I grew up in rural America in the '50's and '60's.
On any given day, you could walk through the high school parking lot and observe
that half the vehicles parked there were trucks with windows rolled down
and doors unlocked. Most of them carried, as standard equipment, an FIFE
sticker (Future Farmers of America for you city folks) and a gun rack with at
least one gun, usually loaded. You could make the same observation at any
of the four high school campuses in our county.
Amazingly, I do not ever recall reading or hearing about mass shootings in any
of those high schools.
What has changed in America is not the accessibility of
guns, but the character of man. On the wall in my parents home is a plaque
awarded to my father in recognition of service for 27 years on the local school
board. He told me that for years, a standard requirement on every
Teacher's contract was membership in a local church. I remember starting every
school day with the pledge and a prayer. I remember when girls who got pregnant
in high school were shamed, when abortions were illegal, when the divorce rate
was not 50% because couples stayed together for the kid's sake, when there were no
X-rated movies, when milk cartons didn't have missing kids faces on them and I
didn't know anyone personally who used drugs. I remember when kids were
taught respect for authority and accountability to God. I hear
people say that the good old days
weren't always so good but please don't tell me you think these are better.
Last night I attended a high school football game that
was covered by local and national news. The news coverage was not about the
football teams, but about the defiance of a court order by one brave little
Texas town to preserve the right to pray before a football game. The more
this country struggles to free itself from religion, the more we become
entangled in the consequences. If people are taught that they came from slime,
the obvious questions and consequences must follow; What is the purpose of my
existence [hopelessness], who made you the boss of me [lawlessness], why are
your rules good and mine bad [relativism], what does it matter how I live if I
came from slime and return to slime [immorality and inhumanity]? I realize that
in any given poll, the vast majority of Americans claim to believe in God.
I claim to believe that running is good for me but that does not make me a
runner. Putting on my running shoes and running makes me a runner. The
climbing abortion rate, murder rate, divorce rate, alcoholism and drug abuse
rate, child and spousal abuse rate contradict that claim and prove that actions
speak louder than words.
It is an observable truth that the best time you will
ever make on any American City freeway is on Sunday morning because there
are no traffic jams getting to church. For those who believe that separation of
church and state is not enough, that the world would be better off with no
church at all, ask yourself this question. How many hospitals, universities,
orphanages, homeless and abuse shelters have been founded by the ACLU or
American Atheist Society? It is the inclusion of the
word Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Christian, etc., in the name of so
many of these institutions that proves by actions, not just words, who
really cares for the suffering of mankind and desires to make the world better.
The question that people should be asking is not "Why does God allow
tragedies?" but "When will we realize that no nation, in the history
of the world, has ever separated itself from God and evolved to a better
society?" Of course, to answer, you would have to know
history. Most people, it would seem, prefer People magazine."
Asst. Director of Development and Alumni Relations
University of Alabama School of Law