Politics and the Church – Where to now? [Part 3]

This week we take a look at today’s core values.  We jump forward 250 years from the ‘Foundation Period’.  As stated last week, while there has been several societal changes, the biggest changes have been with the people.  Please understand, these values are in general about today’s contemporary citizens and do not apply to all Americans.  Here are the values that are at the heart of the nation today: Belonging/acceptance; Comfort; Entertainment; Experiences; Expressiveness; Financial security; Flexibility; Freedom; Happiness; Individuality; Love; Meaning and purpose of life; Personal control; Physical security; Self-reliance/independence; Speed; and Stability.  Just the past quarter century has seen a large outgrowth in rapid and broad transition in our core values.  Dominant values typically do not change quickly or in great number, but the recent past has seen a break with that pattern and an influx of nearly a dozen new core values…and a concurrent abandonment of some longtime values.  Shifts do not happen overnight.  However, during the infrequent period of substantial values shifting, there is a very visible and audible level of conflict between those who prefer the old values and others who embrace the new values.  We can see this today in the political conflicts…conservatives vs. liberals (progressives).  With many of these long term shifts well underway we must acknowledge where we stand and how to handle the transition.  The church can play a major part in helping soci! ety decide the ‘course’ to take.  Here’s a brief outline of the flow of American values :

  • About 30% of the nation’s current values have been around for quite some time and are still held by most Americans.
  • One out of every 10 of our presently held values has risen to prominence and acceptance within the past 20 years.
  • Nearly two-fifths of our values are in transition.  These include a large group of values that have been around for a long time but are now the subject of furious debate and challenge; one out of every ten is a new value being vetted carefully by society in anticipation of widespread adoption; and the remaining batch of values are existing values being redefined and recontextualized.
  • The remaining one-fifth of the lot constitutes values that served us in the past but have generally been abandoned by most Americans over the past decade or so.

In the next couple of weeks we will look at the various values so that you might decide for yourself how you have changed just in your lifetime.  The church can have a major impact on the nation and its values only if it decides that  our nation’s freedoms are based on Judeo-Christian principles that are worthy of remaining in place or if ‘secular freedoms’ are going to shape this nation’s future.  As God’s ‘hands and feet’ we are not meant to retire to a rocking chair and watch our society march down the path to destruction.  A nation that is entertained by violence and sex activity is a nation in trouble.  Such an atmosphere has brought down great empires.

[ The above information is based on an evaluation of various research studies conducted in the past five years regarding people’s driving values.  The studies have been conducted by the Barna Group, the Gallup Organization, Harris Interactive, Higher Education Research Institute (UCLA), Kaiser Family Foundation, NORC, Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Pew Research Center, and the Survey Research Center (University of Michigan)]

– Bob Munsey

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