In “Why do conservative Christians think everything is getting worse?” I made the point that conservative Christians often interpret the world around them in accord with a particular set of premillennial assumptions that society is expected on the whole to get worse over time. But the data suggests something quite different. If anything, over time there appears to be a broad improvement. I made the point with a thought experiment by asking whether a person would choose to be born into Canadian society in 1800, 1900 or 2000 while not knowing what their gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status would be. To the extent that we would say “2000” we are recognizing that Canada today provides overall a more equitable, just and compassionate (albeit far from perfect) society for women, minorities and the poor. And that provides empirical support that things have improved over time which disconfirms the conservative premillennial assumption.
Alan Kurschner took issue with my claim that society has improved over the last two hundred years. And he honed his objection to one sharp point with the following, bracing question:
“Incidentally, is Canada more or less tolerant of sodomy today than it was in 1800? I’d like an answer from you.”
Gosh Alan, don’t you know? The answer is more.
You see, in 1800 Canadian law (which followed British common law) stipulated that individuals convicted of homosexual acts should be killed. Homosexuals are no longer killed for engaging in homosexual acts. Do you think that is a bad thing Alan? Would you like to see homosexuals killed once again? Or will you now accept my thesis that Canadian society has become more just and compassionate in the last two hundred years?
If you do think homosexuals should be killed, then what should be done with the fornicators? And what about the remarried divorcees that fill our church pews and are, by the very words of our Lord, committing adultery? And what would you like done to the banker that forcloses on a widow for failing to pay her mortgage? Or the CEO that approves dumping toxic waste in a river where children swim? Or the music pastor that fails to pay his CCLI license for the songs the congregation sings every Sunday?