November 5, 2023
Who Determines American Culture?
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “American culture?” Do you have a positive reaction to the phrase or a negative one? Do you think about our culture in terms of our history or about the tendencies and values of the current generation? Whatever your reaction and whatever comes to mind, there are two facts about American culture that are undeniable: it is unique in the history of the world, and we are responsible for it.
I have spent the past year doing a deep dive into American history and the root causes of America’s moral decline. After such a journey, you might think I would be discouraged or outraged or both. To the contrary, I have come away from this year-long study more encouraged and inspired than ever! The reason for this renewal of hope is found in the fact that I have come to the clear realization that the solution to the moral decline and cultural anarchy we see all around us is more attainable than we have been led to believe.
In my new book titled “The Spiritual Price of Political Silence,” the reader will find a refresher course on the true history of the people of faith who came to these shores seeking freedom, refuge, and opportunity to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience.
It is hard to argue with the actual written words of historic figures, and yet those who have sought to destroy America and her culture have found great success in doing just that! From twisting motives to taking words out of context, the cultural Marxists have made deception under the guise of education a new art form. History books have been edited, facts have been removed or changed, and an unsuspecting American population has been fed lie after lie in our classrooms and institutions of higher learning for the past 50 years or more.
Yet, during this great erasure of facts and truth, the original documents and personal words have been recorded and preserved so that we might know the truth of our founding. Sadly, for all intents and purposes, those documents have been left untouched by the vast majority of students.
From the very beginning of this nation, going back to the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, the migration of the Puritans of Massachusetts, and followed by the Quakers and William Penn, the permeating motivation for the earliest immigrants in coming to the shores of this land was to find a place where all people could enjoy the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech and the freedom of voluntary association. The power struggle over control of these freedom-seeking immigrants was an ongoing battle among the heads of the European nations which they had risked everything to escape. Thus, the resulting culture that formed was rooted in classical studies, a firm faith in biblical teachings, protection for individual liberties, and a fierce independence.
It has taken me over 15 years of engagement in both state and federal government to realize that politics is always downwind of culture, and in America, our unique culture rises and falls on the leadership or failure of the church and people of faith.
As the culture goes, so goes the government and, eventually, so goes policy that affects our children, our churches, our schools, and even our armed forces. To be completely blunt, the literal front lines in the battle for America can be found in our homes, our families, our communities, and our churches. Our culture and what it values starts with “We the people.”
If Americans are honest with themselves, they will have to admit that the elected leaders in their state houses and in Congress are only a reflection of the culture at large — a culture we have nurtured or allowed in our homes and our places of worship. The truth is, our elected officials are elected by “we the people” and they are a reflection of us, whether we like it or not.
If we are honest with ourselves, it would be wise to take a long, hard look in our political mirror. If we don’t like the culture that is being promoted by our school boards, or our county councils or in Washington, we must ask ourselves if we have done our due diligence on researching the character of those we have elected. Have we done some digging on their record in business, their life experiences, their community involvement, their social associations and their financial dealings?
If our elected leaders surprise us and turn out to be different than who thought they were, we have the responsibility to actively work to defeat them in the next election and find a better alternative. That is also part of our responsibility in preserving a culture of freedom. If we failed to do our research on the candidates and if we just accepted what they claimed during their campaigns, that is on us. The sad truth about political campaigns is that statistically, negative ads work. What does that say about us, as a nation? As a culture? If we believe the negative ads, paid for by Washington special interest groups, and fail to vet the candidates on our own, we should not be surprised when the people we elect disappoint us by succumbing to the pressure of those who paid for their campaigns.
Some might argue that Hollywood has played a big role in creating the current culture, and that they are probably the biggest influencer in our society. I would agree with that — to a point. Hollywood has had some influence on our culture, but they are also beholden to “we the people” as they are reliant on sales to keep producing their products.
As seen in recent years, Americans have the power to vote with their wallets, and Hollywood cannot function without money. Have you noticed that faith-based films have become more mainstream? The Christian music industry has grown tremendously as well. People of faith have supported faith-based films and entertainment to the point that Hollywood has taken notice and has almost been forced to produce more family-friendly content in recent years. Let’s be honest: Nothing speaks to the entertainment industry louder than the sound of money in the bank.
Of course, the other side to that proverbial coin is the fact that America is still the biggest consumer of the pornographic and sex trafficking industries, as well as sexually explicit TV shows and movies. Why? For the same reason. The market demand for them still exists. Which begs the question: Who is consuming such diabolical content? The answer is twofold. The demand is there because evil exists and men’s hearts are wicked, but unfortunately, that does not exclude those who claim to follow the teachings of the Bible.
Statistics show that addictions to pornography are a growing problem in the church-going population as well as the non-church going population. In a 2016 survey, the Barna Group found that although well below those who do not profess Christianity, four in 10 teen or young adult males in the church are “actively seeking out porn at least once or twice a week.”
We cannot blame politicians, elected officials, entertainers, producers, corporations, sports stars, or even our schools for the culture we see today. We only have ourselves to blame, and with even more access to more content anytime, anywhere, the church and our faith leaders must be bold about calling people to repentance.
Our culture begins in our homes, our churches, our schools, and our communities. We are the guardians of our culture, our freedoms, and, most of all, our children. God established three institutions, and each has its place: the family, the church, and the government. God gave us our children, and we are to be the faithful stewards of their minds and hearts. We are to be their life guides, to teach them the moral and natural laws of God. That was one of the main reasons cited by the Pilgrims for coming to these shores. They sought the freedom to exemplify a life of service to God and others to their children and to pass on that culture of freedom to future generations.
For almost 13 centuries, the dominant beliefs in the tenets of Christianity permeated the culture of Europe and beyond. Part of that dominant set of beliefs was the understanding that kings and rulers were still the servants of God and that God’s kingdom was above all earthly kingdoms and rulers. This foundational truth helped lead to movements like the Reformation and the Great Awakenings, which resulted in millions of people desiring to know more of God by reading His word in their own language.
When this happened, a new wave of devotion to God and the dictates of conscience emerged. A new understanding of personal liberty and personal responsibility before God began to spread. Soon tens of thousands of hard-working people were defying the combined dictates of governments and their state churches by refusing to follow the man-made rules of imposed religion, in order to follow their own conscience.
American culture is the most unique culture in the world. No other country has been called the “melting pot of the world,” and no other country has taken such diversity and created such a strong national unity around shared values and ideals. In order to understand the incredible responsibility and opportunity that is ours as Americans today, it is crucial to understand the origin of our unique culture and belief system. It is time that we correct the record for ourselves and for the next generation. It is time for a spiritual and cultural renewal of our Judeo-Christian founding. Knowing the factual history of our American culture which led to our unique values system will give us confidence to combat the new so-called “woke” culture all around us.
After more than a century of successes and failures in the experiment of self-government, the generation of Americans who formed the Constitution had a lot of examples and templates from which to draw. Because of that, American culture relies on the bedrock principles of representative, limited government, freedom of religion (not FROM religion), freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to bear arms, the right to self-defense, freedom from search and seizure, the right to a fair trial of our peers, the assumption of innocence until proven guilty, and so much more. These principles were agreed upon after much debate, study, and the example of the colonial legislatures for over a century under British common law. In the end, the Founders agreed on the core principles that had been key to the success of guiding free societies under natural law. They identified that the source of all liberty is God, not the government.
Not only were people of faith an integral part of forming the American governmental structure, but our radically new form of government was built to rely on their continued involvement and leadership by people who held a deep faith in God.
To put it bluntly: the Framers of the Constitution were counting on you! Their confidence in the American people to preserve the gift of self-governance is the greatest gift they could have given us.
Be encouraged that there is a way to renew America and be advised that the way to renewal begins with you! Self-governance can be messy, ugly, and downright frustrating, but the beautiful hope that we still have today, even in our declining culture, is that the principles upon which our government is founded are timeless and unchanging. Truth is unchanging.
If we use the tools that are still at our disposal and if we arm ourselves with a deeper understanding of our system of checks and balances, we can turn our culture and our nation back to its founding ideals and renew its reliance on Divine Providence.
Christy Stutzman is a Christian conservative writer, author of the new book “The Spiritual Price of Political Silence” and former state legislator.
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