Red and Blue America’s Values Divide

May 6th, 2010 at 8:13 am David Frum | 74 Comments |

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Jonathan Rauch offers an important column on the lifestyle divide between Red and Blue America:

Six of the seven states with the lowest divorce rates in 2007, and all seven with the lowest teen birthrates in 2006, voted blue in both elections. Six of the seven states with the highest divorce rates in 2007, and five of the seven with the highest teen birthrates, voted red. It’s as if family strictures undermine family structures. ….

[Citing new work by Naomi Cahn and June Carbone -- family law professors at George Washington University and the University of Missouri (Kansas City), respectively]

Blue norms are well adapted to the Information Age. They encourage late family formation and advanced education. They produce prosperous parents with graduate degrees, low divorce rates, and one or two over-protected children.

Red norms, on the other hand, create a quandary. They shun abortion (which is blue America’s ultimate weapon against premature parenthood) and emphasize abstinence over contraception. But deferring sex in today’s cultural environment, with its wide acceptance of premarital sex, is hard. Deferring sex and marriage until you get a college or graduate degree — until age 23 or 25 or beyond — is harder still. “Even the most devout overwhelmingly do not abstain until marriage,” Cahn and Carbone write.

In any case, for a lot of people, a graduate education or even a bachelor’s degree is unrealistic. The injunction to delay family formation until you are 24 and finish your master’s offers these people only cold comfort.

The result of this red quandary, Cahn and Carbone argue, is a self-defeating backlash. Moral traditionalism fails to prevent premarital sex and early childbirth. Births precipitate more early marriages and unwed parenthood. That, in turn, increases family breakdown while reducing education and earnings.

“The consequential sense of failure increases the demands to constrain the popular culture — and blue family practices such as contraception and abortion — that undermines parental efforts to instill the right moral values in children,” Cahn and Carbone say. “More sex prompts more sermons and more emphasis on abstinence.” The cycle repeats. Culturally, economically, and politically, blue and red families drift further apart as their fortunes diverge.

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74 Comments so far ↓

  • ktward

    @balconesfault

    You had to mention the Wiccans. [chuckling]

    Indeed, our UU congregation is a veritable rainbow. And off-off-Broadway has nothing on our summer’s lay led services.

  • ottovbvs

    ktward // May 6, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    @otto:

    “The Church of England–Episcopalian–is not deist. It is Christian. They believe in the divinity of Christ. ‘

    …….Of course they are but that doesn’t alter the fact that many Episcopalians subscribe to Deism……I personally known at least one C of E. clergyman who didn’t take his faith very seriously and said privately he was a deist

  • ottovbvs

    ktward // May 6, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    @otto:

    “The Church of England–Episcopalian–is not deist. It is Christian. They believe in the divinity of Christ. ‘

    …….ktward…….from wiki

    “Deism became prominent in the 17th and 18th centuries during the Age of Enlightenment, especially in what is now the United Kingdom, France, United States and Ireland, mostly among those raised as Christians who found they could not believe in either a triune God, the divinity of Jesus, miracles, or the inerrancy of scriptures, but who did believe in one god. Initially it did not form any congregations, but in time deism strongly influenced other religious groups, such as Unitarianism and Universalism, which developed from it. It continues to this day in the forms of classical deism and modern deism.”

    ……Does this sound as if it might fit a semi sceptical CoE cleric?……or indeed the enlightenment founding fathers?

  • balconesfault

    otto: From what I can tell, being an Episcopalian minister requires one to regularly lead his congregation in praying the following:

    “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
    He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.”

    For what it’s worth, I consider someone who would do that on a regular basis while not believing it to have a fairly large gap in their morality. Now, if they have doubts, that’s ok … but if they have really concluded that they cannot believe in Christ’s divinity, I’d say it’s time to find a different line of work.

  • ktward

    @otto

    I’m multi-tasking like a fiend today (always my downfall), so I may have misunderstood that part of the thread.

    I agree, in that for many individuals, religion is simply a familiar and comfortable convention. Through the years I’ve had various Christian and Jewish friends who didn’t actually buy into the dogma, but appreciated the sense of community and fellowship.

  • ktward

    otto: “…or indeed the enlightenment founding fathers?”

    Yup. That was them. (Wait. Did you think I was arguing that our founders were not deists?)
    http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/summer97/secular.html

  • ottovbvs

    balconesfault // May 6, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    “For what it’s worth, I consider someone who would do that on a regular basis while not believing it to have a fairly large gap in their morality. Now, if they have doubts, that’s ok … but if they have really concluded that they cannot believe in Christ’s divinity, I’d say it’s time to find a different line of work.”

    ……this sounds very pompous for balconesfault…..and yep from all I know and have read I’d say Deism was fairly common in the CoE from the 18th century onwards

    ktward // May 6, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    “Yup. That was them. (Wait. Did you think I was arguing that our founders were not deists?)’

    ……I said 1) the founding fathers were in the main sceptics of various colors, and 2)Deism is often used as a cover for various ranges of scepticism from agnosticism to semi belief which is where I’d put Deism (Balconesfault said most of them were Deists…..I expressed no opinion one way or the other but it sounds quite plausible given my view of their scepticism hence my allusion to the probable fit.)

  • anniemargret

    ktward: My only contention is that religion needs to stay out of government and public policy, precisely as our founders intended.

    Hear, Hear!

    Whatever spiritual path one chooses or does not choose if an atheist, if it benefits him/her, family and society is our gift of freedom in this country. And I hope it never changes. No one religious group, or non-religous group, has the right to impose their beliefs on another. We have civil laws to keep the peace, and laws for national security. We have elections to reflect our core political beliefs.

    Separation of church and state is vital to peace among a nation of so many cultures, beliefs, non-beliefs. And if I may say so…thank God for it.

    mpolito: I’m sure there are many Christians who are ‘happier’ than others, and more power to them. I personally know atheists and agnostics are also happier than most. There are some people who are born happy, good-natured hard-wired, and others who go through life glum and gloomy. So much of who and what we are are also tied in with our DNA, out of our control.

    Then again, I remember a man cursing the statue of Christ on the cross in front of the Catholic church when I was a kid…it was obviously a man in great mental distress and blaming God. I would venture that predicting happiness based on Christian belief is a bit arrogant, although I’m sure you didn’t mean it that way. I’m sure there are very happy Buddhists and Hindus. God to me, has a big umbrella.

  • anniemargret

    otto: you are right, of course, that no politician could *Ever* admit to doubting the existence of God, or not personally being part of some religion – particularly Christianity.

    Somehow in our country, we’ve applied religious beliefs and morality in such a stricture, that a person who can indeed, be moral in every manner of life, would immediately be considered ‘immoral’ based on a lack of religious belief.

    I personally want to see God-talk removed from political discourse by politicians- it’s nothing but political pandering. They need to stick to the issues.

  • Oskar

    It should be a felony, punishable by life imprisonment without parole, for clergy to comment on political matters. This would rid our body politic of such malignant cancers are Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, John Hagee and Jeremiah Wright to name just a very, very few.

  • balconesfault

    Oskar It should be a felony, punishable by life imprisonment without parole, for clergy to comment on political matters.

    Don’t need to go that far … just take away their tax exempt status!

  • anniemargret

    oskar: yes… they don’t exactly add much except more angst, prejudice and hatred to the equation, do they?

    The only thing they should be preaching about is love and forgiveness. But somehow politics and religion are now close bedfellows.

  • CO Independent

    Rauch’s column is not important in the least and is hopelessly flawed, as is the underlying research on which it depends.

    Republicans do have higher divorce rates for the simple reason that Republicans have higher marriage rates. One has to be married before one can be divorced. In other shocking news, straight people have a far higher divorce rate than gay people.

    Teen pregnancy correlates with poverty and lack of access to birth control and abortion services. This is most severe in areas of rural poverty where there are few planned pregnancy clinics. And it’s damn hard to walk into the town drugstore to buy condoms when the pharmacist is in your parents’ card club. I know that one from experience.

    The pregnancy rate for African American and Hispanic teens is approximately 3X that of white teens, and they vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Rauch’s paper is rubbish.
    http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/USTPtrends.pdf

    The best predictors of party affiliation are still economics and ethnicity. The Democratic party is the party of the urban (read non-white) poor, the uber-rich elite, and government workers. The Republican party is the party of rural (read white) poor and business owners. I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

  • mlindroo

    Rockerbabe wrote:
    > There you have it! The undenial reality that comprehensive sex education
    > helps delay childbearing until the parents are actually able to support their offspring.
    > What a concept! Parents who are able to space their kids so they can support them
    > without welfare!

    I’d normally agree with Rockerbabe, but mpolito makes a valid point: you will always find some exceptions to the rule that “sex ed helps” and I suspect “local culture” is what matters most in the end.

    Having said this, I do think education + access to contraceptives won’t hurt. Looking at Europe, ultra-liberal Holland does have very few teenage pregnancies per capita. However, Britain is also a fairly socially liberal country these days, and they still have a big problem with teenage motherhood!

    MARCU$

  • nhthinker

    The Northeast has a much higher percentage of Roman Catholics or former Roman Catholics that have no divorce as a clause of their religion.
    The rate of civil law divorce by Catholics is dramatically lower than non-Catholic Christians.

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm
    Barna report: Variation in divorce rates among Christian faith groups:
    Denomination (in order of decreasing divorce rate)

    % who have been divorced
    Non-denominational ** 34%
    Baptists 29%
    Mainline Protestants 25%
    Mormons 24%
    Catholics 21%
    Lutherans 21%

    Also, statistics by state are much less informative than statistics by county would be. It’s been proven that many types of violent crime is very correlated to population density. It would be interesting if other “sins” are compared to see if they correlate to population density.

    I contend that overpopulation creates humans to act in a fashion that lowers their resistance to temptation and increases their opportunities for temptation to transgress from what they consider a good moral creed.
    Thus, we end up with more people that have trouble with a life long commitment to anything.
    Teens tend to view they are invincible and their parents are stupid- temptation to transgress against moral codes for short term gain and pleasure as well as peer respect are great. Having a model of a significant moral code that is much greater than that being lived by imperfect parents can be very important to help teens to resist risky behaviors. Being locked in by supernatural belief strengthens that moral code.

    People with significant religious belief and practice have been statistically shown to be happier and more generous people.

  • sinz54

    ktward:

    I saw a survey of Americans’ specific religious beliefs. While most called themselves Christians, when you probe their specific beliefs, you find that a surprising number of them should really be classified as “Deism++”. That is, they really have beliefs similar to those in the summary of Deism that “ottovbs” posted. But they also celebrate Christmas and Easter, mostly for the sake of tradition and for the sake of the kids who love Santa Claus, electric toy trains, and Easter eggs.

  • ktward

    @sinz54

    It sounds like you’re echoing–reinforcing?– what I mentioned earlier to otto:
    “I agree, in that for many individuals, religion is simply a familiar and comfortable convention. Through the years I’ve had various Christian and Jewish friends who didn’t actually buy into the dogma, but appreciated the sense of community and fellowship.”

    I’ve really no idea why the hyper-scrutiny over the term ‘Deist’ became of such import to this thread. As a long-practicing UU*, I can tell you that we embrace religious plurality and spiritual discovery as a fundamental tenet. Translation: it’s all good.

    In the US, this is the ‘Religious (Christian) Right’:

    In a politico-religious context, dominionism (also called subjectionism) is the tendency among some conservative politically-active Christians to seek influence or control over secular civil government through political action. The goal is either a nation governed by Christians, or a nation governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law.

    In the early 1990s sociologist Sara Diamond and journalist Frederick Clarkson defined dominionism as a movement that, while including Dominion Theology and Reconstructionism as subsets, is much broader in scope, extending to much of the Christian Right.

    In his 1992 study of Dominion Theology and its influence on the Christian Right, Bruce Barron writes, “In the context of American evangelical efforts to penetrate and transform public life, the distinguishing mark of a dominionist is a commitment to defining and carrying out an approach to building society that is self-consciously defined as exclusively Christian, and dependent specifically on the work of Christians, rather than based on a broader consensus.”

    There’s all kinds of fascinating history: although Carter was (is) an evangelical, he was not politically RR. (Many evangelicals are not RR: sojo.net) Reagan inarguably afforded the RR a louder megaphone, but at the end of the day, Reagan’s policies were not defined or even much influenced by the RR. In hindsight, however, I’d argue that he allowed them a dangerously stronger foothold in the GOP body politic.

    As a politically hardened adult, I left the GOP for a few critical reasons. One of those reasons was the neon influence of the RR on the GOP’s platform and on its pols. The anti-environment cacophony within the GOP is born of Dominion-over-the-earth RR dogma. (Levin may simply be an idiot–no shortage of those in any Party–but Palin is pure, unadulterated dominionism.)

    Virtually every anti-science position within the GOP is rooted in RR dogma.

    This is not a nation founded on Christianity. It is a nation founded on religious freedom and plurality. Until the GOP purges the RR (they belong in the Constitution Party!), I will not vote GOP on a National level. (Local’s different. IL State’s different. When I relocate to Asheville, NC shortly? I doubt I’ll be able to vote GOP on a State level either. TBD.)

    Perhaps I should mention that I am also no supporter of Frum’s zionist/neocon bent. What I absolutely support is his willingness to step outside of his comfort zone for candid, productive dialogue. That’s new.

    I’ve zero interest in long-toothed ideologies. I want present-day, reality-based solutions. The first step is willing dialogue, and I think highly of Frum for that single reason.

    (Much as it pains my sensibilities, I’m no longer automatically including hyperlinks in my comments here. When I do, too often my comments are cued ‘waiting for moderation’ and delayed by a day or more.)

    *While UUs are of rich, centuries-old religious tradition, I’m not so sure that most of you, other than balconesfault, have a sense of what UUism is today. If you’re curious, visit uua.org.

  • balconesfault

    COIndependent: Republicans do have higher divorce rates for the simple reason that Republicans have higher marriage rates.

    And I thought that Republicans had higher marriage rates because they had higher divorce rates ;-)

    After all, Rush Limbaugh has been able to get married three times more often than I! And Ronald Reagan was married more times than any other US President.

  • ktward

    nhthinher: “Having a model of a significant moral code that is much greater than that being lived by imperfect parents can be very important to help teens to resist risky behaviors.”

    While I personally wouldn’t attach a moral equivalency, I agree with you. So does Hillary Clinton. Ever read ‘It Takes A Village To Raise A Child.’?

    Parent modeling–when ‘do as I do’ and ‘do as I say’ are not in conflict–is the single most important long-term factor. But external reinforcement is integral: team-building extra-curricular activities, personal accountability, developing a sense of community and social responsibility. Parents are unquestionably the lynchpin, but they cannot do it by themselves. Especially in the pre-teen/teen years.

    Egads. My own kids, in college, are finally human again– they’re not embarrassed by my very existence. They actually think highly of me. That’s new.

    nhthinker: “Being locked in by supernatural belief strengthens that moral code.”

    Poppycock. I understand the simplistic seduction of such a notion, but it’s nonsense. Societal morality and ethics are not reliant upon the belief in the supernatural. Are you familiar with Humanitarianism?

    You’ll not find higher moral codes in any religion:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanitarian

    Now, I am aware that certain people have a more narrowly defined sense of morality: no sex before marriage, no homosexuality, no drugs, no law-breaking. The people that espouse such a view, of course, have never engaged in pre/extra-marital sex, or vacations with rentboy, don’t drink/smoke et al, and have never cheated on their taxes.

    Do you get the bigger picture?

  • ktward

    balconesfault.

    FWIW: your well-informed command of the issues, gracious patience, and spot-on yet defusing sense of humor are appreciated by at least one other humble Frum commenter.

  • anniemargret

    nhthinker: “Being locked in by supernatural belief strengthens that moral code.”

    ktward: “Poppycock. I understand the simplistic seduction of such a notion, but it’s nonsense. Societal morality and ethics are not reliant upon the belief in the supernatural. Are you familiar with Humanitarianism?”

    I know UU well, having my second marriage performed by a UU minister. My all time favorite ‘spiritual teacher’ is F. Forrester Church – a good man with a good heart with wise words. Raised Catholic, I have lived enough to understand that life is a crap shoot. Any one of us could have been born in Outer Mongolia and have been Buddhist. I guess I fall now into that “Deist++” category as the years go by, less interested in religious dogma, than I am in hoping that humanity crawls back from its long descent into violence and selfishness. (or maybe….shudder….this is our natural state?)

    I still have hope.

    I agree with you- ktward- about religious people vs humanitarians. There are most definitely unselfish religious people have have given up time, energy, earthly joys to give their lives and services to those who are not as fortunate. Others use religion for selfish reasons (politics is the perfect example).

    But there are just as many atheistic humanitarians who are unselfish, moral, good-hearted giving souls as well.

    Anyone catch Stephen Hawking’s “Into the Universe?” Mind-boggling. And it is a humbling experience when we realize that our dear planet Earth is just a minute grain of sand on the shore of a universe teeming with billions of stars and galaxies that can harbor sentient beings as well.

    Maybe we humans ought to look in that direction once in awhile to keep us grounded from becoming too arrogant and self-important.

  • ktward

    anniemargret.

    Dr. Church. UU icon, as it were. Given its heritage, UUism is, of course, ubiquitous on the east coast, not as much in the midwest.

    FWIW, I still have hope too. I’m into hopey changey stuff. ;)

  • nhthinker

    ktward,

    Parents are unquestionably the lynchpin, but they cannot do it by themselves. Especially in the pre-teen/teen years.

    Egads. My own kids, in college, are finally human again– they’re not embarrassed by my very existence. They actually think highly of me. That’s new.

    nhthinker: “Being locked in by supernatural belief strengthens that moral code.”

    Poppycock. I understand the simplistic seduction of such a notion, but it’s nonsense. Societal morality and ethics are not reliant upon the belief in the supernatural. Are you familiar with Humanitarianism?

    You’ll not find higher moral codes in any religion:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanitarian

    Do you get the bigger picture?

    I got the bigger picture. Parents are not always the lynch-pin. My father died when I was 4; I was the favorite child- I was the one who ended up sitting in my father’s place at the dinner table.; fifth of six siblings. My mother spent a year in the hospital and died when I was 12. I pretended I was not dying inside both before my mother died and after. I was the smallest kid and the smartest kid in my class until I was a junior in high school and constantly hazed because of it. Shoved in lockers- threatened constantly. No one knew my inner demons. My siblings had their own demons. Mr.Spock from Star Trek and Jesus were my role models- I would not make any outward emotional appearance no matter how much physical pain I was enduring in sadistic games that teenage boys play. I was also known as a very caring person. I prayed every night for the opportunity to sacrifice myself saving a happy younger child that had parents so I could see my mother again. If I had not an the time had supernatural belief, I would have decided to suicide to relieve my deeply hidden emotional pain.

    Forty years later, I enjoy a life, that because of my early stresses, I can appreciate it in extremes that most people are incapable of fathoming.
    Supernatural belief is a crutch – a valuable crutch for people that can’t currently look beyond their present circumstances or do not have the mental capacity to look at the multi-generation impacts of short-term decisions and do not have unswerving respect for authority. Yes, humanists think they have it all figured out. But they have not proven that they can be a society that protect itself for several generations without the support of religions with supernatural belief.

    Teens and pre-teens need to respect authority to survive tribulations of life- for some teens. parents cannot always be there- and some parents are incapable of offering proper support…
    Adults have no problem pretending to believe in Santa Claus for the benefit of small children. Adults should consider believing in or pretending to believe in the supernatural if it helps lock in a moral code to preteens and teens. The concept of having some entity morally evaluating a teen’s every decision even those decisions that no other humans will ever know of is a powerful concept- humanists don’t have it.

    Most American students of today cheat at school- 60 years ago- most did not. That is what the relaxation of moral codes have given us. We are morally weaker- We are more self-centered. We have less will power, We are less efficient and We willing to financially bankrupt the country.

    Now, I am aware that certain people have a more narrowly defined sense of morality: no sex before marriage, no homosexuality, no drugs, no law-breaking. The people that espouse such a view, of course, have never engaged in pre/extra-marital sex, or vacations with rentboy, don’t drink/smoke et al, and have never cheated on their taxes.

    People know the difference between what they SHOULD do and their moral weaknesses tempt them to do. Contention between the two should be constant in moral people. Advising others to be moral even for those items that one has sometimes given in to is good advice- Many people of weaker morals think it’s just hypocritical- it’s more than that. These less moral people revel to see more vocally moral people give in to temptation – so these less moral people can feel better about their own weaknesses.

    I consider myself agnostic with the belief in the value of supernatural religion based on my life experience and a Darwinistic/Occam’s razor view of past successful societies. Current American society is truly on unchartered territory and it is not clear that it is on the path to something better or more stable.
    I agree with Hawking that we are not likely alone in the universe and there are likely much more technically advanced species than we are. Some may have already visited Earth and we would only know it if they wanted us to.

    I do not see any evidence that the general expectation of pre-marital sex has made the country better or happier or has made our children better people. A society that expects and encourages its citizens to resist some personal satisfaction urges is a stronger society.

  • nhthinker

    ktward,

    Parents are unquestionably the lynchpin, but they cannot do it by themselves. Especially in the pre-teen/teen years.

    Egads. My own kids, in college, are finally human again– they’re not embarrassed by my very existence. They actually think highly of me. That’s new.

    nhthinker: “Being locked in by supernatural belief strengthens that moral code.”

    Poppycock. I understand the simplistic seduction of such a notion, but it’s nonsense. Societal morality and ethics are not reliant upon the belief in the supernatural. Are you familiar with Humanitarianism?

    You’ll not find higher moral codes in any religion:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanitarian

    Do you get the bigger picture?

    I got the bigger picture. Parents are not always the lynch-pin. My father died when I was 4; I was the favorite child- I was the one who ended up sitting in my father’s place at the dinner table.; fifth of six siblings. My mother spent a year in the hospital and died when I was 12. I pretended I was not dying inside both before my mother died and after. I was the smallest kid and the smartest kid in my class until I was a junior in high school and constantly hazed because of it. Shoved in lockers- threatened constantly. No one knew my inner demons. My siblings had their own demons. Mr.Spock from Star Trek and Jesus were my role models- I would not make any outward emotional appearance no matter how much physical pain I was enduring in sadistic games that teenage boys play. I was also known as a very caring person. I prayed every night for the opportunity to sacrifice myself saving a happy younger child that had parents so I could see my mother again. If I had not an the time had supernatural belief, I would have decided to suicide to relieve my deeply hidden emotional pain.

    Forty years later, I enjoy a life, that because of my early stresses, I can appreciate it in extremes that most people are incapable of fathoming.
    Supernatural belief is a crutch – a valuable crutch for people that can’t currently look beyond their present circumstances or do not have the mental capacity to look at the multi-generation impacts of short-term decisions and do not have unswerving respect for authority. Yes, humanists think they have it all figured out. But they have not proven that they can be a society that protect itself for several generations without the support of religions with supernatural belief.

    Teens and pre-teens need to respect authority to survive tribulations of life- for some teens. parents cannot always be there- and some parents are incapable of offering proper support…
    Adults have no problem pretending to believe in Santa Claus for the benefit of small children. Adults should consider believing in or pretending to believe in the supernatural if it helps lock in a moral code to preteens and teens. The concept of having some entity morally evaluating a teen’s every decision even those decisions that no other humans will ever know of is a powerful concept- humanists don’t have it.

    Most American students of today cheat at school- 60 years ago- most did not. That is what the relaxation of moral codes have given us. We are morally weaker- We are more self-centered. We have less will power, We are less efficient and We willing to financially bankrupt the country.

    Now, I am aware that certain people have a more narrowly defined sense of morality: no sex before marriage, no homosexuality, no drugs, no law-breaking. The people that espouse such a view, of course, have never engaged in pre/extra-marital sex, or vacations with rentboy, don’t drink/smoke et al, and have never cheated on their taxes.

    People know the difference between what they SHOULD do and their moral weaknesses tempt them to do. Contention between the two should be constant in moral people. Advising others to be moral even for those items that one has sometimes given in to is good advice- Many people of weaker morals think it’s just hypocritical- it’s more than that. These less moral people revel to see more vocally moral people give in to temptation – so these less moral people can feel better about their own weaknesses.

    I consider myself agnostic with the belief in the value of supernatural religion based on my life experience and a Darwinistic/Occam’s razor view of past successful societies. Current American society is truly on unchartered territory and it is not clear that it is on the path to something better or more stable.
    I agree with Hawking that we are not likely alone in the universe and there are likely much more technically advanced species than we are. Some may have already visited Earth and we would only know it if they wanted us to.

    I do not see any evidence that the general expectation of pre-marital sex has made the country better or happier or has made our children better people. A society that expects and encourages its citizens to resist some personal satisfaction urges is a stronger society. Some parents use the relaxation of moral training to become more like a friend to their children -some because they feel guilty for being “bad” parents and they feel its the only way to have any relationship with their children- and its the only way to protect themselves from the guilt that the teens are capable of inflicting on them.