What moral decline?
Posted on January 9, 2012
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, like many other social conservatives, often argues that the United States is in the midst of a “moral decline.” According to Santorum:
Faith and family are under attack. “Moral relativism,” he warns, is breeding “aberrant behavior.” Gay rights advocates are bent on “secularization.” Liberals have brought about a “decaying culture.”
Santorum insists that gay marriage will destroy the family, “the very foundation of our country.” Lamenting the scandal of pedophile priests, he wrote in a Catholic publication: “When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.”
Yet Steve Chapman says there’s one major problem with this line of argument: it is unsupported by, and perhaps even in conflict with, existing empirical evidence.
He thinks America has been on a downhill slide for many years, thanks to feminism, gay rights, pornography and other vile intruders. But where is the evidence that the developments cited by Santorum are producing harmful side effects?
In the past couple of decades, most indicators of moral and social health have gotten better, not worse. Crime has plummeted. Teen pregnancy has declined by 39 percent. Abortion rates among adolescents are less than half what they were.
The incidence of divorce is down. As of 2007, 48 percent of high school students had engaged in sex, compared to 54 percent in 1991. What “decaying culture” is he talking about?