America needs a Yom Kippur—a day to reflect on our guilt, however defined, and take steps, however small, to make amends. Belief in God is helpful but not necessary for the country to establish a day when Americans can grapple with sin and restore others’ faith in them. Such a day may already exist, though few know it.
Eisenhower’s call for Americans to “confess their sins” came from his proclamation designating a National Day of Prayer. Eisenhower called it a “National Day of Penance and Prayer.” But like “sin,” over the years “penance” disappeared, too. Those words ought to be brought back.
“Women at Work: Changes in Sexual Harassment between September 2016 and September 2018”—a PLoS One journal article from May—found that the most egregious forms of sexual harassment decreased in 2018. Given heightened fear of the legal repercussions, this makes sense. Yet reports of more ambiguous “gender harassment” increased. How could a widespread reckoning with sin influence these numbers?
Imagine a day on which Americans recounted their sins and strived to repent—without concern for legal admissions of guilt, without advice from counsel to invoke the Fifth Amendment. Maybe a spouse would finally apologize. Maybe a supervisor will reflect on how the workplace culture could be healthier. And maybe Americans would, for a moment, move beyond cycles of accusations and outrage and ask what would repair the country’s tattered social fabric.
— Living Without Lust/Jay Haug Executive Director (@LWLorg) October 4, 2019