How did you read the above picture? It might depend on what you believe. Do you see “God is now here” or “God is nowhere?” Interesting, right?
Interesting too is that today is Sunday, or the Sabbath, the day traditionally reserved for religious services and when many attend church. Sadly, new polls are confirming less and less attendance. Coincidentally, another poll reported a record high number of Americans who rate the moral values of America as “poor.” Coincidence? I’m thinking no.
All one has to do to see the alarming American divide and our dying society is turn on the TV; especially during the past few days. I’m not going to even touch the current life vs. choice argument, but you could say it is the perfect storm of the religious and people’s perception of morals and values. With that being said…
A Fallen Nation?
Let’s start with the fact that, for the first time ever, “No Religion” is how more Americans replied to a recent survey. The findings were close, with 23.1 percent claiming no religion, 23 percent saying their Catholic, and 22.5 percent responding as evangelicals. Still, the numbers are considered alarming by many. The reasons for these reports are also many.
The decline of religion in American life is strongly to blame as the single most important predictor of adult religiosity is one’s religious experiences in childhood and how we are raised. According to an Eastern Illinois University survey, young people report being raised in less religious households than their parents. In other words, we can stop blaming young people for leaving religion as many never really had a religion to leave.
I don’t know about you, but my mom was and still is a huge influence on my faith. I was raised Catholic and am still a practicing one, all thanks to my mom and later in life, my husband. I by no means am a perfect Catholic but I do try to uphold my beliefs and church doctrine. Saying you’re a Catholic but publicly and powerfully advocating for the most obvious of no-no’s is both shameful and sinful to me. But I digress. Yes, we’ve raised our daughter Catholic but I can’t say she attends mass every week. She does consider herself Catholic and goes to mass and other Catholic services and has it at the top of her “list.” Thank God. Excuse the pun.
Her age group, according to the Survey Center on American Life, is less religious by every conceivable metric compared to young adults a generation ago. These Millennials and Gen Z’ers go to church less, say religion is less important, have more doubts about the existence of God, and increasingly identify with no religious tradition. (I bet they love getting Christmas presents and having the holiday off though!) This generation is also hungry for facts and have access to information that will support or deny anything they research. Parents today and say 20 years ago are and have raised a generation surging in secular identity and more Americans than ever before are being raised in secular households. Not sure if this was your plan mom and dad, but you might want to start paying attention.
But, it’s not just “the kids.” Americans from their 30s to 60s are also less affiliated and less involved in formal and informal worship than people their same age a few decades ago. Still, 57 percent of Baby Boomers say the attended religious services weekly during their childhood but only 40 percent of Gen Z’ers say their families did the same. Hmmmm….
This is troublesome as there are soooo many churches out there. You cannot drive around and not see multiple places of worship of many faiths. Mom and dad, who grew up going to church, are simply choosing not to take their kids to church and secular marriages are increasing. “It’s not for me.” “I don’t agree with all their beliefs.” “I won’t feel comfortable there.” “I will be judged.” These are all common reasons to avoid choosing church, but let’s all remember there is no perfect church because churches are filled with imperfect people. And the whole “I can be religious and spiritual without going to church,” defense? Okay. Maybe so, but remind yourself of the “strength in numbers” credo. It’s hard to be alone in what you feel. It can also be risky. As Pastor Joe Champion wrote, “Pirates attack solo ships not armadas and prowling lions attack stragglers not the herd.” Kids today are also saying religion in general doesn’t embrace their personal beliefs and values. Which brings us to…
A new Gallup poll found a record high 50 percent of Americans rate the overall state of moral values in the U.S. as “poor” (the highest on record) and another 37 percent say it’s only “fair.” I’m no math major but even I can see that it’s nearly 90 percent. Ninety percent say the values of American are bad. Say that again and say that out loud. And just in case you’re wondering, 1 percent think the state of our moral values is “excellent.”
The future outlook didn’t fare much better, with only 18 percent of those polled saying morals are getting better while 78 percent said they’re getting worse. The latter number proves that majorities of both partisan (i.e.: political) groups agree that it’s all deteriorating with even Democrats becoming significantly more pessimistic (68 percent vs. the previous 49 percent) since Joe Biden’s first year in office. I guess it’s nice to see they agree on something. Baby steps?
So what’s up America? Why in heaven’s name are our morals declining? Is it the internet? Families? Schools? Lack of religion? I’m venturing to guess a loud “yes” to all four and more.
When asked to name the most important problem with the state of moral values in the U.S., the top response was the way people treat each other. Amen, right? Also mentioned often in the polling were lack of morals, sense of entitlement, racism, lack of faith/religion, and lack of family structure. I’m seeing a pattern here that should be obvious to all.
Our values and morals are lacking and declining at the same time our faith and families are declining. I’m not saying that if you aren’t religious your morals and values could be affected or just the opposite. Your religion does not make your morally superior or unflawed. I just find it so interesting that the two polls mentioned here make it hard not to connect the two issues. Seems like a somewhat easy fix if we want to put the work into it. Stop with the wishful thinking. Stop with compromising. Stop with the doubting. Find your armada. Find your herd.