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Archived Online Discussion
Topic: Beyond a House Divided
Date: 5-6 pm (ET)
on Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Carl Anderson
Supreme Knight
Carl Anderson:
Thank you all for joining us this evening.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
What did you find most interesting in terms of the statistical data you collected?
Carl Anderson:
Well, I think what was most interesting was the fact that on so many issues the American people exhibited a consensus view in favor of traditional values. There is a serious moral core in this country, and not just on one or two issues, but on dozens. This is a nation that sees traditional moral values as the key to our future, and that's something we all should pay attention.

Maria M
What a wonderful book - full of hard stats and insight. My husband is a Knight. What is your recommendation on how the average Knight can put all this info into action. What should our family be doing to build the consensus that you talk about.
Carl Anderson:
One thing that was very evident from these statistics was that volunteers and charitable organizations top the list of those in this country that are moving the moral compass in the right direction. The work of Knights in councils for the neighbors in their communities is vital. We need this witness for our communities, and for our families and children as well. I think the charitable, pro-life, and pro-familiy program of the Knights of Columbus is the blueprint for putting into practice the consensus discussed in the book.

Burbank, CA
Why have so many other pollsters missed this sort of data?
Carl Anderson:
Well - some have, and others have not. The book draws on a number of polls including our own. But we know of no one who has done a comprehensive survey from this perspective. One reason some of these facts are missed at times is because in order to get these answers, we had to give people a great deal of choice in the answer. It wasn't simply "for or against," but rather a series of questions that allowed people to express, with a great degree of specificity, their opinon.

Greg Scull
Ormond Beach, FL, USA
With so much diversity suggested these days, how is it that shared traditional moral values seem to be diversifying as well? What approaches beyond the Catholic Church are being used to strengthen traditional moral values?
Carl Anderson:
Despite the pressures imposed by relativism, the vast majority of the American people - and their core values - are withstanding that. Religious faith is key to that - certainly Catholicism, but also certain Protestant denominations and Jewish communities as well. One major theme of this book is that these values exist overwhelmingly among Americans, but are just under the radar in terms of those who often have a platform for talking about these issues in public - whether that is politicians, or pundits, or others. We need to bridge that gap.

So there is hope in what the founding fathers described as "e pluribus unum." I guess the big question today is what is the foundation of the "one." If it's the core American values this book brings to light, we're doing pretty well.

Robert McDonnell
Scranton, PA
I agree with the premise of your book. America does have a moral consensus, however, I'm a veteran, and I've seen alot in my time. Morals change over time, often for the worse. Does the majority rule even when it is immoral? How does this square with your thesis?
Carl Anderson:
First, society is not perfect, so all the dots don't connect perfectly. The book shows there is a strong moral consensus, but there is not perfection or uniformity. So there are some issues that Catholics might disagree with the broader culture on. But the book points out that the reality is that the American people have a strong moral core, and that those moral values ought to guide the discussion of American politics. We aren't saying that the majority is always correct, but that there is a strong moral base today among the majority on which we can build for the future.

John Tran
Port Jervis, NY
Supreme Knight Anderson,

I found myself wondering what has caused this situation. Why do you think it is the the common sense values, MORAL values, of the American people have been stifled and ignored for so long? What is exactly is it that you think motivates those in the media who look down on people who advocate traditional social issues?
Carl Anderson:
First, it's really too difficult to judge people's motivations, but we do observe a tendency towards a kind of mentality in which people see themselves as the vanguard of a movement with an elitist position that seeks drastic change from the sense of the majority. We saw this with Roe v. Wade, though as the book points out that has not changed the way the American people think about the issue of abortion.

Hopefully this book is the first step in helping people to understand that ignored or not, our core values are those of the vast majority of Americans.

P. Erikson
I found myself totally agreeing with (most of) the "quiet consensus," but it also made me start questioning whether the "anger" is justified. We hear a lot about corruption in washington. But what exactly does morality in washington look like? Do you think some of the anger at washington is simply being angry that "my" political party isn't being represented? Or is it really political behavior that is causing upset?
Carl Anderson:
The polling suggests a real disconnect between what the American people believe, and the beliefs of those they've elected and given the political power to respresent them. That's such a pervasive result that it goes beyond partisanship. The elected government, is after all, a product of the majority. So why is the majority so dissatisfied with what they've elected? Our polling indicates that at its core, it's a moral issue. While, we didn't look at this from a partisan perspective, I suspect it goes beyond partisanship, and speaks to a perception of moral failing and a perception of a culture of corruption.

Rome, Georgia
This book is very different from your other books - in particular, it seems more about "Americans" than "Catholics". Why the broad subject, coming from a very Catholic organization?
Carl Anderson:
The broad subject matter is a result of the fact that as we polled on the moral compass of the American people, we realized that over and over again the results showed that Americans' beliefs in many cases are very close to those of the Catholic Church. This book shows that the same Judeo Christian values we espouse as Catholics are often held by the broader spectrum of the American people as well, and as such, this book engages the broader culture with this in mind.

edward norton
lexington,ky. usa
mr anderson,you're a great leader & i look forward to receiving your book! sincerely & fraternally,ed norton kofc field agent
Carl Anderson:

I appreciate that! Thanks for what you are doing for the Order.

Glendale, AZ
It's interesting to see where the majority sits...but what do you do when the majority isn't correct, when the majority wants the wrong thing?

There is always the problem of people wanting one thing, but basing their position on little understanding of the very complex situation. For example, some of the most informed people totally disaggree on what will "work" on wallstreet, or whether government health care will work/fail.
Carl Anderson:
I think the book shows that we have a unique opportunity with the widespread moral agreement that exists at this moment in time. We are blessed with a large majority - a consensus - of the American people that agree on a great many important moral issues. Let's drive out the bad by working for the good. By focusing on what unites us instead of what divides us, we have the opportunity to shift the way the entire nation thinks and to bring the vast majority of us together in creating a better, more moral future.

T. Burke
I read in Time magazine about how a lot of Americans think that marriage is becoming obsolete -- and yet, you mentioned that 9 in 10 married Americans are happy in their marriages. How do you reconsile these? Does this mean that marriages will be rarer, but that those who do reach the altar will still probably have a happy marriage?
Carl Anderson:
The book addresses the issue of the declining marriage rate, as well as the myth of the 50 percent failure rate of marriages. While marriage isn't as widespread as it used to be, the rate has only declined slightly - contrary to those who see the imminent demise of marriage. We need to stick with the facts - and those are encouraging.

Worthy Supreme Knight, do you think the answer is for faithful Catholics to get involved in local politics? Can that change the course of our country?
Carl Anderson:
It's necessary for Catholics to be involved in politics, but not sufficient. What is needed in addition is an authentic witness. As I mentioned in my previous book A Civilization of Love, what we need is a consistent ethical approach - at home, at work, in politics, in business, at Church. Wherever we are, or whatever we are doing, our values must be the same, and must lead to a strong moral witness.

Speaking of a different kind of "house divided", what advice based on this research would you give to the new congress? How does someone in the most divided part work to overcome the divide?
Carl Anderson:
The place to find unity in the Congress of the United States, as I said in the book, it to start with the moral unity among the American people. That cuts across partisan lines because it requires all those in Congress to begin by looking at issues from the perspective of the moral consensus that Americans share.

Henry Bettis
Eugene, OR
Dear Supreme Knight Anderson:

Thanks for this great book. I was really interested in your chapter on abortion and life, since I myself am heavily involved in the pro-life movement. Alot of your argument deals with consensus, but how can there be consensus on a matter of intrinsic evil, such as abortion? In other words, how do you justify an incrementalist approach, even if it limits the evil? Thanks for this great book!

Vivat Jesus!

Carl Anderson:
As John Paul said in Evangelium Vitae, we can take an incrementalist approach as long as we don't compromise on principle. If we stand firm on principle, we have the responsibility to save as many lives as we can in the present, while we continue to work for a more complete culture of life.

Carl Anderson:
Thank you for joining us this evening, and I hope you will join us on December 28th for our discussion featuring Thomas Farr author of World of Faith and Freedom.  In this book he argues for a new diplomacy for the United States that respects the pivotal role religion plays in shaping geopolitics. It will be an interesting discussion.

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