I've often contended that while I myself am not a religiously active person, I still believe our country was a much better, much more civilized society when it was still a predominantly Christian country. Christianities focus on strong, Patriarchal families and a code of morality that was largely homogeneous across different Christian denominations (the 10 commandments) are cultural norms that are the impetus for the creation of what eventually became the most powerful country in the world.
The loss of that shared, Christian-based morality has been one of the biggest reasons why the USA is on a steep decline in civility, peace and prosperity.
Thomas Sowell makes an important point in his most recent column, a review of a book entitled The Character of Nations:
While nations differ, particular kinds of behavior produce particular kinds of results in country after country. Moreover, American society in recent years has been imitating behavior patterns that have produced negative-- and sometimes catastrophic-- consequences in many other countries around the world.
Among these patterns have been a concentration of decision-making power in government officials, an undermining of the role of the family, a "non-judgmental" attitude toward behavior and a dissolution of the common bonds that hold a society together, leading to atomistic self-indulgences and group-identity politics that increasingly pits different segments of society against each other.
Sowell couldn't have put it any more succinctly. The only part he's missing is that these changes have been done purposely by the power elite who have been effectively socially engineering these changes quite deliberately for quite some time now.
The character of this nation has been radically altered in the past half-century:
From a Christian-based morality that permeated pop culture that sought to uplift humanity and promote charitable behavior and love for your fellow man to the current secular/humanist based culture focused on hedonism and selfishness.
From a society made up largely of Nuclear Families to one in which the majority of people are either from broken homes or never get married in the first place.
From a civilization that valued masculinity AND femininity to one that denigrates masculinity in men and defines femininity by how masculine a women can act.
From a society of strong work ethics, pride in fierce independence and fiscal responsibility to one of Government dependency, a lack of personal responsibility and debt slavery.
In short, the nation is in decline, because our national character has declined.
ADDENDUM - Apropos to this post, I just came across this list of 10 statements made by in 1942 by a Presbyterian minister named William J. H. Boetcker:
1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong
3. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
4. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
5. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
6. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
7. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
9. You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
10 You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.
This list accurately attests to the very change of the character of this nation that I referred to. It seems as if in every single one of these statements, we are now a Nation that embraces the policies and actions that are the complete opposite of each of the principles of this Minister's original statements.