Thursday, January 27, 2011

My alternate ending- Church Part 5

You know, I didn't end that well. I said it would be edifying, but- I agree with my friend- it's evident I am cynical. I am, in fact, very cynical about the 'church.' But that is not who I wanted to leave you with.

My belief about church isn't, in the final analysis, about missionaries or even orphans. The root of what I believe is what I want to leave you with...

I'm in love.

I could study all about what a church should look like from the greatest scholars in the land, but anything I find wouldn't be worthy to draw my attention away from Him. There is a guy that wrote some books that probably detail in full researched measure a very close idea of what I think The Church should be, but I don't really care enough to read them. That's the truth. I bought one and I didn't even read the whole thing. It doesn't matter that much to me. There are thousands of men scurrying around working every formula under the sun to try and get that right.

I run across other people, though- in a church, out of a church, it doesn't matter- and in a weird way I recognize them. I can see in their eyes that they have the same Love. They have a certain countenance, like something really deep inside of them has been filled by someone they want to get back to as soon as they can.

Nothing seems to be missing in them and I don't feel like anything is missing in me. When I can be with people like that it is always good because we get to talk about our Love. And that is the only thing that seems to be essential aside from telling people who don't have our Love that they can, and what it does to you when you do.

Whenever conversations come up about The Church, faces change. A lot is brought to the surface that came from man's mess. I am not saying to let man continue messing up the bride, I AM saying God will not let man keep messing up the bride. I can't fix her and it is not my job. It's His job. I really believe that. My job is to keep my eyes fixed on my Love...and that's easy to do... He made it easy for us. My Love is good that way.... I'll see ya'll later...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The rest of the story, smooshed- Church Part 4

This is a long one, but it is the last. I started with the intention of doing several more installments, but then just plugged through to the end. I hope you don't mind. As a matter of fact, I am going to put subsection titles in this because it is so bloody long.

Big churches with lots of bling
Before I go any further, let me say that if you are in a very large church (I have been in both small and large), the scenario I described in the last post may not be so prevalent, or at least obvious. It was glaring in the small church and house church we were in. I can't say I observed it clearly in the big church I was in- I was but a grain of salt in the proverbial ocean there. If you've never been in a big church- mine wasn't a mega, but it was big- you would be amazed. Here is what mine had:

*a professional level band(s) leading praise and worship
*an continuous stream of professional speakers coming through on the church circuit

I didn't care whether those things were there or not. We enjoyed it there because so much of The Church was there. The leader wasn't working a formula and didn't point to himself. Pretty much he often didn't even teach, he would just parade among us believers the mighty works God had done among us all that week and gave God all the praise. So the wonderful thing about him was that he wasn't necessary and he knew it. He just loved God so much and so did we that he stood at the front because, well, someone needed to and he happened to be a darn good speaker. I loved that man and still do but he's not there anymore. The church board tried to throw him under the proverbial bus and he did what most men do when they seek God about such a mess...walk away. Right when all that was happening we were in the middle of a whopping building plan that plunged us into debt right when the recession hit. When that was all said and done this is what was added to the church's list of features:

*a state of the art new building equipped with a coffeeshop, new offices, a library, and a dining facility
*the rest of the facilities were completely remodeled, with granite countertops in the bathrooms and state of the art sound and light systems
*a kids playset that I believe was well over $100,000
*a multimedia sign that cost $80,000
*an on-site college AND arts department (I confess my son took karate there)complete with a dance ministry that now includes aerial artistry- ballerinas on wires to fly through air for special services

The more bling, the less bread
I don't have a problem with any of those things. They are not bad in and of themselves. Unfortunately, when you spend money on them though, you don't have it for other things that we will get to in just a minute. Believe it or not, this kind of place is the brass ring in the mind of many pastors. It means they have arrived. I told you about all of that because I want you to keep it in the back of your mind as I go on about money for the rest of the small and average sized churches. I hadn't forgotten about these whopping ones. Their financial scenario is just so absurd, I wanted to use a more mainstream example for our discussion.

Tithe- a very brief look at the raw truth
First, let me tell you I tithed just like I was told I should do by every church leader I have ever met from the time I started going to church til I started going to a house church, which was approximately one year before I stopped going to any 'church.' I never even looked it up. If they said I was supposed to give 10% of my gross income, I was gonna do it. And I did. Someone challenged me to research it. I did and I found you are not required to tithe at all. It was an Old Testament law, similar to slaughtering animals, that wasn't needed any longer because the Levites (designated priests)no longer needed to maintain the temple(since all that remained there was a ripped curtain). [The other purpose for the tithe, aside from paying the priests who cared for the now-empty temple, was caring for the poor. This is now done, at least in our country, through taxation- the 18% we give to the government before the 10% to the church. Though the church should still be doing this, it is difficult for them to... you'll see why further below] I am not going to try to prove it to you- research it yourself. I understand that if you are as well 'churched' as I was, you just immediately tuned me out. That's what I would have done. Understand I have been inside all the meetings. I know Churchianity. I speak the lingo, know the jargon, know the tactics, know the schpeel and one good thing I learned is not to entertain someone who is speaking falsehood to me for long at all. I'm with you. That's why I said look it up yourself. And if you want to keep tithing, go ahead. I want to explain the conclusion I've come to but you can do what you want. By the way...

The New Giving- much harder than tithing
The New Testament actually talks about giving cheerfully, giving to Caesar (the government) what is Caesar's, giving to God what is God's (everything), and giving everything you have to the poor. You can see that seeking to be obedient in your own heart within those kind of guidelines is actually much harder than tithing.

The percentages don't lie and Martin helped a church out
I have the gift of giving. I like to give. I want to give. I was blessed with some skills that have allowed me to make a sizable income in the past and I am excited about launching a business this year from which I am hoping I can be able to give (more substantially than we can now) again. Now let me tell you what I see happening to every $100 that leaves my, or any other believer's hands at a 'church':

--------$10 goes to mission work

--------$90 goes to pay for the building so we can meet (I've already established that this isn't necessary) AND to pay for the staff so that once a week I can be taught WHAT IS IN THE BOOK SITTING ON MY LAP. I have to veer here for a second for another note on this:

When the early church started, please understand, they had no bible. They were depending on the teaching from the scrolls that people like Paul had learned when he was being trained as a Jew, the oral delivery of the gospel message, and (primarily) Paul's instructions regarding how they should be functioning. It wasn't until Martin Luther translated the Latin scriptures in the early 1500s into common language (german, which spurred the later english King James Version) that people had God's word for their own. Oral delivery of God's word now in mimicry of the early church is still edifying- any time the Word is taught it is edifying- but we have it ourselves now, in its entirety. I wonder if when we get to heaven and get to see the complete story of the church from beginning to end it will say something like, "and the printing press came along and things got really efficient so that the believers could concentrate their resources where they were really needed." JUST SAYIN.

What matters
1.)Orphans, many of whom are on the verge of starving daily.

2.)The lost. Do you know how many people groups on this earth have never heard the gospel because they don't even have the Word in their language?

These two priorities aren't just mine, they are the Lord's. He said He came to seek and save that which was lost and that true religion is caring for the widows and orphans. What about making disciples? We'll get to that in a sec.

Skinny Missionaries
Round about the same time I was wondering where to go with this church thing I read a book about a Wycliffe bible translator and I went to their website. I even called and talked to their organization and I want you to hear this very plainly if you have heard nothing else I have said:

The missionaries are underfunded. Grossly, grossly underfunded. They are in literal huts in the literal bush, on the literal frontlines, trying to get our precious Word (that we have whenever we want it, SITTING ON OUR &%$*& LAPS) to these tribes by scratching it out into their language, line by line... so they can know that Christ died for them and they can be saved. So they know there is hope. So they know of grace.

Rolling skinny too
So you see, for me it has become really simple. I can study the word for myself. I have a concordance and a commentary. I have the Holy Spirit. I can fellowship with other believers as God makes opportunities. I can worship from right here. I can do that if it means that any money I can give can be given to those missionaries; to reach those lost and those kids; so they can know the God who is the Father to the Fatherless. What about my time? Well you can give that too from right where you are, unless of course you want a ton of credit and a big pat on the back.

Discipleship and free-ness can be oh so freeing
I know there are still lost people in America. And I also know that training people to be disciples is critical- I am thankful for all the church people who have helped to teach me.

But I was thinking maybe some of us would be willing to do that for free.

Because if we did, those missionaries could concentrate without worrying if someone is going to cover them the next month for the supplies that they need. And maybe the missionaries feeding the orphans could concentrate on really helping them instead of spending so much times asking the churches for their leftover 10%....

Rage against the machine
Because this little bride called 'church' that insists she is the same bride as The Church demands that mission organizations work within her established infrastructure; and, in that infrastructure, SELF gets 90% and the rest gets 10%, missionaries just have to suck it up. I think missionaries have a serious right to be pissed off every day they go to work and hope a check shows up from their benevolent fat 'church' supporters. Sorry. That was a bit severe, huh?
And again with the 'what about us'
I know what you are saying. Well in that 90% people AT our 'church' get ministered to...yes, we all know a tiny percentage of people in American churches get saved every year; but we also know that those same people could be saved for free because they live in America, and mature Christians who don't use the pastor as a crutch to do all the 'ministry' should be WELL capable of handling that all by themselves. As a matter of fact, if you need an altar call, I bet you can find someone who will do it for free if you won't.

My confessions and finally my whys
I guess that's what it has really come down to for me. And I confess to you, after saying all that, that right now I don't have as much to give as I used to be able to- I am trying daily to improve our own financial situation so that we can give more.

And I also confess to you that it can be lonely out here. When I paid my monthly tithe (our one friend calls them 'club dues') and was able to fellowship weekly with other believers, it was nice...because The Church often hangs out in a 'church.' True. I also liked the weekly sermon, like I like a motivational speech or learning anything. And it was also nice to see the trickle of people that got saved. That happened too. I also wasn't always totally appalled by leaders working their formulas. A lot of us had an unspoken understanding that we were humoring them, but we knew the real reason we were there.... which is actually the real reason I'm not there anymore... and why we are trusting God is preparing one Bride for Himself- and that He is including us as part of it. Not only that but that He will provide the properly portioned timely fellowship with other believers to minister to us, and for us to minister to as well- exactly at the right timing in the right way.

Exit strategies and a little grace finally for the good pastors
Finally I confess I don't have a formula. I know what I'd like to see but I am not going to infiltrate your 'church' with an 8 step plan. I'd like to see domestic evangelism, teaching, and counseling done for free. A lot of it is... though we are still paying salaries to staff 'church leaders' so they can 'equip us' to do the work for free (don't get me started).

I would absolutely insist that every church put in place an immediate an aggressive plan to get out of debt. The building isn't a problem, it's the huge debt on the church's shoulders that is. NO CHURCH should be in debt.

I'd like to see congregations fund transition plans for their staff so they can get secular jobs and serve God's people for free. That would need to happen at the same time the congregation learned that their gifts are equally as important and equally as needed as the pastors. Or if the preachers really wanted to reach the lost, pay them to go to where the lost don't have people that will preach to them for free-make them missionaries. A pastor in America and a missionary in the bush have vastly different obligations; not to mention a pastor has an entire congregation ready to serve each other just sitting there...literally. Often times the best thing he can do is get out of the way anyhow. By the way, if you look in the bible at the role of pastor it does not describe the role we have exalted it to today. Okay, I have to veer again and throw this in:

I am not unsympathetic to pastors. They stepped into a machine that churned them out; and stepping out of the system is scary, not to mention the whopping suitcase of disillusionment they have to haul out with them. I would be upset too if I spent money to go to college and did everything I was told only to find it is all backwards at best. They have kids to feed too. These guys sincerely start out serving the Lord so we should help them, like we all help each other. I do have sympathy....not so much for the ones who let pride inflate their ego maniac head into a giant balloon...but for the rest I have sympathy.

Show them the money
And then this: I'd like to see all The Church take its resources and push it all, with all its might, to the frontlines- to the missionaries, to the orphans, to the impoverished, to the lost- in places that aren't right in our backyard and where supporting the people that need to get to them makes sense. Because I imagine it's hard for a man to get a job in Gambia while he is doing mission work there. So he probably could use our support.

Don't worry about me
I am not opposed to meeting with a group of believers intentionally again. Actually, I look forward to it. When our house isn't ripped apart, we might just host that very thing here. In the meantime God seems to be quite sufficient all on His own. We're tight, Him and me. Also, I have a handful of people in my life who are part of my very fabric, believers that I love so much it is hard to speak of them because there are no words. They may not meet the formula requirements set forth by any of the little local 'brides' but they are part of The One Church and they minister to me, and I hope I to them.

That's it.

Their Words

I've tried to spare you from a lot of quotes and keep this as direct as possible, but I want to end with an actual quote so you hear this from someone other than me. This is from And the Word Came with Power by Joanne Shelter- missionary to the Balangao people:

A couple of years ago Ignacio was visiting in the village of Madokayan and asked an old man why they were so easily persuaded by false religious teachings. The man said, "Son, we've been waiting for ages for someone to come and really teach us God's Word. Do you blame us if we believe false teachers? I remember going to Balangao once during your Bible conference; you there have learned more and more about God because you have his Word in your language. But what about us? We have nothing So, my son, don't ask me why- that's like putting the blame on us when we have no Book.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pride, a Plan, and your Peeps-Church Part 3

This is only blog three of the series and I am already a little worn out with it because it is taking up a lot of my mental energy and I don't have an unlimited amount of that anymore. This is important, I want to be thorough, but I also need to teach my kids something this week, so I am going to do my best to get several more posts out and plug through this as quickly as I can possibly do it.

(Cue Julie Andrews)Sing with me:

Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. When we read we begin with A.B.C.; when we sin we begin with Me. Me. Me.

Satan used to be an angel called Lucifer, said to be the highest, and very beautiful. Then he became prideful, vain. He wanted to replace God with Himself and he was cast down from heaven along with quite a few other angels he had persuaded to follow him. Pride and vanity are common errors in individuals as well. But we aren't often told this can happen in a church... where a church comes up with a plan to replace God as first in their hearts with themselves, or their plan.

A typical church's (and often individual's) top 2 idols:

#1- Themselves

#2- Formulas..."God-formulas" I call them... a plan, a method, a movement, a whatever-step process

Why would this happen? Well, observation would say that it starts in the heart of a man with an earnest desire to make his 'church' look the way God's bride is supposed to look according to what he sees in scriptures. [This is why understanding that the 'church' is not a little copy of the bride responsible for it's own completeness, but one Bride that God says HE himself is preparing to be without spot or blemish, is so important]. So this well-intentioned man starts leading the 'local body of believers' to focus on what they look like...sincerely wanting them to be right.... and what handier of a way to do this than with a formula. Pop into the local Christian bookstore and you will find an endless, and I mean endless, number of books telling you exactly what your church needs to do.

Pardon me for a moment while I tell you why I find this so funny:

Moses was a man of God who had a very real and powerful encounter with God when God parted the Red Sea for him and the Israelites to pass, escaping Pharoah and his crew of pursuing Egyptians. No one is questioning that. What he experienced was very real and it was very much God.

But, imagine if Moses then paused for a little sabbatical and penned his first bestseller entitled, Parting Your Red Sea- Seven Steps to Saving You and Your Peeps. It gets better. In it, he details out exactly how you, too, can take your peeps up to a body of water when someone is chasing you and invoke God to split it.

God did that once for a group of people in a special circumstance. You can't duplicate it whenever you want to without him, or even by asking him really really sincerely to- WHY? Because God is not a formula to be activated on your whim. He wants to be in a relationship with us. We can ask Him for help in any circumstance, but trying to press a replay button on something he did for someone else is not asking him for help. It is trying to skip him and get to what you want- listen closely- even if what you want is to see people saved, just like He does.

Now imagine how frustrating it is when the guy who just invested $20 in Moses' book has some people achasin' him and has rallied his peeps around this brilliant plan... and then (gurgle gurgle)...crap. It's not working. Well, it can't be that the formula was wrong- it worked for Moses FOR PETE'S SAKE! It must be that his people were messing him up. So he presses pause, gathers his people around and has a talking with them about the way they are supposed to be acting.... because right acting and right being peeps get their water split- it's been proven. (This is usually when the people decide they have the wrong leader or the leader decides he has the wrong people or they BOTH decide they had the wrong formula. Either they part and go separate ways or they seek God just in time to find that, Yee-haw, Joshua just came out with a book called, "Crumbling the walls that are holding you back- 12 steps to getting your church to their Promised Land.")

This can go on for a very long time.

So we see that good intentions can end up bad when a church replaces God as number one with a formula or a mirror. Would this happen as much if the leader(s) of that local body didn't think they were supposed to peer into the scriptures and draft formulas they can see to get their Local Bride looking right? I don't think so. If they understood that not every gift, not every role, not every function needed to exist within their one local group....then oh my goodness....


Just imagine.

That would mean that God might use me to minister to someone in another place... and I might have time and money to do it...

which leads us to the most brutal of the subjects among church You want to see someone turn and tear you to pieces? Bring up the church's use and understanding of money.... but I actually feel personally decently equipped in this subject because of how God has made me in particular...and because of my personal experience. So we'll tackle that next. Stay with me. I'm getting somewhere right along with you and I hope we are all edified and stronger when this is all said and done.

Many Mini-brides or One Bride- Church Part 2

By necessity, I will be very methodical about this topic of "Church." I hope you forgive my need to throw in humor, it is not out of disrespect. It is because sometimes when something is so weighty, we need to be able to put the weights down for just a second, before we pick them back up again. I know that many of you who have tried to even ask certain questions about this have been assailed. As I said, it's the mother pearl.

We'll start off gently. Here is something I think we all agree on. It's one of the few things that happens in what western culture calls a 'church' that can be actually profitable:

*being with other believers*

It's funny, that's the first thing 'church' people whip out to admonish me with when they hear I am not at a 'church.' [Sorry, the only way I have to annotate 'church' as most people think of it, and The Church, is with the quotation marks and the capitals. It is not meant to be insulting to 'church' people by its repetitiveness].
They say, "Don't forsake the gathering together of believers as some are in the habit of doing," quoting Paul from the New Testament, of course.

I'm not. I'm just not doing it at a 'church.'

When people who are The Church show up at common times to be with each other and engage in common activities at a 'church,' surprise! Church Happens. Administering their gifts to each other takes place, and God shows up too. It doesn't matter how many people are there, 2 or 2,000. It doesn't matter where it happens and there are no personnel requirements. God is actually quite capable of giving people the gifts they need when they need them to minister to other people.

Understand that, in the bible, the church is not described as a series of microcosms spread across the land, each called The Local Church. That would be saying there are many little duplicate copy brides of the one BIG bride running around. [Please read that last sentence and this next one again really slowly]. What he does say is that her (the bride, called The Church) body has many parts, and each of us comprises a piece of it. The fact that we are spread across the land is of no hinderance to God.

So all the believers together comprise The Church, NOT all the little churches together comprising a big church.

SO, SO subtle. Oh so very subtle, are deceptions. Read this:

the Church (in Corinth)


"The Church of Corinth" (read as similar to First Baptist Church of Corinth)

Do you see that? In case you are wondering, the first is correct. The second is not.

.......back to the earlier point about meeting together............

'Church' leaders like to step into these meetings or facilitate them and then point to what is taking place as validation.. for the institution that owns the building or that set up the meeting, and even for their role. I have been present at exchanges like this in a garage. That doesn't make the mechanic my priest and the auto shop my church. More important to note: It didn't matter if they were even there. Lest ye believe that a 'church's' existence can be validated because it facilitates these gatherings; understand that, on the premise of that function alone, I would agree that it was a good organization. But is a 'church' necessary to facilitate gatherings of The Church? The answer is NO.

Immediately, I know, that all of the other very important functions the 'church' facilitates and assures you are critical in your Christian walk pop into your minds like clock work. I don't disagree that praise, worship, or bible study are essential to The Church. I just don't believe a 'church' is essential for The Church to do those things.

Ask me how I know this.

We are still doing those too.

Again, is the 'church' necessary? NO.

Can an organization facilitate these things without causing harm to, stealing from, worshiping, impeding, or impersonating The Church? I'd say yes. It can be done. In theory.

I want you to know before we go any further, it is not my intention to draw anyone away from my wonderful God, or away from His precious bride, The Church. Quite the contrary. So, I'll keep going.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I am Church and You Can Too- Church Part 1

Most people in the world know that Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross around 33 AD.

Many fewer know what was happening at that same moment across town. From the top to the bottom a curtain- a very strong, incredibly important curtain- was being ripped in half. I imagine it was kind of like what you do to an old towel when you don't need it anymore and decide to scrap it for car wash rags.

In the Old Testament that curtain surrounded an area called "The Holy of Holies" where God's literal presence actually dwelt. Once a year the designated priest would confess his little heart out and go in to stand in God's presence. It was more than a nail biter for him- if there was any unconfessed sin he missed he would instantly drop dead in God's perfect presence. His buddies tied a rope around his ankle in case they needed to drag him out, though. That was nice of them.

Two things we know the ripping of that curtain meant- and they form the basis for what I believe spiritually.

1.)We (humans) no longer needed to go through any man (religious intermediary) to get to God.

2.)God has made it clear that we (Christian believers) are now the temple He chooses to reside in. We are The Church.

Steve Colbert from Comedy Central, wrote a book a few years back called I am America and You Can Too (I never read it). In struggling to communicate what I believe about the Church without resorting to the endless selections of church jargon, I actually feel this best represents my actual spiritual beliefs:

I am Church and You Can Too.

I started "going to church" (I don't even like the implication of that phrase now) when I was about 16 and I stopped a little over a year ago.

I have wanted to talk about why. You can't imagine how hard that is unless you understand how important it is to do so without shredding the church people I have seen; and how very likely it is I will be shredded among the church people who read this. The topic of "church" is, in terms of "casting your pearls before swine," the mother pearl. No one is as vicious about church as church people. This is something I know in my core.

But I believe there are some very, very important things that need to be said. And so, here we go... the next blog we'll get into it.

Christianity, baby boomers, and government- a guest post by Ken Krout

Question posed by college professor:

Are you comfortable with political leaders bringing their God to meetings about their country? Should political leaders use their belief systems to make public or political decisions?


The short answers are yes and yes.

Cultures are formed by groups of people with similar values living and working together. These form societies and are the basis for civilizations. Many cultures were formed by ethnicity and geographic location. Shared religious beliefs were an integral part of what formed many cultures. Today, a culture can be as different as a group of bloggers united in a particular cause joining together by the internet. Our history as a species is a story of the rise and fall of cultures and societies.

In the ancient past many leaders based policy decisions on the religious rituals. Consulting the Oracle at Delphi, casting runes, or other primitive methods of deciding how and what to do are not what today’s leaders should be doing. Increasingly whenever a political debate arises the opposing sides try to paint those who disagree as extreme. To the modern atheist who is intolerant of religion it is easy to claim that those of faith are going to base life and death decisions about our country on little more than superstitious hocus-pocus. Nothing could be further from the truth.

America and western civilization was predominately based on Judeo-Christian values. The founders of the United States frequently referenced God in their documents and laws. Our culture is founded on the bedrock of the values put forth in the Bible, but with an interesting twist. Where other western nations had an established official form of religion, America chose to be tolerant of religion. People could worship, or not, as best suited themselves. Thomas Jefferson said;” Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life: if it has been honest and dutiful to society the religion which has regulated it cannot be a bad one.” America has been a great society, rising fast and strong among nations, guided by the values of Judeo-Christianity while preserving religious freedom for all of its citizens. Several of the founding members of our nation clearly believed in God, but were not Christians or members of any denomination. George Washington rarely attended church and never mentioned Jesus. Yet he said to the nation he founded; “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports."

What is needed is a core value system to be maintained throughout our society. And the Judeo-Christian one put in place by our founders has served us well in the past. People had a certain degree of understanding as to how to behave and what was expected of them. This was reinforced by religion but was also a general understanding of what constituted acceptable and unacceptable behavior. For many generations this system has worked. For the most part, any leader of good character will choose the proper course of action because they understand the difference between right and wrong. Religion is a vital part of instilling good morals in people. Again, Washington said; “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion."

It is of course evident that there were people that were dishonest and immoral throughout the history of any nation or society. These people were usually shunned, punished or in some other way made to understand that behaviors that were unacceptable were just that-unacceptable. The important point is what is considered “normal” behavior by the members of a culture. What is normal evolves as a society ages and new ways of looking at things emerge. What does not evolve is right and wrong. Looking back at the first 180 years of the United States shows a nation that has prospered whenever society has generally adhered to moral behavior. During times of strife it can be argued that the problems were caused by people not following the standards of Judeo-Christian values. The Civil War was a result of an immoral system of slavery that the founding fathers failed to resolve. The injustice done to Native Americans is a stain on our history that will not be erased. Clearly America was not a perfect nation, but it was based on the proper foundation.

In 1948 the United States had saved the world from Fascism and freed millions of people. This was the era of the so called “Greatest Generation”. It should be remembered that this was the time that the “Baby Boomer” generation was being born. The United States was in a very impressive position globally. Over half of all the worlds manufacturing capacity was in the United States, along with almost 2/3 of all the earth’s gold reserves. Exports were well in excess of imports. The per-capita income of an American worker was 4 times that of a French, British, Italian, and German worker combined. There is an endless series of anecdotes that can establish that those were the good old days. People could leave the keys in the car across most of America and expect it to be waiting for them in the morning. Politicians were still slinging mud, but they were working for the people. And it was expected that the company you worked for would treat you well if you did a good job. Things were looking good for the baby boomers as they were born into what could be arguably the best situation on average that any generation had ever arrived into (saving freedom).

Also in 1948 the Supreme Court ruled in McCollum vs. the Board of Education that religious teaching in public schools is unconstitutional. This was followed in 1962 with the banning of any kind of prayer in school; in 1963 with the banning of reading the Bible in schools over the intercom; in 1968 with the ruling that it was unconstitutional to ban teaching of evolution; in 1980 with the banning of the Ten Commandments from being posted in schools; in 1985 with the banning of a “moment of silence” as it might be deemed to promote prayer; in 1987 with the ban on teaching of “creation science” along with evolution; a 1989 ban on all nativity scenes in public buildings; and finally with a 1992 ruling banning schools from providing any type of clergy to hold prayer at any type of graduations. It was quite an evolution from the Declaration of Independence, with its references to our Creator that started our nation, to the current climate that bans a moment of silence in fear that some child might pray (

Taking a look at the emergence and growth of the Baby Boomers that grew up under this now religion free school system is quite revealing. First of all it must be acknowledged that many parents took their children to church or tried to instill values in them. Still, a large part of a persons development is based on who their peer group is and how that peer group behaves. Children of the sixties are largely remembered for being the generation of drugs, the sexual revolution, and rebelling against society. A large emphasis was placed on doing your own thing. If it feels good- do it was the mantra of the day. Along with banning religion from the schools, it seems that morality had been marginalized. Many things that were once unacceptable behavior in our culture are celebrated. This obsession with ones self and disregard for others or for what society expected of you has had some interesting consequences.

After expelling religion from the schools and raising a generation that refuses any type of judgment, it is little wonder we are not in 1948 anymore. It is not the advances in science and technology that are the most striking, but the collapses in integrity and character of the American citizen. It is not a lack of religion that caused the massive out-sourcing of jobs to exploit low cost labor in third world nations. But a lack of ethics that went a long way in rationalizing that behavior. Enron, Goldman Sachs, corporate raiders emptying pension funds, Fannie Mae, Bernie Madoff, Food for Oil, Acorn, Adelphia, etc. are all the result of one singular problem. Immoral Baby Boomers with no integrity and no guiding principles taking advantage of whatever and whoever they can. They never experienced judgment and do not grasp that some behaviors are unacceptable in this or any other society. America suffers because of it.

The latest banking scandal is very illustrative of this. Start with an unethical realtor selling an over priced house to an unethical buyer who can not afford it and is lying about his income on a no-documentation loan. Throw in an unethical home appraiser giving an inflated value to secure the loan from an unethical mortgage broker. The loan is then sold to an investor or retirement fund, while the firm selling the loan goes short and bets on the loan defaulting. Inevitably reality happens and the whole house of cards falls in. Everybody runs to the government and gets the legislators to force the neighbors to pay for it all through taxation. No accountability, no judgment.

In 1961 President Kennedy said; “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” The Greatest Generation was loathe to accept charity and would refuse out of pride. The fierce independent spirit of the American people was a driving force behind this nation’s rise to greatness. Today, the Baby Boomers have taken the entitlement mentality to a whole new level. Not happy with emptying the treasury to indulge themselves, they have wrecked the lives of generations to come with debt of an unimaginable level. It is hard to imagine how one generation caused a civilization to fall so hard so fast. If we consider that they were denied the moral compass that our founding fathers knew was essential for a capitalistic, free, democracy it offers some explanation. President John Adams said; ”Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Our political leaders are there to lead us. They set the example for the nation to follow and decide where we will be in the future. There has always been a level of scandal involved with politicians, the very nature of the money needed to get elected means that there will be favors to re-pay after election. However, it was interesting to watch the election of Bill Clinton in 1992. He was the first Baby Boomer president. His supporters openly declared that character did not matter. This change in what was acceptable in our leaders has been of some impact on our society. Today, character is a rarity among our leaders. Our politicians are usually lawyers. If one looks at how lawyers operate it helps explain why we are where we are at. A lawyer is hired to advocate for someone in a legal dispute or contract. They are trained to get the best possible outcome for their employer. Today, with most of our representatives being lawyers, they are still following that template. The employers are the political parties, labor unions, large corporations and other groups that “hired” them by funding the election. So they govern with the intention of getting the best possible result for the sides that backed them. This has resulted in the average American being lost along the way. Wealthy special interest groups battle for power using our government leaders as their champions. Meanwhile, the United States is not that united.

It would be a joy to have a child who based his decisions on sound moral principles, a business partner that could be trusted, a company that one could count on to do the right thing, a teacher who knew what was acceptable and what was not. In every part of life an interaction with someone of sound integrity and character is preferable to that of dealing with someone who lacks an understanding of right and wrong. What this country needs more than anything is leaders of unshakable moral principles grounded in Judeo-Christian values. Leaders in corporations, sports heroes our children can look up to, community leaders, union organizers and people of all sorts would build a better culture if they held themselves to a higher standard than the one established since the early 1960’s. Most importantly, we need men and women of character doing the right thing in all places of government. And if religion is what guides them to make those choices, it would be preferable to whoever donated the most money in the last election. George Washington started this country by making the decisions based on his own guiding principles that were religion based. We could use a few more people like him.