We’ve heard for years that we’re in the middle of a “culture war.” A culture war, unlike a civil war, is not fought with guns and tanks, but with ideas, words, arguments, media, and education. Unlike ordinary political debates, it’s a fight over the fundamental principles on which cultures are based.
In our new book Indivisible, we argue that Americans are “like tourists on a sunny beach. We’ve heard news of an earthquake on the sea floor, hundreds of miles away, but everything still looks normal. People are sipping iced tea, enjoying the warm sand and the sun overhead. Many think, ‘We’ve never had it so good.’ And yet, when we look closely, we notice that the beach is growing wider as the tide recedes toward the horizon.”
The tide seems to be receding even faster in the last few weeks. We all know that our economy is teetering and the federal government is endangering our children’s future with unprecedented deficit spending. As we observe in The Christian Post, 2012 was supposed to be the year when economic issues would dominate presidential debates, and so-called social issues would take a back seat. Instead, abortion, religious freedom, and marriage are also in the headlines.
The first two issues–abortion and religious freedom–come together with the recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that organizations, including religious organizations, provide health insurance that covers sterilization, contraception and drugs that induce abortion. The Catholic Bishops have been especially visible in responding to this assault on religious freedom. “This country once fought a revolution to guarantee freedom, but the time has clearly arrived to strongly reassert our fundamental human rights,” said the Most. Rev. Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., Bishop of Peoria. “I am honestly horrified that the nation I have always loved has come to this hateful and radical step in religious intolerance.”
The media has tried to turn this into a debate over contraception, which they portray–incorrectly–as a “Catholic issue.” In reality, all people of faith, indeed, all Americans have something to lose here. If the federal government can force its citizens to pay for things they find morally abhorrent, then there is nothing the government can’t do. We are gratified that ordinary Catholics, Catholic Bishops, leading evangelicals, and even some libertarians have denounced this power grab. Glenn Beck has just launched a campaign called “We are all Catholics Now,” to bring together a diverse group of Americans to defend religious freedom. As we argue in Indivisible, to restore our culture, those who value faith, family, and freedom have to set our differences aside and start rowing in the same direction.
The HHS mandate is just one example of the growing threats to religious freedom and the respect for human life. The institution of marriage is also under attack. This week, the Governor of Washington State, Christine Gregoire, signed a bill that makes it the most recent state to establish “same sex marriage.” And the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just upheld Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to strike down California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. This issue will almost surely end up in the Supreme Court, where the future of marriage in our country could be decided by nine Justices.
These are just a few of the issues that make the 2012 general election so crucial. In Indivisible, we argue that these so-called social issues can’t really be separate from the economic issues. The social and fiscal issues depend on the same foundational principles, and, ultimately, they will stand or fall together. We shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking we can surrender the sanctity of marriage, or unborn human life, but somehow revive our economy and prosper indefinitely.
This year’s election is important, but, we must focus on more than the ballot box. We need a long-term perspective and strategy. “Our freedom, our way of life, and our future is in peril, and not just from hostile enemies abroad,” we argue in the book. Revealing “corrosive ideas and the destructive policies they inspire,” Indivisible explains our country’s most pressing concerns–skyrocketing debt, rising poverty, abortion, judicial activism, the decline of marriage, environmental problems, education issues, etc.–and the folly of creating a more powerful state to combat them. “As government has waxed, our liberties have waned.”
We’re convinced that our society’s problems require a long-term approach that values principles, prayer, and spiritual renewal, not partisanship. Still, not all public policies are created equal. Good policies must apply true principles in the right way, and encompass moral truth and economic truth.
Drawing on historical, Biblical, philosophical, modern-day and personal examples, we lay out a blueprint for change: readers must first understand the sources of the problems we face, identify and defend the foundational principles that make change possible, learn to apply those principles properly in the policy arena, and elect politicians who believe in and will implement those policies.
After working through the major policies we must consider, we then identify ten principles that we believe underwrite all the policies, principles such as:
- Every human being has equal value and dignity.
- Marriage and the family are the fundamental social institutions.
- Judeo-Christian religious faith guards our freedom.
- We are meant to be free and responsible.
- Culture comes before politics.
We need to identify these principles and understand how they apply in everyday life. As we say in the book: “If we can etch these [principles] on our hearts and minds, seek a life of holiness and wisdom so we can discern them, teach them to our children, and apply them wisely in our personal lives and politics, then with God’s help, we’ll have most of what’s needed to restore faith, family, and freedom in the twenty-first century.”
We hope you’ll forgive this bit of obvious promotion of what God placed on our heart, but we are eager to share the message we have been working on for the last two years.
Because we want to bring together a diverse group of people of faith, we’re so happy that FaithWords/Hachette, a leading Evangelical publishing imprint, and Ignatius Books, the leading Catholic publisher, are co-publishing the book. The special Catholic edition has a foreword by Father Joseph Fessio, Founder and Editor in Chief of Ignatius. He writes: “Indivisible can be a turning point in the moral, cultural, and economic decline of the United States – if its readers make it so.”
The book already is generating enthusiastic response. “Indivisible builds a sure bridge of faith and reason over which our country can walk, from our present state of confusion and peril into a new era of peace and prosperity,” said Fr. Jonathan Morris, Fox News analyst and author of The Promise. “Robison and Richards have given all of us an invaluable tool for hope.”
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission stated, “Every person of faith in America needs to read Indivisible… Robison and Richards provide biblical answers to often controversial issues. Thisis the kind of book that can alter the course of a nation if it is read and embraced by our nation’s citizens.”
Bishop Harry Jackson says that “Indivisible gives us a framework for understanding and advancing God’s agenda in our lifetime.”
George Gilder says, “James Robison and Jay Richards chop up and stir some of the most indigestible issues of our time . . . and then bite down on the hot and highly seasoned casserole with relish and realism. . . . I personally want to see it in the hands of those misguided politicos and media conservatives who think that social issues and economic issues can be separated. They can’t, and these irenic and ecumenical authors–an evangelical and a Catholic–make that case persuasively, concussively clear.”
Others have called it a “manifesto of sorts for restoring the culture.” And Seattle talk show host David Boze has called it “Body Armor” for fighting the culture war.
We do hope you’ll take the time to get a copy of the book, read it, and arm yourself. If you also find it compelling, we hope you’ll tell your friends about it.