The Great Divide: From Civility to Civil War?


Recently there was an article in USA Today entitled, Is America headed toward a civil war? Sanders, Nielsen Incidents Show It Has Already Begun (June 25 USA Today; Glenn Harlan Reynolds, opinion columnist). It spoke of the great divide in this nation which may be coming to a tipping point. One thing that struck me was this sentence:

“It would be nice if people felt social ties that transcend politics. Americans’ lives used to involve a lot more intermediating institutions — churches, fraternal organizations, neighborhoods — that crossed political lines.”

Do we have these “intermediating institutions” anymore, binding people together and serving as a buffer between the individual and government? Let us look beneath the surface at each of these one at a time:


Since the devil through his progressive movement has firmed up his grip on the three culture-molding establishments of the modern world – journalism, entertaining, and academia – church attendance has plummeted. Religiosity in the western world has been weakened by the left’s war on religion, particularly Christianity, and the nation’s soul has been slowly converting to the new national religion of self-worship, secular progressivism. As a result, churches have less impact on society in reminding it of its ultimate purpose.

Fraternal Organizations

The psychologically healthy practice of men gathering and working together for the common good within non-political organizations has all but disappeared. Radical individualism has made money-making the priority, and radical feminism has left the community without a heart. The left’s continuous attack on fraternal and faith-based organizations gathering together with any mission other than politics has rendered such fraternal unions impotent.


Before the contraception revolution, families had several children and neighborhoods were vibrant. Women were home, neighborhood children played with each other daily, and weekend cookouts and other neighborhood events were a regular occurrence. Today you are lucky if you know the names of those who live next door. There is little or no connection between neighbors today, and locked doors on bigger houses with less children have become emblematic of our age.

For the past 50 years, developed countries have contracepted and aborted themselves into cultural suicide, while the glue (women) of the family and neighborhood focused more on careers. Why? Someone told them in the 1960s that women couldn’t be fulfilled being women, and could only be happy doing what men were doing – which among other things included working outside the home and away from the children. Contraception was the catalyst that enabled this to happen. Our subsequent 1.4 children per family average and divorce culture have created stale neighborhoods full of virtual strangers who no longer know how to relate or connect.


There are no “intermediating institutions” that have much impact anymore. This is a sad but true reality of the devastation created by the sexual revolution, begun by the popularization of the birth control pill. The family has broken down, neighborhoods have become places where people come home to sleep, fraternal organizations are pretty much a thing of the past, and churches in general have lost influence by a growing loss of faith as well as a government usurping its realm of authority and influence on society. Consequently, many individuals are left confused and lonely. Therefore, our culture has left its population raw without intermediary institutions to buffer the deep divide between those who are man-centered and those who are God-centered.

There is little left in civil society to keep people at least superficially cohesive. As a result we don’t even agree on what a man or a woman is anymore, or what marriage is, or if the lives of ALL innocent humans beings should be protected rather than just some. Two perceived realities with no buffers, sharing one society, can create warring parties.

How to heal this fundamental divide before it gets violent? As does everything, it all begins with God. When God is rejected or ignored, families break down and then communities break down. A renewal of faith is needed to rediscover man’s purpose – His purpose in relationship to God and to each other. These foundational relationships create vibrant churches, giving birth to vibrant families and communities, and ‘social ties that transcend politics’.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


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  1. What you’ve described in your article describes not only the Heresy of Modernism but also that of Americanism. Catholics substituted their faith in the One True Church for a watered down christianity married to the American protestant ideal of “salvation through politics”. It’s taken about 200 years but its reached its final death throes. Hang on, the ride will be quite unpleasant from here on out.

    • There is plenty of politics outside America, so I think that it is intrinsic to human nature to argue about issues, whatever they are.

  2. John Flaherty on

    I think you err in proclaiming that non-political fraternal organizations have died out; I think such never truly existed. If they were “non-political” in terms of failing to endorse a particular party, they acted in ways that clearly favor the views of one party over the other. As for the rest, people have been insistent about declaring that “we could all get along, we just need to tolerate each other” for decades; anyone who seeks to point out how such was doomed to fail has been shouted down.
    We’ve been on a collision course with civil war–or anarchy–since the Supreme Court told us we had to make believe We are secular. Viewing the common good is almost impossible when some of us believe we should see each other as Children of God, yet others believe We should see each other as accidents of nature.
    A formerly Judeo-Christian nation is doomed to collapse when the Church refuses to fight for the nation to recognized God as it’s Creator.

    • In my experience the author is completely on target. My parents (WW2 generation) belonged to several Church organizations that provided community activities and a cohesiveness that is sorely missing: Holy Name Society, Ladies Sodality, Knights of Columbus, Altar and Rosary society. Together these groups facilitated a very full community involvement that spread to the entire community outside the church, itself.

  3. While you make important points, I have one correction. There are not “less children”. Children cannot be less than what they are. There can be fewer children though.

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