Local View: Look what's happening with God kicked out of the public realm
On the morning of Monday, Oct. 2, I turned on the TV to catch the news. News anchors were anguishing over the massacre the night before in Las Vegas. One said, "Why do these things keep happening in America?" I said to my wife, "I know why they are happening."
In the two months since that tragedy, a gunman shot up a church in Texas, the opioid crisis became national news, and a terrorist driver rammed a truck into innocent victims on a bike path in New York City. Moreover, in these two months, there have been additional multiple shootings.
And there also have been almost-endless sordid stories of sexual abuse and harassment of women by men in high places. In addition, recent news reports told of public school teachers quitting their jobs in record numbers across the nation because of violent student behavior.
Chicago witnesses a bloodbath of shootings every week. National traditions such as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade or marathons require heavy security protection ranging from dump trucks filled with sand to bomb-sniffing dogs to police helicopters overhead. Reports come regularly of even female teachers engaging in sexual activity with students, not to mention male teachers doing the same.
I am old enough to remember when seeing a police officer at my large high school in Illinois was a novelty. The school doors were never locked during the school day. Nobody ever heard of a lockdown drill.
I remember an America where no one ever heard of mass shootings or terrorist attacks. I remember an America where men in leadership positions treated women respectfully and would not think of groping a woman or sexually harassing her. In those days, even Chicago was a relatively peaceful and safe place. I know — I grew up in Illinois. Churches were places of worship, not where armed ushers are required. No one ever heard of opioid abuse. In fact, illegal drug use was minuscule in most places.
What has happened to America? The answer is relatively simple. We, for all intents and purposes, have become a godless society.
In 1962 and 1963, the Supreme Court stopped Bible reading and prayer in public schools, claiming it violated the so-called establishment clause. Strangely, no other court had noticed such a violation in almost 200 years of prior American history. In fact, the First Amendment was never intended as a separation of God and state but rather that Congress would not establish a state denomination as was the case in most of Europe.
Ominously, SAT and ACT scores began to decline. More germane to this discussion, antisocial and violent activity began to rise. American public schools since have truly become godless places.
Long ago, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."
This nation has kicked God out of the civic plaza. Recall the battle over removing the Ten Commandments monument from in front of Duluth City Hall in 2004. That was typical and symbolic of what has happened all across this country. As a nation, we have collectively kicked God and the things of God out of the public sector. Should it be surprising therefore to hear of endless scandals in government, ranging from sexual harassment to outright criminal behavior?
Today, there are more than twice the number of police officers per capita than 50 years ago. Ideas do have consequences. Over the last two generations, the common culture in America has become increasingly godless. The Hollywood culture endlessly mocks biblical Christianity and Christian values. It instead spews out an endless river of violence and immorality.
It should not therefore surprise anyone to read of the endless violence, crime, sexual degradation of women, and absolute coarsening of our culture. As a nation, we are reaping what we have sown.
Sadly, it likely will continue and even get worse. The future of the nation is at risk.
The mighty Roman Empire did not fall because of the military superiority of its adversaries. It collapsed from within from moral and spiritual decay. America is on the same track. Tragically, those who ignore history tend to repeat it.
America needs a revival of true godliness and morality based upon the Ten Commandments — from the schools to the Congress to the courts to the president to the common culture. If that ever happens, there would be a dramatic and positive change in this nation.
The Rev. David Sorenson is pastor emeritus at Northstar Baptist Church in Duluth.