A concerning new study has found that younger generations of Americans care significantly less about patriotism, religion and having children than older generations. The study, conducted by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News, finds that, “The values that Americans say define the national character are changing.”
First, younger generations of Americans view patriotism nearly half as important as older generations do. “Among people 55 and older, nearly 80% said patriotism was very important, compared with 42% of those ages 18-38 – the millennial generation.”
In addition, the number of millennials who say religion is “very important” to them has fallen by more than 50% when compared to older generations. “Two-thirds of the older group cited religion as very important compared with fewer than one-third of the younger group.”
Equally concerning is that while 54% of those ages 55 and older say having children is considered ‘very important’ to them, only 32% of those in the millennial generation say so. This helps explain why the U.S. fertility rate is at an all-time low. According to NPR, “That measure now stands at 1,764.5 births per 1,000 women — a 3 percent drop from 2016. The replacement rate is 2,100 births per 1,000 women.”
Overall, this is a deeply worrying snapshot of what younger generations of Americans value. Considering that millennials are now the largest age demographic in the United States, this poll indicates how America will be shaped by the millennial generation for years to come. Republican pollster Bill McInturff told The Wall Street Journal, “‘There’s an emerging America where issues like children, religion and patriotism are far less important. And in America, it’s the emerging generation that calls the shots about where the country is headed.’”
Indeed, patriotism, religion and children are some of the most important ingredients to a well-ordered civil society. Without patriotism, citizens lose the desire to care for their country to the detriment of future generations. Without religion, a society loses its morality and its ability to moderate its passions and desire with reason. And without children, there will be no future society.
So, what can be done? Eric Metaxas in his book If You Can Keep It writes about the importance of patriotism and loving America. “To be proud of one’s home, one’s family, one’s village, one’s city, and one’s country is something that from the beginning of history has been somehow understood as vital. It is one of the universal hallmarks of human behavior.”
Metaxas goes on to suggest certain actions that parents can take to spark the love of America in their children. “Perhaps every April 18 we might ask children to recite portions of ‘Paul Revere’s Ride’ and talk about it. On the Fourth of July we might have children recite portions of the Declaration of Independence. On February 12 we might do something to remember Abraham Lincoln and on February 22 we might do something to remember George Washington.” These small steps can go a long way towards fostering the love of country in future generations.
From the conception of our nation it has been understood that faith and religion are vital to the country’s morality and stability. In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote the following in his magnum opus, Democracy in America. “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith… Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot.” Without religion, morality and liberty are not sustainable. To keep faith in the Judeo-Christian God prevalent in our society, Americans should remember the importance of religion and attend church, especially with their children. Americans should pray together with their families, and pray for each other. These things are good in and of themselves, but they are also good for America.
And lastly, Americans need to have more babies. In one of his last public remarks as Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan said, “This is going to be the new economic challenge for America: people. Baby boomers are retiring – I did my part, but we need to have higher birth rates in this country.” Focus on the Family has written about the benefits of having children. Couples should take seriously the calling to raise a family, and should do so if that’s what the Lord desires.
Though there are plenty of concerning trends in our culture, particularly in regards to the declining value placed on patriotism, religion and children there is also reason for hope. None of the solutions to these problems reside in Washington, D.C. The solutions lie in the home, family, neighborhood and church. Let’s work together to regain our love of country, our value of religion, and our fondness for life and children.