Moral Values: What’s causing our moral failings? PAINE AND THE QUEST FOR AMERICAN MORALITY: This 1792 cartoon shows Thomas Paine holding a scroll of his famous pamphlet Rights of Man. He’s having to explain America’s many moral failures since independence. The caption lampooned Paine’s over-confidence, saying: “Who wants me? I am ready and willing to offer my services to any nation or people under heaven who are desirous of liberty and equality.” Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress and Wikimedia Commons.

Americans have a dim view of the state of moral values, as we discussed yesterday. The most striking finding in Gallup’s new survey is that only 20% of Americans say moral values are good or excellent. Everyone else says they are poor or only fair.

My question today is: What’s the problem!?!
Try to put this in your own words: Is the problem a lack of family values? Declining influence of religion? Drugs? Sexuality?

Gallup asked people nationwide to describe the problem in their own words.
Here are a few of the responses:

Lack of tolerance, compassion, consideration of others, respect, and caring

Lack of family structure, divorce, how kids are raised
Declining religion and faith
Lack of morals

Dependence on the government, sense of entitlement
Greed and selfishness

Do these ring true to you? Would any of these be high on your list?

Here is what I find fascinating about this list: These six are the most frequently given reasons for the sorry state of moral values in America. I list them in order, so the most frequently cited reason is the first: lack of tolerance, respect, and so forth. I find this fascinating because respect for others and concerns about the welfare of others are among the top core American values, according to my national surveys. Putting Gallup’s findings and mine together indicates a wide gap between our values and the reality we perceive around us, today.

What’s your explanation of the state of moral values in America?

Is lack of tolerance and respect at the top of your list?

If not, what is?


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Originally published at, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.

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