Have you noticed that there is a widespread view that the country is “on the wrong track.” Political candidates, TV commentators, newspaper pundits and preachers in various churches seem to be of a common mind on that. The Secret Service scandal, Walmart’s bribery in Mexico and beyond, “flash mobs” in department stores, the Navy captain providing pornographic movies to his crew, an $800,000 weekend meeting of the General Service Administration, an agency that is supposed to shepherd our financial resources, violation of corpses in Afghanistan, etc., etc., etc. None of these problems are new; none of them particularly original for this period. What is different is that these very discouraging modes of operation are more easily tolerated than was ever the case in the past. Most of us are saddened by it, most of us regret these activities but most of us feel that there is little that we can do about it. Is that the case?
Our culture, if you can call it that, is the first one in human history that has denied itself the right to pass on responsibility to the next generation its own set of values.
Not only does that lack of religious values add to the criminal activity I mentioned above, but it is one of the underlying causes of so many other agonizing human problems from which we are suffering in this country. Shattered marriages, all too many immature, irresponsible adults, alcoholism and drug addiction, lack of commitment to education and a host of other tragic let downs that mark our society, our families and our individual lives.
Why not try something new? Religious formation. Some of the churches have sizable school systems and most churches have Sunday school, but they tend to concentrate on the religious teachings of that particular church. The U.S. Supreme Court continues to feel that any religious formation in the public school system is a violation of the Constitution. What a tragic mistake.
Not only are the American people blocked from using its enormous educational system from transferring moral values in any realistic way, but the court has actually worked against outside groups, such as churches and synagogues to reach its students. Several decades ago, serious efforts were made in areas such as “released time” and other efforts to provide religious instruction to public school students, but it was always rejected by the Court. The vast majority of American people hold that religious values are extraordinarily important and they ought to be imported to each new generation as effectively as possible. Can anybody imagine teaching math and science one hour a week after school? If only half our students attended those voluntary classes, can you imagine the destructive effects on their education? Well, that is what we are doing with religious values and we are paying for it.