This is the second post in a series about the changes I’ve seen happen over my lifetime (from the 1940s to the 2010s). See my introductory comments in Part 1.
Aggressive atheism and growing secularization; diminished influence of the Judeo-Christian ethic
Aggressive atheists are using the courts and scare tactics to try to eliminate God and religion from our society. Using the First Amendment as a weapon, they have successfully influenced the courts to ban public prayer, manger scenes on public land, memorial crosses, and other religious expressions.
With growing secularization, fewer people attend weekly worship services on a regular basis, fewer people send their kids to Sunday school, and fewer people profess faith in biblical beliefs. As a result, fewer people are getting spiritual nourishment or learning biblical principles of behavior. I believe we all need transcendent moral and ethical standards, not man-made ones subject to change. Today we are being guided more and more by man-made standards of behavior such as Political Correctness and situational ethics.
As situational ethics and relativism have increasingly become the basis for behavior, the inevitable result is less consideration for others. Political Correctness has become the dominant paradigm of “proper” behavior; with “tolerance” its key virtue. There are several problems with PC:
(1) PC “Tolerance” is inconsistent in that it applies only to certain groups that must be “tolerated”, while others who aren’t PC are not to be tolerated;
(2) There is free speech only for those who support the PC line; otherwise you are shouted down, vilified, or what you have to say is labeled “hate speech” even when it really isn’t.
(3) Academia is firmly in the grip of PC so that academic freedom has become a myth on most campuses. Tenured professors have been fired because they didn’t toe the PC line. Controversial guest speakers have been shouted down at colleges and not allowed to present their viewpoint. Case in point: a few months ago Ray Kelly (then Police Commissioner of New York City and proponent of “stop and frisk”) was invited to give a speech at Brown University. He couldn’t give it because his audience wouldn’t let him.
Further indicators of moral decline are that teen-age girls see absolutely nothing wrong with sexting; cruel bullying of a classmate is fine; graphic sex is shown in the movies and even on TV; religion, God, and believers are put down and ridiculed by the media.
Deconstruction of the Bible and the US Constitution to fit agendas
Both the Bible and the Constitution are based on unchanging principles. They are “carved in stone” and are not to be changed or redefined at society’s pleasure.
Many believe the Bible contains God’s truth written down by human intermediaries using various literary forms such as poetry, allegory, illustrations (parables), and history. Many theologians, seminary professors, and pastors deconstruct the Bible, reducing it to a patchwork of questionable writings which can be interpreted as you see fit. Passages in the Bible that conflict with their agenda or beliefs are distorted or explained away to fit their needs.
Similarly, the Constitution of the US is now considered a “living document” by the courts, which goes against the very purpose of having a constitution. As a result, it can be reinterpreted (and misinterpreted) well beyond the framers’ intentions. Rather than being that unchanging “stake in the ground” it has become subject to change and reinterpretation even though such changes are often in conflict with the framers’ meanings (as we know from their writings and early court cases).
Growing disparity between rich and poor, diminished middle class
We seem to be regressing when, for the first time in recent US history, the next generation will have a lower standard of living than their parents. What’s happening?
(1) Increasing number of poor, and a declining middle class (something like 46 million people are living in poverty);
(2) People are earning less as we move from better-paying manufacturing jobs to lower-paying service jobs;
(3) While earning less, workers are faced with higher medical and energy costs;
(4) Executives and sports figures are getting obscene compensation packages, widening the disparity between the highest and lowest paid people.
More on societal changes in a future post.