Influence Of The “Moral Majority”.

The 1980’s seemed the apex of religious influence on politics.  Greg Foster in Public Discourse believes the influence ended in the year 2000.

Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson thought they saw a moral collapse coming.  The imagined collapse required doing political business with Catholics whom they despised and burying the hatchet between evangelicals and fundamentalists.

Moving these religious factions en masse into the Republican party had the effect of slowing growth of tax increases and regulation.  But, the issues of “moral collapse”, gay rights,  abortion rights and relaxed sexual mores, have proceeded more or less unimpeded.

According to author Foster, the biggest beneficiaries of moving religion into the GOP were its politicians.  They were able to count on this faction for election, but little was requied in the moral realm.

The other beneficiary has been Wall Street.  Taxes on the wealthy and regulation have been reduced in many ways.  Deregulation of banking played a role in our current housing slump.

Foster writes fallout from the 1980’s myth of a “moral crisis” and the politicization of religion continues.  Surveys show a lot of dissatisfaction among young people from political moralizing by church officials.  It is sited as one of  the reasons more young people are not staying in the church.

To the extent this latter relationship between politicization and declining interest in traditional religion is true, the moral majority was a lose, lose.  It failed to influence cultural change and is today causing the church to lose members.

24 Responses

  1. Wanna B Sure

    Jon; Not all denominations bought into the Robertson/Falwell/GOP fiasco. And that distance continues to this very day. The Moral Majority group, and affilliated segments have all but destroyed the GOP, and unfortunately has challenged the integrity of politics in general. Along with making it more adversarial, with no end in sight.

  2. Henry

    God and politics in America. Nothing new under the sun. However, very offensive under Republican regimes. Very accepted under Democrat statesmanship.

    My Fellow Americans:

    Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

    And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

    Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

    Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

    They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

    They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

    For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

    Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

    And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

    Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

    Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

    And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

    And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment — let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

    With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace — a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

    Thy will be done, Almighty God.


    President Franklin D. Roosevelt – June 6, 1944

    As far as Falwell and Robertson, not so exciting.

  3. Matt Slocomb

    Jon, I think the regulations from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in part caused the financial bubble. Your post assumes that regulation is always good, and deregulation is always bad. In the case of the housing situation, banking regulations which said a certain percentage of ethnic groups had to qualify for loans led to banks lending money to people that couldn’t qualify for the loans financially. This, in part, led to the crisis. At minimum it was a case of faulty government involvement.

    1. Matt 2:17 I might have implied government regulations are always good, but I do believe they are. Often they are terrible.

      On the housing crisis, it has been sliced and diced, turned upside down and sideways in an attempt to figure out what happened. I’ve read a lot of it. It is your opinion Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “in part caused the financial bubble.” I can find no evidence they played any important part in it. Political people often cite them, but I’ve yet to see a nonpolitical professional person give them any importance. Same with the distribution over ethnic diversity.

      In the housing crisis, it was lack of regulations, or, people who enforced regulations. We’ve all read the explanation: loans against value that did not exist. The bundling of loans, or “securitization”, was started by the Freddy and Fannie. But, it got out of control by private firms.

      There is no reason, however, for there ever to be a practice of securitization. It was supported by both political parties to make home ownership easy and home builders happy. In retrospect, home ownership is judged to be more important and desirable than it actually is, IMHO.

      1. Henry

        Interesting. I thought companies like Bears-Stearns heavy in politically correct, ethnically correct bad mortgages caused the downturn. Of course, Barney Frank was one of the cheerleaders:

        1. Henry 3:00 I watched the entire eight minutes of that. It confirmed what I wrote. The Countrywides started the downward spiral by low balling subprimes. They began getting crazier and crazier–to beef up their volume, they had to loan to worse and worse home buyers. Fannie and Freddie started doing it after the commercials were already way down the road. Fannie and Freddy were not the “cause”. Barney Frank was not the cause either.

          I had a little Countrywide stock. It became worthless because it made loans against worthless property. Had nothing to do with Frank, Freddie or Fannie.

          As soon as the economist started explaining what actually happened in the video, O’Runny said he had to cut it off because it was getting “too micro”. He’s always good for a laugh.

          1. entech

            Not aware enough of local conditions to speak, but it did confirm my opinion of O’Reilly – greatest comedian the country has produced with the best punch line “Fair and Balanced”.
            I see his boss has just be declared an unfit person to run a corporation by the British Government, that was well know in Australia before he sold his nationality to be able to buy more in America who were fool enough to let him.

          2. entech 5:34 Yes, “Fair and Balanced” is funny. In that interview, O’Reilly was using his well oiled technique of misdirection. When the economist tried to explain what really happened, O’Reilly would start talking about a comment this U. S. Representative, Barny Frank, has made on TV, or, his campaign commercial. This implies Barny Frank’s TV statements or campaign commercial had something to do with the financial crisis. Frank made not one, zero, bad loans.

            These commercial home loan companies, like Countrywide, made millions of them. There are many documented cases of where those making, or “selling” a borrower loans actually filled out the loan application themselves, or, told the applicant what to write. This made the applicant’s finances look better than they were. The person selling the loan would get paid on volume, not success of repayment.

            But the montra, “The problem was caused by Fredie and Fanny,” is repeated over and over.

          3. entech

            Seems to me that a large part of the problem was turning an observation that home owners make better citizens, which seems to be true, into a matter of ideology. One agreed by both Clinton and Bush, it is just that under Bush it was actively encouraged to the extent that loans were made to almost anyone.

            It makes sense to “spread the load” when who have assets that maybe dubious, I believe toxic was used although I am not sure if that was the loans or the derivatives, bundling the good with the bad and selling them on as all good was probably criminal and at best greedy for commissions and bonuses to the extent that the actual value was less after the cream had bee scooped off. That the bundles were given approval by the rating companies and peddled world wide was a large part of the collapse. Some people say that over regulation was the problem, I would say that it was partly that existing regulations were not enforced.

            About the financial instruments (or whatever they tried to call them) were classed as a top investment when they were so convoluted that no one knew what was in them and what they were really worth suggests that the problem was known from the top down and ignored as long as the bonuses rolled in, to take a load of sheep droppings, wrapping it up in a silk scarf and selling it as an asset instead of fertilizer was out and out fraud and that most of the world was defrauded in some way.

          4. entech

            Thinking about it one reason Australia did not come of as badly, house prices are dropping now but were stable at the time of the crisis, is that loans were made on the basis of the ability to pay, the property was collateral for the loan, if you could not pay you could not walk away, if you default the bank (or loan company) can sell your house and if it is sold for less than you owe you still owe the balance.

            I think 1988 was a bubble burst when people were living in houses on which they owed more than the house was worth. In fact I heard of one couple living in a trailer in the parents garden while renting out the house just to keep the mortgage going. Things picked up and they eventually sold up and retired to Florida (Australian version of Florida).

          5. entech 1:01 Good for Austrailia that it did not abuse its home mortgage system and not suffer as much from bad mortgages. Canada, too, did not get into as much trouble as did the U. S.

            A basic problem in the U. S. was this “bundling” of mortgages into “bonds”, also called “securitization”. The person making the loan has not responsibility to collect the money. The risk is pushed on to someone else. This innovative way to make larger amounts of mortgage money available to the home loan market carried with it a moral hazard too tempting for many to resist.

            This happened first as a government related program call Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In this way they contributed to the eventual downfall. But those two functioned quite well for a long time. Politically, the Republican Party leadership was angry at how well they did and wanted private firms to do this kind of work and eventually got some support among Democrats. That was when the problems began. Our local U. S. Senator Byron Dorgan predicted this would be the eventual outcome.

          6. Henry

            Jon: “This happened first as a government related program call Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In this way they contributed to the eventual downfall. But those two functioned quite well for a long time.”

            Doesn’t hurt to have unlimited bailout power of the government behind you. With that scheme, any corporation, private or public would be a resounding success, but very expensive. Fannie and Freddie are not that tidy of a picture as Jon paints.

            Jon: “These commercial home loan companies, like Countrywide, made millions of them.”

            Countrywide? The bank that got caught giving Democrat Senator Conjob a zero interest load in return for special favor? Let me guess, it is the republican’s fault. Bush did it.

          7. Henry 8:41 I think the subject we were talking about has been changed. The question was, did Fannie and Freddie cause to financial crisis? The answer is no they did not.

            Having said that, I agree with you they were not a good idea, even when they worked quite well. And, Countrywide was not a good company and should not have given Conrad a special deal on a loan. Both politcal parties were at fault in lots of what went on. It’s just that Republicans and Bill O’Rielly claim Freddie and Fannie caused the whole mess, and that just isn’t so.

          8. Henry 11:47 Those articles confirm the argument. Yes, F & F started the program, as the 1991 article pointed out, toward lower interest rates. That was the point of them being created. As I said in a post to Matt, this probably was not a great idea, but it had lots of political support.

            Then you link to an article about the fall of F and F after home values had started to fall. At the end of the article, it said banks were looking at home value write offs of 50% The cause of those drops in value came from inflated values, as I’ve explained before twice here, started by non F & F bad lending. I’d suggest reviewing events of the six months prior to that article.

            To find me wrong, it would be best if you would find articles pointing out that F & F started making loans on bad paper before the private banks, causing phony home prices and private banks followed and were victums. So far as I know, and I remember a lot of it, it happened the other way around.

          9. Henry

            So Fanny and Fredy dole out bad mortgages. They buy “insurance” (credit default swaps) from hedge funds on these bad mortgages. The hedge funds cannot make good when the defaults occur in mass. We then blame the institutions that sold these financial instruments. Fredy and Fanny are in the clear. I see. The good government program did not cause the problem. These aren’t the droids we’re looking for. Move along.

    2. Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac are privately owned.Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have saultantiblsy similar charters, Congressional mandates, and regulatory structures. Both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are publicly traded corporations. Ginnie Mae is a government-owned corporation within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that guarantees mortgage-backed securities backed by federally insured or guaranteed loans. Unlike Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, Ginnie Mae does not purchase mortgages from lenders, nor does it buy, sell, or issue securities.No, it’s greed and they ended up with the victims homes. Was this answer helpful?

  4. Matt Slocomb

    Good discussion here. Another point about how government intervention at least makes the problem worse is the Fed’s insistence that interest rates remain low. This intervention encourages spending and borrowing and discourages investing. This, in part, is why we have so many people in the country in so much debt. Combine that with government involvement in student loans (which encourages many people who don’t have the skills to complete college) and we have so much misallocation of resources. In short, I agree heavily with the Austrian school thinking in economics here. This video discusses this concept (there are actually three parts). If you get a chance to listen to the videos without the commentary they are pretty funny “Keynes vs. Hayek”

    1. Matt 6:09 I agree interest rates were kept too low and down payments too little. The old saying never disproved is if you subsidize something, don’t be surprised if you end up with too much of it.

  5. Michael Ross

    I believe Fallwell, Robertson, Dobson, Hagee and others are false prophets. They may be so unwittingly but they have taken a good part of the church in the wrong direction. Promoting wars by supporting an Israeli-centric forighn policy and ignoring real issues at home such as the corrupt central banking system that has debased the dollar by 97%. History shows that in a inflationary environment moral and spiritual values go out the window. The U.S. dollar carries hundreds of trillions of $s of debt and the sodomites are linning up to get married. The two go hand in hand. END THE FED! SUPPORT RON PAUL!

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