In my lifetime, there have been many, many changes in the United States of America. A lot good and a lot bad. Women and minorities have the right to vote and at one time they didn’t. Up until the sixties or maybe even the early seventies, women couldn’t apply for credit, take out a loan, purchase a house, etc. An unmarried woman was looked down upon as one who was not capable of finding a husband, while divorced women were looked upon as incapable of holding on to their man. If you were divorced, you were considered used goods and if you had children, finding a man to marry you was almost impossible. And it wasn’t until the seventies that it began to become commonplace for women to seek careers as doctors, attorneys, and engineers. These are all good changes, and there have been many others.
When we talk about bad changes, the first thing that comes to my mind are the Supreme Court rulings that took prayer out of the public schools.
There have also been bad changes; and when we talk about bad changes, the first thing that comes to my mind are the Supreme Court rulings that took prayer out of the public schools. In two decisions, Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington school district v. Schempp (1963), the Supreme Court established what is now the current prohibition on state-sponsored prayer in U.S. Schools. The Engel decision held that promulgation of an official state-school prayer stood in violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause. Abington held that Bible readings and other public school-sponsored religious activities were prohibited.
In an article by Penny Starr of cnsnews.com, dated August 15, 2014, entitled “Education Expert: Removing Bible, Prayer from Public Schools has Caused Decline,” Ms. Starr took the following quote from William Jeynes, a professor at California State College in Long Beach. “One can argue, and some have, that the decision by the Supreme Court – in a series of three decisions back in 1962 and 1963 – to remove Bible and prayer from our public schools, may be the most spiritually significant event in our nation’s history over the course of the last 55 years.”
According to this article, Professor Jeynes said that there have been five negative developments in the nation’s public schools.
- Academic achievement has plummeted, including SAT scores
- Increased rate of out-of-wedlock births
- Increase in illegal drug use
- Increase in juvenile crime
- Deterioration of school behavior
The article also included a comparison between the top five complaints of teachers from 1940 to 1962 (talking, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls, and getting out of turn in line) with the top complaints from teachers from 1963 to the present (rape, robbery, assault, burglary, and arson). This should speak for itself. Removing prayer in public schools has caused decline.
Currently Ten states have passed a law or resolution to bring the Bible as literature in public schools statewide. However, this is secular in nature with the Bible being taught as literature rather than as the word of God. In 2013, Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant, signed into a law requiring public schools to develop policies that will allow students to pray over school intercoms, at assemblies, and at sporting events. While not allowing school-sanctioned prayer, the law permits students to offer public prayers with a disclaimer by the school administration. However, in July 2013, the Rankin County, Mississippi school district could no longer hold prayer during school assemblies or distribute Bibles after a Humanist group lawsuit. This particular school district was later fined $7,500 after a minister delivered a prayer during a district wide honors ceremony, according to washingtontines.com. It doesn’t look we’ll get prayer back in the public schools anytime soon.
Since taking prayer out of public schools, church attendance appears to have diminished. When I was growing up, just about everyone went to church. Now it’s not that way. While I can’t give an estimate of the percentage of people who don’t go to church as compared with the percentage of people who do, it sure seems that church going has lessened since the seventies and eighties.
The “bullying” of school students has been brought to the forefront in the last ten or so years. While bullying has been taking places for centuries, the actual acts committed against the victims have increased in number and have become more severe in nature. Could it be that young people, who were forced to listen to Bible readings and participate in prayer, still bullied, but the exposure to the Bible and prayer kept them from going too far.
Since taking prayer out of the public schools, atheist organizations such as Freedom from Religion have sprung up and seek to stamp out any evidence of Christianity, such as a nativity scene display, in public places. Lawsuits are filed, fines are levied, and people and businesses are destroyed for believing in God.
The phrase, “you can’t legislate morality,” was bantered about by those who favored abortion rights.
And we can’t leave out the 1974 decision, Row v. Wade, which entitled abortion rights to women. At this point the value of life had greatly diminished, morals had gone out the window, and having to take responsibility for sex when a pregnancy was undesirable was negated. If you got pregnant, you could simply get an abortion. The phrase, “you can’t legislate morality,” was bantered about by those who favored abortion rights. Little did most people know that this phrase was used by Barry Goldwater in his 1964 presidential campaign. The senator from Arizona felt that discrimination and bigotry would only end when people ended it in their hearts. Thus he was not in favor of civil rights legislation.
Fast forward to day: Christians are being blamed for the Orlando mass shooting that took place in a downtown gay bar. The current president of the United States, on occasions, has denigrated Christianity, accusing Christians of clinging to their guns and Bibles; while extoling the virtues of the Islamic faith, a faith that has led to the deaths of many Americans, including, but not limited to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 9/11/2001 hijacking of planes and flying those planes into businesses, and the recent Orlando shooting. The fact that we would re-elect the current president in 2012 stems, in my opinion, from the 1960s cases taking prayer out of the public schools.
There’s no doubt that President Barak Obama has turned our culture upside down where what used to be good is now bad and what used to be bad is now good, but it seems that the groundwork for his actions appear to have been laid decades ago.