America in Peril
At the risk of telling you what you may have heard, I’ll start my letter this month by bringing you up to date regarding my recent injury. In short, I fell from a horse on September 10th while hosting a “friend raising” event at a ranch in Montana. I was wearing very wide walking shoes instead of boots (my error) and my foot slipped from the right stirrup when my hat blew off. While reaching back for it, I lost my balance and landed flat on my back on a large six-shooter. I broke my clavicle, my scapula, and bloodied my back, and then spent the next 17 days in three hospitals. I have never experienced such pain and am just now getting back to work. I have been riding horses since I was four years old without a mishap, but I sure had a doozy this time.
It will take another month to fully recover, during which I will continue to have regular physical therapy and voice therapy. I received so much oxygen while hospitalized that my larynx was affected. You will hear a scratchy sound for a while when I speak on the radio.
Actually, I am fortunate to be alive, because I could have suffered a fatal head injury or fractured my spine. God has been so good to me, not just this time but through the years. Some of you have been praying for me, and I appreciate that kindness more than you know. Others have written to scold me, saying, “What in the world was a man my age doing on a horse?” Well, I am far too young to start playing pitty pat with life now. I love doing what I do.
That’s enough about my injury except to say that it provided plenty of time for me to think I needed that opportunity to slow the frantic pace of everyday responsibilities and listen to the voice of God. That is what I have been doing in the intervening weeks. I have drawn two conclusions that I want to share with you.
First, I continue to be thankful for the ministry of Family Talk. It is growing, and the Lord is blessing our outreach. When I left Focus on the Family in 2010, I could have retired and hung up the spurs (no pun intended). Many people thought I would do just that. But I felt a distinct urging from the Lord to continue trying to defend the quavering institutions of marriage, parenthood and other aspects of the family. I was heartbroken by what was and is happening to children and felt I should try to help. Thus, the mission and the message to which I have devoted my professional life since leaving U.S.C. School of Medicine in 1977 is still valid and worthy. This is why Family Talk exists and why I am returning to it now that I can move again. I heard the confirmation of my call while lying in the various hospitals.
Second, and related to the first, I am deeply concerned about what is happening to our great country. I saw evidence of undeniable decline in the American culture as I watched the news from morning to night. This concern came over me like a tidal wave. Murder, mayhem, riots in the U.S. and Europe, marital breakdown, and financial disintegration are the daily fare. It is starting to feel like 1968 again when traditional values unraveled.
For those of you who regularly read the writings of conservative commentators, you must have come across other examples of the alarming perspectives I am sharing. For example, Daniel Hannan, a member of the European Parliament, was a guest on Neil Cavuto recently. He said what is going on in Europe is catastrophic. The policies implemented by European socialists are the same that are rampant here in the United States. Spend, spend, spend. Borrow, borrow, borrow. “It will all end badly and soon,” he said. Hannan fears for us all.
Columnist and television commentator Pat Buchanan has also observed these ominous signs. The title of his new book is Suicide of a Superpower, which addresses the sub-title, “Will America Survive to 2025?” His conclusion is that given where we are headed, this country will not endure as a Constitutional democracy. Buchanan then devotes the next 400 pages to explaining his thesis. Suicide of a Superpower has just hit the streets, and I have only seen reviews of it so far. There may be concepts therein with which I would disagree. However, what I have read to this point projects ominous implications for our future.
America is disintegrating. The centrifugal forces pulling us apart are growing inexorably. What unites us is dissolving. And this is true of Western Civilization. Meanwhile, the state is failing in its most fundamental duties. It is no longer able to defend our borders, balance our budgets, or win our wars. 1
The Drudge Report summarized Buchanan’s book this way: “[It] reads as if it’s been written to be left behind in the ruins, only to be found by a future civilization." 2
I would not typically put much stock in the apocalyptic writings of a single author because no one can predict the future with certainty. However, this book validates my own independent observations in many ways. For example, Buchanan says this in his second chapter:
…the drive to de-Christianize America, to purge Christianity from the public square, public schools and public life, will prove culturally and socially suicidal for the nation. The last consequence of a dying Christianity is a dying people. Not one post-Christian nation has a birth rate sufficient to keep it alive ...
The death of European Christianity means the disappearance of the European tribe, a prospect visible in the demographic statistics of every Western nation.” 3
Buchanan is a life-long Catholic, which is evident in his book. This is what he wrote about his church, which he called “The crisis of Catholicism.”
Half a century on, the disaster is manifest. The robust and confident Church of 1958 no longer exists. Catholic colleges and universities remain Catholic in name only. Parochial schools and high schools are closing as rapidly as they opened in the 1950s. The numbers of nuns, priests and seminarians have fallen dramatically. Mass attendance is a third of what it was. From the former Speaker of the House to the Vice President, Catholic politicians openly support abortion on demand.”
How can Notre Dame credibly teach that all innocent life is sacred, and then honor a [U.S] president committed to ensuring that a woman’s right to end the life of her innocent child remains sacrosanct? 4
As an Evangelical, I recognize some of the same disturbing contradictions within conservative Protestant churches, even those that have historically been committed to Scripture. A huge number of today’s young adults, perhaps a majority of them, have lost interest in traditional teachings that reflect the words of Jesus. You’ll remember the concepts that have become politically incorrect. Sin, repentance, atonement, holiness, and reconciliation with God are discredited or ignored. Without an understanding of these biblical concepts, Jesus’ death on the cross is no more significant than that of any other martyr. The Savior died to provide a remedy for the sin that dwells within. John said of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Failure to teach these truths is deeply disturbing to me because it leaves human beings in an unregenerate condition.
Also, as Buchanan wrote, it represents a threat to the viability of the nation itself.
Our Founding Fathers clearly understood the relationship between Christian Truth and the stability of our (then) new nation. Here are just a few quotes that express that essential connection.
John Adams, our first vice president and second president, wrote:
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. – 1798 5
Thomas Jefferson, our third president and one of the principal framers of the Constitution – a man who, revisionists tell us, wanted a "wall of separation" to protect the government from people of faith – wrote the words that now appear on his memorial in Washington, D.C.:
Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? – 1781 6
Our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, said this:
No book in the world deserves to be so unceasingly studied, and so profoundly meditated upon as the Bible. – circa 1812 7
Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the Foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity? – 1837 8
Andrew Jackson, our seventh president, made this statement:
Sir, I am in the hands of a merciful God. I have full confidence in his goodness and mercy...The Bible is true...I have tried to conform to its spirit as near as possible. Upon that sacred volume, I rest my hope for eternal salvation, through the merits and blood of our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. – 1845 9
I must include a quote from Lincoln that is one of my favorites:
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness. – 1863 10
There are dozens of other quotes on record that stand as expressions of faith offered by our chief executives through nearly 220 years of American history. "In God We Trust" was adopted by Congress as the official motto of the United States as recently as 1956. 11 Hundreds of other quotations exist, including brilliant statements by military heroes, authors, and patriots such as Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, and Robert E. Lee. I can't read their writings without marveling at the spiritual heritage that has been handed down to us through the ages. But these statements of faith also evoke a sadness over what is happening to our great country today.
We are witnessing an unprecedented campaign to secularize our society and "de-moralize" our institutions from the top down. The effort, now in its fifth decade, has been enormously successful. Most forms of prayer have been declared unconstitutional in the nation's schools. The Ten Commandments have been prohibited on school bulletin boards. Secular universities are blatantly hostile to Christian precepts, and the media screams "Foul!" whenever someone speaks openly of his beliefs. In this wonderful Land of the Free, we have gagged and bound all of our public officials, our teachers, our elected representatives, and our judges. Since we have effectively censored their expressions of faith in public life, the predictable is happening: a generation of young people is growing up with very little understanding of the spiritual principles on which our country was founded. And we wonder why so many of them can kill, steal, take drugs, and engage in promiscuous sex with no pangs of conscience. We have taught them that right and wrong are arbitrary – subjective – changing. They learned their lessons well.
A recent poll of the Wall Street protesters, conducted by Doug Shoen, indicates that 98 percent of these revolutionaries support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and 31 percent would support violence to advance their agenda.12 Yet, the President of the United States has expressed support for their movement. It is Marxist in tone and implementation.
At one of the recent presidential debates, all the candidates focused on the economic peril that has gripped our country. America faces a debt of 14 trillion dollars, which can never be repaid. It is significant to note, however, that only six references to the family were made during the event. Former Senator Rick Santorum was responsible for four of them. He said:
The biggest problem with poverty in America…is the breakdown of the American family. You want to look at the poverty rate among families that have two in them [a husband and a wife.] It is five percent today. [By contrast,] a family that is headed by one person is 30 percent. …The word for “home” in Greek is the basis for the word economy. It is the foundation for our country. We need to have a policy that supports families, that encourages marriage…that has fathers take responsibility for their children. You can’t have limited government—you can’t have a wealthy society if the family breaks down—that basic unit of society. And that needs to be included in this economic discussion. 13
That statement is precisely on target. The stability of the family is not only important to the nation’s prosperity, but it is critical to every other component of stability and wellbeing in the culture. It is the life-blood of any democracy. I have been trying to say that for 40 years, and yet this God-given institution is coming apart at the seams. It is breathtaking to see how hostile our government has become to traditional marriage, and how both Democrats and Republicans are increasingly antagonistic to parental rights, Christian training, and the financial underpinnings of family life.
The hope of the future is prayer and a spiritual renewal that will sweep the nation. It has happened before, and with concerted prayer, could occur again. Rather than being depressed and discouraged, let’s let our voices ring out on behalf of this great country. We can rediscover the eternal principles that made us the most blessed people in the history of the world. But if we continue down the road we are now traveling, I fear for us all.
Family Talk will fight for the things we believe if given a chance. I know there are millions of people out there who hold to biblical truths and want to be represented in the public square. We will not compromise those fundamentals one inch. I hope you will help us hold the line on behalf of families and righteousness everywhere.
Candidly, this ministry continues to struggle financially, and our very survival will depend on the generosity of our constituents in the next two months. That will tell the tale, not only for this organization but for many other non-profit entities that are hanging by a thread. We will follow the leading of the Lord in these closing days of 2011. Please pray with us about the future of this ministry.
I would love to have you come visit us in Colorado Springs sometime, and see for yourself what the Lord has done so quickly. We are heard on 750 radio stations. If you don’t live near one of them, you can find us every day by accessing familytalk.org and clicking on One Place. It’s as easy as pie.
Sincerely in Christ,
James C. Dobson, Ph.D.
President and Founder
P.S. As we celebrate a season of Thanksgiving, please know that I am very grateful for each of you. All of us at Family Talk want to wish you and your family and friends a Happy Thanksgiving!
- Buchanan, Pat, SUICIDE OF A SUPERPOWER: WILL AMERICA SURVIVE TO 2025? (Thomas Dunne Books, 2011)
- Buchanan, Pat, SUICIDE OF A SUPERPOWER: WILL AMERICA SURVIVE TO 2025? (Thomas Dunne Books, 2011)
- Adams, Charles Francis, ed., THE WORKS OF JOHN ADAMS, SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1954), IX, p. 229
- Padover, Saul K. ed., THE COMPLETE JEFFERSON, Query XVII (New York: Tudor Publishing, 1943), p. 677
- LETTERS OF JOHN QUINCY ADAMS TO HIS SON ON THE BIBLE AND ITS TEACHINGS, (Auburn, N.Y.: James M. Alden, 1850), p. 119
- Adams, John Quincy, AN ORATION DELIVERED BEFORE THE INHABITANTS OF THE TOWN ON NEWBURYPORT, AT THEIR REQUEST ON THE SIXTY-FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, July 4, 1837, (Newburyport: Morass and Brewster, 1837)
- Remini, Robert V., ANDREW JACKSON AND THE COURSE OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY 1833-1845, (New York: Harper and Row, 1984), vol. III, p. 186 1
- Basler, Roy P., ed., THE COLLECTED WORKS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), vol. VI, p. 156.
- Stokes, Anson Phelps, CHURCH AND STATE IN THE UNITED STATES, (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1950), vol. III, p. 186
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