Stars and Stripes: Forever?

As we face the dusk of the twentieth century and the dawn of a new millennium, let us reflect on the current status of American life. Presently, there are two predominant views on how to evaluate that status. The first holds that life in America is fine because the economy is strong. Quality of life, the thinking goes, is measured by the abundance of jobs and the strength of the Dow.

The second view asserts that the American way of life is being compromised by declining moral standards. According to those who advance this view, turmoil in families, acceptance of abortion, legitimation of alternative lifestyles, and the dissemination of inappropriate mass media are symptoms of a deadly ethical malady. Are not those who hold to this latter view, however, simply trying to force their religious views on society at large? Should they not just live and let live? We shall actually consider the merits of this second view and let you decide.

Feature Article:

Virtuous Reality: Character-Building in the Information Age
Jeb Bush and Brian Yablonski
The Founding Fathers believed democracy depended on the virtue of its people. Today, however, we speak of values rather than virtues. Understanding the difference between the two enables us to better comprehend the nature of social problems and their solutions.

More Articles:

Politics and Religion
Kerby Anderson
What role should religion have in politics? Many say that there should not be one at all. By making crucial ethical distinctions, the author describes what role Christians should play in changing government and society.

Rights Without Right
David Walsh
The author distinguishes between legal right and moral right. He also tells how the latter might influence the former.

Trial and Error: The ACLU and Religious Expression
George Grant
The courts and other elite institutions have long maintained an idea of the church/state relations similar to that of the American Civil Liberties Union. The author questions using the ACLU position as a model.

Culture and the Bible
Jerry Solomon
Biblical accounts provide models on how Christians should respond to their culture.

Documentation: Christianity and Democracy
Institute on Religion and Democracy
Do Christians have an interest in liberal democracy? The IRD, a group of evangelicals, Catholics, and oldline Prostestants, answered affirmatively in this document. Written during the Cold War, the statement outlined general principles that are still relevant.

What is Wrong with Society Today?
John Stoll
Although many show concern and offer remedies for our social problems, few realize their actual cause. What is at the root of the many difficulties that plague our country today? How may these many problems be resolved?

Historical Documents:

Declaration of Independence
This is the text of the Declaration of Independence. Many assume that its famous phrases on equality and rights actually come from the Constitution. This is an opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with this seminal document of American liberty.

Gettysburg Address
This most famous of Lincoln's speeches considers the principles in the Declaration of Independence in light the American Civil War. His fellow speaker on the occasion, classical scholar Edward Everett, remarked that he hoped to have said as much in two hours as the President had in two minutes.

Lincoln's Proclamation: A Day of National Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer
In April 1863, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution in the midst of the Civil War calling for a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer. President Lincoln responded with this proclamation. He called on the people of the nation to repent of their transgressions, believing their sins had brought about punishment of war.

Related Articles:

The Real Reason for Religious Freedom
John H. Garvey
The author sorts through various justifications for state protection of religious freedom. He concludes that there is ultimately only one of these that holds up to scrutiny.

Vindicating the Founders: Race, Sex, Class, and Justice in the Origins of America
Thomas G. West
Why should we take the American Founders seriously? Were they not just self-interested members of an all-male establishment? Dr. West points out various errors in evaluating the thought and pracitices of the Founders.

John Paul II on the American Experiment
Pope John Paul II
The Pontiff calls on America to be consistent with its founding principles.

Legislating Morality?
Joseph R. Reisert
Modern political thought assures us that morality cannot and should not be legislated. In "Making Men Moral: Civil Liberties and Public Policy" Robert P. George takes the opposing position to the current intellectual trend on this matter. Joseph Reisert provides this review.

Christian Conviction & Democratic Etiquette
George Weigel
The Christian viewpoint was marginalized from public policy forums for a half century. Evangelicals and Catholics then emerged as notable voices for what became known as the "religious new right." Should Christianity have a voice in matters political?

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