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September 27, 2007

Materialism - Religion = Violent Crime?

The numbers are in and the results are disheartening: violent crime is on the rise. Should we be surprised?

Those in the political arena certainly aren't: the FBI is howling at the White House, and presidential hopefuls are loaded with new ammunition against the Bush Administration. I should've known it would be the President's fault. But politics aside, should we be surprised at the rate of crime in America?

Violent crime is a sad reality, but it's existance shouldn't be surprising. It's the promised result of a deteriorating moral structure in a materialistic world. As I was mulling over likely causes of the rising crime rates, I couldn't help but think about the brilliant words of Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America (one of my all-time favorite books, BTW).

De Tocqueville warned that a lack of religious beliefs in our democratic nation would eventually turn Americans into materialistic monsters.

Legislators of democracies and all honest and enlightened men who live in them must therefore apply themselves relentlessly to raising up souls and keeping them turned toward Heaven....

Materialism is a dangerous malady of the human mind in all nations; but one must dread it particularly in a democratic people because it combines marvelously with the most familiar vice of the heart in these peoples.

Democracy favors the taste for material enjoyments. This taste, if it becomes excessive, soon disposes men to believe that all is nothing but matter; and materialism in its turn serves to carry them toward these enjoyments with an insane ardor....

Most religions are general, simple, and practical means of teaching men the immortatlity of the soul. That is the greatest advantage that a democratic people derives from beliefs, and it is what renders them more necessary to such a people than to all others.

Therefore when any religion whatsoever has cast deep roots within a democracy, guard against shaking it; but rather preserve it carefully as the most precious inheritance... do not seek to tear men from their old religious opinions to substitute new ones, for fear that, in the passage from one faith to another, the soul finding itself for a moment empty of belief, the love of material enjoyments will come to spread through it and fill it entirely.

That certainly seems to fit America to a "t." Robbery, burglary, theft... the root of each of these is often materialistic. Combine that with a plunging decline in religion and morals (something Regis touched on earlier) and we have ourselves a growing problem.

The truth is the violating fingers of crime will likely touch each and every one of us at some point in our lives. And short of locking up half of the country, it's likely to remain that way. But according to de Tocqueville, that needn't be the case.

No, our salvation doesn't lie in more tax dollars hard at work, it lies with religion. As de Tocqueville and others have rightly identified, crime is a moral problem. And as Pat Nolan of Justice Fellowship states, "to break the cycle of crime, we must address the immoral behavior." So it seems religion and good morals are the true key to fighting crime and ultimately maintaining peace in society. (Now, if we can just get that idea to hold up in court.) Yet should we continue as a nation "empty of belief," it appears we have a very unpleasant future ahead of us.

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Comments

Patricia

I agree. With no restraint on behavior or get away with whatever you can attitudes, we are progressing towards a lawless land. It's very sad. Now we have the "hate crimes" laws which will imprison those who stand up for moral rights and wrongs.

Melodee

You were "mulling" over rising crime rates, right? Sorry, but "mauling" would be violent...........

Excellent article.

Gina Dalfonzo

You're right, Melodee -- my fault. I missed it in the editing process. I'll make the correction.

Lee

You edit every blog entry, and this is one of the few caught by someone else? I'm truly thunderstruck, Gina.

Gina Dalfonzo

Well, a lot of that is just sheer dumb luck, to tell you the truth. :-) Sometimes I manage to get away with mistakes that nobody happens to notice! But thanks.

Lee

(Begin humorous hysterical rant, with a twinkle in my eye.)
Luck?!?!!? LUCK???!!!?!?!!?? You heretic! You're hereby demoted to Pointifex Minima, and sentenced to re-read ALL of R.C. Sproul's books until you recant!! And shame on you for ever watching the movie "Free Willy"; the title should have told you all you needed to know to avoid it!
(End humorous hysterical rant, as eye twinkle fades somewhat.)
Personally, I think you're very gifted and thorough - but I wouldn't want to come across as fawning or anything, lest Allen see and wonder about my virility.

Faith

Oh dear. Thanks so much Melodee for catching my error!

All I can say is that all of us at The Point owe so much to Gina for her remarkable editing skills...

Allen

Lee,

I just did see. And I do so wonder. Very, VERY disappointing!

Though the bonus points for humor based upon free agency versus Calvinism may offset my disappointment about your shameless fawning.

Just don't do it again.

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