Re: textbooks (fwd).....And their relationship to civil religion

Joel Cannon (
Thu, 4 Dec 1997 09:59:42 -0600 (CST)

> > Bill Payne mentions that "David Barton (of Wall Builders) has pointed
> > out " apparent correlation between the (US) Supreme Court decisions
> > in '62 and '63 (prohibiting prayer and Bible reading in public schools)
> > and breaks in the plots (for the previous 10 or 20 years) for crime,
> > teen pregnacy, divorce, gross national product, and a host of other
> > indicators..."
> >


You will likely be as shocked (and possibly as depressed) at reading my
reaction as I was at your statements. I find the statements
idolatrous, worshipping mammon and implicitly claiming that the
U.S. is God's new Israel.

It reminds me that beneath these discussions about the nature of
science lie some very deep and disparate assumptions about the nature
of the gospel, revelation, and God's call to us. This becomes more
apparent when discussions about science and Creation lead to a
discussion of Gross National Product and what seems to be a very
tenuous cause-effect argument connecting civil religion and GNP.
Perhaps the hope of the gospel manifests itself by the fact that we
are talking.

In addition, I believe the argument to be empirically flawed.
Following the hypothetical-deductive method, we could form ancillary
hypothesis that would allow us to test this idea. We might expect
that states with a greater rate of praying people would have stronger
economies, and for this to be true internationally and
historically. Regarding the first, I suspect the Deep South would
qualify as the prayingest states, yet it is my impression that the
economies of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama have been at the
bottom of the economic heap for many years, and contra hypothesis,
their economies relative to the rest of the nation have been most
robust since the Supreme Court ruling. Conversely, I believe religious
and "liberal" California and New York's economic growth probably
matched their very substantial growth in crime, and decline in prayer.

Similarly, in western civilization, Rome would seem to be the
quintessentially successful economy, yet the time when they were most
successful economically was when they were persecuting the people that
were praying, and the decline of the Roman empire seems to correlate
with an increase in prayer.

These data indicate that the author you cite was selective at best,
and might cause us to ask if there are better explanations for
the decline in society other than prayer in school.

Having lived in the deep South now for 5 1/2 years where prayers are
routinely said an any quasi-public event (e.g. at the Professional
Engineers Society or P.T.A.), and churches have extremely strong
influence if not control over politics, you will have to understand my
cynicism toward the idea of civil religion's power to improve
life. Despite their long years of dominion, the praying people have
done so little to transform the widespread poverty and social
problems, including but not limited to race, that I find it quite
possible that the churches actually laid the foundation for the
widespread decay documented by the statistics you cite.

Your Protesting Brother,


> Wed, 3 Dec 1997 00:29:39 -0500 Vandergraaf, Chuck wrote:
> >

> Opps, Barton's book was at work so I couldn't check it last night for my
> post. In _The Myth of Separation_, David Barton, Wall Builder Press,
> P.O. Box 397, Aledo, TX 76008, Barton has several graphs: Birth Rates
> for Unwed Women: 15 - 19 Yrs of Age; Violent Crime: No. of Offenses;
> Sexually Transmitted Diseases - gonorrhea: Age Group 15 - 19; SAT Total
> Scores 1951 - 1986; Pregnancies to Unwed Women Under 15 Yrs of Age;
> Divorce Rates; National Cases of Sexually Transmitted Diseases - All
> Ages; Multi-Factor Productivity: Non-Farm Business; and Multi-Factor
> Productivity: Private Business (pp 209-216).
> The last two graphs were what I remembered as the GNP.
> > If he meant
> > that the Supreme Court decision had an adverse effect on the US GNP,
> > what did the US Supreme Court do in the '30's to bring on the great
> > depression? If the US Supreme Court reversed its decision and
> > promulgated Bible reading and prayer, would the GNP rise?
> I think Barton's point was that a nation which honors God will prosper
> while one which shoves Him out of sight (as we continue to do through
> the court decisions of liberal judges) will suffer the consequences for
> breaking spiritual laws. The Court would not promulgate Bible reading
> and prayer if it reversed its decision, it would only allow Bible
> reading and prayer.
> Bill Payne

Joel W. Cannon Celebrate Buy Nothing Day !!!!!!!
Dept. of Physics A 24 hour moratorium on Consumer Spending
Centenary College of Louisiana November 28, 1997
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