Author archives: Caleb Sutherlin

Our Moralized Social Tyranny and What Conservatives Can Do About It

by Caleb Sutherlin

October 19, 2018

If one party managed to accumulate 90 percent of our nation’s capital and used it to favor a political agenda, we would all be worried. But today, we see something similar in the social capital accumulated by the Left. On October 12, Justin Pinkerman joined Family Research Council’s Speaker Series to shed light on the institutions of social capital controlled by the Left

Central to his research is the idea espoused by Antonio Gramsci that one cannot just look at the political sphere when looking at a nation; also critical is the cultural sphere. Pinkerman conducted a thoughtful look at our moral and intellectual authority in civil society. The cultural sphere or civil society includes areas of “consent, persuasion, the church, morality, freedom and self-discipline.”

Moral and intellectual authority comes from civil society. Alexis de Tocqueville, a French philosopher that studied the American political system, believed that you really needed to study America’s customs to be able to explain our democracy. Tocqueville used many institutions in his research, including religion, the legal field (respect for law), and the press. At the time in 1831, religion largely controlled the education system. Similarly, the press represented American literature. Clearly, this is no longer the case.

Highlighted by Pinkerman are several facets of civil society that shape the cultural sphere of our present moment. These include journalism, the universities, the tech industry, Hollywood, the legal profession, and religion. Because people “do not have the time to research every single topic, we are reliant on other intellectual and moral sources.” In other words, many in our culture today rely on others to form their moral opinions. 

American journalism has a tendency to lean Left. All journalists are not alike, but it indicates the state of journalism to look at the strength of that lean. Between The Washington Post and The New York Times, 25 endorsements for presidential candidates were made since 1960—none have been for Republican candidates. Pinkerman pointed out that you would have to go back to 1956 to find the last time either one supported a Republican for president. Furthermore, only seven percent of journalists identify as Republican. Democrats outnumber Republicans 20 to one among journalists. This is very concerning, since intentional self-questioning is critical in order to prevent bias from filtering the news.

Colleges and universities are another sector in which a pronounced majority of faculty identify as being on the Left. In the field of social psychology, professors that favor the Left are 314 to one, though they self-identify as 36 liberal for every one conservative. There are similar breakdowns where a profession will skew greatly to one political party. Even the localities where top schools are located lean left. A person is likely to move left in their political ideology simply because of the environment that has been created in and around the top schools.

With so many people receiving their information from online sources, the tech sector is highly influential on American culture. Though companies like Google or Apple are not producing the majority of content, they do control what is seen. When looking at Google’s employees, 97 percent voted for Obama, while 91 percent of Apple’s employees did the same. Tech giants function as gatekeepers, the ones who decide what content is inappropriate or will even come up. Search algorithms of these companies have been called into question in recent years for the way they filter content.

Though difficult to find empirical evidence, Hollywood too leans left. Pinkerman cites a study that shows that for every dollar donated to Republicans, 115 were given to the Democratic presidential candidate. The elites shaping the entertainment industry and thus our thought use are clearly using their political voices to promote liberal views. One would simply need to watch some of the television and film awards shows during the 2016 election cycle to see these views on full display.

In the legal profession, around 80 percent of law school faculty members are liberal. The disparity among practicing attorneys is not quite as pronounced, with 35 percent having conservative views. This is important because the people that shape our understanding of the law, and thereby of justice, have a strong influence.

Going off of what Tocqueville studied, the only aspect that has not veered to the left is religion. Culturally and politically, religion remains diverse. Catholic clergy tend to be about 50-50, with Protestants leaning slightly left and Evangelicals to the right. There is much diversity of ideas in the religious field. However, when looking at religious studies in academia, faculty members on the left are about 70 to one.

Politically speaking, we have great protections and freedoms from the government in our current time. Our freedom seems secure from tyranny. But when looking at social tyranny, the outlook is not so reassuring. Social tyranny can easily devolve into factionalism, with one section of society needing protection from another section. James Madison warned against factionalism because it had historically led to the downfall of democracies. In his time, the expanding country made any singular ideology unlikely to take over.

Today, however, when we look at all of the main areas of our cultural establishment, there is one political sphere that is entrenched. Distressingly, many conservative voices are being squelched. College campuses are a perfect case study for this phenomenon. From speakers being disinvited to protestors disrupting events to student activists accosting conservatives on campus, there is a blatant lack of diversity of thought. 

The danger of one political ideology controlling so many spheres of public influence is that this ideology can be imposed in a way that looks normalized. Voices of opposition can easily be silenced. This can lead to a spiral of silence in which the voices of opposition become fewer and fewer over time. It will take a concentrated effort from within these industries to prevent that from happening. All Americans should keep a close eye on these industries to see if they are telling the whole story, just as we ourselves should be fair and balanced in our own judgments. Most importantly, we should call out the lack of conservative voices in every major cultural establishment and use our own voices to call for an increase in diversity of thought. Be sure to view Justin Pinkerman’s full discussion of this important topic.

Millennials and the Future of Marriage

by Caleb Sutherlin

October 8, 2018

Millennials are bringing down the divorce rate in America. Research by University of Maryland professor Philip Cohen indicates that the divorce rate has fallen by eight percent from 2008 to 2016. According to Cohen, “the overall drop has been driven entirely by younger women.” While older generations are still getting remarried and divorced, millennials are staying together longer.

But there’s a downside. Few millennials are actually getting married—about 59 percent are unmarried/never married. This is significantly higher than the historical averages for the same age group. Citing the U.S. Census Bureau, Gallup found that at the same age, about “36% of Generation Xers, 48% of baby boomers and 65% of traditionalists were married when they were the age that millennials are now.”

Cohen suggests one reason for this is that millennials are being more selective about who they marry and when. Many are waiting to marry until after they have a stable career and have completed their education. These are good indicators of marriages that will last. For now, divorce rates are likely to continue to fall.

Despite these hopeful signs, we are living in an era marked by a drastic decrease in marriages. The National Center for Family & Marriage Research has found that “the peak marriage rate of 92.3, observed in 1920, is nearly three times the rate in 2016.” The institution of marriage is now a leaning pillar in our society.

With so many unmarried young adults (myself included), the number of single parent households is also rising. Socially, being a single parent or having children out of wedlock is now widely accepted: “The rates of acceptance currently stand at 68 percent amongst millennials.” Having compassion and understanding for single parents is vital, but we must at the same time acknowledge and have compassion for the children who are born out of wedlock and who must bear the consequences of their parents’ choices.

What could this mean for the future? What kind of lives are we encouraging for our children? Let’s look at the numbers. Children from single parent households are more likely to struggle with poverty, have an increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse, are twice as likely to commit suicide, are less likely to finish school, are more likely to commit crimes, and are more likely to become pregnant as a teen than their traditional family counterparts. The fact remains that families do best when they have a married father and mother. Again, saying this is not to denigrate single parents who are doing their utmost to provide for their kids. But there are profound societal consequences as the normalcy of single parenthood increases.

Most importantly, these statistics show a distressing outlook for the future. Millennials no longer find comfort in marriage that has been a staple in generations past. As single parent households rise, the future is foreboding.

Pew Research has found that “Fewer than half (46%) of U.S. kids younger than 18 years of age are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage.” This shift in culture is compounded by the fact that “34% of children today are living with an unmarried parent—up from just 9% in 1960, and 19% in 1980.”

As less marriages take place, there will be fewer examples of healthy marriages for children to emulate. Fortunately, we have the example from the Bible. We know that husbands are to love their wives like Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25). This kind of love requires dying to one’s self for the sake of the other—a lesson that is of the utmost importance in today’s society.

Trends and statistics can give us an idea of what is to come, but the future is never set in stone. The importance of marriage is not and should never be a partisan issue. Everyone should stand to protect and promote the family for the betterment of society.

Caleb Sutherlin is an intern at Family Research Council.

The Unity of Body and Soul: Why It Matters

by Caleb Sutherlin

October 4, 2018

Many of the most pressing issues in our society come from a lack of love for the body. On October 3rd, Nancy Pearcey visited Family Research Council to discuss her new book, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. In her talk, Pearcey tackled difficult aspects of human sexuality that seem independent but are really part of the same ideology.

In Old Testament Hebrew, the word for the “soul” is nephesh, and the New Testament uses the Greek word psyche (pronounced “sue-kay”). These words are used to encompass the whole person. That includes the emotions, the spirit, and the physical being. These elements are immutable and can never be reduced or separated from each other. Today’s liberal ideology seeks to do just that. Pearcey, a renowned apologist, explores the attempt by many on the Left to rewrite the person by ignoring biology and logic.    

While researching her book, she recalled an article in which a pro-choice woman became pregnant. The woman said that she considered the life inside her a baby because she wanted it, but if she didn’t want it, she and those who share her worldview considered it a clump of cells. Seeing the contradiction, the woman decided that life begins at conception, but still questioned the personhood of that life.

The current cultural movement that seeks to redefine personhood is the topic of Love Thy Body. Pearcey observes that this movement is attempting to argue that a human life is separate from being a person. Therefore, a human can be killed, but a person cannot. Pearcey aptly notes that according to this philosophy, the fetus must earn the right to life by being chosen to live by the mother. Furthermore, the body is relegated to being disposable. Simply being human is not enough to justify having human rights. (Therefore, unborn children who are aborted can have their body parts harvested, and Terri Schiavo can be starved to death, according to this philosophy.)

Even bioethicists cannot decide on what constitutes a person. When biology is removed from humanity, anything is possible. Love Thy Body gives several examples of what can happen as a result. Some bioethicists even argue in favor of infanticide, saying that a certain level of cognitive function is needed to be a person. In that light, the elderly, or even those who are mentally handicapped might not qualify for life. As disgusting as that is, legitimate voices are arguing for it.

This disregard for the body is also present in the hookup culture. As Pearcey noted, many young women in college have given in to the dehumanizing campus sexual culture that encourages them to separate their natural desire for emotional intimacy and commitment from their physical sexuality.

Disrespecting the body puts the mind and body in conflict. That conflict can be seen in the fact that 80 percent of people that identify as homosexual will change their self-identification at least once in their lives. Love Thy Body takes a holistic view of the human person and points out the natural unity between the soul and the body. Instead of thinking of the body as a patchwork of contradictory pieces, the body and soul should be thought of as whole.

Perhaps most distressing in this ideology is the removal of pre-political rights. When the government embraces the discontinuity of the body, our human rights become a gift of the government instead of what we innately possess. Today, the government has claimed the right to decide when a person has the right to live by legalizing abortion and euthanasia.

Interestingly, a number of feminist groups are turning away from the idea that the body is meaningless. One cannot be an advocate of women’s rights and simultaneously believe that everyone can be a woman.

As Nancy Pearcey so eloquently reminds us, the only way to keep the rights of personhood fully intact is to base personhood in biology and Scripture. Be sure to view her entire talk for more on this critically consequential topic.

Caleb Sutherlin is an intern at Family Research Council.

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