Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am not a pessimist; however, what I am going to say might cause angst among some in the pro-life and pro-family movement, especially Catholics.
A recent Gallup poll exposed three terrible truths. First, we are not succeeding in transforming hearts and minds to cultivate and sustain a Culture of Life. Second, we are losing the younger generation to materialism, secularism and moral relativism. Third, the moral compass and Christian conscience in America is systematically being phased out of existence while indifference and tolerance of evil fill the void.
I readily admit that I usually place little emphasis upon polls; however, the results of this survey highlight and parallel trends we see around the world. Societies are radically rejecting centuries of Judeo-Christian beliefs concerning life and family while embracing a secular view of life and the human person.
Bad News in the Numbers
Let us consider the subject of homosexuality. 61% of Americans of all ages now believe same-sex unions should be recognized by the law as valid, with 83% of 18 to 29 year olds endorsing and defending the lifestyle. 83% of non-religious people polled believe it is a morally acceptable lifestyle, which shouldn’t surprise us, but the redefinition of marriage is also supported by 62% of Catholics, 41% of Protestants, and 85% of Jews.
The numbers on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are equally startling: according to Gallup, 47% of Catholics, 43% of Protestants, and 73% of Jews found these morally acceptable, compared to 77% from those claiming no religion.
The results regarding premarital sex also cause grave concern, especially as we confront the contraceptive mentality and violence of abortion as consequences of this immoral behavior. Catholics polled at 68%, Protestants at 50%, and Jews at 83% finding promiscuity morally acceptable. We should also take serious the 88% of non-religious who see no issue with promiscuous behavior, a sign of what is on the horizon.
Regarding abortion, 38% of Catholics, 33% of Protestants, and 76% of Jews find abortion acceptable as compared to those with non-religious status polling at 73%. The secular culture is still very strong and having noticeable influence.
The Story Isn’t New
Each of the above numbers tells a story about the challenges we face in the pro-life and family movement in the US and abroad. We have made some progress in educating the public on the consequences of anti-life and family ideologies and agendas. We have brought our conversations into the public square – into courtrooms, houses of parliament, voting booths, and pulpits – resulting in many success stories. Yet the tempest still grows.
When Father Marx first began the Human Life Center in 1972, there were only a handful of people working in the movement. Today there are many thousands dedicated to promoting and defending life and family. This work has helped prevent this nation from slipping more quickly into secular and moral relativism; however, the trends we currently see, represented by the numbers in the recent poll and daily headlines about the attack on reality (such as today’s Stream headline: “Massachusetts House Passes Bill Legally Abolishing Biological Sex”), should make us pause and reflect.
Sadly, decades of indifference in the public square from many of our civil and spiritual leaders, as well as educators – Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Jewish – has had devastating consequences. There are exceptional leaders to be sure, but by in large there has been a dearth or worse, a direct intention by some to confuse and contradict. Americans have become indifferent to or even supportive of contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia; and with each passing year, they become more tolerant of perverse, immoral behavior. The process of destabilizing centuries of Judeo-Christian beliefs and the normalizing moral relativism has been very successful due in part to a crisis of leadership and breakdown in education.
America has lost her conscience! What do we do?
The Gospel of Life
A key strategy is the re-formation of conscience as proposed by Pope Saint John Paul II:
What is urgently called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life. All together, we must build a new culture of life: new, because it will be able to confront and solve today’s unprecedented problems affecting human life; new, because it will be adopted with deeper and more dynamic conviction by all Christians; new, because it will be capable of bringing about a serious and courageous cultural dialogue among all parties. While the urgent need for such a cultural transformation is linked to the present historical situation, it is also rooted in the Church’s mission of evangelization. The purpose of the Gospel, in fact, is “to transform humanity from within and to make it new. (Evangelium vitae 95)
I believe the Catholic Church and all people of faith play a pivotal role in winning back the culture and turning the tide in favor of life and family. We should not ignore this poll; it tells a tale. People are confused and ignorant about what is objectively good, true, and beautiful; they are unable to distinguish good from what is evil. We have to reform consciences. We must win back our educational systems – civil and religious.
The moral relativists have made great strides in overtaking educational programs indoctrinating our young people with aberrant definitions of sexuality and human relationships, while simultaneously undermining the central role of the natural family.
But here is a key question: Are we discouraged, or are we awakened and motivated?
If the Gallup poll provides us with a greater understanding of our foe and motivates us to reevaluate my objectives, strategies, and tactics, it is a good thing. Knowledge and truth about the enemy is the first step to securing a victory.
Complacency and apathy are unacceptable! Let’s get to work.