Istook’s Insights: Good deeds and Christmas, faith and freedom

Good deeds and Christmas go together.

A great many Americans found ways to show extra kindness during Christmas season.

Carolers walked and sang through neighborhoods, special visitors spent time with nursing home shut-ins. And some people rang doorbells, then ran away, leaving packages on the porch to surprise a needy family with presents.

A Secret Santa in Monroe County, Georgia, took a unique approach this year. Sheriff’s deputies stopped cars with broken taillights or other signs of needing repairs. When they confirmed that the driver was struggling financially, the deputies would pull out $100 bills and give them to the shocked motorists.

Those drivers expected a traffic ticket, but thanks to a good-hearted donor, 54 $100 bills were given out in that Georgia county.

It was one of those touches of warm generosity that always make the Christmas holiday so special.
Still, I wonder: Is America’s halo slipping?

All faiths and even lack of faith are protected under our Constitution’s First Amendment. But the United States long has been one of the world’s most overtly Christian societies.

But our halo is not as bright as it once was.

The Gallup Poll surveyed 174,000 Americans in 2015, finding that 75% of us profess Christianity. 5% adhere to other faiths and 20% say they have no religion. Eight years ago it was 80% Christian and 15% with no faith. In the 1950’s it was 90% Christian, and other faiths plus the non-religious combined for only 10%.

America’s faith in God is slipping.

What do people cling to? More and more people instead expect to improve lives through government, instead of faith. We are rendering more to Caesar, and less to God.

Editor’s Note: Istook is the former U.S. Representative for Oklahoma’s Fifth Congressional District. A nationally-syndicated columnist and regular contributor to CapitolBeatOK, he and his wife Judy now live in Utah.