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Moral Decline of the 21st Century

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  • Pages: 7
  • Word count: 1719
  • Category: Morality

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The rate of change started to accelerate in the early 1900s as new influences had an effect that reached even the furthest parts of the country. This had the effect of creating a new country-wide culture in the early twentieth century. The United States was founded on the “God given rights” of its people and religion, although very controversial; created the foundation of the American spirit. In Fredrick Lewis Allen’s book, Only Yesterday, he talks about the events that divided America in the 1920s from his curious views of how its history and events may repeat themselves. Allen looks the at the diverse influences of the 1920s-the post-war disillusion, the status of women, the Freudian gospel, the automobile, prohibition, the sex and confession magazines, and the movies-had part in the bringing about the revolution of change in America. The unbelievable mixture of discoveries in science, technology and equal rights of the 1900s influenced the Puritan ideals of the church to change with the over shadowing doubts brought on by the sciences.

The equality movement and the rebellion of the youth in the 1920s exemplified the complete disregard of authority and responsible behavior practiced by past generations.[1] At a meeting of the Ministerial Union of Philadelphia the Rev. Dr. B. F. Daugherty, pastor of a Presbyterian Church at Lebanon, Pa. was quoted “an education that is not merely non-Christian but actively anti-Christian, is destructive of character and antagonistic to every institution by which America has been made great. . . . The denial of God is the denial not only of authority but of any sense of moral responsibility.”[7] When there is a denial of God and that there is destruction of a unified structure of things from the top down; moral responsibilities and common decency is ignored. This was the starting point of degrade of chivalry and moral standards; the discourse of the American supremacy in the world that has been exemplified through America’s leading economic power and supposed world dominance. America was founded on the religious values but, when we separate ourselves from those moral teachings; the standing of our high character is at risk for corruption.

Science told the children of the 20th century that there is no God, no higher deity and that they are in charge of their own lives through the freedoms that they have been given by being born in the United States of America. In the Declaration of Independence but, all of these rights are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. [3] The interpretation of may have fallen on deaf ears. The right to life protects the individual’s ability to take all those actions necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of his life but, this is based upon the idea that he has a background or upbringing with a high standard of moral values. Liberty protects the individual’s ability to think and to act on his own judgment- that is based on the rationality of a man’s highest moral values. If a man will live his life rationally and with high moral values; he shall pursuit his happiness in life with morals upholding life, reason and self-interest. Self-interest for personal contentment and enjoyment is allowed as long as one is rational and upholding life.

In the 1900s the reform of church began from some conflict of the scientific discoveries and theories causing doubt on the biblical version of events and a failed collaboration of the Anglican Episcopal bishops all over the world in August, 1920, the Lambeth Conference for a reunion of the churches on the basis that priests of the Roman and Greek Catholic Churches would be accepted as priests of the Anglican Church if their own communions would reciprocate, while it was asked of the Protestant Churches that they would allow their ministers to submit to reordination by Anglican or Episcopal bishops.[5] The stubborn ways of the ones whom made religion their life’s labor made the firm stand that they would not reordinate their churches for reasons of only to cause more doubt on the validity of the church’s teachings. The later recognition of the Methodist belief that the only mediator between God and man is his son Jesus Christ would be brethren of the various communions and was interchanged in Christian service. This change would lead to the idea of “God, He is always there” and one did not need a church to practice their faith.

The indoctrination of this small change in faith could have changed the view of America permanently. The grave consequence of this concept that you don’t need to focus on faith continuously and you don’t need it in every moment of your life would be a shortcoming of this principle when the in times of great indifference and challenge of your faith; the absent of practice would lead somebody down the wrong and immoral path. Alexis de Tocaqueville, author of Democracy in America, described the state of the country with its loosening of values, morals and new found rights of equal a start to a degrading society. [2] He coined the term soft despotism; a network of small complicated rules that gives the illusion that they are in control of the United States but, in fact they have little influential control of their own government. The soft despotism breeds fear, uncertainty and doubt in the general populace when objectives of the government are not met and there is little explanation of why there are no results of recent pursuits.[2] Dr. Samuel Gregg, analyst of The Action Institute of the Study of Religion and Liberty explained that Tocqueville’s envisioned that America would eventually become corrupt because in a democratic system; politicians would state what the people demanded to happen in America then, when elected would forget the statements and ignore the demands of the people who elected them.

Tocqueville wrote the government would “resemble parental authority” and keep people “in perpetual childhood” by relieving people “from all the trouble of thinking and all the cares of living.” The actual liberties of the people, in their new-found equality movement of the last two centuries and the forming of the American democracy, would be slowly and softly stripped away from the people in a soft despotism. Since the beginning of the sciences in the 1900s the universities were declared “incubators of agnosticism” and were busy turning out atheists and non-believers that were really to stand against authority figures and structure of religious teaching. The rebellion of the youth to accept the teachings of religion and holding your moral standings high created the massive decline in morality, rationality and individualism. The younger generation rebelled against traditional morals. College students took to drinking and throwing wild parties. Women became more forward in dress and behavior. Premarital sex became less taboo.

The symbols of this new, looser social behavior were jazz with a strong but flexible rhythmic understructure with solo and ensemble improvisations on basic tunes and chord patterns, the flapper a woman who showed disdain for conventional dress and behavior, along with her male counterpart the sheik; a slang term of a romantically alluring man who would engage in extramarital (being married and seeing much younger women) or premarital affairs with women. Furthermore “to jazz” was also a code word for having sexual intercourse in the 1920s. [6] The movies, radio shows, sophisticated advertising, and popular magazines all had an influence on the lives of 1920’s youth who saw themselves as different from the older generation. Young people began to model themselves on movie and sports stars who represented a glamorous new age, but they also took on many of the negative traits of their idols like smoking, bad language, immorality, and selfishness. And so the new youth culture manifested itself as the flapper and sheik.

People started to look towards the popular magazines, sophisticated advertising, radio shows all having influence on the lives of 1920’s youth who wanted to make sure they were not going to be like their parents and will not succumb to authority figures that didn’t give women the right to vote or made women wear ridiculous outfits of domestic stature. Youth of the 1920s began to model themselves after movie stars and sports figures that made the glamorous a new lifestyle of no regrets and live free and loose. The young impressionable youth under no rational moral standards took to smoking, drinking, bad language and selfishness to treat everyone around them that was not an associate of them as their new victim of immorality and symbol of indifference. The women of the Roaring 20s had fulltime jobs and were becoming self-sufficient in their lives. The economic stability granted women and men returning from the war the ability to buy things that were lavish and popular at the time; contributing to a new era of consumerism that later has driven materialism of today. People started to live outside of their means just to be like their famous movie star idols.

This event caused massive unrest among the economy in the coming decades with the rise of banks giving home loans and business loans out to individuals that were not responsible enough to have them or irresponsible bankers giving loans out to people whom had no economic stability to begin with. Have all these devastating changes set a discourse for American moral decline and moral indecency forever? Were the actual teachings of the Bible and religion that was created some 3,500 years ago not have a significant enough merit to be ignored and start the decline in morality and rationality will not cause a discourse of the human civilization? Science challenged the events of the Bible but, it did not challenge the morals of its teachings and still the youth of the 1920s ignored the teachings of high moral standings, values, chivalry for which their parents abided by to found the United States of America.


1. Allen, Fredrick Lewis, Only Yesterday, An Informal History of the 1920’s. 2. de Tocqueville, Alexis, Democracy In America, Volume II
3. http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/
4. http://principlesofafreesociety.com/life-liberty-pursuit-of-happiness 5. The Literary Digest – February 18, 1922
6. http://www.thefreedictionary.com
7. http://www.1920-30.com/religion/agnosticism.html
8. Machen, J. Gresham, Christianity and Liberalism, 1923 interpreted by Dr. Samuel Gregg, http://www.reformed.org/books/chr_and_lib/index.html 9. http://sp.stmarysannapolis.org/highschool/jkeenan/The%20WikiTSAR%20Library/The%20Change%20of%20Morality%20in%20the%201920s.aspx

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