by Rit Nosotro
From her earliest days, America existed as a Christian nation. Perhaps this was due to the fact that most of her first settlers came for the purpose of being free to express their Christian beliefs in accordance with their own consciences. Yet it is undeniable that America has changed greatly since that time, forsaking moral values, and grower colder and colder towards Christianity. Throughout the centuries, there have been many events which have been turning points of decline, decline which has occurred in mainly the churches and schools of America.
Perhaps one of the first major turning points of decline occurred in the church. Before 1662, in order to be a full-active member of a Congregational (Puritan) church, one was required to provide a testimony of their salvation before becoming a member who was allowed to take communion, be baptized, and vote. However, as less and less people could do so, the church attempted to boost their numbers by authorizing the Halfway Covenant. This allowed for those whose parents or grandparents could give a testimony to be members and be baptized, while keeping the rule of not allowing these people to take communion or vote. Eventually though, in 1700, as long as one was a good-standing member of the community, they were allowed the full benefits of membership, without any interrogation. Thus, not only did the church fill with people who were not true Christians, but also enabled folks to enjoy these community benefits without the effort previously required, and thus the standard of excellence, even among church-goers, declined rapidly.
Three men that lived and worked in the nineteenth century would have a profoundly detrimental effect on America; Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, and Julius Wellhausen. The publishing of Charles Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, in 1859, laid the foundation for the an even greater corruption of thought in America through the theory of evolution. No longer was it necessary to believe in a Creator, for things could somehow “create” themselves out of nothing! Sigmund Freud went on to develop his own ideas based on logical conclusions from Darwin’s theory, and building these ideas into the sciences of psychology and psychiatry. From this man came the notion that we can understand ourselves through our feelings, and this still impacts society today, as we are told to do what makes us feel good. Thus, we wouldn’t want to believe in a God who hates sin, because sin can be pleasing to us.
While the aforementioned men affected the areas of science and education, Julius Wellhausen, a German scholar, affected the church. He proposed that Moses did not write the Pentateuch and instead it was compiled years after the events took place, by various men who pieced it together. This was a major step towards a belief in the fallibility of the Bible. Today, many in Christian churches have chosen to reject the Bible’s claims and cling to the “scientifically accurate” claims of evolution. Thus the works of Charles Darwin and Julius Wellhausen brought about a decline in the church as well.
It is no coincidence that the founder of the modern public education system, John Dewey, was also one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto. This public education system took children away from the traditional setting of homeschooling and church schools, and placed them in the daily care of a state who rejects God. There they could be trained in the ideas of humanism, and the country’s youngest citizens could be trained in self-confidence, in direct opposition to scripture which states “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth.”
In 1963, prayer was removed from schools in yet another attempt to rid America of any reference to God. President Ronald Reagan recognized the danger of this act when he said:
“Our Pledge of Allegiance states that we are ‘one nation under God,’ and our currency bears the motto, ‘In God We Trust.’ The morality and values such faith implies are deeply embedded in our national character. Our country embraces those principles by design, and we abandon them at our peril. Yet in recent years . . . Americans . . . [have] for the sake of religious tolerance . . . forbidden religious practice in the classrooms. The law of this land has effectively removed prayer from our classrooms. How can we hope to retain our freedom through the generations if we fail to teach our young that our liberty springs from an abiding faith in our Creator?”
Thus if we look to the words of the early founders, we see that their desire and conviction was to build a nation who would fear and honor the Lord. However, soon the people of America would forget their reasons for coming to the new world. With each passing generation, America’s people became less and less God fearing. Tolerance lead to acceptance of many Christian denominations and sects, and this in turn laid the foundation for tolerance of many non-Christian religions. J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, a late eighteenth century author, described America as a land where “religion demands little of [one]” and as a place where all manner of religions could blend together smoothly. He notes how “Children will therefore grow up less zealous and more indifferent in matters of religion than their parents,” and concludes by proudly acknowledging how “all sects are mixed together as well as all nations; thus religious indifference in imperceptibly disseminated from one end of the continent to the other. . .”.
Thus, another declining step was made as America’s citizens began to accept the beliefs of others as equal truths. Toleration lead to the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973. Now it is promoted in public education through “celebration of diversity” curriculum. Laws against sodomy are were forced out of state legislation by the ACLU. Sex before marriage became acceptable through implementing standards of “Common Law Marriage” and the convenience of abortion. While Americans cry out against weapons of mass destruction, abortion claims millions of lives. Dullness of heart compounds the dullness of mind as with each generation, the new citizens of America became more unable to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” How can they defend hope which they no longer have?
In conclusion, it is interesting to note that early Americans were facing a land of emptiness; their future and all their well-being held no security. Therefore, these people recognized their daily need for God, and their circumstances kept them dependent on Him. However, we may note that as America grew more established and economically stable, her people began to forsake God, not recognizing their constant need for Him. The words of Jesus ring true, as he stated that “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” More importantly, they began to disregard their need for a Savior, and turned away from God. Now religion is yet another thing that people may seek to make themselves happy, and thus is may be pursued in any way shape or form. Scripture makes it quite clear what must be done to reverse the tide of evil, yet many Christians wonder why America is in such a dire situation, while at the same time disregarding God’s admonition. “If My people, who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, the I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”