Every year since 1966, a survey of college freshmen has
been conducted by UCLA in order to determine the general characteristics and
beliefs of that year’s freshmen. The survey, covering student attitudes on
every thing from abortion to politics, is always very revealing.
The most recent survey (last Fall) quizzed some 275,000
students from 496 different college campuses. The results are now our (reported
in The American Freshman: National Norms for Fall 1998) and show some
very positive trends. For examples, the most recent freshmen class
Reflects the lowest-ever level of support for keeping abortion
legal. In 1990, the number was at 65 percent; this year, it has dropped to 51
Reports the lowest-ever level of support for causal sex. In 1987,
52 percent supported casual sex; this year, only 39.6 percent do.
Records the lowest-ever level of alcohol consumption. In 1981, 75
percent of freshmen drank beer frequently or occasionally; this year, the number
had dropped to 52 percent.
Religious involvement among students was up, with 82 percent
reporting attending religious services during the year, 65 percent praying
during the week, and 43 percent ranking their personal religious commitment as
“above average” or “in the highest percent of students.”
This is definitely good news! The trends were all
positive – except one: student interest in civic affairs. In 1968, nearly 30
percent of students were interested in what went on in politics, but the number
has now dropped to 14 percent – and only 21 percent even voted in student
Consider the implications: this class of young people is
the most morally, religiously, and socially conservative class in years – but
also the least politically engaged. This means that even though we are winning
the culture war in the hearts and lives of our young people, these positive
changes will not be reflected in public policy unless these young people become
involved – even in something as simple as voting!
For the future of the nation, this disconnect must
be remedied. Students must be taught that stewardship of their country is just
as important as stewardship of their family and their community – that the
enjoyment of our personal civil and religious liberties is inseparable from our
involvement in public affairs. As Samuel Adams explained:
Every citizen will see – and I
hope be deeply impressed with a sense of it – how exceedingly important it is
to himself, and how intimately the welfare of his children is connected with it,
that those who are to have a share in making us as well as in judging and
executing the laws should be men of singular wisdom and integrity.
And the signer of the Declaration John Witherspoon
correctly pointed out that:
There is not a single instance in history in which
civil liberty was lost and religious liberty preserved entire.
Understanding this truth, in previous generations young
people were not only taught that abortion, casual sex, alcohol abuse, etc., were
improper by they were also taught that patriotism and civil involvement were
proper. An 1840 speech delivered by Daniel Webster to the ladies of Richmond,
Virginia, reflects how much civic involvement for our children was stressed.
You know how much of that happiness which you are
entitled to hope for – both for yourselves and for your children – depends
on the right administration of government and a proper tone of public morals. .
. . We live in an age . . . in which the affluent are [contributing] to the
endowment of colleges and academies, to the building of churches, to the support
of religion and religious worship, to the encouragement of schools [in order to
help improve public morals]. . . . This is all well; it is admirable. . . .
[but] the influence of government on the morals and on the religious feelings of
the community is apt to be overlooked. . . . Government is a most powerful
institution; more powerful – it has
sometimes appeared to me – than the influence of most other human institutions
put together, either for good of for evil. . . . [Parents should] tell their
children that neither in political nor in any other concerns of life can man
ever withdraw himself from the perpetual obligation of conscience and of duty. .
. . They will impress upon their children the truth that voting is a social duty
of as solemn a nature as man can be called to perform; that a man may not
innocently trifle with his vote; that every voter is a trustee as well for
others as himself; and that every man and every measure he supports has an
important bearing on the interests of others as well as on his own.
The truth of this speech is just
as pertinent today as it was a century- and-a-half ago. And while the good news
concerning the moral and religious direction of the next generation is very
encouraging, we sill must challenge our youth to civic involvement and to
fulfill the duty which they owe their country.
President Rebuked for Unprecedented Decree
Last June, President Clinton became the first President in American
History to designate a “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” The President called
on Americans to “observe” the month with “fitting” ceremonies and to
remember the homosexuals who have “contributed” tot he life of the country.
Regrettably, the President was calling for the celebration of a behavior
which is still a criminal offense in numbers of States! One national minister
suggested that if the President was going to designate a month to celebrate
sexually immoral behavior, then perhaps he should also declare a “National
The President’s declaration did not go unnoticed by the
nation’s largest denomination – and the denomination of which the President
is a member: the Southern Baptists. At its recent national convention, there
were stern words to the President. The delegates passed a resolution rebuking
him, and the Southern Baptist president Paige Patterson declared that
Clinton’s proclamation was
. . .
. . . entirely inconsistent with his confession as an
evangelical Christian and certainly as a Southern Baptist. I would call once
again upon the church in which the President holds membership to take before
them this proclamation that he had made at the White House and make it the
subject of church discipline. [Among Southern Baptists, discipline of members is
left tot he local church rather than to the denomination.] The fact that he is
the President of the United States ought to make no difference. When a member of
a Southern Baptist church takes a position that [President Clinton] has taken in
outright contradistinction to the Word of God, that church should act to bring
about church discipline.”
Amen! – and kudos to the Rev. Paige Patterson and the Southern Baptist
The Courts on How, When, and Where to Pray
In a summer decision by the 5th Federal Circuit Court of
Appeals, the court ruled that prayers could occur at graduations but not at
athletic events. Why the distinction? According to the court, graduation was an
event “solemn” enough to warrant a prayer, but athletic events were not.
Never mind that students are often more celebratory at graduation ceremonies
than at athletic events!
Amazing! The courts now tell us that we can pray in public only on
“solemn” occasions – and they
will decide which occasions are “solemn”! Obviously, this decision did not
sit well with most citizens in the 5th Circuit (Mississippi,
Louisiana, and Texas).
Many school districts, therefore, sought ways to continue prayers at
athletic events without violating the court’s prohibition on using school
equipment to offer the prayer. Interestingly, students, coaches, and communities
found many creative solutions.
For example, in one Texas district, the home team gathered at mid-field
before the game and began to recite – at the top of their lungs – the
Lord’s Prayer. The fans in the bleachers promptly joined in, and the entire
stadium recited the prayer together – all without using the prohibited PA
system, and probably at a volume much louder! (According to observers, the cheer
that went up from the bleachers following the prayer was louder than any cheer
during the course of the game!) And in another Texas district, the visiting team
met with the home team at mid-field one-half hour before the game so that both
schools could participate in prayer; and then one of the student clubs brought a
private PA system to the field to offer the traditional prayer before the start
of the game!
This grassroots upsurge is certainly encouraging and speaks well of the
underlying soundness of both citizen and community values.
Evolution vs. Creation Which Side is Winning?
For decades, the Supreme Court has attempted to prevent students from
learning the concept that man and the world around him is the handiwork of our
Creator-God. For example, in 1968 in Epperson
v. Arkansas, the Supreme Court ruled that States could not require schools
to teach creation only; and 17 years later in 1985 in Edwards v. Aguillard, the Court ruled that States could not eve
require a “balanced-treatment” approach – that is, teach both evolution
and creation. But since our founding documents teach unequivocally that there is
a Creator-God, the Court’s rulings have caused problems in history and
Indicative of this is a conflict in New Jersey stemming from a proposal
by the State Senator Gerald Cardinale to have students being the school day by
reciting the fifty-six words from the Declaration of Independence that form the
heart of the American philosophy of government:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all
men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator, with certain
unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Amazingly, that bill was opposed by many legislators as the “thinly
veiled” attempt to introduce prayer and religion into the public schools!
(Actually, consider the irony of this charge. On the one hand, the
Founding Fathers are – according to critics – a group of irreligious
secularists. On the other hand, the government documents written by those
“secularists” are too religious for students to read! It appears that the
Founding Fathers are both atheists, agnostics and deists as well as members of
the radical religious right, depending on which charge will further the agenda
of opponents of the free-exercise of religion!)
Despite forceful efforts over recent decades to prevent teaching about
creation, citizens and States have refused to buckle under to the evolution-only
crowd. Many officials have decided that if creation can’t be taught, then the
teaching of evolution will be minimized – a tactic used in Texas, Michigan,
Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, New Mexico, Nebraska, and most recently in Kansas
where the State Board of Education voted to omit testing about evolution from
the States academic assessment tests. (If material is not subject to a test, it
is less likely to be taught.)
This trend has cause great consternation among evolution-only proponents.
The National Center for Science Education and the National Science Teachers
Association (composed of some 20,000 science
teachers) have reacted by launching a campaign in support of evolution
education. And the National Academy of Sciences warned that students could not
understand biology without a grasp of evolution and then amazingly asserted that
“There is no debate within the scientific community over whether evolution has
occurred, and there is not evidence that evolution has not occurred.”
Despite such patently false claims, three polls conducted shortly after
the vote by the Kansas State Board of Education indicate that the evolutionists
appear to be losing the battle for the hearts and minds of Americans.
Two Gallup polls found that Americans favored
the teaching of creation is schools by a margin of 89 percent to 29 percent! In
fact, an amazing 87 percent of Americans believed that God was responsible for the creation of man. (The 87 percent was
divided among two groups: 47 percent who embrace literal creation – that is,
man is less than 10,000 years old; and 40 percent who embrace theistic evolution
– that man is more than 10,000 years old but that God guided the process.)
Amazingly, only 9 percent of Americans believed that God had nothing
to do with the process; and only 28 percent felt that evolution should be a
The third poll, conducted by FOX News, found that one-third of Americans
did not have a strong either/or opinion; of the other two-thirds, only 15
percent believed that evolution explained the origin of human life while 50
percent believed that the Bible explained its origin. The Bible won – by a
margin of over three-to-one!
Despite intense efforts to indoctrinate Americans to evolution, it seems
that man cannot escape the Biblical truth in Ecclesiastes 3:11
that “God has placed eternity in the hearts of men.” That is,
God has embedded certain immutable truths in man. (See the excellent book
on this subject, Eternity in Their Hearts, by missionary Don Richardson.) The
knowledge that God made man is
apparently one of those innate, eternal truths.
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