Morality in the Real World, Part One

Many Web sites have reported that quite a few people who don’t approve of GW Bush voted for him anyway, for “moral” reasons. Apparently speaking out in favor of a Constitutional Amendment against Gay Marriage, and against Abortion, breeds a perception that this is a “moral” individual.

This is not the first time in US History that “morality” has become the focus of politics. We only need to look back to the time of our grandparents to find out why “morality” in politics is doomed to fail.

For most of the late 19th and early 20th century, a massive “moral” movement built momentum to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages in the US. Sermons were preached, and rallies were held, against the “sin” of drinking alcoholic beverages. The truth is, Ephesians 5:18 (NIV) does say “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery”, however Jesus’s first miracle was to turn water into wine (John 2: 1-11). 1 Timothy 5:23 points out that a little wine is good for you!

Of course, the politicians of the time jumped on the popular bandwagon. As a result, the 18th amendment to the United States Constitution, banning “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” went into effect in 1920 (note 1).

In 1921, consumption of alcoholic beverages in the US dropped to less than 1/3 of what it had been the year before. However, by the following year, consumption had recovered to its previous levels, actually increasing throughout the rest of Prohibition (note 2). People came up with new and innovative ways to get around the law. Organized crime flourished from the profits made on illegal alcoholic beverages. Spending on (now illegal) alcoholic beverages actually doubled from 1920 to 1922, and only dropped to its previous levels after the repeal of Prohibition (note 2). The constitutional amendment meant to enforce morality actually had the opposite effect.

The result was the only repeal of a constitutional amendment. The 21st amendment to the United States Constitution, nullifying the 18 amendment, went into effect in 1933 (note 1). The great “moral” battle of several generations ended in failure.

Interestingly enough, I found an article written in 1915 that sounds very much like some recent postings. It is titled “The Prohibition Movement in its Broader Bearings upon Our Social, Commercial, and Religious Liberties.” The author, Percy Andreae, blamed the Prohibition movement on “Religious Intolerance.”

-Artie See (Guest Blogger)

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