A recent article on FoxNews.com noted that there has been an increase in the number of people who say they have no religion at all, 15% compared with 14.2% in 2001 and 8.2 % in 1990. The figures confirm an increase in the people who did not have a religious wedding service and who do not desire a religious funeral.
To keep this in perspective, the latest survey shows that 76% consider themselves to be Christians. Rather than being a positive factor offsetting the increase in non-religious folks, the whole concept of what it means to a Christian has undergone a major revision over the past few decades. In the choice words of Mark Steyn in his book, America Alone (See reference information below), many Christian groups are “sinking beneath the bog of their own relativist mush.” (Page 96) He continues by criticizing the absence of a strong Christian voice, noting that “most mainline Protestant churches are as wedded to the platitudes du jour as the laziest politicians. (Page 98). I remember reading years ago that “Instead of the church discipling the world [to the Christian faith], the world has discipled the church
Despite our current live-and-let-live attitude toward almost everything in our nation, there are some deadly consequences to the loss of religion. Here are some of them.
First, with the loss of religion comes the loss of a solid moral compass. There are those who say that they are able to be their own moral compass. I know myself. I know that if I am left to myself to determine right and wrong, my decisions will be very self-centered.
Second, with the loss of a moral compass comes a decline in moral standards. It is incredible to watch TV or movies and see the actions and hear the words that are considered commonplace in today’s society. The old saying goes, “People who believe in nothing will fall for anything.” You can update that by saying that “People who believe in nothing will justify anything they want to do.”
Third, with the decline in moral standards will come a willingness to shirk responsibility for our actions and their consequences. If something bad happens to me, it’s not my fault. I am a victim and I need to find someone besides myself to blame. Years ago, I saw a magazine cover illustrating our victimology tendencies. It showed an open manhole surrounded by a fence and several warning signs. Despite that, a man was making every effort to step into the open hole and, presumably, sue someone for the injuries he would no doubt suffer.
Fourth, with the shirking of responsibility comes the demand for someone else to take care of me. Generally, that someone is big government which means, of course, the rest of us. Steyn, in his book, discusses the desire of many citizens to get as many benefits (entitlements) from the government as they can, knowing that they will not be alive when the big tax bills come due for the next generation or so. (Pages 41-47)
What is bothersome about all of this is that, at the time when the future of religion seems to be heading downward, the future of big government seems to be heading upward. With the government looking at universal health insurance and other expensive projects, we are moving closer to the point that many European countries have already reached-the point of the so-called “Nanny State” where we shift our responsibilities to the government in exchange for high taxes and limits on our freedoms.
The sobering fact is that Europe has long since gone through its decline in religion. If we in the United States want a picture of our future, we need look no further than our friends across the sea.
Mark Steyn, America Alone (Washington D. C.: Regnery Publishing, 2006)