Social science is said to be the study of human society and of individual relationship in and to society.
It often surprises non-Americans that America remains a deeply religious country.
Americans may not feel that way, and indeed, it is true that church attendance is down, and moral decay is at its highest than any time in history.
But compared to the rest of the Western world, America is deeply devoted to the Christian faith, both in civic and personal terms. For example, no other world leader concludes their speech asking God to bless their nation. And in the rest of Europe, England, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, weekly attendance at church rates hover between 9 – 15 percent, depending on the country. In America, research shows that 49 percent of Americans identify as going to church at least once a week.
It is the home of the mega-church. In some parts, every meal is preceded by grace.
America’s robust Christian faith is the glue to its success. When people refer to Americans as the most optimistic, moralistic, individualistic , charitable, and libertarian in the world, the jots they often do not join is the glue of Christianity. All of these traits have biblical roots.
Clearly, America’s history and founding explains religious roots. But why has it never lost them?
It is fair to say that Americans are deeply emotional people- whether it be defined by an unyielding inspiration or a passionate hunger for the dream. And it is fair to say that unlike the socialist nirvanas of the West which have a very substantial safety net, Americans are more readily exposed to those down on their luck. In Europe and elsewhere, the government has replaced God.
Not to mention the natural disasters that afflict the continental United States, almost unceasingly. This is another reason that the Christian faith remains so prevalent in American culture.
This is an excerpt from my book published last year:
“It surprises the visitor little that the man here clasps to his Christian faith most tightly; he is particularly subject to the natural disasters whose effects make little or no sense in their specific consequences, allowing him to draw the conclusion that there is a grand plan for him by his Creator. He here is subject to almost all forms of natural disasters, almost constantly. In fact, there is no other nation in the world, with the exception of the American cousin, Australia, albeit it with far less men, subject to the number, scale and diversity of the cataclysmic event. The American seems to understand better than any other man the wrath of God, through his own experiences if he lived in what this man calls Tornado Alley or elsewhere.”
But that is not where it ends. In addition to the natural, America is also subject to the tragedies of school shootings, terrorism and major accidents. And the impacts are fiftyfold for two reasons: 1) America’s large population and, 2) the national media coverage.
We live in a fallen world. It is often wondered in these situations, such as Boston, where God was. But He was there. He can be seen in the strength of the magnificent first responders; those men and women who run toward danger while the rest of us run away. He could be seen in the marathon runners who kept on running, all the way to the hospitals to give blood. He could be seen in the numbers of people from all over Texas rushing toward Waco on I-35 to assist after a fertilizer plant exploded in West; numbers so great, local officials issued a notice that no more help was required.
In these times, Americans seek the comfort of Isaiah 43:2: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will be not scorched. Nor will the flame burn you.”
The sad truth is that people turn to God only in bad times, and when things are too good, people are both uninterested and disinterested in God. It is sad but true that in some way America’s constant brush with tragedy and evil makes it more ready to understand and acknowledge evil, and turns its people much more to God, during all times. Americans are kept real. And a deep and abiding commitment to the Christian faith will always see America fit to lead the world.