Published August 18, 2011
Riots In London and America At the Tipping Point – The rioting in Great Britain, Greece, and perhaps coming to a city near you are beyond disheartening. What makes normal young people, some of them even pre-teens, turn into thugs and criminals?
During an appearance recently on "Hannity", the guest sitting adjacent to me opined that the riots were a result of the entitlement culture we have created, that jobless and aimless people are angry that the free lunch is ending. Perhaps there is some truth to that, but the problem goes much deeper.
Historically, crime declined during America’s Great Depression, so economics can’t be the only reason that this is happening now. Even Great Britain’s David Cameron shocked the liberal establishment Monday by saying that his nation must confront its “slow motion moral collapse.” I made that same point on "Hannity. " We are reaping the harvest of relativism. Now what?
Our nation’s founders knew that religion played a key function in democracy. John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people, it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
George Washington evoked the name of God publicly and routinely, and even Thomas Jefferson, who is credited with the phrase “separation of church and state” — in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, not the Constitution — attended church in the U.S. Capitol. This, by the way, makes the U.S. Capitol the first official mega-church.
While these men were very much against any state sponsored religion, they were intensely aware of the necessary role that faith and morality play in peaceful self-government. Without internal restraint, a nation must rely on more government and more laws to control the chaos.
The pictures of police in riot gear confronting kids in Britain is sickening, yet when these children become what the London police referred to as “feral children,” it becomes necessary to protect other citizens and property.
In a speech to his constituency in Oxfordshire, CNN reports that Cameron blamed the riots on “Irresponsibility. Selfishness. Behaving as if your choices have no consequences. Children without fathers. Schools without discipline. Reward without effort. Crime without punishment. Rights without responsibilities. Communities without control.”
All true but why? Could it be because Great Britain has an even higher out-of-wedlock birth rate than the U.S.-- fifty percent to our mere forty.
Clearly, intact families are on the decline and, therefore, the place where our kids should have learned morality is fractured. The schools both here and in Great Britain no longer teach the Ten Commandments. If we can no longer teach the commandment “thou shalt not steal,” we can't be surprised when our young people do exactly that.
We are at a tipping point in society on so many levels. We can no longer pretend that all choices are morally equivalent. Strong families are the place where children must learn these truths.
The age of “enlightenment” was wrong. Mere reason isn’t enough to help us curb our selfish instincts. Faith is the foundation for the moral compass, and our Founding Fathers relied on it to maintain peace. We need to welcome those discussions back into our public square and our families.
Penny Nance is CEO and President of Concerned Women for America.