are being ignored; that radical laws are passed but never read; that mentioning God in school (unless he’s Allah) results in lawsuits; that school curriculums promote political correctness and sexual deviance as students fail at basic academics; that unimaginable debt is being piled on your children while leftist organizations like Planned Parenthood and ACORN receive your tax dollars; and that your religion and free speech rights are about to be eroded by “hate” crimes legislation that can punish you for quoting the Bible; then go look in the mirror and take your share of the blame because we have not obeyed our calling.

Then start over.  Reengage at every level of society.  Treat every job and every person as sacred.  Be a beacon for Christ and truth in whatever you do and wherever you are. There is hope if you act.  After all, we believe in redemption.

54 replies
  1. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    Thanks for the column. You may not be surprised that I have a question or two.

    You said: As our great country accelerates its slide into economic and moral Hell.

    and:Secularizing public education has been the key to our nation’s moral demise.

    I recently asked basically the same thing of a commenter, so I will largely copy and paste my previous comment on the topic. (I hope that’s okay; I’m a bit short on time.)

    What data are you relying on to support this claim of moral demise?

    I’ve previously posted various statistics about crime levels; the murder rate is far lower than it was when this country was formed, rape is at the lowest level since statistics have been kept by the government, etc.

    Sometimes I stop and think, and I am blown away by the fact that 50 years ago many people in the United States thought it was quite fine to force people to drink from a different water fountain because of the color of their skin.

    This is the type of thing that makes 99.9% of our generation sick, but this terrible iniquity and immorality (what better way to break the second “Greatest commandment” of Jesus?) was generally accepted not so long ago.

    Those are just some of the reasons I am asking for the basis of your claim.

    Let me add some other things which I think relate to morality. Abortion rates in the US have been going down for many years now and recently hit the lowest level since 1974 (Rebecca Wind: US Abrortion Rate…; Guttmacher Institute). (To be clear, we may still think they are too high, but how does the decline match up to the acceleration into moral Hell of which you speak?)

    Teenage pregnancy recently hit it’s lowest level since good records have been kept (65 years) recently (Brady Hamilton, et al: Births Preliminary Data for 2005). (Though there has been a recent uptick, rates are still very low — historically speaking.)

    A second question would be: why do you think that advanced democracies which are even more secular seem do to better on many of the metrics which we can closely link to morality?

    Toward the end of your column, you mention some of the changes in law (marriage, immigration, etc), but I am not sure how this truly matters. Wouldn’t you agree that morality is ultimately personal? That is: are you less moral now that gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts? If so how?

    Let me put forth another example to illustrate this point:

    Which country is more moral?

    A. Murder and rape are legal. Sex between unmarried partners is legal. Murder and rape are extremely rare occurrences. Sex outside of marriage is also rare.

    B. Murder and rape are illegal, as is sex outside of marriage. Murders and rapes occur frequently. Teenage pregnancy is a rampant problem.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  2. Lizeth says:

    Country a Mess? Blame the Church Frank Turek: So true! May God forgive us if we have left our our first Love.

    “Then start over. Reengage at every level of society. Treat every job and every person as sacred. Be a beacon for Christ and truth in whatever you do and wherever you are. There is hope if you act. After all, we believe in redemption.” Amen!

    Reply
  3. Toby R. says:

    The TRUTH! The truth! The damned, often bemoaned “TRUTH”. Tell us Frank, here and now, what is the truth? You seem to have a big pile of it in your pocket so pull it out and share it with the rest of us. Please. The Truth.

    Posts like this seem like the grousing around office water coolers. One person mentions something they heard in the news that they don’t agree with and then a like minded person pipes up with the old cliche, “Ah, I tell this country is just going straight to hell.”

    Reply
  4. Andrew Ryan says:

    I don’t understand why Western Europe seems so much better off than the US in so many ways when most of its countries are much more secular than the US. Greater longevity, fewer murders, lower abortion rates, fewer teen pregnancies, lower infant mortality. Surely if lower religiousity worsens these problems, Western Europe would be in a deeper mess than the US?

    Reply
  5. Lizeth says:

    John 14:6
    Jesus answered, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    Have a blessed day.

    Reply
  6. Luke says:

    Lizeth,

    I don’t see how your last post relates to the topic. Can you please elaborate?

    I hope that doesn’t sound rude; it’s not intended to be. I’m thinking that you’re trying to make a point, but I just don’t get it.

    I just don’t see how John 14:6 relates to this any more than Deuteronomy 25:11-12 would.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  7. Lizeth says:

    Luke Says: “I don’t see how your last post relates to the topic. Can you please elaborate?”

    Lizeth says: Because Toby asked “The TRUTH! The truth!” so I took the opportunity to evangelize. The Truth is in Jesus.

    Blessings :)

    Reply
  8. Luke says:

    Liseth,

    I see. That makes a lot more sense.

    I somehow doubt your response will satisfy Toby, though I won’t speak for him.

    I think Toby is asking for the truth as in a judgment, proposition, or idea. (Webster’s Dictionary).

    I know this is off topic, but since Dr. Turek is not responding for now, we’ll have something to discuss in the meantime. How do you interpret John 14:6. What does that really mean? What proposition or idea is contained in that verse?

    Of course, I’d gladly hear your thoughts about the article as well. Dr. Turek started with the premise that the United States country is heading toward “moral Hell,” and some of us have taken issue with this premise. What do you think?

    Luke

    Reply
  9. Andrew Ryan says:

    I agree with Luke. I would say that America in the time of slavery, or even segregation, was much further into figurative hell than it is now. Obviously some white people might feel differently, as they themselves weren’t affected negatively by the subjugation of black people. In my own opinion though, you would have to take into account all peoples, not just your own race. Anyone disagree?

    Reply
  10. Luke says:

    Andrew,

    Exactly, I personally don’t see how you can look at a time when a majority of people in this country accepted the subjugation of another race to slavery, or even to separate social institutions and say “that time was more moral than now.”

    The founding fathers — those moral leaders — some of whom Dr. Turek quotes, sat around in a room and decided that for enumeration purposes we’ll count Africans and African-Americans (not sure if that term is proper since Dred Scott vs. Sanford ensured that slaves or their decedents could in fact not be citizens of the US) as 3/5 of a person.

    That is sickening, and I find it far more sickening than anything I see around me today.

    I am not saying Dr. Turek is wrong, but if he’s going to make a statement and refer to those leaders as if they hold some great moral truth and wisdom, then he needs to defend it.

    I, in no way, think that today’s society is perfect, but as I’ve said the United States, as a society, suffered terrible moral deficiencies in the past, along with many of the problems we have now. So language such as “slide into moral Hell” seem hyperbolic at best, and completely detached from any reality at worst.

    Reply
  11. Andrew Ryan says:

    I think he just means ‘become more left-wing’, but saying that is intrinsically bad isn’t really enough.

    Reply
  12. Luke says:

    I actually have some more in depth thoughts to offer on this, if anyone cares.

    Maybe you can relate to this as a parent, Andrew.

    In many ways the world is full of danger. Sure, nothing truly bad ever happens to most kids. But it could.

    The world has always been dangerous, of course (in many ways more dangerous), but with the prorogation of information, many of the dangers seem closer than they really are (Tim touched on this in another thread).

    So how do we react to this “imminent’ danger? The natural reaction is to consider how we can keep kids safe in this “dangerous” environment.

    Yet, most parents made it through a similarly dangerous world largely unscathed. So, many say…

    “Well, the world is crazy, but I made it, if we can keep the world how it was when I was growing up, then maybe little Billy can make it too.”

    And that attitude, I think, is an essential component in conservatism. Conservatism, by definition is a “disposition… to preserve what is established” or the “tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change” (Webster).

    Change could introduce danger, after all.

    I think the example of the civil rights movement shows this. No one can credibly argue that conservatism stood for anything “moral” in that fight (or many other fights along the way). It was simply the desire to preserve the status quo, because when we change, who knows what will happen?

    (There is also an issue of preserving one’s privileged status, of course.)

    Reply
  13. Luke says:

    Anyway, I really look forward to hearing from Dr. Turek on this.

    Two other random things.

    1. Dr. Turek, you mentioned illegal immigration… Who do you consider more moral:

    Someone who enters this country illegally in order to work hard to provide for their children and family.

    or

    Someone who goes home to read the Bible, reads Matthew 5:39-42, then wakes up the next morning only to complain about the “illegals” taking “our resources” and receiving health care and education for their children?

    2. My wife and I lived next to a gay couple for several years. We were happily married for several years before that, and we remain happily married many years after the experience. I am sure Andrew and Tim find this shocking! Would anyone like to know how we were able to do that in the face of such “subversion?”

    Reply
  14. Toby R. says:

    Yeah, “Jesus is the truth” really doesn’t seem like much “truth” to me. The way to god is through a middle man. You’re not good enough to talk to him directly so he’ll send you an agent to go through instead.

    Conservativism is an annoying blight, a bad by-product of religious belief. It’s beaten into religious followers that whatever their particular book says is “the truth” and that deviating from that is the road to hell. So the inclination becomes to not let anything change, change is bad, change is scary and bad! Yet change does occur because people slowly break free of the fascism of old ideas and religious rigor. Such as giving up on the old Leviticus laws and silly things like women can wear short sleaved shirts. Idiocy.

    Reply
  15. Demarzac says:

    Toby R.,

    1. Response to 1st paragraph: Please share with us the information that you have that absolutely makes the Apostle’s account of the Resurrection untrue.

    2. Response to 2nd paragraph: Please share with us why “liberalism” is a superior political position and philosophy, why it’s more conducive to a healthy, flourishing society.

    And BTW, you’re just as “religious” as anyone else; you just practice a different “religion,” i.e. secular humanism.

    Reply
  16. Lizeth says:

    Luke you asked: “How do you interpret John 14:6. What does that really mean? What proposition or idea is contained in that verse?”

    Another of the great “I am’s” of John, this is one of the profoundest teachings ever uttered. It presents Jesus as the unique means of access to God. Jesus Christ as the sole answer to the human problems of sin, ignorance, and mortality. As the way, Jesus is the answer to man’s sin; as the truth, he is the answer to man’s ignorance; and as the life, he is the answer to man’s mortality.

    Man is constitutionally ignorant, endemically wicked, and irrevocably mortal … There is no book logic to refute or uphold these contentions, only the logic of life … Man is not delivered from his lower life by his own power but remains helpless without the Great Companion.

    I AM THE WAY, AND THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE

    Jesus is the way. Apart from him there is no solution of the problem of sin. Part of the problem is the universal tendency to deny that sin exists. Every crime, however vicious, is rationalized. The major thesis of humanism is that there is really nothing much wrong with man as he already is. True, certain restrictions are admitted; but men fancy that if they can only shake off the chains that bind them they will be all right. Strike off their political chains, their economic chains, their psychological inhibitions, etc., and presto! the new age will appear. All such human air-castles fall in one awful consideration, that of the universal wickedness of mankind. Every utopian ship of all history has split open and sunk upon the submerged reef of unregenerated human nature. In trying to find out how to live, men try to evaluate and compare various concepts and systems, and by deduction hope to find what is best; but the universal experience of humanity has demonstrated that whatever of the good, the pure and the beautiful that men have discovered – all of it derived from him who is the way. The sin problem is solved only in Christ. He alone reveals man’s sin, ransoms him from the tyranny of it, removes him from the practice of it, remits it, and even overrules it for his benefit – provided only and always that the sinner must yield himself to the Lord and walk in his way; for he is the way.

    Jesus is the truth. In this, his is the answer to man’s ignorance; but, in this sector also, man professes no need, pretending to be wise. In the dictionary that he wrote himself, is he not listed as “homo sapiens”? Look at the letters he has written after and before his name: Ph.D., M.D., Hon., Pres., etc., etc; but, if man can bear to hear it, he would be just as accurately listed as “homo ignoramus”! Human wisdom is foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 1:20); and only a little reflection will reveal that God is right. Apart from God, man is ignorant of his origin, destiny, and the meaning of life. He cannot see one split-second into the future, but builds a house the day before an earthquake, elects scoundrels to public office, and in all social and political considerations moves with the intelligence (!) of a buffalo herd on stampede. Even in the areas of his greatest achievements, man is embarrassed by the fact that every truth he has ever discovered only raised a hundred other questions harder than the one he solved. The discovery of the power of the atom is only the most recent example of this. He cannot know what caused time, space, or matter, and does not have the slightest idea of the extent or duration of such things. He is an infant crying in the night with no language but a cry, until he shall turn to him who is the truth.

    Man’s vaunted knowledge has only multiplied his ignorance. He surveys from his tiny ant hill the morning star and the band of Orion; he cries for light, wisdom, and knowledge; but, as he pursues this will-o’-the-wisp, he is mocked by his own ignorance. The silent stars go by, and the whirling suns brush him into the grave. But in Christ who is the truth, all that is changed. He is the answer to man’s ignorance. In Jesus, the soul is secure in the fact that ultimate truth is not another gadget, or a new formula, but a person, God in Christ, man’s friend from above, who is at once the Cause and the explanation of all things.

    Jesus is the Life. In this, he is the answer to man’s mortality. Death is an ugly problem for man, but how does he face up to it? He will not even speak of it. Even when the last agony is upon him, his physician will hardly tell him the truth; his wife assures him that he is better; and even his minister speaks of what he will do when he gets well. What a tragic blindness it is that forces the great, the intelligent, the prominent and powerful on earth to go on living as if death had no claim upon them. The greatest falsehood of the age is the allegation that Christianity is a psychological escape hatch for defeated and frustrated souls. In Christ only do men face up to the fact of death and go down to the grave shouting, “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

    All of man’s efforts to negate the problem of mortality are pathetic. With what fanfare and enthusiasm he greets every new medicine or surgical skill; but has he abolished death? Here and there he might indeed have plucked a feather from the wings of the angel of death; but the shadow of those wings still darkens every threshold. Only in Christ does the redeemed soul march onward in the security of him who is the resurrection and the life. Jesus broke up every funeral he ever attended, promised to raise from the dead all who ever lived, and taught his disciples not to fear them that may kill the body. His is the glorious religion that teaches men how to live with all the facts of life and of death. His is the only name that means anything when spoken over the cold form of the dead. This is the sublime truth that has sent his church shouting down two thousand years, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Amen!

    Blessings:)

    Reply
  17. Luke says:

    Lizeth,

    Do you think it is moral to use paragraphs worth of words someone else has written without giving the author any credit or attribution?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  18. Lizeth says:

    Luke Says: . . “giving the author any credit or attribution?”

    Luke, absolutely! To Mr Buttrick, Coffman ,and God. I read no better answer to yours, and my question about John 14:6. I’m still evangelizing :)

    “Man is constitutionally ignorant, endemically wicked, and irrevocably mortal … There is no book logic to refute or uphold these contentions, only the logic of life … Man is not delivered from his lower life by his own power but remains helpless without the Great Companion.” – David Buttrick

    Blessings :)

    Reply
  19. Andrew Ryan says:

    Luke asked for your OWN thoughts on the matter. Cut and pasting others’ responses doesn’t give any evidence that you understood his question or thought it through at all. Presumably if Luke wanted to read an apologists standard responses he could have sought them out elsewhere.

    I too would like to hear your own words – I’m sure they’re worth a thousand words of pretty rhetoric delivered from a pulpit.

    Reply
  20. Luke says:

    Lizteth:Absolutely!

    Wait… You think it’s moral to take the hard work of others and pass it off as your own?

    The page on which I found the text you copied said: Copyright ACU Press All Rights Reserved, so at the very least, you seem to have broken the law. Is that moral too?

    Furthermore, I asked what you thought, not what some author and theologian thought.

    Luke

    Reply
  21. Lizeth says:

    I apologize that I had not posted the authors name at first, but I did later.
    No I do not think it’s moral to take the hard work of others and pass it off as my own. That was never my intentions. The commentary spoke volumes about the subject, and that is why I put there. Credit goes to Mr Buttrick, and to Coffman Commentaries.

    Reply
  22. Toby R. says:

    Lizeth,

    Yeah, the truth and the way and life. I think what you copied and pasted up there is darkness. I think religion is pure cynicism. It essentially says that everyone is a bunch of s*** unless they suck up to some deity. A deity that created everything and supposed to be so all powerful that it can do anything . . . anything except make a universe without evil. Which implies that the deity either isn’t all powerful or the deity is also the creator of evil or is indifferent of the consequences of its actions.

    I don’t know anyone trying to beat death. I think we search for medical break throughs because of three things: to ease suffering, because we’re curious, and for money.

    I think the idea of wickedness of men is based on our animal nature for self-preservation which can lead people to do extremely horrible things. And of course there are also those few percent out there with mental defects and go crazy and mow down some of our herd.

    Yeah, there are things we don’t know, may never know. Or perhaps our brains haven’t evolved enough to make some of the leaps. It’s pretty pitiful if faith in a god is based on the empty spaces in our knowledge.

    I just like to ask this one: What do you think all of your religion is going to get you? I think the idea of heaven is indistinguishable from hell. Do you think you’ll walk around streets of gold (I prefer stainless steel or maybe brushed nickel) and be happy all the live long day forever and ever? Do you think you’ll get to see all of your friends and family and dance and sing? It’ll probably be a more severe slavery on the other side. Constant worship of the lord forever and ever and not a moment for yourself to pat yourself on the back for having been so good for the short time on this planet.

    The religious still fear death. Otherwise they’d be out prowling the streets at night trying to save people from being mugged or raped, hoping to catch a bullet so they can take a ride to heaven. Nope. Everyone fears death because in the end it’s hard to swallow that any of the promises of religion are true. But as Hemingway ended The Sun Also Rises, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

    Reply
  23. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Luke,

    Sorry for the delay. Been out of town. Here are few brief responses.

    1. Read the second to the last paragraph in the column to see the basis for my claim that the country is sliding morally. BTW, I do think that spending future generations into debt is a moral issue. The only president/congress since WWII not to do this is Truman. Obama has vastly accelerated it to 3 times the rate of the next highest (Bush 43).

    2. I agree that we have made some important moral progress in this country, particularly on race relations. But I don’t agree that morality is purely personal. All laws legislate morality (see our first book “Legislating Morality”) and they help change attitudes and behaviors over the long run. The law is a great teacher. Changing laws have had a positive effect on race relations, and a negative effect with regards to abortion and family breakdown (i.e. divorce).

    3. Yes, abortion rates change (I think the peak was 1991 though). But the fact that we have birth control abortion at all is a moral travesty.

    4, In the US, now nearly 40% of all kids are born out of wedlock. That is bad news for the kids, of course, and the country because those children will commit a disproportionate share of the crime.

    5. Violent crime in the US skyrocketed (about 500%) from about 1960-1990 while population increased only 41%. We’ve had some improvement since then, but certainly not back to 1960 levels. With regard to the improvement, there are so many factors that go into this, but I suspect one major factor is that our incarceration rate (per 100,000 in population) is about 5 times what is was in 1980. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/incrt.htm.

    6. The main disciplinary/moral issues in our public schools 50 years ago were talking, chewing gum and cutting line. Now they are drug dealing, suicide, pregnancy, abortion, gangs, etc.

    7. I have a book on the same-sex marriage issue and several columns on http://www.townhall.com if you want more on that issue.

    Thanks. Gotta go.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  24. Andrew Ryan says:

    “Obama has vastly accelerated it to 3 times the rate of the next highest (Bush 43).”

    Yes, but thanks to the financial crisis that happened on Bush’s watch! It’s a bit rich to claim Obama’s increased spending happened in a vaccuum. And remember that Bush took Clinton’s surplus and turned it into a massive deficit. This has nothing to do with massive tax cuts and a hugely expensive war? Where were the complaints then of passing debt onto our kids? And on a similar note of blaming the Left, didn’t we establish on a past thread that liberals are less likely to divorce than conservatives?

    “In the US, now nearly 40% of all kids are born out of wedlock. That is bad news for the kids, of course, and the country because those children will commit a disproportionate share of the crime.”

    Correlation does not equal causation. Other countries with higher rates of children born out of wedlock don’t have US’s crime rates. The idea that my daughter is less likely to turn to crime if I marry her mother is absurd. The crime correlation is in fact with whether you were raised by two parents, not whether the parents were married or not. By all means cite stats on single-parent families – I’d quite possibly agree with your point there.

    On a similar subject though Frank, you never addressed this on your past thread when you said that other countries allowing same-sex marriage correlated with children born out of wedlock. I pointed out that you hadn’t shown a link in these countries with more children being raised by single parents. I also pointed out that these Scandinavian countries did not suffer the social problems that you associated with illegitimate children. You never answered.

    “Yes, abortion rates change (I think the peak was 1991 though). But the fact that we have birth control abortion at all is a moral travesty.”

    But the bottom line is the number of abortions, right? That’s is surely what you should care about. And that is going down.

    PS, yes I’m still working my way through your book! You will get my response to it eventually.

    Reply
  25. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Much of the financial problem can be traced back to Jimmy Carter’s 1977 community reinvestment act which mandated that banks make bad loans. And, of course, much of the blame can be laid at the foot of the American people who have gotten too materialistic, living beyond their means and wanting everything now. That’s a moral issue. I agree that both parties are partially responsible for the financial mess, but you can’t spend your way out of bankruptcy! That’s what Obama is trying to do in an accelerated way.

    The problem with out of wedlock births is the fact that cohabitating parents break up at rates much higher than married parents, which leads to the single parenting problem.

    Sometimes correlation does indicate causation. And when there is causation, there is always correlation. My point isn’t about what illegitimacy causes in other countries, but what it causes in the US. It’s a disaster in the US.

    We’re still killing over 1 million babies in this country by abortion each year. Is it better than 1.1 million? Of course, but is it because we are more moral or because pregnancy rates lower?

    Thanks for reading the book. No response necessary. Just wanted you to have it.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  26. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    Thanks for your response.

    Let me make a couple of general points, then I will make more pointed comments about what you wrote.

    I. Even if I accept everything you wrote, I am not ready to accept the argument that the country is “sliding into moral Hell.” You have made an argument that our country has problems (not exactly something anyone denied), but you also admitted that we’ve made “important moral progress.” That seems to me to be something different than sliding into moral Hell. Do you understand what I mean? As I said, even if I accept everything you wrote, I end up with a mixed picture, not a simple and unequivocal slide.

    You seem to acknowledge the many improvements I cited, only to say “yeah, but we still have these problems.” Do you not see how showing me that we still have problems is drastically different that saying we are sliding into moral Hell?

    II. Could you please cite some of the information you are posting? I only ask this because in the past (you can read through past comments in other threads), I’ve looked up some things you have written and found them to be simply not true! I don’t have time to check every fact you post, but since I know you have posted inaccurate information several times, I feel that there is such a need. I can no longer accept these statistics on your authority alone. Let me stress that I do not think you are misleading any of us on purpose and I trust that you believe that what you are posting is true, but the fact is you have been wrong about this several times in the past. I think it is a case where you yourself have been mislead by people you trust.

    (I am sure I sometimes leave off a citation that should be there and I apologize for that; always feel free to ask. That said, I don’t think anyone here can accuse me of not putting forth a good-faith effort to back up my posts with sources.)

    Frank Turek:1. Read the second to the last paragraph in the column to see the basis for my claim that the country is sliding morally.

    I did read this paragraph; in fact I re-read your entire column several times. I even responded to that paragraph in particular. You responded to my response. With that in mind, I find it odd that you wrote this.

    Frank Turek:2. I agree that we have made some important moral progress in this country, particularly on race relations.

    I’m glad you acknowledge this, but you seemed to have missed my point nonetheless.

    First of all, I do not see the issue of slavery or even segregation as an issue of “race relations.” I specifically cited the Bible and I think it is a much more basic moral issue (Matthew 7:12, Matthew 22:38-39).

    Second of all, do you not think we’ve made other progress along similar lines (my Biblical context, not your “race” context)? Honestly… Don’t you think we’ve made great strides with things like women’s rights (no, I am not talking about abortion; I am talking about the right to vote, the right to pursue one’s interests and to self-actualization). What about the way ordinary people are treated by the powerful (Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle comes to mind)? Remember when Americans were caught up in the idea of Manifest Destiny and basically committed genocide against a whole group of people for simply being in the way? Do you think most people see that kind of thing as morally acceptable these days? (It seems to me most people accepted it back then, but I admit that I have not read much beyond entry level college text books which talked about this for a few pages.)

    I just honestly don’t know how to respond to your comment here. Do you not honestly not see other areas in which we’ve made “important moral progress?”

    Third of all, don’t you acknowledge the tremendous moral weight associated with enslaving or otherwise dehumanizing a whole group of people based on the color of their skin? Perhaps I am just misreading your attitude here, but you don’t seem to grasp the tremendous gravity of spitting in the face of Jesus’ “two greatest commandments.” You seem to dismiss it with a simple, “there is that, but…”

    Frank Turek:But I don’t agree that morality is purely personal. All laws legislate morality (see our first book “Legislating Morality”) and they help change attitudes and behaviors over the long run. The law is a great teacher.

    I gave not read your book, so perhaps this argument is much deeper.

    First of all, how does the law that says that my water heater must be elevated 18″ off the ground “legislate morality?”

    Beyond that, I don’t quite grasp the connection you are making here. Let’s accept the notion that the law is a great moral teacher (I’ll get back to this idea in a minute). Doesn’t that mean that the law teaches individual persons? And that it’s moral effect is on the individual person. If the person does not change (does not learn the law’s lesson) then the law has done nothing. So it does seem to me that it is in the end personal. The law cannot be a moral actor, only a person can be.

    I actually agree with you that the law can be a moral teacher (my example of The Jungle could be used for this, as tremendous legal changes took place that are now accepted as moral in mainstream thought). But I don’t accept that it always is a great moral teacher. Prohibition was quickly abandoned; the war on drugs is an abject failure (I think just about every journalistic publication has had a “we lost the war on drugs” article in the past decade, just do a google search).

    So while I agree that the law can be tremendously important, I don’t think we can rest once we’ve passed the “right laws.” The simple truth is, they don’t always “take.” Because in the end it is the person, not the law, that takes the moral action.

    This is my point here. I noticed for example, that you failed to answer the question at the end of my first post. We can pass all the laws we want, and people may not accept them, or people may choose to do the right thing, even though they are not legally obliged to.

    This also works the other way, simply making something legal does not mean that everyone will rush out and do it. For example, you can look up the CATO institute report (from earlier this year) on drug decriminalization in Portugal, which found drug usage to be decreasing since the legal restrictions on personal use were lifted.

    Again, I’d like to hear your answer to the question I posted at the end of my first response.

    Frank Turek:3. Yes, abortion rates change (I think the peak was 1991 though).

    And if they are going down, how does that relate to a “slide into moral Hell.” If abortion rates were going up, what kind of slide would be in then?

    (While I actually think you are right that 1991 was a peak, I am not sure. Statistical fluctuations do not undermine existing trends. I posted a link to statistics which bore out my contention. Why should I ignore published data based on your “I think?”

    Frank Turek:But the fact that we have birth control abortion at all is a moral travesty.

    The world has seen abortion as birth control since pre-agrarian societies (Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs and Steel is the first thing that comes into my head as a source of this. When families had to be on the move to hunt/gather, a pregnancy or infant would slow down, and therefore risk the lives of, the entire family), so I don’t think this point is valid to making a slide into moral Hell argument. (If you wanted to argue that the world has been in moral Hell all along, that’s a different issue.)

    Frank Turek:4, In the US, now nearly 40% of all kids are born out of wedlock. That is bad news for the kids, of course, and the country because those children will commit a disproportionate share of the crime.

    I think Andrew already answered this.

    Nonetheless though, it simply points out the fact that you’re pointing out that the country is not perfect. I don’t think anyone has argued that it was.

    Again, at best, you’re proving that we’re seeing a mixed moral picture.

    My view remains. I think you’re defending yourself by pointing to the cuts on the face of a car accident victim, while ignoring the internal bleeding that has been stiched up. No one has said things are perfect, we’re pointing to tremendous progress (which you yourself accept) and question your contention of a terrible downward slide.

    Frank Turek:5. Violent crime in the US skyrocketed (about 500%) from about 1960-1990 while population increased only 41%. We’ve had some improvement since then, but certainly not back to 1960 levels.

    I find this line of argument completely disingenuous… sorry. First of all, I made a point about crime rates (murder specifically) since the time of the founding of this nation (particularly because you mentioned this time period as well). Then you come back and say: “yeah but look at 1960, we’re still not as good as we were then.” How does this support your thesis that the country is currently in a moral slide? You seem to have proven (without actually citing any sources for your data) that 1960 and the area around them was a bright spot in the history of crime. You have not shown anything which relates to a “moral slide” in 2009. When I do look at the stats though (just from the first site google gave me), I find current levels to be pretty close to 1960 levels. For murder specifically, the rate was 5.08/100,000 in 1960 and 5.61/100,000 in 2007; in 1987. for example, it was 8.29/100,000 (Disaster Center, United States Crime Rates 1960-2007; calculations mine).

    Frank Turek:6. The main disciplinary/moral issues in our public schools 50 years ago were talking, chewing gum and cutting line. Now they are drug dealing, suicide, pregnancy, abortion, gangs, etc.

    The third most-deadly school shooting in the US took place on August 1st, 1966, killing 14. It was the most deadly until Columbine (then Virginia Tech). Not quite 50 years ago, but 43.

    I am looking at some basic data on suicide; it looks like suicide increased by a factor of three (Time, Mar 23, 1987) since the 1950s by 1987. However, the rate declined steadily for a decade, though has recently spiked again (JAMA, September 3, 2008). What these statistics show is that your contention that the main issues “were talking… now they are… suicide” is simply incorrect at best and simply callous at worst. (I bet the parents of all the kids who committed suicide in 1959, 50 years ago, though it was a pretty big issue.)

    And again, the overall decline over the last 10+ years seems to disprove your overall point of a “slide into moral Hell”

    The teen pregnancy rate was highest in 1957. That year there were 96 births per 1,000 women, the rate fell to 49 by 2000 (Bonstra, Heather: Guttmacher Report on Public Policy; February 2002).

    Again, Dr. Turek, you make strong contentions which don’t seem to hold up to factual scrutiny. For what it’s worth, I went to high school during what seems to be a statistically worse time than now, the school was not affluent, I would say it was average. I would say the main disciplinary/moral issues in my school were talking, chewing gum and cutting line.

    Frank Turek:7. I have a book on the same-sex marriage issue and several columns on http://www.townhall.com if you want more on that issue.

    All I can say is that the “should we all shake our fists at cobblers?” comment Andrew made in the thread of the book is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

    Frank Turek:My point isn’t about what illegitimacy causes in other countries, but what it causes in the US. It’s a disaster in the US.

    But doesn’t the fact that it does not cause the same problems in those countries necessarily mean that there is not some metaphysical connection between illegitimacy and crime? You seem to have delegitimized your own point here.

    Here is a silly example:

    Frank: Dropping a big rock on your toe results in pain.

    Andrew: Not at the Timberland factory, where everyone wears steel-toes boots.

    Frank: But my point isn’t about what dropping rocks causes in other places, but what it causes here, where we just wear flip-flops.

    Obvious elephant in the room: Might that not have more to do with the flip-flop vs. boot thing?

    Frank Turek:We’re still killing over 1 million babies in this country by abortion each year. Is it better than 1.1 million? Of course, but is it because we are more moral or because pregnancy rates lower?

    You say “of course” it’s better, but still claim the slide into moral Hell, why?

    To me, it’s either better, or it’s sliding into Hell. I don’t see how you can have it both ways. At best you can argue it’s a nuanced and complex picture (that’s what I would say).

    Frank Turek:Is it because we are more moral?

    I think that’s part of it, I don’t see how you can dismiss that. If you look at Gallup polling data over the years, an increasing number find abortion to be an immoral act. I am sure you are aware of the recent poll which for the first time found most Americans to self-label as pro-life. To dismiss the fact that there has been moral movement on this issue is to dismiss… well, the facts.

    By the way, why do you think this moral movement has been possible in the face of laws which seem to legislate the opposite? Doesn’t this work to show my point that while the law can influence people, it is not equal morality; that people are the ones who ultimately make moral decisions, but are influenced by many, many factors, of which the law is just one? (One which we can prove the people can overcome.)

    Reply
  27. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Luke,

    There is no doubt, overturning slavery was huge! It took a war to overcome it here and Wilberforce in the UK over the pond. But that was done in 1865 and women got the right to vote via a constitutional amendment (rather than judicial activism) in 1920. I’ve been talking about the moral decline in our generation.

    Prior to 1973, there were 100K abortions per year, now over a million.

    If you want the stats for 1960-1994 see William Bennett’s book on Leading Cultural Indicators.

    Again, when you are incarcerating 5X the number of people per the population, that may have a positive impact on crime numbers but it doesn’t indicate a more moral society– it indicates a less moral one.

    With regard to your teen pregnancy rate in 1957, how many of those teens were married? How many aborted?

    Do you really think schools are morally better now than they were 50 years ago?

    BTW, your waterheater must be 18 inches off the ground to prevent a fire because it is immoral to endanger people in your house, including yourself.

    Sorry to be short, but I’m working on impending deadlines. That’s why I offered to call you. I can talk faster than I can type.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  28. Andrew Ryan says:

    Out of interest, and sorry in advance for the cut and paste from The Guardian:

    Teenage pregnancies and syphilis have risen sharply among a generation of American school girls who were urged to avoid sex before marriage under George Bush’s evangelically-driven education policy, according to a new report by the US’s major public health body.

    In a report that will surprise few of Bush’s critics on the issue, the Centres for Disease Control says years of falling rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease infections under previous administrations were reversed or stalled in the Bush years. According to the CDC, birth rates among teenagers aged 15 or older had been in decline since 1991 but are up sharply in more than half of American states since 2005. The study also revealed that the number of teenage females with syphilis has risen by nearly half after a significant decrease while a two-decade fall in the gonorrhea infection rate is being reversed. The number of Aids cases in adolescent boys has nearly doubled.

    The CDC says that southern states, where there is often the greatest emphasis on abstinence and religion, tend to have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs.

    In addition, about 16,000 pregnancies were reported among 10- to 14-year-old girls in 2004 and a similar number of young people in the age group reported having a sexually transmitted disease.

    Reply
  29. Luke says:

    Frank Turek:What is the point of the last post? Is there a link for this CDC study?

    Dr. Turek,

    If you don’t see the point of the post (therefore regard it as pointless), why are you interested in the report? :)

    As far as the link though, I am not sure why you expect Andrew to provide the source. He quoted the Guardian — that was Andrew’s source. Why should he be responsible for providing secondary sources as well?

    I went to the Guardian and it took me an additional 45 seconds to find the full report.

    As you know, we’ve all had trouble posting links to the blog, so I will not post it. If you need the link and have trouble finding it, I will gladly email it to you.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  30. Frank Turek says:

    Luke,

    I would just like what Andrew’s take on it is. After all, on this blog, we all seem to be misunderstood.

    Links are simply moderated. So by all means include it.

    Thanks,

    Frank

    Reply
  31. Andrew Ryan says:

    My take on the report: with regard to a discussion of things like increased teen pregnancy as a sign of a ‘slide into hell’, I find it interesting that the very cause of that particular slide was Bush’s policy of abstinence-only education, which was informed by a particular right-wing brand of Christian morality.

    Perhaps with a reversal of these policies, we will see a reversal of this slide.

    “Frank Turek:My point isn’t about what illegitimacy causes in other countries, but what it causes in the US. It’s a disaster in the US. ”

    The point here was that YOU had been pointing to Scandinavian countries and what you perceived as the effects of their legalising gay marriage.

    Reply
  32. Frank Turek says:

    Hi Andrew,

    As you know, it is difficult to make definite causal connections in social science because of so many factors. But you can establish relationships that are likely causal to some degree. That’s why others in addition to me think that legalizing SSM has led to illegitimacy in other countries.

    Read pro-gay author David Blankenhorn and his book “The Future of Marriage.” I quote him extensively in my book on the issue. He writes: “Here is my dilemma: With every fiber of my being, I want to
    affirm the equal dignity of all persons and push for equal treatment under the law . Yet I’m also a marriage nut. I’ve spent most of my professional life arguing that marriage is important and that children need mothers and fathers .” So while Blankenhorn sympathizes with homosexuals, he still believes that arguments against same-sex marriage far outweigh those for it.

    Why? The good of children is his most crucial reason . He observes, “Across history and cultures . . . marriage’s single most fundamental idea is that every child needs a mother and a father . Changing marriage to accommodate same-sex couples would nullify this principle in culture and in law .” He then goes on to cite international surveys which show a mutually re-enforcing relationship between same-sex marriage and illegitimacy . Natural marriage is weakest and illegitimacy strongest wherever same-sex marriage is legal.

    The bottom line, is marriage is simply too important to society to take chances tampering with it. And we know that illegitimacy is a disaster in the United States and we should do everything we can to prevent it.

    BTW, I went to the Guardian but did not see a link to the original CDC piece. If you run across it, please let me know.

    Blessings,

    Frank Turek

    Reply
  33. Luke says:

    Hi Luke,

    Frank TurekThere is no doubt, overturning slavery was huge! It took a war to overcome it here and Wilberforce in the UK over the pond. But that was done in 1865 and women got the right to vote via a constitutional amendment (rather than judicial activism) in 1920. I’ve been talking about the moral decline in our generation.

    Is this a case of What Have You Done for Me Lately? (Thanks for getting a Janet Jackson song stuck in my head, by the way!) Or are you simply admitting that your argument doesn’t hold up if we “zoom out” a little bit?

    Either way weakens your argument, really.

    Again, if you agree that these things were terrible moral blights, we have to consider them when we consider our moral slide, do we not?

    If you want to argue that we’re backsliding after a long history of moral progress, that’s a completely different story (not saying I’d automatically buy that argument; it’s just a different one: one which seems much easier to defend, from what has been said here.)

    Frank TurekI’ve been talking about the moral decline in our generation.

    Yet in your article you mention:

    abandoning it in earnest in the 1920’s.
    As Abraham Lincoln once observed,
    That 1647 Massachusetts law
    our first universities
    The founders of Harvard knew
    Our founders knew this.
    a woman asked Benjamin Franklin

    At the very least, you are holding that those people and those times are morally superior, yet you have now admitted that they weren’t in “important” ways. Again, at the very least, it is disingenuous to now ignore them.

    Frank TurekPrior to 1973, there were 100K abortions per year, now over a million.

    If you want the stats for 1960-1994 see William Bennett’s book on Leading Cultural Indicators.

    Again, Dr. Turek, you simply undermine your own argument.

    You claim an acceleration into moral Hell, yet yourself admit to statistics that show reduced abortion rates over the last two decades. I have fortified this with polling data which shows an increasing number of people who believe abortion to be immoral.

    How is this an acceleration?

    You could use you data to put forth an argument that our country is less moral than it was in 1973. Fine. You cannot use this data to show an ACCELERATION into moral Hell. It simply doesn’t make sense.

    Frank TurekAgain, when you are incarcerating 5X the number of people per the population, that may have a positive impact on crime numbers but it doesn’t indicate a more moral society– it indicates a less moral one.

    The rate of imprisonment is a complex issue. You yourself don’t claim any link here, simply say “that may…”

    I am sure you’re aware that a majority of the people imprisoned are non-violent offenders (Irwin, John, et al: America;s One Million Nonviolent Prisoners; Justice Policy Institute). There is argument over whether the imprisonment actually decreases or increases crime rates (Encarta: Does Imprisonment Reduce Crime?, etc. etc.). This is not a criminal justice forum, and since you yourself aren’t making the argument, just claiming it as a possibility, then I don’t think we need to follow this argument. The experts simply don’t agree on this, in my mind socio-economic factors have been very important. If this was the only data I had to back up my questions about your assertions, then maybe this would show something, even if you proved to be correct.

    BTW, crime has recently been ticking back up, has there been a corresponding release of prisoners? (Another BTW, have you ever read Fixing Broken Windows be Jelling and Coles?)

    Frank TurekWith regard to your teen pregnancy rate in 1957, how many of those teens were married? How many aborted?

    Dr. Turek, you said that pregnancy was not a problem in schools in 1957. The number of pregnancies that may be aborted has no impact whatsoever on the assertion you put forth. Even if one is married, that does not remove the problems of schooling while being pregnant or being a mother (what were the drop-out rates for these girls?), does it? Again, you made an assertion which did not hold up to available statistics, so you are now changing the rules.

    Frank TurekDo you really think schools are morally better now than they were 50 years ago?

    I don’t know; it’s not an issue which I’ve studied. You have certainly not convinced me that they are not.

    This really strikes me as an emotional argument though. You made an assertion, I posted statistics which cast doubt on those assertions, so you’ve retreated to a “you really think” argument.

    It’s as if you’re asking if I watch the news and don’t cringe at many of the things I see. Of course I do. But I also cringe when I read history books (often even more so).

    Look, I’ll be honest, when I go see a movie like the Hangover, I think to myself — what the H is wrong with this world. But that’s an emotional response, not a well thought out one. When I begin to think it out, at the very least I see a very mixed picture, but in many ways I see progress. It’s research and reflection that leads me away from that initial, emotional conclusion.

    Your question (and I may simply be misinterpreting your intention, sorry if that’s the case) strikes me as an attempt to push for that emotional conclusion. (I mean, I am familiar with the problems of the recent schooling experience, personally, in many ways. So it’s easy for me to see the bad side of it. I know nothing of the 50s school experience, and am far removed from any negativity involved. So the natural emotional conclusion is to say “things must be worse now.)

    I think schools had problems 50 years ago and have problems now. 50 years ago… that was 1959, so we were still in the throes of segregation. That makes me think that, yes, we’ve made some big progress in schools and the way that pupils see one another. Other problems have developed along the way; most others have remained about the same. Many statistics do not seem drastically different. The point I made, was that from my personal experience, schools these days are about what you described as the 1950s ideal.

    But, why did you bring up schools in the 50′s anyway, if you’re only writing about this generation? Wouldn’t it be more accurate in the context you’ve now delineated, to talk of schools in the late 1980s?

    Frank TurekBTW, your waterheater must be 18 inches off the ground to prevent a fire because it is immoral to endanger people in your house, including yourself.

    Then why should the building itself not be fully fire-proofed? Why am I not required to use fire-proofed metal studs, for example? Why does the water heater need to drain to the outside (surely you don’t think this is a drowning hazard)? I believe that these are largely economic and common sense measures, and have little to do with morality. If you have some debates over this legislation which discuss morality (a moral motivation for these laws), then I’d be curious to read them.

    Do you honestly think it’s immoral to endanger people? Almost everything we do endangers us in some way. Anytime I get in my car I am endangering myself.

    Frank TurekSorry to be short, but I’m working on impending deadlines. That’s why I offered to call you. I can talk faster than I can type.

    No problem. I am much more concerned with the soundness of your argument than the length of your post. As I’ve said, phone use is not easy for me, but more than that, you’ve made a public assertion, which I publicly challenged. I would think you would want to defend that assertion publicly as well.

    To return a bit to the larger picture here. I do not doubt that you perceive a moral decline, and even an acceleration in the moral decline. I trust that you are being sincere with us. I am just trying to get you to question that assertion a bit on a factual basis. It is as I described with the schools of the 50s, and my reaction to the Hangover — yeah, it’s easy to come to this conclusion. But I think we have to do our due diligence and follow through on it academically (especially if it’s going to be posted for public consumption and critique). That’s all I’m asking you do to.

    Honestly, as you can see, so far I find your arguments unconvincing, but I remain open.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  34. Frank Turek says:

    Luke,

    The point of the article was to point out the Christians have not done their jobs. You seem to be objecting to the word “hell.” Sorry you don’t like that word or think it is too strong. I agree that people have always been immoral (that’s why we need a Savior). But I think that we are accelerating into moral hell on the issues I pointed out in the second to last paragraph. And I think the financial and moral excesses we are now experiencing are largely the result of the Christians failing at their calling.

    I’m not following your response to the 5X incarceration rate. Unfortunately, we are releasing too many prisoners due to prison overcrowding now, and some of them are violent criminals (not just white collar).

    I think that teens being pregnant when they are married (especially in the 50′s when people married much earlier) is not the same as teens being pregnant out of wedlock today. Moreover, the moral problems in schools today are vastly more serious than they were in the 50′s. That’s not emotional but factual.

    Haven’t seen Hangover or Fixing Broken Windows. Does the latter have anything to do with Rudy Guliani’s efforts to clean up NY?

    Sorry, this will be my last post for a while. If you want, the offer to speak over the phone is still on. Use of time will be much more efficient. Just send me your number via email.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    Reply
  35. Tim D. says:

    I think that teens being pregnant when they are married (especially in the 50’s when people married much earlier) is not the same as teens being pregnant out of wedlock today.

    Really? I still think high school pregnancy is a problem. I thought it was Evangelicals who touted the “moral repercussions” of getting married in high school? Or does it really only matter if they’re not “married?”

    Personally, I think it’s counterproductive for someone to marry and have kids while they’re still in high school. They can’t get a full-time job or support the child yet; it’s irresponsible.

    Reply
  36. Luke says:

    Luke,

    Frank Turek:The point of the article was to point out the Christians have not done their jobs.

    But this only makes sense if we accept the premise of a moral decline, right?

    Frank Turek:You seem to be objecting to the word “hell.” Sorry you don’t like that word or think it is too strong.

    Not really, I was just using the terminology you put forth. I am saying that when I look at it from anything but an emotional view, I see vast improvements in our overall morality.

    I am open to being convinced otherwise. In your responses though, you seem to have actually undermine your first assertion (in the ways I’ve pointed out) rather than strengthen it.

    Frank Turek:I agree that people have always been immoral (that’s why we need a Savior). But I think that we are accelerating into moral hell on the issues I pointed out in the second to last paragraph.

    But how does this relate to any moral decline as a whole?

    I am not, and have never said, that we don’t have moral problems. But I don’t think you can point to problems that we still have to prove an overall decline. You can’t simply ignore the positives when they don’t line up with your thesis.

    If I said that we haven’t made any medical advances by pointing out that asthma rates are skyrocketing, or some new pandemic, I don’t think you would buy my argument, would you?

    We have to look at the big picture.

    Personally, I will gladly take ACORN getting tax money for the end of segregation, or for my daughter’s right to be anything she may wish to be.

    Frank Turek:And I think the financial and moral excesses we are now experiencing is largely the result of the Christians failing at their calling.

    No one has questioned the causes of it, because we haven’t accepted the premise.

    You again seem to be shifting and backtracking on your thesis. First you limit it to the last generation, now you say that none of that was the point either, now the point is just about those who perceive this decline (“if you’re a believer who is upset…”) and their role in it.

    Frank Turek:I’m not following your response to the 5X incarceration rate. Unfortunately, we are releasing too many prisoners due to prison overcrowding now, and some of them are violent criminals (not just white collar).

    Most non-vioent criminals in prison are far from “white-collar.”

    My point is simply that no expert makes as strong a link as you seem to imply. Many find the reverse. You made a pretty bold claim, bold enough that you did not actually claim it, only gave it a weak “this may do that. That’s not a good basis for your argument.

    Frank Turek:I think that teens being pregnant when they are married (especially in the 50’s when people married much earlier) is not the same as teens being pregnant out of wedlock today.

    But your point was about the effect on schools, and the effect that pregnant students have on schools, was it not? While you are correct that statistics show that many more teens were married in the 1950s than now, I do not know how much of this is due to post-pregnancy marriage. If you have statistics which back up these assertions, I would be glad to read them. I do not feel that it is my duty to find research which backs up your contentions.

    Frank Turek:Moreover, the moral problems in schools today are vastly more serious than they were in the 50’s. That’s not emotional but factual.

    Then please post the facts which show this. You have up to this point not done so. Saying that it’s factual does not lend credibility to the claim.

    Why is a society which readily accepts segregation but limits disciplinary problems to gum chewing more moral than a society which rejects segregation, but in which about 4% of unmarried teens become pregnant?

    I know it’s a complex picture, and there are many more factors involved, but the question above is an important one. If you’d welcome a society which segregates, but has less teen pregnancy and discipline problems, I simply want to know why? Why do you see that as “more” moral?

    (If we use the words of Jesus as the basis for morality, I’ve already pointed out that segregation seems to spit in the face of the greatest commandments. Teen pregnancy might be unwelcome, but I don’t think it throws mud in the face of Jesus in quite the same way. Again, if you think I’m wrong about that, please tell me why.)

    Frank Turek:IHaven’t seen Hangover or Fixing Broken Windows. Does the latter have anything to do with Rudy Guliani’s efforts to clean up NY?

    Yes, it does, and many other similar efforts. If you want a concrete example backing up your assertions, please see the Hangover.

    Reply
  37. Mike N says:

    Toby R: “It’ll probably be a more severe slavery on the other side. Constant worship of the lord forever and ever and not a moment for yourself to pat yourself on the back for having been so good for the short time on this planet.”

    I was floored when I read this… I’m amazed how relevant C.S. Lewis remains after all these years. The Great Divorce was written just for you!

    Reply
  38. Tim D. says:

    Then please post the facts which show this. You have up to this point not done so. Saying that it’s factual does not lend credibility to the claim.

    “Discussion of Discussion” in action~

    Reply
  39. Andrea says:

    This article is a good wake-up call. Public Schools practically teach students to be atheist and totally brain-wash them. Logic is no longer accounted for through the way they teach.

    Inspite of the secular world trying to stop God’s work, it’s awesome how they never could, and never can. Christ still reigns then, now, and forever.

    Reply
  40. Luke says:

    Frank Turek:I think that we are accelerating into moral hell on the issues I pointed out in the second to last paragraph.
    (emphasis mine)

    I sort of missed this comment when I first read your post, but am I correct to assume that you’ve now completely given up on arguing that we are sliding into moral Hell in general, and that you’re now arguing a moral decline only in these specific areas?

    Frank Turek:Sorry, this will be my last post for a while.

    That’s too bad, but I understand. We all have things to do.

    I look forward to your next column.

    Reply
  41. Luke says:

    Andrea: Public Schools practically teach students to be atheist and totally brain-wash them. Logic is no longer accounted for through the way they teach.

    This is another overly general, unsupported statement that I just don’t know what to do with.

    Andrea:Inspite of the secular world trying to stop God’s work, it’s awesome how they never could, and never can.

    What is the secular world doing to stop G-d’s work?

    How, specifically, are they failing?

    Since you see this secular push to stop G-d’s work as failing, I guess you also question Dr. Turek’s original premise (which he seems to have abandoned, step-by-step)?

    Reply
  42. Tim D. says:

    This article is a good wake-up call. Public Schools practically teach students to be atheist and totally brain-wash them. Logic is no longer accounted for through the way they teach.

    My explanation for comments like this, which I posted in another forum earlier this week:

    I like Nocturne’s spin on this, particularly the Neutral ending; to avoid spoilers I’ll just say this. I think statements like ^this actually make society’s morality worse. Everybody here in America (on TV, at least) is always talking about the “moral depravity” of our nation and how we’re going downhill and whatnot (watch FOX News for one day and you’ll see what I mean), and they’re all so angry about it all the time. I think people watch that and they feel like, because it’s on TV coming from a trusted voice, it’s probably somewhat true. And so they get depressed thinking about the state of the world and they feel the need to go out and “warn” people about the way things are. And the next thing you know we have a bunch of pissed-off neo-libs and neo-cons telling everyone “how it is.”

    I get tired of hearing from people who “know how it is” all the time. Sometimes I just want to hear an open-ended statement that leaves me feeling thoughtful, ya know? I don’t think Andrea seriously believes those comments, though, or even knows what they really mean (I know I certainly don’t know what they mean).

    Inspite of the secular world trying to stop God’s work, it’s awesome how they never could, and never can. Christ still reigns then, now, and forever.

    Do you really, honestly believe that there is a “secular agenda” that is “out to get” you guys? I have a hard time believing that you really think that. It’s so paranoid. Where did you hear this?

    Reply
  43. Tim D. says:

    P.S.

    Andrea, my school did not “brainwash” me into atheism; if anything, it was the teachings of the Christian faculty that helped push me towards atheism; my earth science teacher was always dropping subtle hints into his lessons (so as not to cross the line and “officially” teach his religion) about how Biblical influences could “best explain” things; every time the fossil record came up, he would try to spout off about how a “great flood” could’ve caused all of those dinosaurs to die and become buried under the sediment in one layer like that.

    I was actually really intrigued by those comments at first, to the point where I looked up some of the things he was saying at the time. As time went on, though, I found that almost every single thing he ever said about Biblical connections with historical geographical developments were, simply put, a huge load of bull. He barely knew enough about the subject to be teaching it. He was more concerned about spreading his uneducated religious beliefs than he was about preparing us to study earth sciences.

    So I guess you were right when you said that logic no longer plays a factor in schools down here; they’re teaching religious beliefs instead of logical approaches to life and science. And that’s a bit irritating, considering that my tax dollars fund local schools, and that the government strictly prohibits teaching religion in a classroom not specifically designed for that purpose.

    (Seriously….it’s not just religion. It’s irritating when a teacher can’t make an intellectual judgment as to the right time and place to talk about anything. I wouldn’t want a teacher talking about music or movies during an earth science course any more than I’d want to hear them talk about religion. You’re not there to talk hobbies, you’re there to teach, so shut up and do your job….yeesh!)

    Reply
  44. Luke says:

    Tim:I don’t think Andrea seriously believes those comments, though

    I disagree; I bet she believes them wholeheartedly.

    When I think about this I think about sociology and more specifically the study of identity. Often when talking about one’s identity, we find we have to talk about “the other.” That is, rarely is identity established in a vacuum — it’s almost always set against one “other” or sometimes many different “others” (used to define various components of the identity).

    I think it’s very likely that Dr. Turek and Andrea form their identity in part by defining themselves as moral agents (or at least agents who are striving to be moral, though at times failing) in a sea of immorality. They are the salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).

    If everyone around them is seen or as defined as also being largely moral (but also at times failing morally), then this important part of their identity is no longer valid (because the ‘other’ against which it is defined becomes invalid; the “other” ceases to be different).

    I can think of a somewhat silly personal example for this. I like to think that I listen to cool music. For that identity to have any value, it necessarily requires most other people to listen to worthless music (lucky for me, this is true). If everyone else listened to “cool” music, then that aspect of my identity wouldn’t really have any purpose or meaning.

    It’s the same thing for Dr. Turek and Andrea, just with morality.

    Since this is likely a very important part of their identity, they must be very invested in believing the idea that a moral cesspool exists all around them. Therefore, I think Andrea very strongly believes in her statement — it’s part of who she is.

    In my mind, Dr. Turek did a very poor job defending his assertion of accelerating moral decline, but I don’t think he believes it any less than he did before — it’s part of who he is.

    Reply
  45. Luke says:

    Dr. Turek,

    I had a free minute so I looked over at Salvo magazine, based on your most recent post here.

    Anyway, featured on the main page was an link discussing the very issue you brought up in this thread (or rather upon which you originally predicated this thread).

    Not So Fast: Is Moral Collapse Inevitable?

    The conclusion contains this quote:

    The claim that the nation faces irreversible moral decline can’t survive the incontrovertible evidence that some of the decay of previous decades has already been reversed.

    Reply
  46. Tommy says:

    I’m sorry that I do not have the time or the desire to comment on the blogs that Dr Turek has received thus far. I would like to say that when he stated that the primary blame of our moral decline goes to the church, pastors everywhere should be jumping up and down with joy. Finally someone is bold enough to speak the truth. Although I understand that we all have to be aaccountable to someone, authority always goes up. Pastors were called by God, deacons were called by man. I feel the church has been stripped of its spiritual authorithy and satan is being unchallenged in the areas the church will not go, such as politics. God should be a part of everything that we do! If the sheep are going to vote they should have a spiritual understanding of what they are looking for in a candidate. I recently heard the governor of Mississippi say that we need to bring the republican party together, it did not matter if they were pro life or pro choice. He said we have to stop looking for purity. ” Somebody, an Ibuprofen please”. The church should be built on a foundation of Gods love, mercy and grace, which is Jesus Christ . His love is for everyone. ( yes even liberal politicians) His grace can cover all of our mistakes, past and present. But once this foundation is laid, there is still a building to be built. The church has missed this point, often myself included….

    Reply
  47. Tim D. says:

    Hey, did you guys see that the health care reform finally passed? :D It seems that Obama has managed to get some stuff done in spite of 2 years of Republican stonewalling….I gotta give it to the guy. He’s certainly earning my vote.

    Reply
  48. Melissa Askew says:

    Excellent article…I have been explaining to everybody I know how, as Christians, we need to be engaging the culture, not shying away from it. The prevailing culture needs us to have a presence in it. Otherwise, it is a “them” against “us” mentality. We should be working side by side and be a guiding light for the culture. I have a feeling I will be getting a lot of info to blog about from this website. THank you so much….Liss Askew

    Reply

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