When speaking at a conference in Washington, DC, last fall, it was my privilege to meet and have a kosher lunch with Don Feder, columnist for the Boston Herald. (Don’s syndicated columns appear regularly in newspapers around the country, and also in the Conservative Chronicle.)
Besides being a fine writer, Don is a truly insightful person with a tremendous grasp of the current moral problems we face in America. I was delighted when Don recently sent me a copy of his new book, A Jewish Conservative Looks at Pagan America. I’ve taken some excerpts out of the introduction to whet your appetite, and hope you’ll go out and buy the book yourself. (It’s published by Huntington House, and available through Christian bookstores.)
Listen to what Don Feder has to say:
By Pagan America I mean that this is no longer a Judeo-Christian nation, animated by the ethical vision of the Bible, with its special emphasis on honesty, hard work, caring and self-discipline. Instead we are evolving into the type of Canaanite culture (unrestrained hedonism, ritual prostitution, child sacrifice and the civic virtue of Sodom), which my ancestors encountered at the dawn of moral history.
The gods of late twentieth century America include the doctrines of radical autonomy, of absolute rights divorced from responsibilities, of gender sameness, of self-expression which acknowledges no higher purpose, of moral relativism and sexual indulgence. Their temples are courtrooms, legislative chambers, classrooms, news rooms, and the executive suites of entertainment conglomerates and publishing firms. We are one nation under God no more.
If my book could be summed up in a single sentence it would be this: Ideas have consequences. First the elite, then to a lesser extent (imperceptibly, almost subconsciously), the masses embrace certain toxic notions. The consequences fill our prisons, drug rehab centers, divorce courts, shelters for the battered and abused, rape crisis centers, mental hospitals, singles bars, and the roster of guests on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”
In the richest, freest, most tolerant nation on earth, the impoverishment of the spirit has led to a values depression. We have enough social pathologies to occupy every medical facility in the land for an eon: family dissolution, the flight from parental responsibility, extramarital sexuality, an illegitimacy crisis (a situation where 60 percent of minority children are born out-of-wedlock), a sex-and-violence saturated “entertainment” media, drug abuse (an ancient vice corroding the soul of a modern society), an under-class mired in misery, rampant crime, venomous race relations, labor that has lost its meaning, and the futile pursuit of pleasure replacing virtue as our greatest ambition.
When the United States Supreme Court in effect declares that it’s unconstitutional to read the Declaration of Independence at a high school graduation, due to its multiple references to the deity, you can gauge the success of the crusade to expunge Judeo-Christian ethics from the public sector. When a public school teacher may describe the most bizarre sex acts, in the crudest detail, but it’s considered the mutilation of the first amendment to post the Ten Commandments in a classroom, when a ten-year-old is told that if she quietly reads her Bible on a school bus it is tantamount to the establishment of a national church, we have achieved a society that the Pilgrims, Founding Fathers, and even our own grandparents would barely recognize.
When celebrities flaunt their illicit relationships, when social organizations like the Boy Scouts are censured and penalized for refusing to bend the knee to immorality, when government tells us that presenting a condom to a thirteen-year-old or giving a needle to an addict is an act devoid of moral content, when the governor of a major industrial state declares that post-viability abortions (i.e. infanticide) is the price we have to pay for freedom, when politicians openly court the votes of degenerates, when a court rules that a sex killer has a constitutional right to his collection of violent pornography, we are on the verge of moral collapse.
When a rap song that calls for the murder of cops climbs to the top of the charts, when taxpayers are told that their objections to subsidizing a photograph of one man urinating into the mouth of another constitute censorship (when critics consecrate the same as the highest expression of the aesthetic), when a state’s voters come within a hair’s breadth of legalizing medical murder in the name of relieving suffering, when madams tout their memoirs on television talk shows, when a presidential candidate informs voters that whether or not he violated his marriage vows is none of their business, we may as well declare intellectual bankruptcy and have the nation placed in moral receivership.
When eminent authorities tell us that between the one who gave it life and a total stranger it makes absolutely no difference who raises a child, when the law takes the position that parents have no legitimate interest in whether or not their fifteen-year-old daughters have abortions (in the same jurisdiction where parental approval is required for a school nurse to dispense aspirin), when commentators can look at the devastation wrought in the inner cities by fatherless children and pronounce the problem of paucity of welfare spending, when we are informed that playing with toy guns warps the psyche but pornography has no effect on character development—hope fades to a glimmer.
On such things the fate of a civilization hinges. We can have the strongest economy in the world, America can achieve strategic superiority which verges on global hegemony, and it will all be for naught if we lose our moral bearings. Not that we could have either a strong economy or the will to defend ourselves without healthy social institutions, the family first and foremost among them.
Among the gifts America has given me are four wonderful children. This book was written in the hope that they and their children will someday inherit the America in which I grew up, instead of the nation it has become.