Why progressivism is killing religion in America

Star Parker
Conservative Opinion

Star Parker

Founder & President, Center for Urban Renewal and Education
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It is maddening to see Democrats cling to this long-held fantasy that the only way to combat poverty in America is by pouring more government dollars and interference into society. For more than six decades, this has been the case. It started with LBJ’s “war on poverty” speech during the 1964 State of the Union. Since then, we’ve wasted trillions of dollars following this misguided progressive strategy.

President Biden’s Build Back Better Act was yet another attempt on this front, with its wasteful Child Tax Credit. Instead of helping children, as Democrats claimed, it would have only encouraged more Americans to avoid work. If it wasn’t for West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) taking a stand and derailing the Biden’s legislative lynchpin, U.S. taxpayers would have seen billions of their hard-earned dollars thrown away.

What it’s done, more than anything, is undermine faith and religion. Those two elements are bedrocks of our country, “a nation under God.” Yet by pushing to have government become the dominant force in the lives of its citizens, Democrats are tearing away at the importance of religion in our daily lives. Our first president, George Washington, warned against that in his farewell address.

And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion,” he said.

Yet here we are in 2021, where the latest studies show fewer than half of Americans consider themselves religious.

Instead of pursuing these destructive policies that do more harm than good, liberals should instead look at the theory espoused years ago by Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution, called the “Success Sequence.”

The success sequence consists of three steps in behavior to avoid poverty.

Complete at least a high school education, work full time, and wait until age 21 before getting married and then having children.

According to testimony of Haskins in 2012 before the U.S. Senate, those following the “success sequence” have a 2% chance of being in poverty and a 75% chance of reaching the middle class.

But the success sequence doesn’t much interest progressives because the focus is about individuals taking personal responsibility for their lives in a free country. 

The “personal responsibility” part and the “free country” part have little standing in the Democratic Party.

Personal responsibility. Imagine that. If only the progressives who claim to care about this country and are trying to push us into socialism would open their eyes and see how that is a much better policy to pursue.

One great mystery is the persistent refusal of those on the left to abandon what is clearly not true.

Why do they keep insisting that the means for reducing the burden of poverty is more government spending?

The lie entrenched in the 1960s under President Lyndon B. Johnson. 

LBJ declared in his 1964 State of the Union address an “unconditional War on Poverty in America.” 

Yet, despite tens of trillions of spending since then, the conviction of progressives is that poverty can be wiped out with tens of trillions more government spending.

We now face the latest round of this misguided lie with the expansion of the Child Tax Credit in the Build Back Better Act — now derailed thanks to Sen. Joe Manchin.

Fellow Democrats are now all over Senator Manchin for allegedly not caring about child poverty.

President Biden’s so-called ‘Build Back Better’ Act would have increased the credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000, or $3,600 for children under 6.

Yet, in a particularly destructive move, the BBB detached work requirements from receiving the Child Tax Credit, which a team of University of Chicago economists’ estimate would result in 1.5 million parents leaving the workforce.

More government, less work. This is somehow the answer that Democrat Party leadership is serving up to us for how to build a better future for our nation.

It is becoming more obvious by the day that Democrats have used LBJ’s War on Poverty not to improve the lives of the poor, but as a weapon to dramatically expand government into the lives of the non-poor.

Equally revealing, the more you listen to these progressives and delve into their legislative agenda, is what does not interest them at all.

A little more than a decade ago, Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill at the Brookings Institution publicized what they called the “success sequence.”

The success sequence consists of three steps in behavior to avoid poverty.

Complete at least a high school education, work full time, and wait until age 21 before getting married and then having children.

According to testimony of Haskins in 2012 before the U.S. Senate, those following the “success sequence” have a 2% chance of being in poverty and a 75% chance of reaching the middle class.

But the success sequence doesn’t much interest progressives because the focus is about individuals taking personal responsibility for their lives in a free country. 

The “personal responsibility” part and the “free country” part have little standing in the Democratic Party.

Also, of little interest to progressives is that larding down our economy with massive amounts of government retards economic growth.

Why would anyone think slow economic growth is good for the poor?

One big challenge for Americans to allow themselves to be convinced by progressives that government is the answer to anyone’s life’s problems – is that our society then becomes more likely to abandon faith and religion: the very pillars which provide the light and principles for individuals to take control of their own lives.

New data from the Pew Research Center shows the toll that secularization is taking on our country.

According to Pew, 63% of Americans in 2021 identify as Christians, compared with 78% in 2007. 

In 2021, 29% indicated they have no religion, compared with 16% in 2007. 

In 2007, 56% of Americans said religion was “very important” in their lives, yet in 2021 this was down to 41 percent.

If as a nation we really have desire to help folks in need, whether the need is child- care or to escape poverty, perhaps rather than allow politicians to expand government reach, we should again recall the words of America’s first president, George Washington, in his farewell address.

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. … And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. 

“Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

I think we should memorize our first president before these liberals and these progressives destroy our great country.


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