What if many of the problems and concerns most often raised by secularists these days were solved by solutions regularly championed by people of faith?
School districts around the country, including those in my home state of Colorado, are shutting down buildings and institutions because of a lack of enrollment. Where are the students going? In some cases, they’re attending private or home schools – but more often, they’re not going anywhere because the boys and girls simply don’t exist.
For a long time, progressives have advocated for robust public education, including lobbying for increased school budgets and the hiring of more teachers. But the declining birth rate in America hasn’t only slowed their charge, it’s also forced them to downsize, cutting both dollars and personnel. It’s a matter of declining supply and waning demand.
Here in Colorado, according to the 2020 Census, 43 of Colorado’s 64 counties saw a decline in the 18-and-under population. It’s a consistent trend across the nation. Fewer children equal fewer schools, teachers – and tax dollars to pay for it all.
People of faith have long championed the value of children because more children will benefit everyone. The declining birthrate poses an existential threat, and it’s an issue we must address – or ignore at our peril.
Yet Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers union in the U.S., voiced strong opposition to the fall of Roe last year. She called it a “dark day in American history” that put all Americans in “precarious positions.”
In reality, abortion and its corresponding disdain for the value of children are putting not only innocent children in a precarious spot – but also the future sustainability of schools, which need children and a strong tax base to thrive.
Expanded government healthcare is another popular priority of progressives. They’ve been extremely successful in lobbying the cause. According to the most recent available data, the federal government spent $4.3 trillion on healthcare, or $12,914 per person in 2021. Yet in some parts of the country, pregnant women are unable to receive necessary services because of so-called “maternity deserts” – areas that lack both prenatal and birthing resources. In fact, 2.2. million women of childbearing age and upwards of 150,000 babies are actually impacted.
How is this possible in America? Hospitals are shutting down maternity facilities due to the declining birthrate. It’s financially unsustainable to maintain specialty care centers for so few people – or no people at all. The few pregnant women in those areas have no choice but to travel great distances for once-routine services. But it’s not just a matter of convenience. Delay in care can lead to disaster.
Mental health concerns, while a bipartisan priority, have been significantly championed by liberals who feel the government should be doing more than it currently is. Data confirms a full-blown crisis. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that nearly 49,500 Americans committed suicide last year – a record.
What’s behind the spike? Like most things, it’s multi-factorial. We know suicidal people are more likely to report feeling hopeless, helpless, and lack any intimate connection or affiliation with faith and family. Whether real or perceived, they feel alone.
For millennia, faith-based groups have both comforted and communicated a sense of purpose and meaning to those spiraling physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. Christians, especially, earned a reputation for rushing in to help when everyone else was running out. Whether it was the establishment of hospitals or relief organizations, they’ve sacrificed and served.
Yet in recent years, hostility, antagonism, and cultural indifference directed towards the faithful have both marginalized and minimized the very antidote available to address the pain that now plagues so many. When you reject God’s design, bad things happen. If secularists are serious about seeking solutions to these problems, they’ll see people of faith for who they are –charitable co-laborers eager to provide actual solutions, often radically different than those posed by agnostics.
The growing anti-natalist and agnostic/atheist movements will never address and only exacerbate the problems so many secularists are ostensibly seeking to solve. After more than fifty years of unfettered abortion and over sixty million children losing their lives, school downsizing, maternity closures and women’s access to pre-natal care being more limited, it’s become clear these are only symptoms of a nation in decline with an uncertain future. Instead, it’s more children and a growing openness to faith that will help us reverse the downward spiral.
Jim Daly is the president of Focus on the Family.
Originally published in Townhall.com