America the Faithful

December 29, 2021 Updated: December 29, 2021

Commentary

On Aug. 23, 1984, at an ecumenical prayer breakfast in Dallas, then-President Ronald Reagan said (pdf), “Without God, there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience. … Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

For decades, secularists have been eagerly waiting for the day when America no longer acknowledges God and becomes a country that has lost its founding ideals and collective soul. They trot out polls showing diminishing church attendance, growing disinterest from youth, and increased rejection of moral absolutes as evidence that America is turning its back on God.

Yes, you can see the manifestations of a culture that no longer takes God seriously all around us—the decline of the family, the taking of innocent human life, and continued attacks on religious freedom. But, despite these celebrations of these tragic manifestations by certain members of our society, a substantial number of Americans still put their trust in God, strive to live in accordance with the teachings of Scripture, and participate in faith communities.

John DiIulio, in a recent article in The Claremont Review of Books, writes that in their book, “Secular Surge: A New Fault Line in American Politics,” authors David Campbell, Geoffrey Layman, and John Green assert that the faith of Americans is not withering. Instead, it’s the gap between those who believe and those who don’t believe that’s expanding.

They report that while 28 percent of Americans claim they’re “secularists,” only a third of that number are openly hostile to religious faith. But that third has gained control of many of America’s institutions—such as our universities and media organizations—and thus have an outsized influence over our nation’s culture and politics.

But, regardless of their determination to demonize, silence, and eventually stamp out faith, these secularists will discover what the communists learned when Pope John Paul II visited Poland in 1979. Those people, whose spirits the Soviet atheists thought they had crushed, started to chant “We want God” repeatedly—and that longing shook the Kremlin to its core.

Unfortunately, the secularist elite in America haven’t learned from the lesson that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” In their relentless drive to strip our nation of its spiritual foundations, they’re doing the church a favor: they’re helping to separate the wheat from the chaff (those who say they’re religious but really aren’t) while strengthening the faith of those who believe God plays a significant role in every aspect of their life.

Statistics document this. A recent Pew Research poll found that the percentage of Americans who identify as Christians has fallen to 63 percent compared to 78 percent in 2007, while the number of Americans who say they have no religion has risen by 13 percentage points in roughly the same period. However, a Pew survey earlier this year found that almost one-third of Americans said their faith had grown stronger over the past year and a half (coinciding with COVID-19)—the largest share of any developed country.

So, it’s true religious faith that is expanding. Those committed to faith realize that their faith comes with a price they’re willing to pay to stand for God and for freedom, while those who were content with a “in name only” faith are the ones falling away. I would assert that is a good thing for America.

In a September 1982 speech, then-President Reagan said, “We can’t expect God to protect us in a crisis and just leave Him over there on a shelf in our day-to-day living. I wonder if sometimes He isn’t waiting for us to wake up.”

As a country, we don’t need more people who put God on a shelf and only turn to Him in a crisis. We need people who turn to Him daily for guidance, comfort, and strength.

That’s why I’m encouraged that more Americans are realizing that they can’t just leave God on a shelf in their day-to-day living. While secularists point to the so-called “numbers” and claim that our faith is waning, they’re missing that the truly faithful, like the people in Poland, “want God.” And, if that’s the case, it will be those who are truly committed to the faith who will restore our nation’s virtue, conscience, and collective soul—and will remain one nation under God.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Timothy S. Goeglein is the vice president of government and external relations at Focus on the Family in Washington, DC, and co-author of "American Restoration: How Faith, Family, and Personal Sacrifice Can Heal Our Nation."