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news story on moral decline

This just in from my handy, dandy Google news alert service. It’s an interesting article reviewing two recent books that deal with the declining moral standards of Americans – Christians included.

I’ll post part of the article here and provide a link to the rest.

Country experiencing moral decline? Sociologist, theologian both see
significant dropBy RICHARD N. OSTLINGAP Religion Writer

As the 21st century began, University of Virginia sociologist James
Davison Hunter produced a jeremiad that deserved far more attention than it
received: “The Death of Character: Moral Education in an Age Without Good or
Evil” (Basic Books).

Hunter contended that America is suffering a dangerous decline in
“character” and morality among youth, and criticized public schools’ attempts at
moral education and “values clarification.”

He said educators, misled by psychology, treat morality in terms of
preferences, supposing that the inherently moral self should be liberated to
make autonomous decisions. That never works, he claimed; history and experience
show that morality stems from strongly held, socially shared beliefs about
absolute rights and wrongs.

For most people in most situations, religion provides those beliefs,
and in the West the Bible is crucial. Religion as such isn’t required, he wrote,
but at least the equivalent is necessary because morality becomes “binding on
individual conscience only in the particularity of moral traditions and the
communities that embody them.”

With those conditions absent, “character is dead,” he asserted. “Its
time has passed.” And Americans’ religious diversity and increasing moral
relativism add to the difficulties.

He thought Americans confront the problem haplessly as they “tinker
with the system,” promote slogans (“just say no”), complain about Hollywood,
post the Ten Commandments, impose curfews or require school uniforms and metal