An op-ed I read the other day is an exercise in self-parody.
Walter Williams (supposedly an economist) laments that “The Attorney General is Right: US is in Moral Decline.” The evidence is “manifested by increases in suicides, mental illnesses and drug addiction.” No supporting statistics are given, but he quickly identifies a villain: “secularists.”
This is a bit much. After all, has anyone noticed secularist T-shirts, bumper stickers, marches, editorials or angry chants of “Lock them (religionists) up?”
Ah well. At least we are given a list of the crimes of these invisible rascals: the taking of citizen’s money for farm subsidies, aid to higher education, welfare and food stamps. So, there you have it: Folks are getting mentally ill and becoming drug addicted and committing suicide because tax money is being used to help farmers face droughts and floods, poor students go to college and those who have lost jobs to survive.
Meanwhile, we are treated to further non sequiturs by being informed that the Bible tells us plainly that taxes are theft. It does? Did not Jesus himself befriend tax gatherers and tell us to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s?
Because of these secularists and their nefarious tax-gathering allies, we are told, we are “not holding people accountable for their behavior and we accept excuses.”
The speech upon which Williams based his rant was given at a Catholic university, so let me begin my rebuttal by pointing out that, for decades, certain priests have been caught molesting children and these activities have been covered up by powerful princes of the church.
It is not, however Catholicism that has supplied most of the passion that animates fundamentalists (and, therefore, Williams’ pandering). Committed magical thinkers, who are doubling down on the supernatural and literally believe Jonah stayed in a whale for three days and that a crafty, talking snake led humanity astray, are Williams’ target. And easy prey they are.
In fact, our president has appointed as his adviser to faith-based groups, Paula White, who has prospered by evoking the “prosperity gospel.” In White’s teachings, “offerings” of $75 or more will “release you from your past and align yourself with god’s blessings.” Polling has shown that those making $10,000 a year or less are twice as likely to believe in the prosperity gospel than those making $35,000 to $50,000. It is apparently this kind of action that is now beginning to move believers to aver that President Donald Trump has been (gasp) chosen by God to be our leader.
In their desperation to hold the moral high ground, gullible fundamentalists have overlooked egregious, in-your-face immorality.
To see, for example, a contemporary, really grotesque incidence of moral rot, let us recall some activities of our chief executive, who while married (to his third wife), paid a porn star enough money to support a working family for a year in hush money, attempting to cover up his adultery. Since this bribe came from political gift funding, the coverup (an unreported campaign donation) is a crime, for which he has not been held accountable, though one of his lawyers who handled the transaction is serving three years in prison.
No, to find unparalleled examples of Sodom-like, immoral sleaze we need not look to “secularists,” but rather to our continuously lying commander-in-chief, his attorney general and his braying, sycophantic op-ed-writing supporters.
Ironically then, it does turn out that Williams and Attorney General William Barr do have a point: There is moral decline in the U.S. These “gentlemen” have, however, not found the right place to look: in the mirror.