Hall, Art -- Use this one

Publisher Art Hall

Anybody who has been in America for more than a day knows we are facing significant social and political problems, the likes of which we haven't seen for a long time. Our attorney general, Bill Barr, spoke about these issues last month at Notre Dame University and unleashed a firestorm of criticism. 

He took on the secularists for their assault on religious freedom, as they aim to replace America’s traditional values with their own. He observes that the American people’s erosion of religious values has created greater governmental dependency.

In colorful language, in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Barr describes secularists as being on their own mission, and “Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake—social, educational and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.”

Continuing, Mr. Barr places at the feet of  secularism, the “…social pathologies such as drug addiction, family breakdown and increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males…So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion. The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites. The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the state to set itself up as an ersatz husband for the single mother and an ersatz father for the children. The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with this wreckage—and while we think we’re solving problems, we are underwriting them.”

To support his assertions, Mr.  Barr quoted John Adams:  “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people;” and Alexis de Tocqueville, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

On the issue of toleration of opposing views, a few of our readers have told us here at the Herald they won't write letters to the editor because of the criticism heaped on them. Accordingly, we no longer allow direct criticism of individuals, only reasoned criticism of ideas.

Nor do we tolerate use of labels or mockery, whether in letters to the editor or Spout Offs. When we encounter gratuitous use of ad hominem labels, such as racist, bigot, homophobe, etc., we delete them; only if such terms are factual is their use allowed.

And what has become of the Christian value of respect for our fellow man? We no longer universally accord a complete stranger respect simply by reason of the fact that he or she is a human being, made in the image of God. To kill a complete stranger was virtually unheard of not long ago in our nation; now, it is a weekly occurrence. When we  dismiss the foundational values which were core to us, we then reap the consequences we currently are observing.

We all lament that Congress can no longer talk issues through and come up with solutions.  In the days of our national founding, Patrick Henry is credited with saying, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” That conviction insured that all options were heard, leaving the group to decide which were the best. When we don’t hear them all, we are left to decide from fewer options.  The occasion when one would insist that the other person not be heard arises when he fears that person’s ideas are better, or he seeks a decision via undemocratic means.

Our democratic system requires a respectful hearing of everyone’s point of view. We will get past our problems when everyone has a chance to be heard.