The Decline of Faith and Morality
“We are a temple of the living God … Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the
Lord, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:16-17. All scriptures
from the Revised Version Improved and Corrected).
What is the connection between belief in God and morality? And how important are God and prayer in people’s lives?
Pew Research Center posed these questions in 2019 to 38,426 people in 34 countries, the results of
which were published early last year. Across the 34 countries spanning six continents, a median of 45%
say it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values. However, Pew Research found a
large variation in answers by region.
Those surveyed from emerging countries tend to be more religious than those with advanced economies.
For example, after 1991, the share of people who say God is important to them has increased in Russia
and Ukraine, but the opposite has occurred during the same time span in Western Europe. In fact, of the
eight Western European nations surveyed, a median of just 22% said that belief in God is necessary to be
moral. In the six Eastern European nations, a median of 33% shared the same view.
By contrast, nearly everyone surveyed in Indonesia and the Philippines (96% each) drew a connection
between belief in God and good values. And in India nearly eight-in-ten say the same. In Kenya, Africa,
which has the lowest GDP per capita ($4,509) of all 34 nations included in this analysis, 95% of respondents express the view that belief in God is integral to being moral.
A 2016 Pew Research survey found that among those unaffiliated with any religion, honesty (58%)
and gratitude (53%) are the attributes most commonly seen as essential to being a moral person. That
survey showed a clear link between what people see as essential to their faith and their self-reported day-to-day behavior. Those who believe that behaving in a particular way or performing certain actions are key
elements of their faith are much more likely to say they actually perform those actions on a regular basis.
This change indicates that we are near the end of the Gospel Age harvest. “In the last days grievous
times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to
parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no
lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form
of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
In The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade, author Philip Jenkins writes that “predominantly ‘Christian’ nations viewed WWI as a holy war and a crusade, even using apocalyptic images from the Book of Revelation to depict the enemies.” Later came America’s Cold War against “godless Communism.” Both were framed in terms of God favoring one side over another.
As clergy and congregants entwined themselves with politics, discussion of the Bible dwindled. In
some arenas Jesus became nothing more than a social revolutionary, advocating for the poor, the sick
and, the marginalized. Little is said about consecration and the heavenly call. Prosperity is pictured
as a reward for the faithful. Morality has been redefined. The Associated Press reported that in the
past few years, over 5,300 clergy members have been named as sexual abusers and child molesters.
Hundreds more were discovered but not listed.
Lack of Belief
A 2019 report from the American Enterprise Institute concluded, “Structural changes in family life
may play a role (in the deterioration of the church)… Americans raised by divorced or separated parents
report less robust religious experiences during their childhood. Close to half (47 percent) of Americans
raised by parents who were married during their formative years say they attended worship services at
least once a week with their family. In contrast, only 28 percent of Americans raised in households with
divorced or separated parents reported this frequency of religious attendance. The Centers for Disease
Control stopped in 1988 gathering complete data on the number of children affected by divorce. However,
according to the 2009 American Community Survey, only 46 percent of children at age 17 reside in a two- biological parent household.
Gallup reports that since 1938, church attendance has dwindled from about three-quarters of the adult
population to thirty-five percent in 2020. Alternatives such as Paganism and Hedonism have replaced Biblical principles with the tenet that however one worships or whatever one thinks leads to the same end.
Economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin puts it this way in The Third Industrial Revolution, “We
no longer feel ourselves to be guests in someone else’s home … obliged to make our behavior conform with a
set of pre-existing cosmic rules. It is our creation now, we make the rules … We no longer have to justify our
behavior, for we are now the architects of the universe. We are responsible for nothing outside ourselves, for
we are the kingdom, the power and the glory.”
The Call to Consecration
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, and is become a habitation of demons, and a hold of every unclean
spirit … Come forth, my people, out of her, that ye have no fellowship with her sins, and that ye receive
not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:1-5).
True followers of Jesus seek their destiny with Jehovah on a spiritual plane through a resurrection of the
dead. “If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me? If the dead are
not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32).
Happiness comes through a knowledge of God and His plan, not through the accumulation of earthly
gain or status. “Godliness with contentment is great gain: for we brought nothing into the world, because
neither can we carry anything out … having food and covering … be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
Paul warned that in the last days many — even professed Christians — would obsessively focus on
satisfying earthly desires, becoming “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4), making an idol of pleasure and pleasure-seeking. Wholesome desires were part of Adam’s created nature, and God’s gift of life (Genesis 1:27-31). However, for the Christian these desires ought not take precedence over the desire to do God’s will and to live according to the scriptural standard set by His son, Jesus:
“Delight thyself also in Jehovah, and he will give thee the desires (petitions) of thy heart” (Psalms
37:4). “Seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). “Blessed are they that hunger
and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6).
Those who do not comprehend righteousness cannot rejoice in it. That is why Jesus said, “If any man hear my sayings, and keep them not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47). But to his disciples Jesus said, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear” (Matthew 13:16).
God’s remedy for the ills of fallen mankind is a kingdom, or government, which He promised to establish. The blessings of the kingdom are detailed in Micah 4:1-4. “In the latter days … the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains … Many nations shall … say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths … they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of Jehovah of hosts hath spoken it.”
We cannot reform the world today, and we should expect it to continue to reject Jehovah’s principles as
this age comes to a close. Therefore, let us look forward to that day when the people of the world will
learn to know our great God, Jehovah, enjoy His blessings, and rejoice in following His ways!