One of the main messages of OurValues.org is that, after all, Americans still have a lot in common. We are united by 10 core values. (You’ll find them all on our resource page). But when I give talks about my latest book, United America, I’m often confronted with skepticism and questions.
Why isn’t the family on your list of core values?
Where’s God or religion?
Values like these don’t make the list of core values for a simple reason: Americans are divided on many values, even though they are united on others. All this week, I will give you glimpses of the “other side” of my research on values in America: the values that divide us. Are you ready for the story of divided America?
The most divided value concerns moral authority: Where is the ultimate source of moral authority? Is it God? Or, are you the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong?
Many Americans say that right and wrong is based on God’s law. They also say that American kids should be raised to believe in God.
Americans are unusually God believing and God fearing, according to data from the World Value Surveys. I wrote about this in my earlier book on values, America’s Crisis of Values: Reality and Perception.
But many Americans don’t believe that God is the ultimate source of morals and moral authority. Rather, they say, what is right and wrong is up to each person to decide. The individual is the decider.
For you, where is the source of moral authority?
Does it reside in God and religion?
Or, do you place your trust in yourself as the arbiter of right and wrong?