How the West Really Lost God

romney commencement

A few weeks ago Mitt Romney spoke at a college commencement exercise and encouraged the graduates to marry early and have a lot of children. He used the words “quiver full” taken from the Old Testament.

The comment was unremarkable, particularly for a Mormon to make. They are known for marrying early and having quivers full of children. Contra the contraceptive culture, even among Evangelicals, the notion of a quiver full from the Psalms is gathering steam among orthodox believers.

Here is what he said, “You only live one life. Don’t spend it in safe, shallow water. Launch into the deep. If you meet a person you love, get married. Have a quiver full of kids if you can. Give more to your occupation than is expected of you. Serve God by serving his children.”

A panel on Piers Morgan’s CNN show cackled like hens at what he said. So outrageous was his comment that they literally could not stop laughing.

One panelist from the Los Angeles Times said, “We’re seeing the real Mitt Romney emerge. This is maybe why he didn’t do so well with single women.”

A professor from Columbia University said, “This is the Mitt Romney I did not want to vote for, that I did not vote for. He kept making us think that he was this normal moderate guy but really he is a religious fanatic telling 21 year old college graduates to have binders-full of children.” Is it really abnormal, immoderate, and fanatical to counsel early marriage and big families?

CNN was not the only news outlet to erupt in mocking laughter at Romney’s comment. It was all over the place.

Not long ago such comments by an American politician would have been met with yawns. They would have been considered safe and true bromides. And not long ago a national news operation would have fired anyone for mocking such comments as religious fanaticism.

How_West Lost God covThe good news is that American politicians are still making such comments. Look across the Atlantic and such comments by a European politician would be unthinkable, career ending.

What we are witnessing is the near absolute victory of secularism in Europe and its aggressive rise in the United States. How this happened in Europe and is happening, albeit more slowly, in the United States is the topic of an important new book by the remarkable Mary Eberstadt.

Eberstadt’s book looks specifically at How the West Really Lost God. The “really” is in her title because she proposes a new theory that now competes with other more established theories of religion’s decline, all of which, according to Eberstadt, are missing a key component.

A favorite of the new atheists is the assertion that “people stopped needing the imaginary comforts of religion.” Eberstadt responds that faithfully practicing religion is quite hard.  After all, it requires you to observe practices of the faith that can be onerous—fasting, for instance—or practices that are inconvenient like going to church on Sunday or those that may be downright challenging like living constricting sexual norms that the rest of society either ignores or laughs at or both.

Secularists like to claim that religion declined as science and rationalism took center stage starting with the Enlightenment. Eberstadt points out that “the masses were not part of the Enlightenment, that 18th century elites were not modern atheists but “rational Christians” and that “those who seek to draw a straight line from Voltaire to twenty-first century atheists” tend to forget the great religious revival of the intervening 19th century.

She similarly dispatches claims that the World Wars killed Christianity and that material progress did, too.

Some theories of secularization she accepts but sees them as only parts of a larger puzzle. Urbanization and industrialization can be seen as parts of a larger whole but they still leave something out.  She says that authoritative scholarly books have been written on the topic—David Martin’s On Secularization for instance—that do not have a single mention of this mysterious factor.

So what is this factor, what is the real reason for religion’s decline? It is the family and the family’s decline. She calls it the Family Factor and it explains a lot.

Many of us have taken so many secularization theories as matters of faith: faith declines with education, or riches, or modernity and that families decline as religion does. Eberstadt says it’s the other way around. All those people who crowded into factories and into cities may have slowly lost the faith and all those who have PhDs and big jobs may have lost the faith, but the reason is that they also started having smaller families or broken families or no families.

As with many things in life, one does not need a sociological study to show the truth of this. Getting married and having children practically push us into the practice of faith. A wild-thing in college gets married, has a baby and almost immediately thinks of finding a Church. Taking the child to Church inevitably leads the parent to the same thing.

Look at it another way. Catholics love to picket the Bishop when at long last he has to shutter empty churches and emptying schools. These same Catholics grump about there not being enough priests. Odds are these same complaining Catholics use contraception, had only two children and have waned in the practice of their faith while they wax nostalgic for earlier days.

Eberstadt points out something that all sociologists and theories of secularization agree with, that the great cliff that the faith fell from was the 1960’s. And it wasn’t because of rock music, Vietnam or marijuana.  It was the pill. Eberstadt has dealt beautifully with the pill in her wonderful book Adam and Eve After the Pill. She points out that the Pill simply destroyed and continues to destroy families and when the family is destroyed the faith declines.

A short column cannot do justice to the wide and deep reading and all the evidence Eberstadt has marshaled for her argument, so you are urged to read this book. What is certain is that this is one of those books that will forever change the conversation about why Christianity is in decline in the West.

Austin Ruse

By

Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute focusing on international legal and social policy. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of C-FAM.

  • Vishal Mehra

    “It is the family and the family’s decline.”
    But family had declined precisely because the decline in religion.
    And decline in religious faith, by its very nature, can not be fully explained. It necessarily has
    supernatural factors.

    • lifeknight

      True. It may be a chicken or the egg scenario. Each person has variables that cannot be generalized. Lack of Faith and lack of understanding or acceptance of Magisterial teachings can be referenced for many of us who grew up in the post Vatican II age of nebulous actions by clerics and religious and the total changing of the Mass

      • Proteios

        Good point. Priests might as well preach doctrine in an orthodox manner. We’re the only ones showing up each week anyways. Might as well Appel to us a little. I get a bit frustrated when passages clearly speak to family issues and yet nothing of any controversy is spoken of. Tell it like it is! My children are fr more obedient when I expect obedience and tret them accordingly. They are far more unruly when I am permissive.

    • Austin Ruse

      Mary calls faith and family a double helix.

  • Bill Russell

    I do not know if Anthony Trollope has many readers among Evangelicals and Mormons, but in “Barchester Towers” the Reverend Mr. Quiverful is impoverished by the care of fourteen children, until he is appointed Warden of Hiram’s Hospital.

    • Thomas Banks

      Trollope deserves a continued readership across the map, irrespective of creed. Few men have shined a light so finely on the quotidian life of the Church of England in all its charmingly Erastian absurdity.

  • Catherine

    “It is the family and the family’s decline.”
    I agree. From the opening pages of scripture, God has used the family to help us to know and understand Him.

  • Joe DeCarlo

    I’m still trying to figure out what is so funny and odd about getting married and having a “quiver” of children. Has anyone asked this secularists what is wrong with having a “quiver” of children?

    • lifeknight

      I used to be asked if I had a TV.
      Believe me, you can come up with some great retorts!

    • Ford Oxaal

      That would be like asking the Emperor where his clothes were.

    • msmischief

      Overpopulation. That’s their response to everything.

      Or possibly vapors about treating people as breeding machines, that’s another good one.

    • 1rosemarie2

      It is beautiful to have a quiver of children, because it is also written -and proven- that children are a blessing …

      Only it goes against the fear of overpopulation, spread by the UN and many other agencies public and private. We are brainwashed.

  • lifeknight

    Well, I for one, feel better about having voted for Romney since he has spoken at this address. His VP candidate, however, showed his true colors also— and they ain’t purty. The art of “compromise” taints the best of political candidates regardless of their faith.

    I would whole-heartedly agree that the advent of children can sometimes bring the parent to the Faith– or back from being lukewarm. If not for the grace of God go I.

    Looking forward to the Eberstadt read this summer!

    • Adam__Baum

      Paul Ryan surely harbor ambitions of a Presidential run.
      I have a standard policy. I don’t vote for Iscariots.

  • Ford Oxaal

    The pill just catalyzed the disease started by the Protestants — sorry Protestants, but this needs to be said: Divorce. Divorce is a Protestant loophole. Sure, Catholics abuse annulments from time to time, but they never caved on marriage as being something a man can put asunder. There is no such thing as divorce in the Catholic mind.

    • Austin Ruse

      The books in great detail with this. She agrees.

      • Ford Oxaal

        Ultimately the solution is the sort of amusing/ironic concept “Catholic Darwinism” — breeding our way back to a decent, and then great culture — just like what Romney the Mormon said. I wonder if Eberstadt has figured out that in the natural law discoverable through reason, the “social contract” is between families, not individuals. This small tweak, big truth, would right a lot of ships blown down by the “enlightenment”. Society’s raison d’etre is family well-being. Government’s is societal well-being. Shaw has a great piece on this, and if I had your email, I would send it to you. Great article — thank you.

        • tom

          Mormons are like Catholics from the 1950’s. They stick together, though, instead of “suffering” through the Sign of Peace once a week. They find jobs for one another, counsel one another, and prosper like a larger family….helping one another move ahead. The RCC just spins, wildly educating non-Catholics and isolating religious inside church walls. It’s time to literally move into the public square in every neighborhood. Marches, stadium prayer services, parishioners walking en mass to another parish’s Mass, job fairs for Catholics etc. Clergy visiting every home (not just those with the best brand of Scotch) wouldn’t hurt, either. Of course, if there are no children, none of this is worthwhile….better to be honest and join the nearby Episcopal Church. they need every body they can find!

    • HigherCalling

      A solid case has been made that Protestantism, by its very nature, necessarily “progressed” to accept divorce and then contraception. The evolution of “how the West really lost God” begins in Protestantism and the inescapable philosophy that followed– Individualism. Individualism stands in opposition to any lasting value placed on the family and ultimately to any lasting belief in God.

    • Leroy Whitby

      The major study out there shows a 4% difference between Catholic and Protestant divorce rates. 25% vs. 21%. Nothing to crow about for any set of churches or denomination, unfortunately.

      • tom

        The Church of Illegitimacy is at 50%. Game, match…

      • Ford Oxaal

        If you get two expert witnesses on each side of a legal proceeding, they will each be able to cite statistics that support their point. I could come back at you with statistics on divorce rates for practicing Catholics (Mass every Sunday, no artificial birth control, etc.). But that would be besides the point, which is that the Catholic Church does not recognize divorce — even if 99% of practicing Catholics divorced, it wouldn’t change the Catholic teaching on marriage, which is the teaching of Jesus Christ. It would simply mean that a whole bunch of people were either poorly catechized, or were willing to risk eternal damnation for a new ‘spouse’. The rebellion/protest against Marriage, the Eucharist, Holy Orders, Extreme Unction, Confession, Apostolic Succession, etc. are what define Protestantism.

        • Leroy Whitby

          Protestantism is defined by a rebellion against marriage per your last sentence. Ridiculous statement.

          • Ford Oxaal

            Sorry, don’t understand.

        • 1rosemarie2

          Protestants used to be called `the people of the Book` .. what really defines them is the importance they give to the Word of God, the Bible. It is to be read, known, obeyed .. and we are not allowed, according to the book of Revelation to take away or add a word to the inspired Scriptures.
          The protestantism you are referring to is the one that found its origin in the rebellion of King Henry the 8th who wanted a divorce at all cost.

          The one we refer to in France and in Germany usually traces its origin to Luther and Calvin .. though it is not quite right. Christians who belonged to autonomous assemblies were already in existence and persecuted. But Luther and Calvin argued strongly their differences on the sole basis of the Word -finally authorized by Vatican II to be printed for all to read somewhere around 1970. What a joyful day this was !-.

          • Ford Oxaal

            But Luther added the word “alone” to his translation of Romans 3:28, and with a single stroke provided a large roadway by which to pervert the faith. And now that you are able to read sacred scripture on your own, albeit in translation, how is it you cannot understand the bread of life discourse in John 6? Why can’t you see the relation between the bread of life, and the super-substantial bread of the Our Father? It reminds me of John 5:39 where the Pharisees, who understood *through scripture alone (sola scriptura) * that life is eternal, could not recognize Christ standing right in front of them. –> 39 You pore over the scriptures, thinking to find eternal life in them (and indeed, it is of these I speak as bearing witness to me):[4] 40 but you will not come to me, to find life. <– Christ waits for you in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar throughout the whole world, but you will not look up from the witness in the scriptures to see Him, literally "in the flesh" in the Eucharist.

            • 1rosemarie2

              Thank you Ford for your reply ..
              You mention the added `word` in Romans 3 -by Luther-. Could you tell me where you take this from ?
              Concerning the Eucharist, I reckon, as a person who do not know the ancient Greek language, that the diverse translations in existence provide us with various interpretations in the same Scripture. It happens in other respects too, and I honestly do not think, after decades of study, we can address every theological issue and affirm always “We are right and you are wrong”. BUT there are at least 2 major problems with the Catholic standpoint:
              – one is that it causes people to worship the Eucharist as the very body of Christ … this is a form of idolatry.
              – the other one concerns the seemingly repeated sacrifice of Christ: Scripture in the Letter to the Hebrews alone,makes very clear that His divine sacrifice removing sins was once and for all. We do not have to repeat it in any way.

              So that the bread and the wine we share are in “remembrance of me”, an act of communion of the spiritual body of Christ, with God who initiated the bridge way and with each other, done in obedience to His command. We remember, as it is said during the mass, that “here is the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world”. In the gift of Faith that the Father bestowed upon us, there is more than meet the eye !!
              Blessed be His Name for ever ! He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords ..

              • Ford Oxaal

                May God give us the grace to see Him more clearly. And may His gift of faith to us be increased. You know, we have very little if any difference on the subject of justification — mostly word games.

                Speaking of word games, Luther added the word “alone”, but this is a contentious subject that will likely get us nowhere (Protestants will say that is how he understood the Greek).

                Autonomous religious groups were never the custodians of Sacred Scripture, nor Sacred Tradition. It arrived for Luther on the blood of centuries of Catholic Martyrs. Of course when Christ refers to scripture, he is talking about the Old Testament. The writings of the New Testament were put together under the authority of the successors to Peter and the Apostles.

                Luther et al. set in motion a sort of nuclear fission of Christendom that has produced over 20,000 different Protestant sects, whereas Christ prayed for unity. You will know them by their fruits.

                If Protestants said something like “justification by fidelity alone” we might converge back together, like a lava lamp! But Luther calls us to “sin boldly” (very dramatic indeed). Christ told us to be perfect. If you line up Luther quotes versus Christ quotes, you start to see a pattern.

                I can’t square what you say with the Gospels, nor the entire context of salvation history, nor does what you say express an understanding of Catholic doctrine on the subject of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I can’t say it much better than this:

                http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/scrip/a6.html

                As baptized Christians, we must put our Christian friendship first, and I hope I don’t come off too curt — but short on time!! Blessings to you!

                • 1rosemarie2

                  Sorry it took me so long to answer Ford … the theological differences between the Roman Catholic theology -incidentally I was raised Catholic, catechism included -3 yrs- and Protestant non-liberal theology is huge. Too much for us to start discussing on a forum … I have Catholic dear friends, usually charismatic, who believe in justification by faith, as it is plainly taught in the Scriptures. But deep in their hearts, and deep in many protestant and evangelical hearts, there is always this need for justification by works … we easily mix flesh and Spirit, the visible and the invisible.

                  No body is the Custodian of Scriptures … monks have translated it, protestants too … and unbelievers !

                  The question is for all translators: which manuscripts did they use ? some manuscripts are known to be reliable, others not at all. This is where we all have a problem when we desire to stick to the Word: there are many misunderstandings based on Scriptures. A Catholic priest wrote a whole book on the fact that Jesus communicated in Aramaic … not classical Greek.

                  As far as the Lutheran nuclear fission, I would not bother …
                  there is this magic word in the New Covenant: GRACE. The Grace of God covers a multitude of sins, including the one of division in the Church -which is not incidentally of Luther`s doing-division occurs each time we disobey the Word of God individually or collectively. So how does God unite us -for He tells us “we are now reconciled” ? Through the giving of the Holy Spirit to each person who puts his/her faith in the blood of Jesus-Christ, the blood of the New Covenant, that cleanses us from all sin. We make choices as believers, and mistakes .. but there is still one and only Spirit of God within us, the token of our belonging to the Kingdom of heavens, of having been transferred from the Kingdom of darkness to the One of His marvelous Light …

                  Enough preaching for now ! God bless you ….

                  • musicacre

                    The reason we mix flesh and spirit is because that is what we are. One cannot speak of just the Holy spirit; you cannot divide the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All are equally in our life, as one mystery. One God.

                    • 1rosemarie2

                      Yes .. this is what we are. But, in regard to our walk in Christ, we must choose the Spirit on a daily basis … “for the work of the Spirit is life” and “the works of the flesh lead to death” .. this is written in the letter to the Romans … the letter to the Galatians tells us what are the works of the flesh, and elsewhere you have the fruits of the spirit .. we are called to choose daily, but Grace alone provides the sustaining power to obey God so that the will of the Father will be done, walk in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus increasingly -and we learn a lot through failing and falling !
                      May our thoughts be renewed into the thoughts of the Lord Jesus ever increasingly …

    • Susan White

      Annulments are handed out like so many hall passes…..

      • Ford Oxaal

        It is hard to achieve adulthood in a culture of material largesse. So many marriages are compromised by a selfish motive. One can only pray and hope for the time when marriage and motherhood and fatherhood are once again held in high esteem.

      • That Was Then

        Having gone through the annulment process, I can assure you that it is no lark in the park.

      • Lynn Carter

        My diocese is very serious about the issue, as well as being understaffed. I passed the three year waiting mark a couple months ago. No hall passes here.

  • JERD

    Eberstadt puts the cart before the horse. The West has “lost God” because it’s collective mind is dominated by a materialist view of our humanity and the world in which humans act. The dominant thinking in the West is that there is no creative God. There is no human conscience apart from our material bodies. We are random objects in a purposeless universe.

    We have lost our sense of C.S. Lewis’ Tao – our sense that there is a “good” (God) to which in our humanity we are by nature called to embrace. We are now mere raw material; not called to love – but rather called to satisfy our selfish, material passions.

    Contraception, no fault divorce, the loss of sexual modesty; all of these things are only the intermediate causes of family decline. The root cause of the West’s “loss of God” is our culture’s “marriage” to a materialist, utilitarian scientism that has no place for a transcendent God. It is from this root that the fruit of demographic winter and sexual license spring, and then ultimately leading to the death of the family.

    The destruction of the family is an effect of religious decline, not a cause.

    • Austin ruse

      Read the book. It is an extended engagement with your thesis.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000687324887 Leslie Baker

    A book I am reading about Catholic parenting stated: “The purpose of marriage is to fill the ranks of Heaven”. That says it all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000687324887 Leslie Baker

    I think that a general decline in a God-centered universe can be paralleled to the personal decline; speaking for myself, it is was so much the “cares of this world” and the pursuit of the “world’s” answers that lead me from the faith of my childhood. The thing is, now the “world” is so pervasive, through media, distractions, materialist pursuits, that the temptations are so much more accessible and immediate and all-encompassing. We are in an age that calls for true heroic faith- apostolic, fiery, willing-to-die-for faith. My parents, who raised my brothers and sisters in the 60’s and 70’s, thought that “innoculation” was enough to prevent the disease. But they were, sadly, wrong. There is no assumption of any safety whatsoever, in culture. So much of the decline was unwitting, as are so many kinds of declines; insidious, gradual, incremental. We must see the family and the Church as the only true fortresses with which to protect and defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our children!

    • Micha_Elyi

      I’ve never heard of the sacrament of Inoculation. Tell me more.

    • Christine

      Yes, I agree. We raised our children in the 60s-70s, as we had been raised in the 40s-50s. We weren’t on fire Catholics as we are now, but we practiced our faith as we had learned it. We inoculated them with the faith, but it was not enough. All three of our children have left the faith. Hindsight is 20-20 unfortunately. They are in our prayers daily

  • Suzanne Carl

    Eberstadt is absolutely right. The contraceptive culture has turned courtship into commerce. We talk about single people being ‘on the market’. It reminds me of a line from the Country Wife; “For marriage is but a bargain made, to further the interests of commerce and trade.” The idea may have been around for a long time, but it’s prevalence today is striking.

  • AHR

    I am sure there is much insight in this book but long before the Pill and small or non-existent families John Henry Newman observed that the greatest challenge facing society was the substitution of God with secularism. Throughout history there have periods of time when man thought he was the be all and end all — even before the Reformation during the Roman period. Each era which rejected God did so for different reasons. There is no one reason.

  • AHR

    I am sure there is much insight in this book but long before the Pill and small or non-existent families John Henry Newman observed that the greatest challenge facing society was the substitution of God with secularism. Throughout history there have periods of time when man thought he was the be all and end all — even before the Reformation during the Roman period. Each era which rejected God did so for different reasons. There is no one reason.

  • Adam__Baum

    “Catholics love to picket the Bishop when at long last he has to shutter empty churches and emptying schools. These same Catholics grump about there not being enough priests. Odds are these same complaining Catholics use contraception, had only two children and have waned in the practice of their faith while they wax nostalgic for earlier days.”

    This precisely describes the diocese of my rearing, but there’s more. Somewhere along the line, the highest expression of Catholicity became voting Democrat, rather than going to Mass.
    My position is that they only nomimal Catholics, and dissent came in all matters great and small.
    When a former Bishop complained about the scheduling of a concert on Good Friday, his words were met with howls of disobedience and derision, as much by the older generation as the young. No discontent with entitled political families, widespread corruption, and economic decline though. It doesn’t matter if there’s people in pews, as long is the Church is open to marry your contracepting, cohabitating children when they decide it woulf be fun to be king and queen for a day. Contributions? Why the Priest drives an Oldsmobil, he doesn’t need MY money.

    You want a picture of that Diocese? Bob Casey, Jr. our resident banana. First, he was green, (especially verdant on St. Patrick’s day), but turned yellow under fire, now he’s just rotten.
    re: Ford:
    Divorce is more than the Protestant loophole. It was the Protestant transformation. It was so powerful a force that it united two enemies, Martin Luther & King Henry the Eighth. Luther couldn’t help his neophilia, so he proposed that marriage wasn’t a Sacrament and was the proper province of the state. Henry couldn’t help his concupiscience and proposed that marriage was again, the proper province of the state because his reproduction was a matter of statecraft, and no rules of God could bind the Crown in it’s pusuit of offspring. Ironically, Henry’s line collapsed anyway.
    Of course, evil wasn’t just aiming for a new system of regulation or the inclusion of conditions of dissolution in the contract, no it had something more in mind, something that happen long after the death of those two men.
    The amazing thing is those Protestants who treat marriage with appropriate respect, that is, a covenant designed by God, indissoluable, a covenant between a man and a woman, even if they don’t consider it a Sacrament, don’t see that today’s so-called same sex marriage debate didn’t originate with the removal homosexuality from the DSM forty years ago, it originated with two founding fathers of Protestantism five centuries ago, who failed to follow the dictate to render unto God what is God’s.

    • tom

      There should be more warnings from the pulpit that the Democratic Party is the Party of Death. There should be voter re-registration drives…off church grounds…to change each neighborhood. Pro-abortion pols need to be castigated and banned from Catholic cemeteries, too. The O’Malley-Teddy Kennedy funeral…with more prayers for him by Cardinal Wuerl, made cynicism and hypocrisy the new Church virtues. It’s still painful to contemplate as that clan regularly undermines the Faith of Their Fathers..

    • Ford Oxaal

      Maybe some bold bishop should nail 95 theses on that church in Wittenberg.

    • 1rosemarie2

      If we simply go back to what our Lord and Savior Jesus-Christ said concerning divorce, we have God`s view point on the situation, and it is enough to unite all of us together … at least in theory. Because this is taught in Protestant churches.
      But, the problem is practice .. we disobey the very Word we teach. This is gross sin and I am sorry for that, sorry also we marry so often outside the will of God and create the background for our future problems …

  • Uuncle Max

    Paul VI was right.

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  • John O’Neill

    The American ruling class repeatedly tell their daughters not to become mothers but to practice contraception and abort. The cackling liberals on Piers Morgan were laughing at their own extinction. How much more fulfilling it is to live a hip life in New York or some American metropolis and spend all your time on earth taking care of your wishes and dreams. It is interesting to note on the West Coast of the New American State one rarely sees the thirty somethings of the white ruling class pushing prams with children; only Asian or Hispanics are seen with families. The Oh so clever European American middle class is quickly dissolving before its own eyes.

    • Proteios

      Don’t be too sure. I agree with their depopulation and orthodox Catholic repopulation. We saw it in the Roman Empire. We’re seeing it here to some extent.
      But the other side of the coin is the casualties of liberalism. The droves of impoverished single mothers who struggle to raise children. These children are successors to the secular world. They become easily indoctrinated in the culture of crime, drugs, spurious family definitions…or none at all. But the key is there inevitable intellectual or tangible dependence on the state.

      The Liberian social engineering project has winners and losers, just as any social organization does. And theirs serve their needs and are the impoverish populators as the elites can’t be bothered and the indoctrined middle consider children a decoration much like a Gucci handbag. And if that is the case, than anyone effectively is a parent because anyone can accessorize.

  • Hmm.

    I’m not a fan of dystopian fiction, but PD James’ book, Children of Men, thinks through the cultural ramifications of the loss of fertility. She poses a reason for its recovery, which is relevant to Mary’s argument.

  • Hmm.

    Responding to the Columbia professor,

    Better to have binders-full of children than jars-full of baby feet.

  • patricia m.

    I totally agree with all the arguments put by the author (though I’m not quite sure if family declined because of lack of faith or faith declined because of lack of family), but I’d like to throw another (complementary and more mundane) explanation as well, if I may. Before the pill women had a lot of children, but because medicine was not half way as good as it is today a lot of them died in its infancy. Moreover, most of people lived in rural areas and they needed hands (sons and daughters) to help them in their (highly manual) labor.

    What do we see today? Most of people live cramped in the cities, medicine is good and saves lives of little children, and children are not allowed (if you may) to work (little spoiled brats, little princesses and princes and dictators of the household). So, a recent change in the lifestyle of the West also contributed to the decline of family – and faith.

  • Lee Gilbert

    Maybe thirty years ago I found in an industry publication the statement by a TV executive to the effect that they are trying to move the country morally left about 4% a year. A this point I could never find this quote, but they have done it and continue to do it.

    For a very long time, probably more than a century, we have been
    propagandized by mass media, but never with such overwhelming success
    as by television beginning in the mid-fifties. This is where our
    secularism came from, not from the contraceptive mentality. And we
    continue to make the same fundamentally dumb strategic mistake of
    arguing with the theses the msm promotes instead of throwing them out of
    our homes. We continue to fight the enemy on his turf, following his
    rules. We cannot compete on this basis. We cannot win. We cannot
    recover.

    If they decide to promote polygamy, or bestiality, or anything else whatever they have the tools at their disposal to accomplish this in a very thorough-going fashion. It may take thirty years, but they can do it. They can fill the minds of Catholics with whatever gas they wish- so long as we remain plugged in.,

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  • Me

    The west may be losing Mitt Romney’s vision of “God” but embracing a God of true love and kindness, which isn’t a bad thing at all. There is a growing movement in the west that embraces peace and social justice, which is something to celebrate. I would not wish to judge those who decide only to have two children, but I certainly honor those who are fighting for better safety standards in Bangladesh factories, for greater acceptance of previously ostracized groups (the lepers and tax collectors of our time), and for the avoidance of unjust wars. The latter fulfills my own vision of what Jesus wants from us better than the former (and I say that as a mother of many children). YMMV.

    • Patrick Button

      Helping Banledeshis is great, but most of us have a higher duty our home communities which have been ravaged by contraception.

    • Proteios

      Few would argue. But I don’t need to walk more than a mile to find a dozen people who could use my help. I certainly don’t feel Christ-like by sending some money to a corporate charity who gives the majority of my donation to help people half way around the world. That type of “charity” does alleviate my guilty conscious, but giving my own time and energy to me neighbor, who I can see benefit from my help. Tat is charity and it satisfies everyone deep inside the soul.

      • tom

        Best comment of the day! Thanks. That’s what Mormons do for Mormons all the time. For some reason (jealousy, envy?) Catholics just don’t help Catholics….at least since Vatican II.

        • 1rosemarie2

          Why do people criticize so much Vatican II ?

    • Alecto

      But, is that in any way particularly or primarily “Catholic” in nature? Who the heck doesn’t want peace or justice? We all want that, and we all disagree about how to achieve it. Focusing on something which at best is subjective in nature seems to me to lead to a natural division. By placing those concerns at the top of the list means a primary focus on all things subjective, and divisive.

      If we instead focus on what does unite us, our belief in the Trinity, the Mass, the sacraments, salvation, etc…, I believe secondary or derivative concerns like “peace” or “justice” will take care of themselves. That’s my humble opinion.

  • James McLaughlin

    It’s really not rocket science. God loves family. He does not contracept.

    I’ve been saying for years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-Lynch/100001521971172 Thomas Lynch

    The Family is the cornerstone of Civilization and strong nations

  • Rick

    This argument
    seams limited, I agree that all Pope Paul VI prophesied about a society
    accepting a contraceptive mentality has happened here in the US. What
    Mitt Romney said is true it is exactly what the Church teaches. But what
    it takes is faith, what I think everybody is missing is why the Church is
    against contraception is because it is that you are not putting your faith in
    God but in man. Having a full quiver does not guarantee a development of
    faith, it can help it to grow or not but it is based on an individual’s desire
    to know, love and serve God and develop this through-out one’s life here on
    earth. I once made a statement before a group of engaged
    couples. “When the Church says in your marriage you must be open to life
    in every sexual act in your marriage it is telling you to put your faith in
    God. But you have free will to make a decision; will you put your faith in God
    or will you put your faith in contraception. If you choose contraception
    just take Christ off of the cross and place your contraceptive of choice on the
    cross because that is what you are putting your faith in. The core
    or our faith is in sacrifice of self for others and that starts in a
    family. The larger the family usually the greater sacrifice of the
    parents and of the children. But the sacrifice is one of love if God is
    the head of the family. You can put me in the camp of the loss of
    the true faith by parents and priests as the first cause of the moral break
    down in society. It is not the first time a nation was toppled because of
    an overall immorality just read the Old Testament and the New Testament. Look at the Greek and Roman Empires you see how sins of the flesh, lust, greed, envy, gluttony are
    predominate at the time of the fall these great empires. Read City of God by Augustine and see what was going on in Rome in his time, at the time of the fall. Look at the state of the Church and European culture at the time of the renaissance, that is where
    America and the American Catholics are at. Since modernism has taken control of the Church we have had several generations of poor teaching by the shepherds of the Church and wholesale disobedience of the doctrinal truths of the Church by the faithful. The faith has not been passed down faithfully by the majority of bishops or priests but most importantly by the parents. We as parents will stand before God and be judged firstly on how we transmitted the faith to our children. Padre Pio once reprimanded a women in the confessional that because of her lack of faith her children who had passed
    before her were in hell. That should send chills down any parents spine. It is our responsibility as parents to know our faith, practice it and teach it through word and example to our children. If we do not do this then society collapses either by the hand of God as in the Great Flood or Sodom and Gomorrah or by the hand of man such as in the Grecian Empire, Rome Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. Next on that list if not already the United States of America. I pray for our country and the conversion of sinners because only through a true conversion to Christ and proclaiming Him as our King will our country survive. The strength of our Church and our country is
    dependent on the strong faith of our families in our Lord and Savior and all that
    He proclaimed.

  • Timothy

    Romans 1: 26, “…their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural…”

    The natural function of the female reproductive system is reproduction. The apostle Paul saw the same thing happening in ancient Rome as is happening now in post Christian America. The devil does not need new tools. Humans never learn from history.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    People talk a lot about the large families of the past, but from the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, a period of 99 years or three generations, the population of France only increased from 29 million to 42 million, an increase of 45% Over the following century, it rose to 60 million, an increase of 43%.

    When was this golden age of large families?

    • Austin Ruse

      France was indeed the first European country to enter what’s called the demographic transition. Also one of the first to lose the faith and the most secular European country. A perfect example to make Eberstadts case and one she deals with in her book.

  • Alecto

    I’m very glad to read this and am glad I voted for Mitt Romney, even though I had reservations about him. Romney was ill-advised by the Consultant Class. Had he been far more forceful in voicing these aspects of his beliefs, more conservatives would have been inspired to go to the polls for him.

    • Marc L

      Yup, mocked by all the right people and laughing all the way to the Oval Office. Or so we can imagine.

  • Bill Russell

    Michael Paterson-Seymour-

    You neglect the factor of infant morality. In France, the rate of infant deaths at the end of the Napoleonic wars was 25% of all births and had declined only to 20% by 1890. Interestingly, by 1890 Ireland had the lowest rate of infant morality in Europe, followed by the Scandinavian countries. At the end of the nineteenth century, infant mortality in France was the same as in sub-Sahara Africa today. In addition, in France the average male lifespan which was 33 in 1820 had improved to only 47 by 1900. Many babies were born and large families existed, but the Grim Reaper took his toll quickly.

  • Theorist

    Institutional religious faith and the institutional family are both somethings material and spiritual, so it would be unsurprising if there were material and spiritual reasons for their corruption. The spiritual reasons have already been touched upon (the logic of protestantism leading to individualism, the social gospel, etc.). But the material aspect has not been fully addressed.

    let us ask not what ideas destroyed the Catholic faith but rather whose ideas have contributed to such a state? And we here it seems safe to say that freemasonry and Jewry and even members of the CIA have a roll to play.

    (1) Jewish people were always important in the media, the media was always on the left wing, so Jewish people were almost always on the left (indeed, 78% voted for Obama and for 100 years voted democrat by 60-70% margins). Even eugene debs, the socialist, won 38% of their vote once. Well known women’s rights leaders were Jewish (Gloria Steinem).

    (2) Now the CIA was behind operation paperclip which was supposed to infiltrate American media to promote cold-war activities. But defending Israel was a cold-war activity so the CIA promoted Israel through the Jewish media and it subverted peace movements through the same. For instances of the latter we need not look any further than Gloria Steinem herself, who was funded by the CIA briefly before starting feminism and it was feminism that helped divide the new left’s peace focus into more cultural arenas.

    (3) Of course even today,freemasonry is prevelant in the south, and the south is a hot bed of protestantism. But protestantism is a perversion of Christianity. So freemasonry actively encourages protestantism and therefore individualism and destruction. But freemasonry also has the added influence of controlling the Catholic Church’s affairs too (and this has been true since at least Vat. II). One can know a thing by its effects and by taking such a view one may discovery, murkily, that today the Church functions as a mere wing of freemasonry in the latter’s desire to efface all religious distinctions and to promote a single homogenized faith.

    That’s my theory on that.

    • tom

      Freemasonry helps freemasons get jobs, too. Good for them. When was the last time the K of C found a thousand jobs for a 1000 unemployed Catholic men? Hell, their little “squires” even snob out non-member Catholic kids. Pathetic!

      • musicacre

        “Jobs” isn’t worth selling out your faith and immortal soul.

  • Bill Russell

    More good news:

    The White House is marking Mother’s Day, which is this Sunday,
    by celebrating free birth control provided by Obamacare. The White House
    made the declaration in a tweet today from their official Twitter
    account.

    “Thanks to the #ACA, 1 in 3 women under 65 gained access to preventive care—like birth control—with no out-of-pocket costs. #HappyMothersDay,” the unsigned tweet reads.

  • TeaPot562

    For those who worry about “Overpopulation”, note that Western Europe, Canada & the USA are all experiencing declines in the “lifetime birth” rates of women in the child-bearing ages below the replacement rate – estimated at 2.1 births per woman. Since many women either do not marry, or do not bear children, those who DO have families must have more children to make up the shortfall, IF our civilization is to endure.
    Our social insurance setups, such as Social Security in the USA, depend on there being enough young workers to pay taxes to support those retired. Greece is an example of a nation where the birthrate has been below replacement for decades.
    From that perspective, Romney is trying to save our culture from decline and death in the next century, while his opponents are willing to let it fail.
    TeaPot562 (Father of 5, Grandpa of 12, G-Gpa of 3 & still happily married to BW of 57 years.)

  • Karl

    Until the Catholic Church turns from its frontal assault on marriage, it will decay. It DOES NOT support marriage. THAT is a FALSEHOOD. Any priest or bishop who, seriously, says that it does, IS A LIAR!

    • Marc L

      Uh, your provocation is writing checks your rhetoric can’t cash. Or is that if you actually explain your cypticism, you know no one here will actually care?

  • http://twitter.com/mpav mpav

    Paul VI warned of the consequences of artificial birth control in Humanae Vitae

  • Rege

    And this dovetails with some good recent research supporting the thesis that the decline in the birthrate corresponds with a fundamental shift in the understanding of marriage. It’s a complex process, but it shouldn’t surprise that when people abandon the basic natural order of life that God established for us, His presence inexorably recedes from our consciousness …

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  • Lucky

    That’s all nice and well, but I’m sick of everyone assuming that just because someone isn’t married they’re spitting in God’s face. I’m 26 and absolutely want a husband and large family. But for whatever reason, God hasn’t blessed me with that. So right now, I’ve got a “good” job and that’s what I’m dealing with. Stop making me feel bad for that or telling me that I’m going to lose my faith over it.

    • Wisconsin Mom

      I don’t think you should interpret the author’s comments as critical of your faith. Considering society as a whole is different from judging any individual circumstance. So hang in there.
      I was married for the first time at age 30 and now, 16 yrs later, have 5 kids (a medium sized family, maybe?) and a strong sacramental marriage that has survived some very tough times. I wish I could go back and advise my twenty-something, career-laden self to worry less about the future and enjoy the benefits of single-ness!
      You should not be feeling bad or thinking that anyone is judging your faith. Life, regardless of one’s vocation, is a wild ride, and there is opportunity for much joy and faith in every day.
      May God continue to richly bless you.

  • Arriero

    This article mixes many different issues. And it is fairly wrong. I smile when some talk about the exceptionalism of America regarding Christianism and while these same put Europe as the bad example, as what this kind of thing America has never to become, as a kind of hell. Look, Europe is a wide continent with true Catholic nations as, for instance, Italy, Spain, Ireland and Poland -citing only the larger ones-. These four nations are real Catholic nations, unlike the US. Catholic nations with “C”, while the US has never been even a “c”atholic nation. There nobody acclaims a mormon -hey, you’re putting as example a mormon! Voting for Obama may be bad, but voting for a mormon…-. In those countries almost 90% of population is baptized and probably more than 60% assist church. Spain had for almost 40 years -1936 to 1975- a regime called “Nacional Católico” lead by General Franco, one of the deepest Catholic dictators Spain has ever had (and Spain is a country that know about real Catholic leaders, unlike Kennedy was in the US, as Filip II or Charles V were, two who fiercely fough lutheranism in Spain). Still the Spanish Catholic Church has a prominent paper in Spain -check some of the most conservative Catholic institutions: many come from Spain-. In fact, nowadays, Spain is trying to reform the abortion law in a very restrictive way. Italy is another prominent Catholic nation. Italy has Rome. It could be said that Italy is the foremost representation of Catholic Faith. And Poland and Ireland, well, we all know who really brought Catholicism to the US…

    So beware when talking of Europe as a secular place, as a devil’s place. The US is usually seen by any “normal” european as sometimes an uncivilized place where people try to demonstrate that the Bible enables them to have a machine gun in the dining room. Even France, the most tough country with religion had recent demonstrations whose size was larger than many that has never happened in the US. South Germany is yet a feud of Catholic faith. And after communist fell, the East is flourishing. A last insight: do you want to know why Spain with a 26% of unemployment rate -more than during the Great Depression in the US- has not exploded yet? The answer is easy: family relations. Strong marriages. Church charity. The US is still far from Europe. But in the US some think that phrases like “God bless this and that other thing” after each speech or some mormons giving speeches makes this country a very religious one…

    The US is still a long way round to arrive to the deeper levels of Christianity that Europe has ever had (look the new party in UK, UKIP, who opposes gay marriage with all their forces). Do not foolish yourself by what some mormons -I cannot bear seeing a mormon in a Catholic page- say or what some pseudo-journalists exclaim about Europe. Remeber what Hillarie Belloc once said: “Europe is the faith and the faith is Europe”.

    • Marc L

      Thanks for using “Christianism” so early in this missive. Saved me a lot of reading.

  • common sense

    The real reason why Catholics leave the Church is because the Church leaves them. Most people cannot afford big families and it is very very unlikely that a married couple will forgo conjugation just to keep with Church rules written by those who have supposedly taken vows of celibacy. Many of whom, do not follow these rules and abuse young people. If you think that abuse is new, it is not. The only thing that makes the abuse new is the fact that it is reported. If the church is serious, then it needs to get serious about letting married couples decide on the size of their families. Agreed that abortion is an non-option as it is not birth control but life ending. Honestly, married couples are not playing Vatican roulette and therefor are lying. In addition, allow priests to marry and allow women clergy. More people would encourage children to live religious lives and it would eliminate those who have something to shove in a closet.

    • musicacre

      My parents didn’t have me in the 60’s because they could “afford” me. I was #4 of 7. And yet here I am , very glad to be part of humanity and contributing six of my own (and my husband’s), not because we could “afford” them. Other parents of large families understand when I say that having a family really is casting out into the deep and actually trusting God. That is not a cliche, it’s a reality we have lived by and raising six children has been an interesting and rewarding adventure; it’s not as though it didn’t have twisty turns like narrow mountain roads. I would do it over again,but next time have more. But aside from Socialists, who says life is meant to be cushy, predictable and boring? Our struggle together has forged bonds of iron for our marriage and close relationships with every single one of our children.

      Don’t make gross, uninformed assumptions about large families unless YOU HAVE WALKED THE WALK! BTW, in our parish, since we had our large family, more than a dozen have followed suit, (people in love who aren’t scared) and many couples in our children’s generation having their 4th and 5th children already. I can tell you that none of them are wealthy. But they are hard-working. All the people I know that have busted marriages used contraception in one form or another. It’s against nature to poison your body to prevent children.

      • common sense

        Condoms do not poison your body. I know plenty of big families who had alcoholic fathers who cheated on spouses. I know big families who were crushed under debt and whose children floundered in school. I know of some mothers who had huge families who died young because of the wear and tear on the body. I know girls from big families who were turned into nannies for their large families. Big families are NO BETTER than smaller families. You are making generalizations also. I do come from a medium sized family. My parents and grandparents are from huge families as is my husband. I think that you are rather socialist in your thinking because smaller families subsidize your bigger family through your tax exemptions and medical coverage. I choose to be responsible for what I can financially handle. I do not expect my neighbors to pay for my services. Your six kids means that you pay little to nothing in taxes….

        • musicacre

          Are you joking??? We live in Canada and we pay through the nose in taxes. The way you make weird assumptions means you are not taking in information; you just want to win an argument. We are not subsidized in any way, we pay local taxes and pay again for garbage collection and there are no streetlights, sidewalks, sewer, etc.

          Also I know a person who is so allergic to rubber, she goes into anaphylactic shock if she is in a room with baloons; to address your thing about condoms. It poisons the attitude of connection between husband and wife; it’s akin to putting on a raincoat first and a mask to “protect ” your self from possible harm from your spouse.l

          • common sense

            I did not know you were Canadian. In the US, large families receive large tax breaks, help with utilities, and additional funding for college. Also, there are issues with healthcare policies. Large families pay a family rate regardless of the number of dependents so that means that others end up paying higher premiums to cover them. We also pay taxes, property taxes, wage taxes (federal, state and local), and sales taxes. What I am saying is that many times, large families tend to receive more in services than small families and small families pay more in taxes. I do not see this as being fair. If I choose to have a small family, I should not be economically penalized for someone who has CHOSEN a large family.

            By the way, condoms are not just latex and no it is not protecting you from harm from your spouse either. No one I know believes this in the least, not unless they have a spouse who is cheating.

            We no longer live in an agrarian society where we need large families to help with farming. Infant mortality rates are also considerably lower as well. If everyone had large families, resources such as land, water, and food become more scarce. I want to make sure that my kids have resources for future generations. In other words, I do not want a world that plays musical chairs with life’s necessities.

            The planet is not getting any bigger. Anyway, I do wish the best for your family. I am not personally bashing you and I am sorry if it seemed that way.

    • Marc L

      This isn’t a counter-argument to article, just a restatement of VOTF talking points. In no way does it pretend to meet the author or the source in any way. Why even bother?

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