A recent Gallup poll, "Moral Acceptability: Changes Over Time," shows Americans made a startling move to the left over the past 15 years. A blanket blaming of the church is the easy answer, but today, where black and white has faded into varying shades of gray, we are better served going back to where it began because we didn't get where we are today overnight.
America's moral decline began with Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt [FDR]. Their arrogant defiance and blatant hostility toward the U.S. Constitution inspired them to lead an insurrection from the Oval Office, effectively convincing good people that government dependence is a morally acceptable alternative to dependence on God, family, community and self.
Progressive godfather FDR did what progressives do best, hijacking the crisis at hand, the Great Depression, and molding the U.S. government into a pseudo-god. Although both New Deals failed on multiple levels, some of the programs and subsidies permanently persuaded people that an interventionist government is good. That was not enough. Progressives understood the "God-factor" must be removed to accomplish their goal of secularization, wherein religion loses cultural and social significance. In 1947, the Supreme Court, largely packed with FDR appointees, decided the First Amendment instituted a "wall of separation" between church and state in Everson v. Board of Education. In so doing, they were able to separate morality and ethics from government and daily life.
Hence, the immoral mess we see today.
A recent Pew survey found that in 1990, 86 percent of Americans identified as Christians and today, just 70 percent. Interestingly, mainline Protestant denominations such as Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Episcopalian, who have consciously dimmed their own bulbs in recent years to remain relevant to the demands of pop culture, dropped from 50 percent in 1958 to 14 percent in 2015. As mosques are being raised at record levels in towns and cities across America and Europe, churches are increasingly vacated.
Today, more often than not, Jesus' command for Christians to be "light" in a dark world is translated "let's keep it subdued, so no one needs to squint." In fashion photography, soft light works because it helps to conceal the unvarnished reality. In sharp contrast, pure light reveals an honest picture, flaws and all. Interestingly, when Jesus revealed himself to the Christian persecutor, Saul, he appeared in light so harsh and offensively bright, Saul was temporarily blinded. Saul's blindness slowed him down long enough to see the contrast between truth and lies, right and wrong, leading to a conversion so complete, his name was changed from Saul to Paul.
Some would rather spread buttercream icing over cow manure than call this moral decline for what it is. Vanderbilt University Professor of Law and Political Science Edward L. Rubin says America's nosedive into the moral abyss is nothing to fret because we are just shifting to a "new morality" based on a "concept of self-fulfillment." Rubin suggests this fluffed-up version of hedonism is making people uncomfortable because they are feeling rapidly "pulled between two moralities." Paul/Saul wrote about the same struggle in Romans 7, reminding true believers to hold fast to "God's law," not giving in to the new morality he called "sin."
The only way progressivism wins is without the presence of absolute truth. Without it, morality is defined by ever-changing social whims; what's wrong today is right tomorrow. Truth is, it's impossible to define morality without a plumb line or divine standard. Wandering outside already-established boundaries since the beginning of time gets us where we are today. History demonstrates it. Polls prove it. Empty pews show it. Progressives love it.