June 21, 2019 (Edward J. Barr – Contributor) – The recently released 2019 Commonwealth Fund’s Study on State Health Performance highlighted the negative impact drug overdose, suicide, and alcohol abuse have had on the nation’s health. The term “deaths of despair” appropriately describes the hopelessness of many who have succumbed to these three soldiers of death. There are always consequences when a society moves away from a culture of life to embrace the lies of the culture of death. Today our society accepts as “normal” euthanasia, suicide, abortion, homosexuality, and is even flirting with infanticide. These are all dipped in a bath of putrid materialism and selfishness sanctioned through a perverted view of freedom. Yet the culture of death is not new, it is based on human frailties. The first century expression of the Christian faith warns against the way of death. It states that the way of death is “evil and full of curse: murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries…” In short, it provides an outline of a growing percentage of America today. So, what is the result of gleefully racing into the spider’s web?
The Commonwealth study reviewed the numbers of deaths by drug overdose, suicide, and alcohol from 2005 to 2017. The suicide rate increased by 28%, with much of the incline coming in recent years (the last two years studied – 2016-2017 – showed the steepest incline. Alcohol related deaths increased by 37%. Drug overdose death skyrocketed by 125%. While pundits and professionals will debate the cause of these increases few will consider the decline of religion in the nation and the abandonment of Judeo-Christian values as being part of the cause. They should.
According to the Pew Research Religious Landscape Study (2014), the number of American’s claiming no religious affiliation has greatly expanded between the years 2007-2014, a period close to the years studied by the Commonwealth Fund. Those claiming to be atheists had doubled to 3.1% of the population while agnostics reached 4%. The result is a total of nearly 23% of the population claiming no religion affiliation at all. A 2018 Gallup poll on church attendance provided similarly sad results. The percentage of Americans that “seldom” or “never” attend church services is nearly 50%. After decades of secular humanism pushed Christianity out of the public square the societal landscape is reaping what we have sown. This could not have been done without voluntary capitulation by the majority Christian populace, Catholics included. Many have chosen the “world,” over the kingdom of God, placing power, pleasure, possessions and party above the Cross. Archbishop Chaput noted that what we have seen has “been the transfer of our real loyalties and convictions from the old Church of our baptism to the new ‘Church’ of our ambitions and appetites.”
As God is pushed out of our lives, disorder thrives. Fortunately, the results that are noted in the Commonwealth Study and others addressing the pathologies (called lifestyle choices) of the Culture of Death cannot be hidden. Studies abound that demonstrate the societal damage done by promoting culture of life “freedoms” and “choices.” All are based on removing the creator from creation. Even the ultra-secularist Huffington post published an article titled “Atheism Has a Suicide Problem.” As far back as 2004 studies showed that atheists are at far greater risk of suicide. We know the answer to all these problems is to embrace Christ and His Church (see “Another Eucharistic Miracle – Suicide Prevention). For the sake of our nation, let’s pray that this happens NONE too soon!
Edward J Barr is a Catechist, an attorney, an intelligence officer, a Marine, and a university faculty member. He has a graduate certificate in theology from the Augustine Institute, where he continues to study. Mr. Barr is a contributing writer for the Roma Locuta Est blog (www.RomaLocutaEst.com)