Published July 3, 2012
The U. S. Supreme Court certainly has been in the news a lot lately. The long-awaited ruling on health care, which turned out to be a shocker, was the biggest case the Court had handled in years. We'll see how all that plays out.
But, passing with little notice, last week marked the 50th anniversary of another U. S. Supreme Court ruling one that has had a demonstrable effect in accelerating the decline of America. On June 25, 1962, the Court ruled that government-permitted prayer in school, even if voluntary, is unconstitutional.
The original court case was based on a suit brought by a New York resident over a prayer recited in public schools that had been approved by the New York State Board of Regents. The prayer said, "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country."
The U. S. Supreme Court found that seemingly benign prayer to be such an egregious violation of Constitutional rights that the vote was 6-1 to strike it down, with two Justices not participating in the ruling.
But who could argue with what was said in that prayer? Well, first of all, acknowledging God at all these days let alone as the "Almighty" isn't very politically correct, never mind the fact that He is so referenced in the nation's founding documents. Then to acknowledge our dependence upon Him... well, that goes against the secularist tenet of self-sufficiency. "Beg?" We're much too cool to beg. Blessings upon our parents? Our teachers? Give me a break. And our country? Really? "What has this country done for me lately?" And so it goes...
Best-selling author Joel Rosenberg wrote in a recent blog, "Is America better off since we began telling God that He was not welcome in the lives of our children? I think the evidence suggests just the opposite."1
In fact, in his book "America: To Pray or Not to Pray?" historian David Barton documented some of the effects of removing God and prayer from schools by contrasting the top seven leading problems in schools in 1940 with those in 1990. The 1940 problems were these: talking our of turn, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls, line cutting, dress code violations and littering. But by 1990, the nature of the top problems had changed drastically: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery and assault.2
Regarding such changes, author Wayne Grudem, in his book "Politics According To The Bible," observes, "This is a tragic change in our nation, but it makes perfect sense. When children are not allowed to be taught that there is a God or that God has moral standards that they should obey, and when that teaching is excluded from the classroom every hour of the day for thirteen of the most formative years of a child's life, then it is little wonder that children grow up with fewer internal moral convictions and an overall pattern of behavior that is increasingly immoral and destructive in society."3
The result of taking God out of schools has been devastating to the moral base of this nation. Franklin Graham recently observed, "It is frightening that the majority of young people in the world today know little or nothing about God and His Word and rarely, if ever, attend church. They don't know that God created them, loves them, and sent His Son to die for their sins. Unless God moves in a mighty way among our youth, this will be a lost generation."4
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center finds that belief in God has dropped precipitously among the so-called millennials, those born after 1980. 31 percent, in fact, say they doubt God even exists. Contrast that to belief in God among older generations those who grew up with Bible reading and prayer in schools ranging up to 89 percent.
The evidence is incontrovertible. Remove God, His rules and His morals, and a nation inevitably declines. Unfortunately, our government has been complicit in this, even hastening the ever-accelerating decline in recent years.
As never before, pray that our leaders will come to their senses. Pray for the current generation of youths who are being insulated from any positive reference to God by society and in their schools. Pray against the powers of darkness that have fostered such sinful policies. Boldly speak out against them (Ephesians 5:11) and work to elect leaders who will expose and reverse them.
The need is urgent. As Franklin Graham says, "I don't know how much longer we will have time is short."
"Jesus said, Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them...'" (Matt. 19:14 RSV, emphasis added).
1. Joel C. Rosenberg's blog, posted June 27, 2012.
2. David Barton, America: To Pray or Not To Pray? (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilder Press, 1988), 35
3. Wayne Grudem, Politics According To The Bible. Zondervan, 2010, p. 506
4. Franklin Graham, email letter/column, May 23, 2012
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