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The Truth About Secular America 
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Post The Truth About Secular America
Steve Chapman
Chicago Tribune

American culture is sick, and secularism is the cause of our disease. That, said Steve Chapman, is the contention of religious conservatives like presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who insist that feminists, liberals, and gay marriage have undermined traditional morality, and that only a return to our Christian roots will cure what ails us. But all evidence suggests that this view is not only backward—it’s wrong.

As America has become more secular in recent decades, “most indicators of moral and social health have gotten better, not worse.” Crime has plummeted. Teen pregnancy is down by 39 percent. Divorce rates are dropping. Abortion rates among adolescents are half what they used to be.

Which states continue to have the biggest social problems? The Bible Belt states, not the supposedly sin-ridden blue states. Mississippi has the nation’s highest rate of church attendance, and also the highest murder rate. Liberal Vermont’s murder rate, on the other hand, is 25 percent of the national average. Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage, has the nation’s lowest divorce rate. So please, spare us “the sanctimonious fairy tales.” Secular America is doing just fine.

http://theweek.com/article/index/223252 ... uo-america


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Saffron
Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:56 am
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
I agree with the author, Dwill. I remember very many social, sexual, gender and racial discriminations that were the norm when we were a more religious and "traditionally moral" (was born in 1934) and while I grew up in the north east and did not experience extreme discrimination, it was still in place socially, if not academically, in housing if not always in employment.

Hands down these times (while not perfect) are much, much better. As our secularism grows so will our other tolerances for differences between us a groups and individuals.



Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:04 pm
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
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Hands down these times (while not perfect) are much, much better.



False

That is relative to each person, and the specific context of their lives.
Yes, we've had many scientific and humanitarian advancements, but as an economist would say, "There are always tradeoffs."


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Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:23 pm
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
DWill wrote:


One cannot use the link to get to the article without having a subscription - :(


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Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:48 pm
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
ant wrote:
Quote:
Hands down these times (while not perfect) are much, much better.


False
That is relative to each person, and the specific context of their lives.
Yes, we've had many scientific and humanitarian advancements, but as an economist would say, "There are always tradeoffs."


I am not sure how you just make the statement: "False" to the quote by Lady S. The only support you give is to say economists would say there is a tradeoff - well, yes, there are tradeoffs. Tradeoffs are not inherently bad or worse that the thing traded away. And how can you argue that we are not better off today in terms of things like racial discrimination and the rights and treatment of rape victims or argue with the statistics mentioned in DWill's first post. So, please, support your pronouncement of "False."


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Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:59 pm
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
Saffron wrote:
ant wrote:
Quote:
Hands down these times (while not perfect) are much, much better.


False
That is relative to each person, and the specific context of their lives.
Yes, we've had many scientific and humanitarian advancements, but as an economist would say, "There are always tradeoffs."


I am not sure how you just make the statement: "False" to the quote by Lady S. The only support you give is to say economists would say there is a tradeoff - well, yes, there are tradeoffs. Tradeoffs are not inherently bad or worse that the thing traded away. And how can you argue that we are not better off today in terms of things like racial discrimination and the rights and treatment of rape victims or argue with the statistics mentioned in DWill's first post. So, please, support your pronouncement of "False."


Actually as a person of 77 years of age I experienced first hand and heard also first hand accounts by older relatives of customs popular even before I was born.

For instance I remember my father telling me about a brother who thought it great sport to have what today we would call a "special needs' person pull him in a wagon for a considerable distance.

We don't consider it sport today to make fun of those less fortunate than we. . . although of course it does still occasionally happen but not exactly in the same way.

I will add that there was a certain graciousness and gentility to every day life that is missing today. People just being more polite to each other. Much, much less offensive language. People actually used language differently and more effectively.



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Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:47 pm
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
Quote:
False

That is relative to each person, and the specific context of their lives.


What is relative to each person? That the modern age is better than 100 years ago? Wouldn't each individual necessarily need to be alive with the same mindset 100 years ago to be able to make the comparison to say that it's relative? That's nonsensical ant.

There are markers that can be detected by surveys. If the markers compare apples to apples, where, precisely, do you suggest there is some relative correlation? And relative to what?


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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
Interesting discussion, but is it secularism that has caused this? Where is your proof? Are the people in Mississippi that are going to church the sameones who are committing the murders? If you say "shazam" and an apple falls from the tree did you cause it? I think we might be assigning an effect to something that may or may not be its cause. Michigan is a blue state, and Detroit is the bluest of its cities and they also have one of the highest murder rates nationally and have for years. Methinks your evidence is weak.

Anyone who thinks that everything has gotten worse is just as wrong as those who think everything has gotten better. While we have improved in some areas like racial equality which some have already pointed out, we have slide back in areas like politiness and civility in public and in public discourse as was pointed out by lady of shallot. When someone says they would like to recapture some of the things lost from the past, I don't think like some that they want to bring back the bad but to bring back the good we have lost without losing the good that we have been able to achieve.



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Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:33 pm
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
Quote:
While we have improved in some areas like racial equality which some have already pointed out, we have slide back in areas like politiness and civility in public and in public discourse as was pointed out by lady of shallot. When someone says they would like to recapture some of the things lost from the past, I don't think like some that they want to bring back the bad but to bring back the good we have lost without losing the good that we have been able to achieve.


Well said.

Interbane,

I will amplify a bit more regarding the comment I made.


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Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:53 pm
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
Dave The Marine wrote:
Interesting discussion, but is it secularism that has caused this? Where is your proof? Are the people in Mississippi that are going to church the sameones who are committing the murders? If you say "shazam" and an apple falls from the tree did you cause it? I think we might be assigning an effect to something that may or may not be its cause. Michigan is a blue state, and Detroit is the bluest of its cities and they also have one of the highest murder rates nationally and have for years. Methinks your evidence is weak.

Whoa Nelly, Blue state does not equal secularism. Not only that, Republicans are not necessarily anti secularist and Democrats are necessarily secularist. Now to your first point, Secularism is being blamed for some of our current ills. I do not think that anyone was trying to say that religion is the cause of the higher murder rate in Mississippi, but rather to defend secularism from the claim that it causes moral decline.


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Mon Jan 16, 2012 2:29 pm
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
Saffron wrote:
DWill wrote:


One cannot use the link to get to the article without having a subscription - :(

Then you must subscribe to The Week! I'm sure I've said it before, it's my favorite magazine, so succinct, so fun to page through.


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Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:26 pm
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
Dave The Marine wrote:
Interesting discussion, but is it secularism that has caused this? Where is your proof? Are the people in Mississippi that are going to church the sameones who are committing the murders? If you say "shazam" and an apple falls from the tree did you cause it? I think we might be assigning an effect to something that may or may not be its cause. Michigan is a blue state, and Detroit is the bluest of its cities and they also have one of the highest murder rates nationally and have for years. Methinks your evidence is weak.

Anyone who thinks that everything has gotten worse is just as wrong as those who think everything has gotten better. While we have improved in some areas like racial equality which some have already pointed out, we have slide back in areas like politiness and civility in public and in public discourse as was pointed out by lady of shallot. When someone says they would like to recapture some of the things lost from the past, I don't think like some that they want to bring back the bad but to bring back the good we have lost without losing the good that we have been able to achieve.

That's a good point. The writer was, though, only fending off what he thinks is a common outlook of social conservatives--that our social problems are due to godlessness and liberalism. He's pointing out the weakness of that generalization by asking how that could be if the social problems are bad in the most religious and conservative places.


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Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:32 pm
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
False

That is relative to each person, and the specific context of their lives.


What is relative to each person? That the modern age is better than 100 years ago? Wouldn't each individual necessarily need to be alive with the same mindset 100 years ago to be able to make the comparison to say that it's relative? That's nonsensical ant.

There are markers that can be detected by surveys. If the markers compare apples to apples, where, precisely, do you suggest there is some relative correlation? And relative to what?

We do need to have comprehensive data of all sorts to be able to somehow say that we are better off in some average way than was the case a couple centuries ago. It's a massive project, and is the data even available, since we don't have any way of getting the subjective views of the long dead?


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Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:40 pm
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
DWill wrote:
Saffron wrote:
DWill wrote:


One cannot use the link to get to the article without having a subscription - :(

Then you must subscribe to The Week! I'm sure I've said it before, it's my favorite magazine, so succinct, so fun to page through.

Yes, but subscriptions cost money, but wait, I do have a birthday coming up! :lol:


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Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:07 pm
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Post Re: The Truth About Secular America
Saffron, I thought about that part of what I said after I was at work that nite, and honestly couldn't remember if you mentioned the association of liberalism with secularism (by liberalism I mean in the current since, not in the since as was used in the 17 and 18 hundreds). DWill didn't make that association though some think they are the same, I agree they are not necessarly the same and would like to retract the last statement I made in reference to blue states as something that I asserted with out proof. Which was essentially what my critizism of DWill was when he emplyed that church attendance and murder were connected in the "Bible Belt" of which Mississippi is a part. There probably is a reason why Mississippi's murder rate is so high and why Detroits is so high. My guess is it has little to nothing to do with religion and has far more to do with culture and education. That said I stand firmly behind everything else I said.

Unfortunately I was unable to read the article and was only commenting on DWill's post. As for the fact that he was pointing out how bad things happened in so called "religious or conservative places" , that doesn't really hold any logical water either as they could merely assert that the people doing the mischief have been influenced by the godless liberalism (progressive) media that one is surrounded with even in the most socially conservative of places. Again, we would have to know something about the individuals who are doing the bad things (murder etc.) and see what it was that influenced them. That said I somehow doubt that either god or chris hitchen was the influence of any of them.



Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:43 pm
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