Life, Liberty and Happiness, by Archbishop Council Nedd II

nedd_smIn an increasingly secular America — where moral absolutes have vanished — it is not surprising that same-sex marriage referendums recently passed in Maryland, Washington and Maine.

After all, noted theologian N.T. Wright said, “by itself, human reason can no more be guaranteed to tell us which way to go than a compass in a room full of strong magnets.”

A recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found approximately one in five Americans — roughly 33 million people — have no religious affiliation. Of those, 13 million consider themselves atheist or agnostic. That’s a lot of people without spiritual grounding!

Furthermore, the gravitas of the “Catholic vote,” once coveted by politicians and which struck fear into the hearts of the church leadership’s political opposition, has dissipated like a morning dew — leaving only memories of its former power. And, because of black pastors who place political expedience ahead of theological integrity, the mythic “black church” seems to have turned from a sanctuary from life’s turmoil to a directionless moneychangers den of thieves.

Lacking a moral compass, there’s a general assumption now that we are all good people and any behavior can be countenanced no matter how abhorrent it may be to others. That being said, I don’t fault individuals merely following their id because no one is there to caution them otherwise.

I don’t really fault those seeking same-sex marriages. I don’t fault the non-religious. I fault those whom God placed in a position of authority over the past 50 years who failed to do what was required and expected of them.

There are many to blame for society’s current wanderings.

First, politicians sold out. Then, community leaders sold out. Now, the religious establishment is selling out. In the span of mere generations, a population grew up without any true moral leadership. This has put the nation in the treacherous position it is in today.

Specifically, I fault teachers who let kids graduate from high school without the ability to read. I fault politicians more concerned with reelection than properly tending to our tax dollars. I further fault politicians who use the office the American people gave them to merely gather accolades and largess rather than serve constituents’ best interests.

I also fault pastors more obsessed with preaching about politics than the gospel.

When people of faith emerge from their homes and look — mouths agape — at the world around them, wondering about the current state of affairs, I lament the systemic and chronic “responsibility fail” that got us into this mess.

At some point, people must realize the consequences of the their actions.

Rome was undoubtedly an amazing and fun place back in the year 350 A.D. But paganism, lack of gratitude, hedonism, monetary troubles and military problems along with a covetous world eventually took its toll on Roman society.

Most people educated enough to have studied this sort of thing in college (or even high school) history seem inclined to ignore the parallels and seem unwilling to confront the current peril.

Chapter four of St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians reminds us that our political and religious leaders should not preach about themselves, but rather about the Lord and that the “excellency of the power” and wonder of our nation is of God and not us.

Our nation’s Founding Fathers recognized this when they acknowledged that we are endowed by our Creator with an inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This pursuit is not an entitlement because it is understood to exist within the framework of our moral and social fabric.

With prayer, we can weather this moral tsunami. We can because — though we may be hard-pressed on every side — we are not yet crushed. We may be perplexed, but we are not yet completely in despair. We may be persecuted, but we are not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

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Archbishop Council Nedd II, a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network, is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Church and the chairman of In God We Trust.  Comments may be sent to [email protected].

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