Maybe the reasons for a loss of faith, or hope, is more about what is missing than what is happening.
The tectonic plates are moving under America. Politically, culturally, and religiously. The earth-shaking, unpredictable election year underway is merely the most obvious reading on the social seismograph.
If you believe the polls, nearly 70 percent of Americans say that the country is “on the wrong track,” headed in the wrong direction.
Right or wrong, you don’t need a poll to understand the anxiety and the sense many Americans have that the country is losing faith in itself as it rambles off the marked pathway of the last 240 years, and losing faith that the future will be as good as the past for the next generation. You just need to talk to your neighbors.
The media has also over the last several years eagerly reported numerous polls that demonstrate that there is a major downward trajectory and shrinkage in Christianity going on in the country. Faith in God is in big trouble the reports all conclude, especially among the millennial generation. The “nones,” those who do not identify with a religion, are on the rise.
The multifaceted crisis of faith that Americans seem to be caught in reflects what many of us have observed in our politics, culture, and churches for some years now; signs that Americans are losing their historic vision of America and its goodness.
Which crisis came first, and which is more perilous? Perhaps they can’t be separated. And maybe the reasons for a loss of faith, or hope, is more about what is missing than what is happening; one slips from memory quickly, the other is chronicled in the tiniest detail, in real time, every day.
But, what is missing seems clear, at least to many of us who lament its passing.
There was a time not all that long ago in America where no educated person didn’t have a passing familiarity with Scripture and the American Founding.
Scripture because—putting aside one’s spiritual inclination—it is the instruction manual on what makes men, women, and societies tick and a consistent moral compass. No mature understanding of the human condition is informed without it, regardless of how many times you’ve read Skinner, Freud, or James.
The Founding and the U.S. Constitution because it is so radically different than anything the world has ever seen, and alone makes America foundationally exceptional and successful. It represents,in part, the practical application of the lessons of Scripture and the Ten Commandments applied to how we govern ourselves, and the passion for human liberty.There could have been no Founding without the Bible.
So symbiotic and intertwined are the two in thought and application, that a great deal of what we now know as the “Founding Documents,” including the Bill of Rights, were taken, literally, from the pulpits of Colonial America.
The intellectual and spiritual influence of the Scriptures, of course, have been progressively banished—erased—from the public life since the Everson v. The Board of Education decision in 1947, passed by the deciding vote of Justice Hugo Black, a former Klansman and virulent anti-Catholic who mischaracterized Thomas Jefferson’s famous phrase, “a wall of separation between church and state,” to justify his goal.
That decision unleashed the fanatical march to strip any type of spiritual symbolism, thought, or action from public places and schools as the radical Left set about expunging the Judeo-Christian foundations with well-funded and well-organized precision. The Left treated the effort against religion as a war to be won—while Christians in response scarcely knew a war was underway.
The concept of right and wrong, of a natural, fixed moral order, was among the first casualties; two generations of children, both born and aborted, the next.
The public’s loss of faith in the future of America—that the nation is on the wrong track—is not surprising either. The economy and the civic order have been assaulted in ways many of us would never have believed possible only a few decades ago.
The rule of law, the anchor of the Constitutional order, has been replaced by whim and eccentricity. Virtue has been replaced by expediency, and honor by situational ethics.
There is hardly a positive indicator to be found. Stagnation, massive regulatory over-reach, mangled health care, taxation, huge government spending, spreading poverty, and collapsing real incomes over the past ten years are not figments of anyone’s imagination.
They are as real as the declining net worth of most Americans.
Americans also see illegality rewarded, from the illegal alien on public assistance they themselves cannot access, to the highest members of the political, cultural, and corporate “ruling class” who flaunt and manipulate the law; a new American kleptocracy that simply doesn’t care what the public thinks or wants.
This crisis of faith in America made the election of 2016. It made Donald Trump.
Mr. Trump is the reaction of a country being smothered culturally with endemic political correctness, cultural Marxism, and idiocy parading as serious thought.
He is also the reaction to a ruling economic, political, cultural, and religious class that has grown up in the post-1947 world and that disdains and depreciates the interests of average people. They fancy themselves the new savants, their own Gods, of the global order who can and will homogenize humanity down to suit their governing and economic interests.
If Donald Trump rides this complex reaction into the driveway of the White House in November, the next question will be, can toothpaste be put back in the tube? Can he be part of a process that helps restore faith, or is that even possible?
That’s too much of a burden to place on one man. But, he may prove to be the catalyst that the country needs to break the death grip of passivity in face of cultural Marxism; he may provide the backbone for a whole new generation of Americans who fight back. Who knows, even our pastors and rabbis might find their passion again.
If he does nothing more than pave the way for a rapprochement between common sense and the culture, between faith and the American experience, then he will be a success.