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  • Are We Becoming Europe-lite?

    Is the US merely tagging behind its European neighbors on a road to a thoroughly secular, social democracy? As the Obama Administration stretches its fingers into education, health care and failing companies, the question lingers ominously. But columnist Cheryl Wetzstein notes that, when it comes to faith and family, we’re not quite there yet.

    She supports her point with research highlighted at our Oct. 29th conference, Religious Practice and the Family. Wetzstein’s column in today’s Washington Times reads:

    Earlier this year, American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray wrote a warning about American elites pushing America to become like Europe.

    European social policies “drain too much of the life from life,” Mr. Murray wrote in a March article in The Washington Post called, “Thank God America Isn’t Like Europe.”

    A “spreading European mentality … goes something like this,” he wrote. “Human beings are a collection of chemicals that activate and, after a period of time, deactivate. The purpose of life is to while away the intervening time as pleasantly as possible.”

    The truth, he explained, is that the most momentous events of life occur “within just four institutions: family, community, vocation and faith.”

    The European model “enfeebles” these four institutions, so the Democratic Party is foolish to steer this nation in that direction.

    Instead, Mr. Murray wrote, if America is to remain an “exceptional” nation, its elites “of all political stripes” should do more to preserve and strengthen these four institutions.

    I am inspired to bring up Mr. Murray’s observation after attending a conference about religious practice and the family, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, Child Trends and the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion. The tiny slices of research presented at the Heritage conference showed that faith and family are intertwined.

    Faith and family work together to “socialize children,” and orient a nation’s people to “moral, social and spiritual goods,” as University of Virginia sociology professor W. Bradford Wilcox said.

    On the downside, he added, because faith and family are synergistic, the erosion of one pulls down the other.

    This begs the question: Should Americans be overly concerned about the strength of their religious and family culture? Aren’t secular things — education, technology, democracy, media and agnostic tolerance — enough to keep America flourishing?

    The research and Mr. Murray’s observations suggest that the answer is no.

    The virtues of “love, commitment and sacrifice” are taught, honored and modeled in faith communities, Annette Mahoney, a psychology professor at Bowling Green State University, told the conference.

    Religion plays a significant role in guiding people in their personal relationships, including marriage, as well as how to raise their children, she said. Moreover, religion is protective of the family — it lowers the risk for divorce, domestic violence, infidelity and child abuse.

    But what is not known is whether religion can save a family once they are in crisis, Ms. Mahoney said. Initial research “is not clear that religion helps when trouble comes,” she said, citing actor Mel Gibson: He is a “devout Catholic” and father of six who bucked the odds to make the blockbuster movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” she said, and yet he is estranged from his wife of 29 years, and recently had a baby with his mistress.

    Meanwhile, a worldwide survey of youth has revealed a hunger to understand the spiritual dimensions of life.

    About 93 percent of youth understand that life is more than material, Search Institute’s Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence said in its soon-to-be-updated 2008 report on global spirituality.

    It’s “expressed differently,” but there’s a broad consensus that being human means there’s a spiritual life, Eugene Roehlkepartain, co-director of the center, told the Heritage conference.

    The Search Institute study of more than 7,000 youths in eight countries also upholds the family-faith connection. When asked “Who helps you most in your spiritual life?” the young people’s No. 1 answer is “family.”

    It’s not just a bromide. There really is no place like home.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Are We Becoming Europe-lite?

    1. Tyler Durden says:

      It's ironic how dead wrong Heritage is on the issue. Central power is central power. Call it "the state" or "the church" the effect is the same – to control human behavior and limit freedom.

      Look at this line from the article "Moreover, religion is protective of the family — it lowers the risk for divorce, domestic violence, infidelity and child abuse."

      Actually, no it does not. Do you know what does – making good decisions, being responsible and accountable. Marry the right person, not the nearest person around so you can have children b/c that is what you are supposed to do. Be responsible for your own actions.

      Thought exercise, is an atheist more prone to domestic violence b/c they do not believe in organized religion? That is a fateist approach and one, I'm surprised that the Heritage Foundation supports.

      I like your work generally, but you are wrong here guys. Stop throwing red meat to the lions – you are better than that.

    2. European Conservativ says:

      This is beyond ridiculous. "America the exceptional" is a dangerous myth. If anything, America is exceptional in professing more radically the lifestyle that is attributed here to Europeans.

      You say the European attitude is defined like this: "The purpose of life is to while away the intervening time as pleasantly as possible."

      But isn't there enough empirical evidence showing that this is actually a nice summary of the AMERICAN attitude and, moreover, that Americans are more extreme in applying this philosophy than Europeans? Aren't the Americans actually known as the world's most devout adherents of empty consumerism?

      Or do you think that attending a bizzare evangelical megachurch once a week somewhat compensates for this widespread American profligacy? That being profligate and hedonistic in extremis is somehow cured by digesting a bit of "spirituality" in the form of theatrical evangelicalism, which openly employs marketing techniques developed to sell detergents and soda? Come on. Read Andrew Bacevich on this.

    3. Emalee Pope Highlan says:

      Central power does have the power to restrict freedom, but it does not necessarily mean that it will. Power of any sort can be abused. When a central power (church or government) is kept within reasonable bounds, it in fact does not limit freedom at all. It increases it. Take for instance an issue that both government and religion speak out against, murder. Both call it wrong, both have punishments, but neither can physically stop you from committing murder. Only you can. On the other hand, by trying to prevent murder by having harsh punishments, it increases the freedoms of those who do not commit murder by allowing them to live without fear.

      One thing Kevin is missing in his arguments is that the reason religion and family are intertwined is because both have the potential to teach responsibility. When a child hears one thing from their parents and the same thing from an organized religion, it is reinforced and then learned faster and better. It is up to the child to decide if they will follow these teachings.

    4. Tim Az says:

      This article explains exactly why liberals are continually trying to rearrange the words freedom of religion to freedom from religion. Very thought provoking.

      How's that trickle up overty working out for you?

    5. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      1609 people left England due to the restrains the King was putting on them,they formed the Jamestown Colony, another group went to Holland, these later came here along with some other Englishmen to form Plymouth Colony, later some settled in Maryland, Long Island,etc. They did not like what was happening in Europe then, WHY in God's name would we today want to be like France, Italy, Germany,etc. My own paternal grandparents came here with their family from Denmark as did a lot of other Danes. Let us protect this country, OUR Constitution and return to the tenets that we were founded on.

    6. Lonnie B. Collett says:

      Our world is being turned upside down due to the Obama Administration's pretence of giving us EQUAL FREEDOM. What a Joke! Those who have ACTUALLY worked hard to get ahead in life are being forced to aid the loafers. Our God is being put on the back burner cause of the NEW GOD'S feeling's might be hurt. Our Democratic way of life is totally coming to an end unless we do something about it now!! My thought's have been for years that our Country has enough people. Send the Statue back to France, Close our Border's, and run out all those who are not already citizens. We need to get our House in Order….starting with our Government.

    7. Rayford Davenport says:

      The Church doesn't have the power to force anyone to do anything. The Government does by taxing and creating inane laws.

    8. Chris Mitchell; Reno says:

      America is becoming what the Soviet Union was; totalitarian. This present adminisration has the lowest reguards for human life, and what we hold most dear to us. Instead they think they know what is best, and not us. As I use to hear years ago ,' if you don't it can happen here…., it can'.

    9. Bill Sr. Jacksonvill says:

      After a few years of collaboration the devout Holy Father John Paul II in union with an openly Christian conservative president Ronald Reagan conspired to bring down the Berlin wall and returned democracy to Europeans.

      Enemies of freedom were dealt a serious defeat and as a result became even more resolute in their desire to destroy America. We went to sleep thinking peace was going to be their response. We were dead wrong.

      Now we have awakened in twenty short years to their infiltration into our institutions of education government and even our churches through false compassion and perverted "social justice" by the tyrannical forces of the “defeated” Marxists and they are cleverly executing their revenge.

      What happened was an all out campaign of anti capitalism propaganda and manipulation of our constitution by liberal politicians and judges in recent years allowing them to rebuild an “invisible wall” to separate many unknowing Americans voters from the values on which our nation was founded.

      Time turned the tables us and our world is upside down.

      This was accomplished in no small measure with a similar but stealth collaboration between trusting wayward Christians in government, education, and the media who supported an admitted anti-capitalist candidate with a brigade of Marxist conspirators and political hacks at his disposal as a man worthy of the presidency simply because of his impassioned rhetoric and minority status.

      God help us if we don’t come to our senses and clean House and Senate in 2010 and see that 2012 is the end of our Obamanation. Mmm mmm mmm.

    10. Fran F, New York cen says:

      Lonny B, Huraaaaaaay for you! Our president moves his lips and he li–.Reading blogs from London they think he walks on water, must be the suit.In 2010 we are going to change the faces in Congress.He is destroying our country, our economy, our free speech our schools our infastructure, our businesses,our health ins. companies to get gov. health care. He owns/controls all unions, all not for profit organizations, auto buninesses, big banks, AARRP, news media, GE. ect.And wants more. Dems and Rep. must GO.

    11. tony,bessemer mi. says:

      europe's bigger problem,as many here in america have slowly been losing thier faith… mans mindset has been detoured because of the spiritually denied logic of men which if to long practised ferments disbelief,many in europe as well as here make their weekly pilgrimage to hear gods word for an opportunity to socialize with friends and/or influence their own social stature with thier compatriots…fondly remembering the days many many years ago, when it ok and not looked down on,of going to church in a not so soiled pair of bib overalls, and entering your chosen church of choice, to experiance those teachings that should and would warm the heart of those which truly believed…the god that i pray to,would be more than happy to have his congregation in a tent,or if neccesary a cave as the shelter is less important here on earth and cannot equal that shelter in the hereafter.

    12. Susan, Detroit says:

      I disagrees with Tyler Durden. Religion does teach a person to be responsible for their action. I am a Catholic and what I learn from my faith is that I am accountable and will be judged on what I do. That is personal resposibility! This country blossomed and became very prosperous because of Judaeo and Christian ethics. The Democratic Party want to destroy these ethics.

    13. Jeanne Stotler, wood says:

      As a CAtholic I was taught in school that about the age of 7 YO you were able to determine what you were doing was either right or wrong, that is why first Confessions and Communion are not given until then. I was also taught that there were consequences for if you broke the rules, you got your hands smacked or stood in the corner,etc. My own kids found this out not only at home but in school, the same one I went to, so if they were bad in school I knew it before they got home and they got it again. I have raised 9 responsible adults and they also expect the same respect from their children.

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