After the recent school shooting tragedy in Connecticut, I noticed that the TV news programs focused on interviewing psychologists and psychiatrists as they sought an explanation for the senseless rampage. And most of what I heard in response to their questions was what I would call "psychobabble."
But their questions got me to thinking. It occurred to me that during the time I was in the public school system, from the first grade in 1945 to my senior year in high school in 1956, there were no such massacres. And that caused me to wonder, "What has changed?"
The Reinterpretation of the First Amendment
The first thing that came to mind was the way in which our legal system has distorted the First Amendment of our Constitution from stating there must be a separation of church and state to meaning there must be separation of religion and state. It is true that the words, "separation of church and state," do not appear in the First Amendment, but that was clearly the meaning of the statement:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
In short, the First Amendment prohibited the government from establishing an official state church, while it guaranteed the free exercise of religion. Nothing more. But since the 1960's secular judges have changed the interpretation of the First Amendment to mean that the state must be divorced from religion.
That was never the intention of our Founding Fathers. In fact, they emphasized in their writings that a representative form of government could continue to exist only if it were based upon religious morality. Consider the following statements by our first two presidents.
George Washington (1732-1799) —
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports... in vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens...1
John Adams (1735-1826) —
We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion... Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.2
In 1962 the Supreme Court ruled prayer in the public schools to be unconstitutional, and the assault began to remove all vestiges of religion from the public arena. The next year, the Court advanced its secular agenda by ruling that Bible reading in schools and other school-sponsored religious activities is also prohibited. The movement climaxed in 1980 when the Supreme Court ruled that a Kentucky statute requiring the posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments on the wall of each public classroom in the State, was unconstitutional. Overnight, the Court forced our schools to throw out the foundation of American law and morality! Incredibly, the Court justified its decision with these words:
If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments. However desirable this might be as a matter of private devotion, it is not a permissible state objective under the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.3
Read those words again. The Court is saying that the Ten Commandments cannot be posted in our schools because the children might be motivated to obey them! So we would prefer to have our children kill each other as opposed to having them live in a civilized manner?
To sum it up, in very short order we kicked God out of our schools and declared His basic law to be illegal. The result has been a very quick and total transformation of our public school system.
Only a person my age (74) can realize how drastic the transformation of our schools has been. For example, when I was in the public schools, we prayed daily and read a devotional passage from the Bible. We had Christmas plays and Easter pageants. Our English readers were filled with stories from the Bible that were used to teach a moral lesson.
In 1956, when I graduated from high school, there would be 100 or more pickup trucks parked in the school parking lot each day. Almost every one of those trucks had a gun rack, and most held a 22 rifle, a shotgun, and a deer rifle. Many had pistols in the glove compartments.
Yet, no one lived in fear of their lives. The idea that someone might shoot up the school was unthinkable. We were civilized people who had been imbued with Christian morality.
The Closing of the Evolution Debate
The second change factor I would point to is the purging of our schools of any consideration of alternatives to Evolution.
When the 20th Century began, the teaching of Evolution was not a part of any standard curriculum in our public schools. But that was not to last long. The turning point came in 1925 with the Scopes Trial in Tennessee. It became a media circus, and it propelled the issue onto the national scene.
At first, the Evolutionists simply demanded "equal time" with any presentation of special creation as the answer to the origin of the universe and life. But as the years passed, they began to argue that Evolution was the only scientifically valid version of origins, and that all other versions should be banned.
The Supreme Court began to endorse this exclusionary thinking in a series of opinions leading up to a case in 1987 in which it outlawed the teaching of Creationism as an alternative to Evolution.4
Today, the teaching of origins is a matter of Evolutionary propaganda and not true education where all theories are examined.
In the words of the book of Romans, our society has "suppressed the truth in unrighteousness," for we have "exchanged the truth of God for a lie." (Romans 1:18,25). We are teaching our children that they are nothing more than an animal that has evolved from scum and that they should worship the creation rather than the Creator.
Why, therefore, should we be surprised when they conduct themselves like animals? Why should we be shocked when they shoot each other over a pair of tennis shoes?
As we continue with the second half of my observations concerning the reasons behind the epidemic of school shootings, we'll look at the entertainment industry, the computer revolution, and the changes to the Church.
1) The Great Books Foundation, The Will of the People: Readings in American Democracy (Chicago: Great Books Foundation, 2001), page 38.
2) John Adams, "Letter to Zabdiel Adams, Philadelphia, 21 June 1776," in The Works of John Adams — Second President of the United States, ed. Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1854), vol. 9, p. 401.
3) Wikipedia, "Stone v. Graham (1980)," www.firstamendmentschools.org/freedoms/case.aspx?id=1422.
4) Wikipedia, "Edwards v. Aguillard (1987)," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwards_v._Aguillard.