Secularization of Society to Blame?

January 5, 2008
Phrases like “summer of the gun” and “let’s find a way to stop violence” are heard more often then “please” and “thank-you” these days. You’ll find many elderly telling you that back in their day “violence like this never happened”, “people were mild and humble”. You’ll also find people refuting this, stating that the same amount of violence has always happened “it’s just reported more now”.
I tend to sway on the elderly side of the fence. I do believe there was a time where one could leave their door unlocked at night or even leave their car parked outside their house and expect it to be there the next morning. If my assertion is true, there must be something in our society that has changed to make it that of a violent and lawless one. I believe that the secularization of society has led to the demise of government and has created anarchy among the judicial system. Now this may seem like a strong declaration, but if we look at the history of both law and religion we we’ll see that they go hand in hand.
Religion has traditionally served as a source of authority, law, and moral norms for society. Throughout the world's history, religious traditions have had ties with governments. According to the Berkshire Encyclopaedia of World History, our modern ideas of rights to religious freedom and secular governmental systems are actually based in a variety of sources. However that being said, our modern ideas actually draw strength from the original idea of the Western church-state tradition.
No one can refute the fact that religion has shaped the law and is indirectly intertwined with our daily lives. But it is the loss of the sense of religion that has led us into peril. Because our very laws and moral codes are based in religious belief, this loss of religious belief directly results in a loss of respect for authority. This loss of respect for authority then leads to a rise in violence and un-submissive youth. If there is no higher power, no belief in afterlife or anything after death, then there is no reason not to do whatever you want to do on earth. Yes, an atheist can have an upstanding set of values and morals, more so than one who calls themselves a Christian or a Jew, but how can an atheist respect laws based upon religious tradition if they do not believe in the religion to begin with? Laws based in faith can only be upheld when there is a retributive unworldly reaction to breaking them. Religion and law are a team that need to be together in order for each respectable institution to work. Is it merely coincidence that Catholic Church attendance is at an all time low and crime is at an all time high?
The fact that our society is amassing into one unsubstantial secular society is disheartening. Material things are becoming personified and godly. People are becoming aggressive and unwilling to submit to authority. It is not to say that individualism is bad and atheism is wrong, but rationally when looking at all the facts I can only come to the conclusion that religion lies in law and law lies in religion.

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Elaina Emma Falcone

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