One of the manifestations of a culture in decline is an absence of religion, and that void replaced with moral relativism - the belief that conceptions of truth and moral values cease to be absolute and become relative to the person or group holding them.
It was a revealed in a 2016 survey that 72% of the American people are losing their faith, and religion its spiritual influence in society. Over 173,000 participated in the survey, 21% said they no longer practice any formal religion. This is an increase from 2008 when the figure was 15%. Overall 74% identified themselves as Christian, 2.1% Jewish, 1.8% Mormons, and 0.8% as Muslim; the remainder claimed to be atheist or agnostic, or just refused to answer. The number of true believers, those who attended church services at least once a week, dropped dramatically since the 1940s and 1950s, when just 3% said they did not practice religion.
There may be a number of reasons for this loss of religious fervor. Some might attribute the decline in practicing religion to factors other than disbelief in a higher power. They may perceive organized religion as having no impact on their lives, or the world around them. Personal conflicts, social, economic, and world events, and a clergy that offers no inspiration or guidance when preaching the word of God can be a motivating factor and have repercussions.
Others might be uncertain and question the very existence of a higher power. I have spoken to many people who ask how a merciful God can allow such suffering and atrocities in the world, like abortion, poverty, genocide, war, and sickness. Does God not hear my prayer, or does he even exist? This in effect is where the power of faith comes in - if we believe that we do in fact have free will, then is it not we who are our own worst enemy. When government interferes in our lives, do we not protest and demand personal freedom? Could it be that God is accommodating, giving all of us the freedom we so desire?
Lest we forget that which has evolved over the last several decades, we have a culture steeped in celebrity and materialism. We live in a commercialized age, and there are those among us who have become so cynical and self-indulgent that they require no spiritual indulgence from some religion that says and does nothing for them. These poor souls have succumbed to hedonism; the pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially of the senses, and have established an ethical doctrine that holds whatever is pleasant or has positive consequences is intrinsically good. The doctrine holding that behavior is motivated by the desire for pleasure and material worth, and the avoidance of pain. These things can be quite enticing, and unless you have great faith, and practice it, how can God who none of us have ever seen or heard compete. Religion then has no place in their lives.
Most of the American people have great admiration and respect for the Founding Fathers. These were patriots, learned men of conviction and faith who sacrificed their lives, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in their noble quest to attain liberty and freedom, and overcome persecution, oppression, and the domination of a hostile regime. The Founders believed and expressed their religious fervor on many occasions.
Virtue, morality and religion; this is the armor, and this alone renders us invincible. Patrick Henry
The only foundation for a republic is to be laid in religion. Benjamin Rush
It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. John Adams
Religion and morality are the essential pillars of a civil society. George Washington
Whereas true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness. Benjamin Franklin
Our liberty depends on our education, our laws and habits; it is founded on morals and religion. Fisher Ames
These are but a select few of the many quotes attributed to the Founders. They believed religion was a source of strength, and the foundation upon which a civil and moral society must be based. And what better way to conclude here, but with the storied words, often quoted as of late, by the French historian and political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville,
“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and ample rivers, it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, it was not there; in her rich mines and vast commerce, and it was not there. Not until I visited the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”