Shock Poll: Americans’ Respect for Faith, Patriotism, and Family Plunges
History retraces the paths of nations rising and falling. Mankind builds towers into the clouds, aspiring to reach heaven apart from God. Many believe a utopia on earth can be achieved. Harvard professor George Santayana in his work “The Life of Reason” famously wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
In 410 AD, Alaric the Visigoth infamously sacked the once indomitable city of Rome.
Much earlier, Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians. Zedekiah, the twentieth and final king of Judah, watched as his sons were killed in front of him, then he was blinded so that their deaths would be the last thing he ever saw before being led away in chains.
Nations do not always fall by the sword. In fact, what precedes a nation’s collapse is arguably more important. Roman statesmen like Sallust, Livy, and Cicero attributed the collapse of the Western Roman Empire to moral relaxation. British historian Barbara Levick wrote in 1982:
“No longer confronted by the external threat, Romans could relax and give themselves up instead to greed, luxury, and personal ambition.”
While historians disagree over the composition of Rome’s collapse, moral degeneration is frequently cited. But what does any of this have to do with America today?
A new poll from The Wall Street Journal in conjunction with the National Opinion Research Center, a nonpartisan research group, uncovered shocking new statistics regarding American attitudes toward values like patriotism, religion, and having children.
According to the survey, 38% of respondents said that patriotism was very important to them, a 32-point decrease from a similar poll conducted in 1998. According to a recent Morning Consult poll, a mere 16% of Generation Z is proud to call themselves American.
The importance attached to having children, a societal necessity, has fallen from 59% in 1998 to 30% in 2023. Only 23% of young adults under the age of 30 responded that having children was very important to them. Seventy-eight percent of respondents did not feel confident that their children would lead better lives than they did.
The value that was once attached to religion has also steeply declined. In 1998, 62% of respondents ranked religion as very important to them. Today, only 39% concur.
A Pew Research Center study from 2022 found that Americans are also leaving Christianity at a steady rate. If this trend continues, 35% of the population could be all that remains by 2070 of the current 64% who identify as Christian.
Bill McInturff, a pollster from the original NBC News survey in 1998, voiced this alarming departure from American values.
“These differences are so dramatic, it paints a new and surprising portrait of a changing America.” McInturff said.
The poll also revealed that only one value amongst the values surveyed increased in importance to Americans: money. U.S. respondents raised their esteem of money as “very important” from 31% in 1998 to 43% in 2023.
What is driving this downward spiral? The answer may be multifaceted.
Some point to indoctrination in the education system. Dr. Ben Carson and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) lay the blame at the feet of schools that promote “false and destructive narrative[s]” about America’s founding.
Joseph Backholm, senior fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council, points to self-centeredness as one of the root causes of this dramatic shift.
“This study shows that most Americans don’t have anything to live for other than themselves,” he told The Washington Stand. “That means selfishness has become a national value system. If you have no attachment to God, your country, or your community, of course you don’t want kids. So all you have left is you. That is creating a culture of lonely, depressed people who will do desperate things as a result. The school shootings are the symptom. The disease is people who believe in nothing and live for nothing other than themselves.”
Will America join its predecessors on the ash-heap of history? Will she become the next Ozymandias? Perhaps. But maybe that isn’t the question we should be asking.
The Gospel of John summarizes the correct view of the situation. When Pontius Pilate, a governor of the seemingly eternal Roman Empire asked Christ if he were a king, Jesus responded with authority.
“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world” (John 18:36).
America is not the answer, solution, or savior. But rather than throwing in the towel in the face of newfound adversity, Christians are to be an example to the world of God’s love, truth, justice, and mercy. In the end, God promises to set all things right and make all things new.
Christians must take heart in the promise and hope of Jesus’s finished work. The Gospel of John 16:33 reminds believers of Christ’s victory.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”