I think most people would consider me a firm Democrat and an atheist, though in truth I am more of a deist. That said, my family values are strong and my family unit is strong and it has nothing whatsoever to do with religion.
Today's family is as strong and moral as you make it and it has nothing to due with religion but good parenting and a dedication to husband and wife as a unit, loving, compromising, sacrificing and working hard to be together and the best husband, wife, father and mother that you can be.
Religion is one way to attain those morals but increasingly, religion is not growing with the times or dealing with the intricacies of technology and new knowledge that can put into question some of the teachings of religion.
All that said, I think family values are what you make them, regardless of religious belief and more and more religion will dissipate as a function within the American family. I don't think a lack of religion has caused the breakdown of the American family. I think it is the breakdown of commitment to a life long partner that is killing the American family. Not sure a lack of religion has anything to do with that. I think it has more to do with a selfish, greedy, "me" first attitude that in a lot of ways is promoted through the American business culture.
Very interesting thoughts, Nick (as usual).
While I personally don't even necessarily think that the breakdown of life long partner is in and of itself contributory to some sort of decline of america, that issue will have to wait.
I think a lot of people see divorce and equate it with a general decline of values, and they get angry about it. I think it's fascinating to consider how increased access to divorce, especially increased ability of women to initiate divorce, led to increased divorce...and a lot of times this gets twisted into woman-hate, because it seems to be a causal deviation from some mythic "good old days," but to me it's more amazing that clearly this increased freedom of women leading to increased divorce is a screaming indicator of just how incredibly awful the status quo of "the good old days" was for a tremendous number of women.
Excellent sir, as usual. excellent.
I will say though the breakdown of lifelong partnership is also involved in the sexual revolution which broke down sexual inhibitions and the need for abstinence. Suddenly, playing the field and not creating relationships before sex became the rule not the exception. And when pregnancy happened the responsibility got hoisted, more often than not, on one member of that pairing not two.
I don't think that has anything to do with religion but more to do with poor parenting. My kids are 25, 23, and 18. All boys. But they have been taught about sex, responsibility, consequences, the family unit and the importance of relationships their entire life without the help of religion. They all have gone or are going to college. They have all had girlfriends. They have been taught safe sex since 10 years old. They all want the same thing: a career, a partner and then kids. There's no baby mama drama happening at the Agneta house and no grandkids yet out of wedlock.
I'm not saying that having kids out of wedlock is bad or can't be successful. It just makes life harder and is tougher on the children and my kids believe that. Nothing I have seen from religion has caused children to adhere to the values I taught my children every day. Time and again, religious people get other religious people pregnant out of wedlock, or get divorced or abandon their kids. Its parenting that needs to improve the American relationships and eventually the family unit. Not religion.