Can we prevent importing the moral decline of the West?

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Washington, D.C.: The United States of America continues to inspire awe as a marvelous, virtually unique political construction, but the recent US Supreme Court ruling on same-sex “marriage” and the latest research studies showing a marked decline in belief in God, particularly among young Americans, provoke certain questions about the future of this great nation and others which try to imitate it, wisely or unwisely, as a role model.

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Built under a “sacred canopy,” as some of its more perceptive writers put it, America’s roots extend all the way down to the rock of Abraham and the richest Biblical tradition; its coinage proudly proclaims its view of the world in unabashedly religious terms: “In God We Trust.” At the very outset, its founding was hailed as “nothing less than a miracle” by men of outstanding values and capabilities in search of the unfettered freedom to worship God according to their conscience.

George Washington uses these very words in his letter to Marquis de Lafayette on Feb. 7, 1788: “It appears to me then little short of a miracle that the delegates from so many different states (which states you know are also different from each other, in their manners, circumstances, and prejudices) should unite in forming a system of national government.”

James Madison, writing to Thomas Jefferson in France on Dec. 9, 1787, says: “ It is impossible to consider the degree of concord which ultimately prevailed as less than a miracle.”

For his part, the British statesman William Pitt saw the American Constitution as destined to be “the wonder and admiration of all future generations, and the model of all future constitutions.”

British Prime Minister William Gladstone called it “the greatest piece of work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”

And Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, said: “I think and believe that it is one of the most perfect organizations that ever governed a free people.”

From the very beginning, America prospered in peace and in war; it became an empire after two world wars. Thereafter it engaged the Soviet Union and the entire communist bloc in a nasty Cold War for 45 years; after the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War ended in 1991, it became the world’s lone superpower, unchallenged militarily by any old or emerging power. And so it remains until now.

Empires are meant to last for thousands of years. Yet after less than a quarter of a thousand years, without any external rival to threaten its superiority or dominance, America appears to be racing toward its own destruction. The danger does not proceed from the inevitability or imminence of an unsurvivable war that could reduce the edifices and structures of modern civilization into rubble.

The more imminent danger proceeds from the inner contradictions which could render human civilization, as we know it, unsustainable. This was what happened to Rome. The society could implode from these contradictions which now involve the integrity of the human person and the fundamental distinction instituted by Nature and Nature’s God, from the dawn of time, between male and female. Transforming sodomy, which caused the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, from sin into an inviolable constitutional sexual right may not compel God to abandon his own precepts and choose to be politically correct and celebrate rather than condemn this sin.

But this is about the biggest change in America since it became an empire. And it is change that undoes in one blow the foundations of this great nation. It has changed the very idea of America which the French jurist and writer Alexis de Tocqueville celebrates in his classic “Democracy in America,” after observing life in the United States in the 1830s. In that work, De Tocqueville wrote:

“On my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention, and the longer I stayed here, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from the new state of things…

“Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions…I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion—for who can search the human heart?—-but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.”

On the subject of marriage, which is the exclusive and permanent union of one man and one woman for life, the French jurist and author wrote:

“There is certainly no country in the world where the tie of marriage is more respected than in America where conjugal happiness is more highly or worthily appreciated. In Europe almost all the disturbances of society arise from the irregularities of domestic life…”

The Founding Fathers shared the same views on marriage. Benjamin Franklin said “it is the man and the woman united that make the complete human being…”

After the French revolution of 1848, De Tocqueville urged his countrymen to look to America for guidance in their task of rebuilding their own republic. ”Where could we find greater causes of hope, or more instructive lessons? Let us look to America,” he said, “not in order to make a servile copy of the institutions that she has established, but to gain a clearer view of the polity that will be best for us…The laws of the French republic may be, and ought to be in many cases, different from those which govern the United States; but the principles on which the American institutions rest, those principles of order, of the balance of powers, of true liberty, of deep and sincere respect for right, are indispensable to all republics.”

Were a 21st century De Tocqueville to visit America today, would he find the same country that he saw in the 1830s?

Most likely not. He would probably find a gross caricature, if not the stark opposite of it. For the foundational character of the nation has changed. The integrity of the human person, and the identity of man and woman are being altered by a ruling that claims to have the power and authority of law.

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court granted women the right to destroy the fetus inside their wombs, in the name of privacy. In Obergefell v. Hodges, five Supreme Court justices ruled that “excluding same-sex couples from marriage conflicts with a central promise of the right to marry,” thereby seeking to modify the divinely ordained institution of marriage from being the permanent and exclusive union of one man and one woman for life, into the union of two persons of the same sex. This is anathema.

Insofar as the law is concerned, no adult who has all the necessary faculties as a person is denied the right to marry. But from the beginning of time, marriage as instituted by divine law has meant the permanent union of one man and one woman, for the primary purpose of begetting and educating children. A man must marry a woman and a woman must marry a man in order to enter into marriage. But even the loving union of one man and one woman, which from the very beginning has no prospect of bearing children, may not be celebrated as a valid marriage.

In Obergefell, the majority opinion penned by Justice Anthony Kennedy declares: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

So by a paper-thin majority of one vote, the Supreme Court reversed all the laws in all the American states banning same-sex ‘marriage.’ Many of these laws were not enacted by the state legislatures, but directly by the people themselves. They are not subject to review by the Court. So a fundamental error was committed. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has written, there are things which are always right, things that precede the majority and which the majority must respect. What is absolutely shocking here is not that five American justices could blithely ignore this principle and redefine something ordained by divine law, but that majority of the freedom-loving and God-fearing American people could remain unaffected by it.

Not even the churches have called for civil disobedience in the face of this moral assault. Many, like Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, are confident that Obergefell would eventually be thrown out just as the awful 1857 Dred Scott decision was eventually thrown out. But that required a Civil War and Lincoln’s courage to end slavery in the US. What happens in the interim when the next Obergefell tells the Court that he wants to marry his widowed mother, his older sister, or even his own daughter, and some rich dowager tells the same Court she wants to marry her little mynah bird?

Meanwhile, Pew Research Center has revealed that out of 35,071 American adults interviewed by telephone from June 4 to September 30, 2014, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 0.6 percentage points, only 89 percent say they believe in God, but only 63 percent say they are “absolutely certain” that God exists. A growing minority called the “nones” say they do not belong to any organized faith, and only 61 percent of this group say they believe in God. What can God-fearing Americans do to arrest and reverse the downward spiral, and what can we, Filipinos, do to prevent the moral decline of the West from being exported, duty-free, to the Philippines?

fstatad@gmail.com

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16 Comments

  1. Pray for them and befriend many of them even in FB in order to influence them. But first and foremost, put our own selves in order and help our own country remain as a just, humane and pro God and pro family. By our good fruits, our friends will take courage to take the moral path.

  2. “Can we prevent importing the moral decline of the West?”

    Our religion came from the West
    Our constitution is patterned from the West
    The way the good senator interpret the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah comes from the West (but if we scan the Bible, we will find out that the destruction is not caused by homosexual acts)
    We use the language of the West in our formal writing
    Our moral and religious understanding is shaped by the West
    So, can we really, really prevent importing the moral decline of the West?

  3. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    09 November 2015

    Columnist Francisco S. Tatad’s obvious scholarly personal Opinion that the United States of America is now in decline due to the Supreme Court allowing “same sex” marriage and allowing “abortion and contraception” is, I think, a little bit exaggerated, he being a true-blue, loyal and devout Roman Catholic.

    America is just following the onrushing trend in Europe, in particularly in the Scandinavian countries, where people have had the benefit of a good Education with a good dose of Science, where Religion has lost its once-tight hold, and where thus countless churches have had to close because of a severe hemorrhaging of adherents and a severe lack of priests or ministers to run them.

    The evidence for this is that according to that Pew Research which Mr. Tatad himself quotes in his Essay, is that of 35,000 adult Americans interviewed by phone from June 4 to September 30, 2014, only 63 percent say that are “absolutely certain” that God exists. These probably are those Americans who have had the benefit of a good Education with a good dose of Science–and probably belong to at least the Upper Middle Classes.

    Rather than conclude that this is solid proof that America is in “decline” like Pax Romana or Pax Britannica in their “end-times,” America is still the 2nd wealthiest nation in the world [with its 2014 GDP of $17.4 trillion] and is still the most powerful with a Defense Budget of $700-plus billion for 2015, which is more than the combined defense budgets of all the other 27 members of NATO, and is around half the combined defense budgets of all nations in the world!

    There is no need for the Philippines, a predominantly Roman Catholic country [where at last 80 percent of Filipinos are Roman Catholics], to import “the moral decline of the West.” The Philippines has long been “in moral decline” all by itself, as evidenced by the kind of corruption, which, like a malignant cancer, has already metastasized throughout the whole body politic, and also by a scourge of poverty which is widespread, chronic and persistent, afflicting some 30 million Filipinos out of a population of around 107 million now who live lives of extreme degradation and dehumanization.

    The Philippines is thus in a unique position to EXPORT its unique brand of “moral decline”–if there are countries which are inclined to import it.

    MARIANO PATALINJUG
    patalinjugmar@gmail.com

  4. Christopher Covey on

    To paraphrase de Tocqueville, “If America ever ceases to be good, she will no longer be great.” Well, she is no longer good, and in the very near future, she will no longer be a great power. This is already happening in a surrealistic, slow motion train wreck kind of fashion. The USA is being transmogrified into a hideous third world country, and although more people are waking up, it is almost certainly too late for the collapse to be avoided.

    Catholic morals and ethics will shield our Filipino society to a limited extent from the moral and ethical breakdown in the USA, but the next economic crisis will end peoples’ illusions that the USA is some kind of social and economic paradigm to be emulated. It is not, but most people will not wake up until the reality of America’s economic collapse sinks in. When that happens, people will finally realize that the culture creation machine of Hollywood, and the filth that it spews represents a pseudo culture. It will be then, and only then that Filipinos will choose to shield themselves from the degradation and filth.

  5. I think what the August Senator should be concerned most is the moral decline of the Philippine Society that permeated to all groups of our society beginning from our government to the lowliest ranks of our people. I wonder, what is the problem of the author with America or with same-sex marriage when the Philippines is not even able to pass a bill for divorce? Does America encroached our freedom as a people in the Philippines? Obviously, the respected author is barking at the wrong tree. Let the Americans speak for themselves. They have a history of their own as a byproduct of the struggles within classes and ideologies in their society. The moral decline in our country is worst than any country in the world. Just take for example the planting of bullets in the Airport of security personnel; corruption in the government in all ranks; callousness of government to the suffering of the people; a perfect example to that is the neglect of Yolanda victims; exorbitant taxes that drains the Filipino people and deny them of decent life; etc. Our backyard is far dirtier than the backyard of America.

    • You said it right Jo. although the good former Senator is writing it as a warning to the Senators,congress and supreme court not to approve same sex marriage for it will destroy the God ordained relationship of a man and a woman that keep the life of a nation healthy. Hope Romans 1:18-32 will wake us up!

  6. Lets leave aside for a while the question of morality with regards to homosexuality. Years ago, I read about a study of homosexuality among lower forms of animals, and they discovered that the percentage of homosexuals to the total population increased together with the increase in the total population itself. The tentative conclusion was that this was nature’s way (God’s Way?) of limiting the growth rate, by making more gays who cannot breed. If this is the case, then reducing the population is the answer to these freaks of nature. Therefore the Church stand against pills and condoms goes against this nature’s law, as it contributes to this scourge that is now threatening the family that we are precisely trying to protect. What do you think?

  7. The country has been experiencing moral decay since the religious and other forms indoctrination of the natives centuries ago. Too bad its only being recognized now. It is better late than never, however, to learn about these practices and do something about it to reverse the trend.

  8. The moral decline is the result of greasing the squeaky wheel of Liberals and Progressives mainly in the upper East and West Coast’s of the US, don’t forget that these cities are heavily inundated with immigrants. Turn around is coming int he silent majority as seen by the huge supportive numbers of Trump.

    Those that are Conservative have been picked on by the press and most of the moral decline has been supported by the press.

  9. The Filipinos is exporting the moral decline to the West. Corrupt, hypocrites and superstitious – the Filipinos are known to be worldwide.

  10. “and what can we, Filipinos, do to prevent the moral decline of the West from being exported, duty-free, to the Philippines?”

    A country where politicians confess on Saturday, communion Sunday then on Monday begins plundering and neglecting their own people anew…. turning a blind eye to death squads…squashing free speech via impunity for murdered journalists and protesters…. a class society that allows the biggest gap on earth both financially and hereditary.

    Does not have to worry about moral decline.

  11. Teofilo Phil Tacbian on

    I agree with Mr. Tatad’s view of America. It’s heartening to have someone from outside the United States of see us as we really are. I believe we are on a self destruction course. I hope more Americans read this article.
    Can this article be reprinted in the American papers? It should!

  12. Gloria M. Kuizon on

    The majority of us Filipinos would have to be committed Catholics!
    It’s good you bring this topic up.

  13. “What can God-fearing Americans do to arrest and reverse the downward spiral, and what can we, Filipinos, do to prevent the moral decline of the West from being exported, duty-free, to the Philippines?”

    To this direct and pointed question I reply: that I have already seen (in fact, from the time that the RH Law was enacted despite the unconstitutionality of its major pangs) that the battle for the kingdom of God will be waged in the courtrooms, where laws will be challenged and declared unconstitutional. This is the reason why I went into a more serious study of Law. So I can be well-prepared to fight the battles with the right arms. An incisive intellect has no use and value for the possessor unless it is laid down for the service of the Almighty. It is for this cause that I dedicate the rest of my life.

    This is one Filipino who has answered your call, Mr. Tatad.

  14. The United States have accumulated nearly 19 trillion dollars of debt. The police and military are increasingly being disrespected. A litany of terrible shooting massacres have occurred and the lawmakers struggle profusely of whether or not to change their second amendment. They are in disarray and some say they could lead towards the same status as big, fat Greece.

  15. Randall M. Chaffee on

    I don’t think your society needs any help along the road to moral depredation. You’ve gone quite far down that road by yourselves.