(Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on spiritual regression in America. Read Part 2 here.)
Last week I read a blog post that noted how prayer was banned at a high-school graduation in Indiana but not in Alabama. Then I read another news report about how another California high school changed its graduation “opening prayer” to “a moment of silence.” No big shocker there.
Tragically, these types of devaluing religious news stories are a dime a dozen today. Spiritual regression is not only a trend but an epidemic.
The Fuller Youth Institute just reported that less than half (40 percent) of even church-going high-school seniors “significantly struggle with their faith and with finding a church after graduation.” And other statistics show that, by the time they end their college education, 90 percent will have dropped out of church.
The Barna Group reports that only 29 percent of teenagers say they “will definitely” be attending church after graduation. That’s about one in three if you’re an optimist – about one in four if you’re a pessimist. And about one in five if you believe these polled teenagers are either overly optimistic or over-exaggerators. Any way you look at it, the “Leave It to Beaver” family seems so passé and archaic in our times.
Long ago the Creator was replaced by natural causes in public classrooms. Prayer was ousted by human potential. Humans have become the kings of their castles and captains of their souls. Preaching has been overturned by political correctness. Church has been replaced by the NFL and Sunday commerce. And the government is now God, granting to all who has need. And we’re shocked that more and more of our children and grandchildren want nothing to do with church?
Attrition in church attendance and faith in God is definitely on the rise. And so is animosity toward America’s Judeo-Christian heritage.
Two Connecticut public schools were denied their graduation ceremonies from being held in a local church by U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall. Hall ruled in favor of the ACLU on behalf of two local high-school seniors and their parents, who said the students were agnostic and would find it “difficult if not impossible” to attend the graduation if it were held in a church. Hall concluded that using a church for graduation would be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. Leave it up to the ACLU and a federal judge to tell a local community where they could and could not hold their graduations, even though the majority favored it in the large church which was perfect for the big graduation crowds.
Not so lucky was atheist Michael Newdow, who failed to prove in a federal appeals court in early May that he was personally harmed by the religious reference “So Help Me God” in the presidential oath of office. Still, the three-member appellate panel ruled that Newdow and his atheist groupies “weren’t in a position to legally challenge the oaths.” Newdow, a California attorney, is noted for his failed attempts also to remove “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency and “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
Removing God from the public square is not new, but its pace is progressively increasing at alarming rates. Omitting any reference to God is not only pervasive in textbooks but now at historic sites, too, including in Washington, D.C. In 2006, the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia, to which tens of thousands of school kids come in by the bus loads each year to learn about the first English colony in America (13 years before the Pilgrims at Plymouth), omitted from its tours the first purpose mentioned in the 1606 charter: to spread the Christian religion. In 2007, the U.S. mint “accidentally” omitted the words “In God We Trust” on the first 50K or so run of new George Washington presidential dollars. The same year, the National Park Service covered up and omitted the words “Praise be to God” on the capstone replica display in the Washington Monument. Then in 2008, the new 15,000 square feet Capitol Visitors’ Center suffered a series of religious oversights and corruptions in various historical displays of our Capitol and country’s heritage. Is it any coincidence that the most recently erected memorials in D.C. contain no references to God, too? And of course, the Texas textbook wars include battles over omissions and revisions of America’s godly heritage in public-school curricula.
Speak of our culture’s devaluing of religion, only weeks after television’s Comedy Central’s executives nixed a program due to its controversial depiction of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, the network announced a sacrilegious and shameful new series titled “JC,” a comedy about God and Jesus Christ, who (in the programs) will be “JC” – a regular guy who moves to modern New York to “escape his father’s enormous shadow.” And God is portrayed as a lethargic man and deadbeat father. Isn’t this political incorrectness and hate language at its core? Does America really need to stoop to such deplorable depths and dung for a laugh?
Is it just me or do others not see the major movement to whitewash God from our culture? Do our governing officials really think eliminating the Almighty is any answer to our problems? Don’t they see omissions of God are also avoidances of the very being who can help us out of or through our troubles? Or do we believe that our country can experience true recovery or success without God’s intervention or blessing? Does America believe it can graduate without or from God?
George Washington gave a very wise and timely word in his “Farewell Address” to all prospective Americans (including all government officials) who even entertain the thought that they can graduate from God. It also serves as a great “commencement address” to all graduates this spring:
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Our founders’ America is on life support and breathing its last. And the only ones who can save it are the God who assisted our founders in its creation and the patriots who today bear His and our founders’ baton. Our focus is no longer the total war, but one battle at a time – one rally at a time, one election at a time and one piece of legislation at a time.
Right now, one man needing our patriot assistance is Rep. Randy Forbes, whose congressional address on America’s Judeo-Christian heritage has received 3 million views on YouTube. Forbes, along with the members of the bipartisan Congressional Prayer Caucus, has reintroduced H.R.397, “America’s Spiritual Heritage Resolution.” The resolution recognizes our nation’s spiritual heritage milestones, rejects current attempts to erase all religious history from public buildings and educational resources and establishes a week for Americans to remember and reflect on spiritual principles upon which our nation was founded. The resolution has gained bipartisan support with 79 co-sponsors. Have your representatives sponsored or supported the resolution? If not, please contact them today to ask they do so.
America, don’t ever forget: Your founders expected you to graduate with God, not from him.
(Next week in Part 2, Chuck will discuss “the No. 1 advocate for a godless society.” For more on understanding our founders’ inclusion of God in government and society, Chuck recommends reading Chapter 5 – “From here to eternity” – in the new paperback expansion of his New York Times best-seller, “Black Belt Patriotism.”)