Unsanitary Links: Putting Statistics to the Story Moral Decline; yeah, about that…

Here is a needed rejoinder to all those living in fear, believing that our country lies on the brink of self-destruction. Below is the full text from an article posted by Scot McKnight on his blog, Jesus Creed:

There are some who look at life and see decline; there are others who look at the same life and say we are getting better. Some Christians tend to see the decline.

Anyone who claims statistics often has an agenda, but this little post at The Economist caught my attention, and we need folks like Brad Wright and Mark Regnerus to keep us all straight. Anyway, here it is:

ASKED to explain his support for Rick Santorum in Michigan’s primary, voter Sandy Munro said, “Now what we need is a strong political leader to do something to get us out of the moral slump that we’re in.” Mr Santorum would agree, having noted that “Satan has his sights on the United States of America.” As would Mitt Romney, who has attacked the decay caused by Barack Obama’s “secular agenda”. Newt Gingrich has gone the furthest, stating, “A country that has been now since 1963 relentlessly in the courts driving God out of public life shouldn’t be surprised at all the problems we have.” But what are these problems? When considering America’s moral decline, my first instinct was to look at the crime rate. If Satan is at work in America, he’s probably nicking wallets and assaulting old ladies. But over the past several decades the crime rate has fallen dramatically, despite what you may think. The homicide rate has been cut in half since 1991; violent crime and property crime are also way down. Even those pesky kids are committing less crime. There are some caveats to these statistics, as my colleague points out, but I think we can conclude that crime is not the cause of America’s moral decline. So let’s look elsewhere. Abortion has returned as a hot-button issue, perhaps it is eating away at our moral fiber. Hmm, the abortion rate declined by 8% between 2000 and 2008. Increases in divorce and infidelity could be considered indicators of our moral decay. There’s just oneproblem: according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the divorce rate is the lowest it has been since the early 1970s. This is in part due to the recession, but infidelity is down too. Other areas that might indicate declining virtue are also going against the perceived trend. For example, charitable giving is up after a decline during the recession. The teenage pregnancy rate is at its lowest level in 40 years. And according to Education Week, “the nation’s graduation rate stands at 72 percent, the highest level of high school completion in more than two decades.” So where is the evidence of this moral decline?

A great question asked by the authors. It echoes ones I have been asking lately: from whom are we taking our country back, where did they take it, and what do we do when we got it back. Along those lines I have been asking just what horrific crimes have been foisted upon me, what liberties have I lost. How is my life or the lives of my family impacted? What specifics can anyone give me?


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