The United States is arguably the most religious Western democracy. Denmark and Sweden are arguably the least religious Western democracies. Isn’t it strange and rather noteworthy, then, that it is in proudly religious America that guns are plentiful (especially handguns and semiautomatic assault weapons), the penal system is harsh and punitive, the death penalty is meted out on a weekly basis, drug addicts are treated like criminals, millions of children and pregnant mothers lack basic health insurance, millions of elderly people go without proper care, social workers are underpaid and overworked, people suffering from mental illness are left festering on city streets, and the highest levels of poverty of all the industrialized democracies is here.
But in relatively irreligious Denmark and Sweden—two nations that most Americans would consider fairly “godless”—guns are nowhere to be found; the penal system is admirably humane, merciful, and rehabilitative; the death penalty has long been abolished; drug addicts are treated as human beings in need of medical and/or psychological treatment; every man, woman, and child has access to excellent health care; the elderly receive the finest care; social workers are well-paid and given manageable case loads; people suffering from mental illness are given first-class treatment; and the country boasts the lowest levels of poverty of all the industrialized democracies.
– Phil Zuckerman, Society without God
For a long time now something about America has been rumbling through my gut like food poisoning. I hadn’t been able to wrap my brain completely around it, but it was there, gnawing at my innards: something is terribly wrong with American society!
The quote above from Zuckerman as well as the idiocy of both the shootings at Sandy Hook and the insipid politics that played out during 2012 finally cemented it for me. America sucks!
Oh, not all of America, but a large hunk of it.The quote above nails it for me. So many Americans are full of it! It gags me.
We boast, brag and flaunt ‘America’s greatness.’ We hold up #1 signs. We wave and salute the flag as if we are supreme. We chant, USA! USA! as if this were a sporting event. “The greatest nation on earth!” God Bless America!
The sad truth of it all is found in the opening quote by Phil Zuckerman.
After the echos of the bravado fade we are left with the question, Who ARE we Americans? Are we truly ‘the best?’ If so, then how does one measure that supposed success? Or is it all just folly, only an illusion? How does one measure and compare the greatness of a society? Zuckerman asks:
Is a society to be considered moral if its citizens love the Bible a lot (as in the United States), or rather, if its citizens virtually wipe out poverty from their midst (as in Scandinavia)? Is a society to be considered ethical if many of its citizens go to church on a regular basis (as in the United States), or rather, if its citizens provide well-funded, highly professional care to ensure the well-being of their children, their elderly, and their orphaned (as in Scandinavia)?
Consider the next set of data compiled by The Economist:
The top ten best places to be born in 2013:
7. New Zealand
10. Hong Kong
Sixteenth in the world! So much for that “We’re #1” But we are #1 in religion. We attend church services more than any other nation on that list. In fact those ‘top 10’ above rank at the bottom of the church/belief list.
Is there some link between religiosity and low standard of living? Oh for sure we rank #2 in ‘average GDP’ but averaging is a terribly poor methodology. America’s plethora of billionaires skew the average upwards while leaving tens of millions of our citizens hunting for scraps on the floor of the banquet table.
In an article written by Gregory Paul, he states: “In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies. He says,
None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is
experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction. In some cases the highly religious U.S. is an
outlier in terms of societal dysfunction from less theistic but otherwise socially comparable
secular developed democracies.
Societal dysfunction, he says. Imagine that.
Have a blessed day!