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February 10, 2016
a Prayerful Lent
From: Mike McManus
This column is written in the middle of a paradox. America is the most
religious modern nation, with 64% saying they are members of a
congregation and 43% attending in any week, according to Gallup. Yet the
U.S. is also the least ethical nation, with the world's highest divorce
rate, highest teen pregnancy rate, highest murder rate. My goal in
writing Ethics & Religion is to provide a weekly answer, suggesting how
Americans can take their faith, and use it to raise the ethical
standards in their families, churches and communities.
For example, I have written a number of columns outlining what some
churches are doing to prepare couples for a lifelong marriage, to enrich
existing ones or save troubled marriages. One column described a
"Marriage 911" course taken by a spouse whose mate wants a divorce -
that often wins the errant spouse back. Another reported that children
of same-sex couples fare poorly academically and emotionally. "We are
all Catholics now," said former Gov. Mike Huckabee after the Obama
Administration announced plans to force even Catholic hospitals and
universities to offer free birth control, sterilization and abortion
A Father's Day column reported that thousands of children are
saddened to learn they have an anonymous sperm donor father. "Why is
America's divorce rate highest in the world?" I asked and suggested
answers. I proposed that TIME, NBC and PBS could cooperate to give
citizens options on how to cut the deficit, and a way to "ballot" on
them. I also report and comment on denominational news, such as the
Southern Baptists electing their first black president, and a "Pastoral
Letter on Marriage" by Catholic bishops.
Another theme is cohabitation,
the worst possible marriage preparation. However, one column outlined a
better way to test the relationship by taking a premarital inventory in
which couples react to 156 statements such as: "Sometimes I wish my
partner were more careful about spending money…When we are having a
problem, my partner often refuses to talk about it." If the couple meets
with an older couple in a healthy marriage to discuss these issues, 20%
decide not to marry. But of those who married in one church after
meeting with mentors, only 7% divorced in two decades.
Ethics & Religion is timely. A column on Chick-fil-A was written the day
millions showed up to express appreciation for its owner's support of
traditional marriage. E&R is tough. I called for "tougher gun laws" that
would ban sales of assault weapons, sparking more negative than positive
reactions. E&R is always constructive, such as a column on a DVD series,
"Choosing Wisely Before You Divorce," which saves many marriages.
Hope is the subliminal message of Ethics & Religion. I write about
America most difficult moral issues, but for more than three decades I
have always offered credible proposed solutions.
My new email address is
Michael J. McManus
"Ethics & Religion"
President & Co-Chair
9311 Harrington Dr.
Potomac, MD 20854