Much has been said on the issue of school shootings. Hopefully more dialogue will follow that will lead to common sense action. However, a cry that echoes across this country as loud as the cries of outrage against the violence and the counter cries for 2nd Amendment protection is the mournful wail of concern for the moral decline of the nation. After every shooting, social media erupts with cries of “this is what we get for taking prayer out of our schools.” There is little disagreement this nation has experienced moral decline, but blaming schools for that decline, especially blame associated with school shootings is ludicrous. The only role schools have had in school shootings is as a victim of adult apathy. Schools have had nothing to do with cutting funding for mental health that has allowed sick murderers to roam the streets; schools have had nothing to do with the manufacture of weapons of war that are the weapon of choice by such murderers; and schools have had nothing to do with failure to legislate common sense gun control that would make it difficult for murderers to obtain assault weapons. Despite what some may think, the presence or absence of prayer in schools has little, if anything, to do with school shootings or the moral decline of the nation.
“But,” the all-knowing seers of social media say, “if there was prayer in schools, we would not have all these shootings and evil problems.” Contrary to widespread belief, there is prayer in schools. As a former high school principal, one of the most powerful testaments to faith I ever witnessed was students holding hands and bowing their heads in prayer in the school cafeteria or gathering around the flag pole to pray for our nation. A school employee cannot coerce, influence, or guide them, but children can and do pray at school. The beauty is if they have been taught at home, they don’t need an adult to lead them in prayer. They are led by their faith, a faith instilled in them at home and in church, and that is how it should be.
The moral dilemma faced by this country is not the fault of schools. If there is blame, and of course there is, it must be placed squarely on the shoulders of the home and to some degree, the church. Those are the institutions established by God to instill moral responsibility into our lives, and if there is moral decay, that is where the root of the problem will be found. If prayer is absent from the home, it will be absent from schools as well. If our churches, which are the guiding light, where people gather to learn and practice their faith are half empty on Sunday, those empty pews will be reflected in the discipline and morality found in our schools and nation. Schools cannot teach or reinforce discipline, morals, or faith that is not first taught and reinforced in the home and the church.
Unfortunately, too many Americans would rather believe in smokescreens than face the truth. They would rather blame schools, a smokescreen for bigger problems, for issues of morality than call into question the sanctity of the home. However, unlike times past, few families have time to talk, play, and pray together anymore, and where families once prayed at mealtime and bedtime, such time has been interrupted or replaced by television, ball practice and games, computers, cell phones, Snap Chat, and Facebook. The acidic attitudes of disrespect, defiance, and anarchy in our society was not nurtured into existence by removal of prayer or the paddle from our schools. Such attitudes were born out of the absence of prayer and discipline in the home.
The moral decline of our nation began with the removal of responsible adults from the home. When parents stopped being the adult and became their child’s buddy, a role reversal occurred in the family unit, and the child became the unspoken dominant head of the household. With parents and children on the same authoritarian level, discipline in the home declined. Couple that with removal of a spanking by mom or dad, when needed, and you have the making of a little monster who grows to be an adult who respects no one, is accountable to no one, and takes responsibility for nothing. Schools did not do that; mama and daddy did that. As a result, the “not my fault” and “you can’t tell me what to do” generation that is choking the life out of the nation was born.
Our churches also have responsibility in the moral decline of the nation. First, I give churches credit for trying to find ways to reach people. Churches across the United States have tried valiantly to bring people into the fold. They have turned to marketing themselves to compete with television, movies, and the Internet, but in the process, they have lost their identity. Today’s church is an exciting place to be; in many cases, it is the entertainment and social mecca of the community. Unfortunately, somewhere in all the lights and glitter, something has gone wrong – something is missing. In a world that feeds on external stimulation, stimulation of the heart and soul has come up lacking. The modern church is filled with teachings of the love of God, and that is good, but toning down preaching the wrath of God from the pulpit has desensitized congregations to the fear of God, especially younger generations. Sometimes human beings need the hell scared of them to get their attention. One of the biggest problems in our society today is few people have a healthy fear of God. Today, church is about being entertained, socializing, and hearing about the love of God. Too often, little is made of the consequences for denying or turning from that love.
Schools are not perfect and have many faults, but the moral decline of this nation is not one of those faults. Schools are merely a reflection of the community and world in which they exist. To counter the moral decline in this nation moms and dads must teach their children to pray, and our churches must continue to find ways to fill the pews while instilling both the love and fear of God into the people. Anything less is morally wrong, and the results can be seen in the negative news headlines every day.
©Jack Linton, February 26, 2018