Culture Wars in America

The so-called “Culture War” in America boils down to one thing–Beliefs–My beliefs versus your beliefs. America is divided not on social issues, but on personal beliefs and how those beliefs should be applied to social issues. Beliefs and the application of beliefs to our laws is the underlying issue behind all the social issues we are facing as a society. Americans hold very strong beliefs on these issues, regardless of which side they fall on. The challenge is to somehow reconcile those beliefs into public policy that will truly benefit Americans. To do this we need to be completely honest with ourselves and look deeply at social issues to identify the real problems needing to be addressed, and the ramifications of our solutions.

There are two issues today that, more than any other, illustrate this division: Abortion and Same-Sex marriage, it is our personal beliefs that are making these divisive issues in the first place. Opponents to both issues have presented arguments that, despite the smoke and mirrors that our representatives and special interest groups put up to cloud the issue, are based only on personal beliefs.

Unfortunately, Congress and the President have utterly failed to do their job in presenting the real picture on these issues, and what the real implications of them are to society one way or the other. There is little to no foresight being applied in deciding these issues. These are very serious issues with very serious consequences and it is extremely important that both our elected representatives as well as our citizenship as a whole take a step back and approach these not with impassioned beliefs, but with a level-head and open mind.

I have not spent a great deal of time reviewing census data, but I will concede that the majority of the American people are Christian. The values and morals of the Christian religion as a whole are deeply engrained in American society—I will concede this as well. Indeed, even amongst non-Christians, the same basic morals and values are adhered too. The fundamentals of these morals and values are, in fact, shared amongst many religions around the planet. There is, however, a minority of Americans who do not share those same beliefs. That is our great dilemma in society.

It is time that we as a nation asked the right question. For the entire history of our current system of government, as established by the Constitution of the United States, the system has been designed such that the rights of the minority would be protected from popular opinion. This is most evident in the process of amending the Constitution and the very stringent requirements that a majority rule is insufficient. The intent of our forefathers, as best as I can interpret, was that belief–no matter how wide-spread–would not infringe upon those inalienable rights of citizens who did not share in that belief. The question we as a nation must address before we tackle the issue of abortion or same-sex marriage or anything of the like is this: Do we still want the rights of the minority to be protected from the beliefs of the majority? Put another way, do we want to institutionalize Christian belief in our government?

Personally, I feel very strongly that my belief is no more or less important than that of any other American, whether they be a private citizen, or a public official. It is therefore of great concern to me when the people I helped elect into office are voting on legislation not on the facts, not on logic, and not on reason, but instead are voting based on their own personal belief.

What is a belief? What makes it different from a fact? A fact is something that holds true 100% of the time for 100% of the people whether they choose to believe and acknowledge it or not. The world is round. People come in different shapes, sizes and colors. The sky appears blue to the naked eye. These are all facts. Whether you want to believe the world is round or not, the Earth does not change its shape to accommodate your belief that it is flat.

Beliefs, on the other hand, do not hold true 100% of the time for 100% of the people. They hold true only for those who share in that belief. Therein lies the fault of our representatives—and our people–applying their beliefs to the issues we face as a society. Our society needs to work for everyone, not just those who share the majority belief. In the past, when society didn’t work for everyone, the minority would simply move to new frontiers and establish colonial societies based on their then-majority beliefs. We’ve expanded into virtually every inhabitable environment on Earth and no longer have that luxury. We are now forced to deal with our issues rather than run from them. Until we are colonizing other worlds, this will remain true.

Belief systems by there very natures are inherently illogical. They each require an initial leap of faith because that is the only way you can apply logic to the rest of the belief system. Once you make the leap of faith that God exists and that the bible is his word alone, then everything else about it logically makes sense. Logically we should condemn abortions and homosexuality because the bible—God’s word–says we should. If you don’t have that faith, however, such requirements immediately become illogical and unreasonable to you.

Anyone elected to public office in a capacity where they are creating the laws by which the American people must conduct themselves must therefore, logically, check their beliefs at the doors of their offices. Personal beliefs can’t weigh into the decision making because it is impossible for any lawmaker to reconcile the opposing beliefs of their constituencies. Rarely is there a solution that will satisfy the beliefs of everyone when they’re divided along belief in the first place. Never in history has every citizen in any country believed exactly the same thing. The single most important social issue facing America is not being discussed at all. How much should our personal beliefs should shape public policy? Unfortuantly I do not feel that the Constitution goes far enough in answering this question for us. What might seem clearly spelled out in that document is still hotly debated in this country. Clearly it must be better defined if we are to move forward in a responsible way.

So before we start addressing these social issues where Americans are divided based on their personal beliefs, we need to first decide what we want our society to be governed by. Is it belief, or do we want our society governed by logic and reason? Simply put, do we as a people really want a secular society and government? Before we can adequately address the social issues before us today we need to make that decision first.

There are plenty of examples of secular societies throughout the world. The Middle East is currently the focus of the world and where our nation is most currently involved. We’re fighting a war on terror and spreading democracy throughout the Middle East because we believe in freedom and liberty and secular societies are inherently lacking in both freedom and liberty. In a secular state, you’re only free within the confines of the belief system ruling that nation.

This makes it particularly dangerous in how we proceed domestically in our own social issues. It is quite interesting that we state we are spreading freedom throughout the world while at the same time working to undermine the very freedom we’re using as the model for the rest of the world by making beliefs law.

I hear quite a bit from elected officials about the will of the American people. I sincerely question just how much of what is being said reflects the true will of the American people as a whole, versus the will of a few well-funded, organized, and vocal special-interest groups. I don’t here very much of the will of this American being reflected. I can only conclude that I am either in a major minority in wanting a society where every American is treated fairly and equally under the law regardless of their beliefs, or the elected officials, and perhaps the American people as a whole, are grossly ignorant on what is really at stake for our country.

The very liberty we’re trying to deliver to other parts of the world is under attack because the legislatures across our country are caving into the pressures of groups whose goals and agendas ultimately lead to the indoctrination of a secular mindset in government. That is not to say their stated intentions are to impose secular rule on America, but that is the end result if we allow beliefs, no matter how many Americans subscribe to those beliefs, to shape public policy.

Congress needs to cease its usual short-sighted approach to resolving social issues and return to the early days of American government in which we seriously debated all the ramifications of our policy decisions. If no such glory-days existed in our history, now is the time we should have them. A great deal of foresight needs to be applied in understanding what the implications of our policy decisions will be not just for the next generation of Americans, but many generations from now. Our forefathers had enough foresight to craft a system of government that has survived mostly unchanged for over 200 years. Congress must stop fooling itself in thinking they are fixing the problems Americans face by ignoring inconvenient realities and misleading the population with fallacious reasoning and inaccurate “facts”. Any elected official lacking the intelligence to not only comprehend what the actual issue is, but also lacks the ability to express what the actual issue is in public debate, should immediately resign from their position. We must dive very deeply into the social issues to understand the real problem, not the symptoms of that problem.

We will set very dangerous precedents for generations to come if we prohibit things like abortion or same-sex marriage because we allowed the belief systems of Americans, even a majority, to be the sole basis of our public policy. The moment we allow beliefs to become law, we have ceased to be a truly free society. The moment we allow beliefs to become law, we have turned into the very kind of society we are supposedly sacrificing American lives to spread liberty too.

I do not personally advocate creating a secular society based on Christian ideals. I share in many of those ideals, but even Christianity itself can not reach agreement on them all. Nevertheless, there does seem to be a growing sentiment within public debate that we should institutionalize Christian ideals into our government. We must therefore table all other social debates and focus solely on that issue… secularization of our society. Once that has been decided, that decision can guide us in resolving all the other issues facing our nation.

I think it is time that we convene a new Constitutional Convention to address that very issue—not to draft a new Constitution, but rather to arrive at a second Bill of Rights that will define the principles that will guide us through the next 200 years. As we face the social issues in America in the 21st century, we need guiding principles to shape public policy that reflect the realities of today’s society.

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