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What’s Behind the Growing Culture War?

by John LaBissoniere Estimated reading time: 23 minutes

A popular patriotic song in the United States is “America the Beautiful.”

Written as a poem in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates, a professor of English at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, it was combined with music in 1910 by New Jersey church organist Samuel Ward. The first two stanzas highlight both God’s blessings on this unique nation as well as its imperfections. 

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea! …
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

While the United States has had its faults, it was established on a sincere and genuine reverence for the Creator and the constitutional rule of law—as opposed to the arbitrary exercise of governing authority. For centuries these twin principles were highly regarded and readily observed by the vast majority of the American people. But today it’s a different story. Honor for God has dwindled, and the rule of law is not esteemed as it once was.

Many Americans have completely abandoned worship of and obedience toward their Creator and are wholly unthankful for His marvelous protection and abundant blessings (2 Timothy 3:1-5 ). The prophet Jeremiah described the wayward people of Israel and Judah in terms that fit a large and growing number of unwise and arrogant individuals today: “These people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned aside and gone their own way” (Jeremiah 5:23 , New English Translation; see also Isaiah 1:4-6 ).

America is under assault from within by extreme forces in an all-out war to transform its foundational culture into something previous generations would neither recognize nor condone.

As a result, America is now under assault from within by extreme forces in an all-out war to transform its foundational culture into something its founding fathers and previous generations would neither recognize nor condone. We see this struggle taking place in other Western nations as well.

The recent political campaigns leading up to elections for control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives presented starkly different views of and visions for the nation. Although overly simplified, it could be said that one view proposed a national path rooted in the best principles of America’s past and Constitution, while the other offered a very different and opposite path veering sharply from long-held American values and traditions. The level of hostility in recent elections has verged on near-warfare—and on some occasions has led to outright violence.

While there are many battlegrounds in this war for the heart and soul of a nation, this article will expose and examine six of them from the standpoint of Holy Scripture and perceptive secular sources. These six theaters of war include hostility toward Christianity, denigrating and rewriting the nation’s past, media bias, immigration/open borders, the homosexual/transgender agenda and socialist wealth redistribution. All of these are the “front lines” in today’s culture war.

1. Growing hostility toward Christianity

In the July-August 2018 issue of Beyond Today we discussed in detail how deep respect offered to God originally formed the bedrock of American culture and provided major benefits to the nation’s people for generations (see “What’s Behind the War on God? ” in that issue). In addition, the positive influence of basic Christian standards, such as integrity, responsibility and morality, generated highly positive outcomes throughout society.

While individuals and families had been aided substantially in previous centuries by their worship of and obedience to God, profound changes have occurred in recent years to turn people away from those critical principles. Distrust and disdain toward Christianity has been growing consistently—being fueled by the menacing spiritual powers of Satan the devil and his demons (Ephesians 2:2 ; 6:11; 1 Peter 5:8 ). Christian institutions and individuals have been subjected to increasing attacks and restrictions on their freedom to venerate and obey God.

This includes Supreme Court rulings declaring prayer, Bible reading and posting the Ten Commandments in public schools to be unconstitutional—effectively prohibiting the teaching of righteous values.

With God and the Ten Commandments kept out of schools during children’s most formative years, it should be no surprise that detrimental results have arisen throughout society. This is seen in increasing family breakdown, sexual promiscuity, pornography, violence, drug and alcohol addiction, crime and other evils. Indeed, a systematic effort is at work in America and other Western countries to expel God and His commandments from public and private life, striking at the very foundation of the culture.

2. Denigrating and rewriting national history

Further assault comes from the rewriting of history or “historical revisionism.” Significant efforts are underway to focus on and magnify the nation’s errors while minimizing its successes or recasting them as wrong. The purpose is to influence citizens to feel personal humiliation and guilt for the country’s past, particularly if they are not part of an identifiable “victim group.”

In his 2015 book The Snapping of the American Mind, journalist David Kupelian, managing editor of WND.com (formerly WorldNetDaily), described this culture war plan as including “manipulating Americans’ historical national guilt over slavery and segregation, persistently keeping the fires of guilt and shame alive in present-day Americans for sins committed generations ago by people long since dead” (p. 76).

One consequence of this movement has been the tearing down or removal of historical monuments in public places such as parks and town squares. According to a Fox News article posted on Aug. 21, 2018: “More than 30 cities across the United States have removed or relocated Confederate statues and monuments amid an intense nationwide debate about race and history … Many of the controversial monuments were dedicated in the early twentieth century or during the height of the Civil Rights Movement” (Christopher Carbone, “Which Confederate Statues Were Removed? A Running List,” Aug. 21, 2018).

In commenting on this specific effort to rewrite history, Ken Blackwell, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and senior fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council, wrote:

“When the City of Baltimore recently removed several Civil War–era statues, it took down one of Roger Taney, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He remained loyal to the United States. His earlier opinion in the Dred Scott case deserves to be reviled, but at the time seven other justices agreed with him. And his career was much more than one case. Taney served almost 30 years as the nation’s most important jurist …

“During the Civil War, he defended civil liberties, including the Doctrine of Habeas Corpus, a bulwark against unjust imprisonment. Before joining the high court he served as Secretary of War, Secretary of the Treasury and Attorney General. But now, because of that one opinion, he is an historical persona non-grata …

“It is appropriate to reassess history and address practices now recognized as unjust … However, that doesn’t mean eradicating the past, even those parts that most challenge us. Instead, we should seek to understand and place in context those who did great deeds while simultaneously tolerating and sometimes supporting what we now see as great evil” (“Historical Revisionism,” HuffPost, Aug. 18, 2017).

In another troublesome attempt to amend history, a new Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. history course was introduced in high schools in 2014 that virtually eliminated references to America’s founding fathers while highlighting the nation’s faults. In remarking on the curriculum, Dr. Ben Carson, former presidential candidate and current Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), said this in a speech at the Center for Security Policy’s National Security Action Summit on Sep. 29, 2014:

“I am a little shocked quite frankly looking at the AP course in American history that’s being taught in high schools across our country right now. There’s only two paragraphs in there about George Washington … Little or nothing about Martin Luther King. A whole section of slavery and how evil we are …

“This is what we are doing to the young people in our nation … We have to stop crucifying ourselves. Have we made mistakes as a nation? Of course we have. Why? Because we are people and all people make mistakes” (quoted by Warner Huston, “Dr. Ben Carson Slams New Anti-American AP History Curriculum,” Breitbart, Oct. 2, 2014).

In commenting on the same history course, Dean Kalahar, an educator for 31 years and author of several books on economic and educational issues, described how it eviscerated U.S. history:

“Most concerning is the anti-historical emphasis on social justice, globalism, environmentalism, race, class, and gender victimhood that undermines Western ideals, the Constitution, capitalism, and American culture … Facts now show not only intent, but a vision and mission that bring schools face to face with forces bent on instilling a false shame [in] America’s past for the purpose of establishing a global collective” (“Hell-bent on Rewriting America’s Past,” American Thinker, Oct. 9, 2014).

It’s not surprising, then, that a recent poll showed that nearly four in 10 American young adults do not agree that “America has a history that we should be proud of” and nearly half believe that “America is more racist than other countries.”

We find this revisionism in other Western nations as well. Writing in the British Telegraph, historian Zareer Masani writes: “A pity that the Royal Historical Society has fallen into the trap of confusing historical diversity with the narrow political correctness of a vociferous loony left lobby in our universities. It’s a laudable aim to root out racism in the recruitment of academics or students, but that has nothing to do with the absurd goal of a recent RHS report to ‘promote and embed racial and ethnic equality in UK-based history.’

“History is not some race equality project, but the study of complex and often contradictory realities about our past, which rarely lend themselves to simple ethical stereotypes. Those who profess to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum are fighting a dangerous battle to purge the past of the iniquities they dislike and present us with a sanitised version, censored according to the values of the present” (“The Left Is Degrading the Subject of History With Its Anti-Western Political Correctness,” Oct. 23, 2018).

The legitimate study of the past requires an assessment based on facts and a broad overview—not a selective view that promotes some current agenda. The Bible tells its readers that truth is what matters—always (see Isaiah 59:14 ; John 8:32 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:10 ). The Eternal God inspired His prophet Zechariah to write: “These are the things you shall do: speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace” (Zechariah 8:16 ).

3. Media bias designed to reshape people’s thinking

We turn next to the battleground of media bias— that is, “a political bias in journalistic reporting, in programming selection, or otherwise in mass communications media” (Definitions.net).

While citizens of the United States believe that the media has a critical role in its democracy, “results of the 2017 Gallup/Knight Foundation Survey on Trust, Media and Democracy show that most Americans believe it is now harder to be well-informed and to determine which news is accurate. They increasingly perceive the media as biased and struggle to identify objective news sources … Today, 66% of Americans say most news media do not do a good job of separating fact from opinion. In 1984, 42% held this view” (“American Views: Trust, Media and Democracy,” Knight Foundation, Jan. 15, 2018).

What is the reason for this? Katherine Kersten, a writer, attorney and senior fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, draws attention to what Emmy-winning American journalist Bernie Goldberg explained in his 2001 book Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News:

“Goldberg argues that journalists’ political and social leanings strongly influence the way they report the news. It’s not that reporters conspire to slant their stories, he insists. The problem is more subtle, and thus more serious. Goldberg maintains that most journalists share an ideological worldview. Generally, they support abortion rights, affirmative action, gun control, gay rights and environmental regulation, and oppose school prayer and the death penalty. Moreover, they tend to surround themselves with friends and colleagues who think the same way.

“The result, says Goldberg, is that most journalists don’t view themselves as political liberals. They simply believe that all reasonable and humane people think the way that they do. In their own eyes, they are politically middle-of-the-road. According to Goldberg, most journalists divide Americans into two kinds of people: moderates like themselves and right-wing nuts” (“Goldberg’s Revelations About Media Bias Should Come as No Surprise,” Center of the American Experiment, June 27, 2014).

This out-of-touch viewpoint is also evident in journalists’ enmity toward people who hold Christian ideals and convictions. In 2013, World News Group’s vice president Warren Smith and chief editor Marvin Olasky coauthored a book titled Prodigal Press: Confronting the Anti-Christian Bias of the American News Media. The book points out that in the 19th century many of America’s most distinguished daily newspapers reported news from a Christian perspective. However, over the following 150 years, a liberal progressive worldview gradually infiltrated America’s mainstream media and now plays a dominant role in society.

Although many of today’s print, internet and television journalists claim to be neutral, they increasingly report news and information from an anti-Christian outlook—which includes support for same-sex marriage, abortion and other societal ills that have corrupted and degraded American culture. The Bible explains that people often make foolish and destructive choices by doing what “seems right” in their own eyes (Proverbs 12:15 ; Proverbs 14:12 ; Proverbs 16:25 ; Proverbs 21:2 ; Proverbs 30:12 ).

4. Immigration and open borders

The contentious debate over immigration in the United States has continued for decades as political parties, government entities and business institutions continue grappling with conflicting security and economic concerns. Walter Russell Mead, a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute, described why the combative debate over immigration continues to rage:

“What makes immigration radioactive? Partly it’s that no other issue, not even economic inequality, drives such a deep wedge between elite and mass opinion. Elites almost always support immigration on both economic and moral grounds. But many voters worry their neighborhoods will be exposed to the social consequences of mass immigration, and that their wages will decline as immigrants compete for jobs” (“Immigration Is Still Radioactive,” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 22, 2018).

The social consequences of illegal immigration include unlawful cross-border drug, weapons and sex trafficking by criminal organizations as well as the threat of terrorist infiltration. Unlawful immigration has resulted in increased violent crime, including murder, sexual assault and aggravated assault and other offenses perpetrated by thousands of Central American “MS-13” gang members now operating in at least 22 states.

Steven Camarota, Center for Immigration Studies research director, explained that 21 percent of people convicted of crimes in the United States were illegal aliens, which is 2½ times their portion of the population:

“The biggest problem with studying immigrant crime is that states and localities do not systematically track the country of birth, citizenship, or legal status of those they arrest, convict, or incarcerate. But the federal government does track the citizenship of those it convicts.

“New data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission shows that of those convicted of federal crimes between 2011 and 2016, 44.2 percent were not U.S. citizens—21.4 percent, if immigration crimes are excluded. In comparison, non-citizens are 8.4 percent of the adult population” (“Non-Citizens Committed a Disproportionate Share of Federal Crimes, 2011-16,” Center for Immigration Studies [CIS.org], Jan. 10, 2018).

Even in the face of such upsetting statistics, immigration activists and leftist politicians continue advocating for “open borders” and, most recently, the elimination of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a government agency that enforces federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration (Andrew Arthur, “Abolish ICE?” CIS.org, July 6, 2018).

So, should nations remove all restrictions on people crossing into their borders? Should everyone have unhindered access to enter the United States or any other country they choose? Clearly not. National governments are charged with maintaining the rule of law and protecting their nations’ citizens.

The Bible describes an ancient time when people came together to build the Tower of Babel for their own aggrandizement and defiance of God. God intervened then to change history’s direction by giving different languages to different ethnic groups, which led them to move to distant locations where they developed separate societies (Genesis 11:9 ).

God does not support “open borders” nor illegal immigration since, as Deuteronomy 32:8 explains, He “set the boundaries of the peoples.”

5. The homosexual/transgender agenda

For decades social activists have pushed for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights, such as redefining marriage to include same-sex couples and the extension of non-discrimination laws to embrace people’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

Over time, activist pressure and moral decline led to various state statutes and court rulings, such as those outlawing sodomy, being overturned or struck down. Then on June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling required all 50 states to perform and recognize marriages of same-sex couples on equal terms and conditions as those of opposite-sex couples.

In the years leading up to that decision, many Americans’ belief in God and His biblical moral teachings tumbled further as the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle accelerated. A Pew Research Center poll published May 12, 2015, revealed that the belief in God’s existence fell precipitously over the previous decade (“U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious,” Pew Research Center, Nov. 3, 2015).

Plus, a May 2018 Gallup survey showed that 67 percent of Americans endorsed same-sex marriage, which is a staggering 40 percent increase in support since Gallup first polled on the issue in 1996 when only 27 percent of those surveyed said they approved of homosexual marriage (Aamer Madhani, “Poll: Approval of Same-Sex Marriage in U.S. Reaches New High,” USA Today, May 23, 2018). Of course, acceptance of the homosexual agenda was aggressively pushed by Western news, entertainment media and educational institutions, contributing to such widespread acceptance.

The homosexual/transgender agenda, along with the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s, transformed America’s moral standards. Many think of this as a positive change to a more enlightened perspective. However, just because more people believe same-sex marriage to be appropriate, and legislatures pass laws or judges rule in favor of such change, that does not make it inherently good.

The only way to grasp what is truly correct is by examining everything in the perfect bright light of God’s Word. In fact the Bible labels homosexual activity as explicitly sinful (Leviticus 18:22 ; 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:18 ; Romans 1:26-27 ; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ; 1 Timothy 1:10 ). Of course, compassion needs to be shown to those who struggle with same-sex attraction and the homosexual lifestyle and are striving to overcome these with God’s help. Nevertheless much research demonstrates how destructive this lifestyle really is.

For example, on March 9, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services posted the following on its website: “Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) have been rising among gay and bisexual men, with increases in syphilis being seen across the country. In 2014, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men accounted for 83% of primary and secondary syphilis cases where sex of [the] sex partner was known in the United States. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men often get other STDs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea infections” (“Sexually Transmitted Diseases,” CDC.gov).

More recently pushed to the fore in this arena is the matter of transgenderism, “relating to a person whose gender identity does not correspond to that person’s biological sex assigned at birth” (Dictionary.com). Even though some may think they are of the opposite gender from which they were born, the inescapable fact is that God created human beings with each having distinct sexual identity as either male or female (Genesis 5:2 ). Good psychiatric science understands that even though people may feel they have a different sexual identity, these are actually abnormal feelings and are symptomatic of deeper psychological problems.

In referring to his 40-year study of people who had gender confusion issues, Paul McHugh, M.D., former chairman and distinguished professor of the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, wrote: “Gender dysphoria—the official psychiatric term for feeling oneself to be of the opposite sex—belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction” (“Transgender Surgery Isn’t the Solution,” The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2014).

He went on: “The treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychological conflicts provoking it. With youngsters, this is best done in family therapy.”

Yet transgenderism is being promoted at all levels of society in America and other Western countries, including to children in schools, sometimes without the consent of parents. In a sad example from the Vancouver area in Canada, “‘this little girl came home in tears because the teacher had told her that she was playing with some toys in the class that were deemed to be masculine in nature; that she was likely a boy in a girl’s body,’ [an area pastor Kevin] Cavanaugh said. ‘She came home in tears and said ‘Mommy, Mommy—I don’t want to be a boy!’

“The mother went to the school the very next day and instead of having any tolerance or support or understanding, she was actually called names, she was told she was a homophobe, a bigot,’ he said” (Wendy Griffith, “Mommy, I Don’t Want to Be a Boy!’ Little Girl’s Reaction to Radical Sex Ed Program Says It All,” CBN News, Jan. 14, 2018).

These are certainly dark times. To learn more about what’s happening in this arena and the heart of the matter, we encourage you to read “The War on Marriage and Family” in our November–December 2018 issue.

6. Socialist wealth redistribution

The Gallup organization reported the following in a poll conducted July 30 through Aug. 5, 2018: “Americans aged 18 to 29 are as positive about socialism (51%) as they are about capitalism (45%). This represents a 12-point decline in young adults’ positive views of capitalism in just the past two years and a marked shift since 2010, when 68% viewed it positively” (Frank Newport, “Democrats More Positive About Socialism Than Capitalism,” Gallup, Aug. 13, 2018).

Left-leaning and openly socialist politicians like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who came close to winning the Democrat Party nomination for the 2016 presidential race, often trumpet Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland) for their socialist economic systems. However, in operating their welfare-state programs these nations do so by means of underlying capitalist economies, and they have never nationalized the means of production—meaning expropriating private assets to turn them into public assets (“Scandinavia Isn’t a Socialist Paradise,” TheFederalist.com, Aug. 11, 2015). They’ve also not needed massive defense spending over past decades.

Socialist political parties, common in Europe, are gaining ground in the United States. In the recent U.S. midterm elections, two female Democratic Socialists of America party members won election to the U.S. House of Representatives. When one of these won the Democrat primary for her district several months previously, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez proclaimed that she “represents the future of our party.”

Do people who are inclined toward socialism understand what can be expected from a truly socialist economic system? In a recent survey, six in 10 Americans were as unaware of the horrendous economic crisis and human rights abuses in socialist Venezuela as they were of the definition of socialism itself (Marion Smith, “Forty-Four Percent of Millennials Prefer Socialism. Do They Know What It Means?” VictimsOfCommunism.org, Nov. 2, 2017).

One dictionary definition of socialism is: “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole” (Dictionary.com).

A more encompassing perspective comes from Andres Malave, communications director at Americans for Prosperity whose family fled socialist Venezuela:

“Socialism assumes that government officials are more qualified than individuals to decide how much a person should earn, which products and services are necessary for that person to live and how much that person should have to pay for them. Socialism deprives individual choice and crushes ambition in pursuit of a uniform, unfulfilling and arbitrary definition of ‘equality’” (“How Socialism Failed Venezuela,” U.S. News and World Report, Jun. 6, 2016).

Venezuela, once Latin America’s richest economy, has become a failed state. It is now in the midst of a societal and economic meltdown due to years of crushing socialist policies that began after a political coup by Hugo Chavez in 1999. As part of Chavez’s socialist agenda to redistribute the nation’s wealth, in 2007 he began nationalizing major sectors of the country’s economy, including the petroleum, steel, banking, manufacturing, agribusiness, health and food industries.

Due to fiscal mismanagement on a globally historic scale, Venezuela’s economy has since all but collapsed—with a 2018 annual hyperinflation rate of 40,000 percent (Gina Heeb, “Venezuela’s Inflation Rate Tops 40,000 Per Cent for First Time Ever,” The Independent, July 1, 2018). Most of the country’s 30 million citizens have become desperately poor and are suffering from massive unemployment, food and medicine shortages, malnutrition, starvation, rioting, violence, murder and rampant crime. Millions have fled the country in a desperate bid for survival.

Dr. Thomas Sowell, an American economist, social theorist and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, wrote this about wealth redistribution:

“The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty. We have all heard the old saying that giving a man a fish feeds him only for a day, while teaching him to fish feeds him for a lifetime. Redistributionists give him a fish and leave him dependent on the government for more fish in the future” (“The Fallacy of Redistribution,” Creators Press, Sept. 19, 2012).

Similarly, renowned British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once wryly noted: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries” (House of Commons speech, Oct. 22, 1945).

Forced redistribution of wealth—government taking from one person to give to another—is essentially a form of theft and a violation of the eighth of the Ten Commandments. God’s Word supports a society and economy based on private property, freedom of choice, personal initiative and free enterprise as well as unselfishness, generosity and compassion.

“Silly children” in need of understanding and repentance

The United States—along with other Western nations—is experiencing a destructive war over foundational values. Many citizens no longer honor God or respect the rule of law, in contrast to previous generations. In this regard, the words of God’s prophet Jeremiah are certainly applicable to a growing number of Americans and other Westerners today: “For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge” (Jeremiah 4:22 ).

What is the solution to the problems being faced in this culture war? The basic answer is that people need to deeply repent of their sins, honor God and obey His commandments (2 Chronicles 7:14 ; Isaiah 1:16-19 ). If they do not, punishment, adversity and sorrow will be the sad and dreadful result (see Deuteronomy 28:15-28 ; Isaiah 1:20 ; Ezekiel 12:20 ).

So where does that leave you? Will you be among those who drive the culture farther away from God? Or will you stand for what is right? Although the people of America and other nations as a whole are not choosing to turn to God, you can. Will you? He awaits your response!

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