Fewer Families, Less Religion -- and Less Freedom

Carol Platt Liebau
Posted: Dec 09, 2012 7:45 PM

The kind of limited government, democratic republic America has always been is possible for only two reasons: (1) The government isn't the sole (or even major) source of economic and social support for its citizens; and (2) Principles, ethics and incentives other than the simple fear of punishment has been effective in deterring anti-social behavior.

That's why it's so disconcerting to learn that two big factors in President Obama's re-election was his electoral dominance among both unmarried Americans (at an all time high) and the religiously unaffiliated (also growing ever larger).

The statistics about single voters are discouraging because marriage (and the formation of the family unit) has been one of the basic building blocks of a vibrant, interconnected society where citizens can depend on stable relationships and relatives as sources of social and economic support, without relying primarily or exclusively on the government.  The statistics about religiously unaffiliated voters are disturbing, as well -- not because they are necessarily bad people, but because over time, without some kind of formal religion, there will be no informal but shared common moral code -- and thus, we'll need more laws just to spell out what we all think is "right" and "wrong" . . . and it will be less common for religious principles alone to serve as a curb on antisocial behavior; we'll have to rely on the threat of state punishment to deter it.

If people increasingly need the state for support, and they increasingly need the state to enforce even basic behavioral codes, that's a recipe for bigger, more intrusive government and far less freedom.  Every honest, thinking person probably knows that encouraging marriage and encouraging some kind of organized religious faith (of whatever denomination) is central to cultivating a healthy, growing society.  The problem now, however, is that Democrats know they are prospering politically as a result of the breakdown of marriage and organized religion -- so what's their incentive to try to right the ship?