Can you imagine today a Democratic President saying these remarks? Can you imagine a Democratic Candidate for President endorsing these remarks today? Well if you can’t, I do not really blame you- a great deal has changed in the United States since 1943. However, something that hasn’t changed is the topic of this essay-moral education and the responsibility of training the youth of our country.
Should we allow the present State to train our youth morals? Is this the purpose of the government? Is this what big government always said or did? The answer will surprise you and it really ought to you to begin to rethink all what you think you know about our history. Listen to what FDR said about moral education.
President Roosevelt has said: "We are concerned about the children who are outside the reach of religious influences and are denied help in attaining faith in an ordered universe and in the Fatherhood of God. . . . Practical steps should be taken to make more available to children and through education the resources of religion as an important factor in the democratic way of life and in the development of personal and social integrity."
It was assumed in American tradition that education would be moral and religious. It was left to the freedom of the religious groups to undertake education. The State would favor no particular religion, but it would welcome any religion. Well this was before the 1947 Emerson case which Bishop Fulton J Sheen Philosophies At War, 1943 changed the Separation of Church And State forever.
For that reason all the early colleges of the United States were founded with a distinctly religious basis: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Brown, Rutgers and Dartmouth. Harvard was founded in 1636 to save Churches from an illiterate ministry. William and Mary was founded in 1693 for the same purpose. Yale in 1701 declared its aim was to prepare young men for "public employment both in Church and Civil State." Columbia was established in 1753 with the chief objective "to teach and engage children to know God in Jesus Christ." Of the 119 colleges founded east of the Mississippi, 104 were Christian and all of them were primarily for Christian purposes. Of 246 founded by 1860, only 17 were State Universities. The Academy, the precursor of our modern high school which had its rise about 1750, and its highest development in 1850, was definitely religious in character. Very few of these early colleges and universities have retained religion as an integral part of education. An investigation made some years ago recalled that some colleges had reduced the number of students believing in God from one in live at entrance, to one in twenty at graduation. Dr. Alexander Meiklejohn blames the decline of religion in these institutions on the Churches which have surrendered their fundamental beliefs. "For the most part the revolutionary transfer of power from the Church to the State has happened with the consent, and even on the initiative, of the Churches themselves. Slowly, it is true, especially in England and reluctantly in many other cases, these Churches have deprived themselves of one of their most cherished prerogatives. Very few of these early colleges and universities have retained religion as an integral part of education. An investigation made some years ago recalled that some colleges had reduced the number of students believing in God from one in live at entrance, to one in twenty at graduation. Dr. Alexander Meiklejohn blames the decline of religion in these institutions on the Churches which have surrendered their fundamental beliefs. "For the most part the revolutionary transfer of power from the Church to the State has happened with the consent, and even on the initiative, of the Churches themselves. Slowly, it is true, especially in England and reluctantly in many other cases, these Churches have deprived themselves of one of their most cherished prerogatives. Bishop Fulton J Sheen Philosophies At War, 1943
In a society that now uses polling data to obtain morals or decide moral issues have you ever wondered what would happen if the majority of people were wrong about something. The majority is not right because it has a moral right- it is right because of greater amount of people on its side. Brothers and sisters supposed you lived in the western part of the United States in the late 1870’s. The nearest Marshall was in a town over 70 miles from you and someone murdered a member of your family. Your friends come to your aid and catch a person who they claim to be was the murderer. Now, taking him to justice and to the Marshal would be very hard. The quickest way would be to take care of it yourself or let your friends do it for you. All of your friends say they would support you and help. They find a tall tree and bring a horse. They throw the noose over a very sturdy branch and then place it over his neck. Before slapping the horse to get it to move, they ask you, “What do you want us to do?”
The hard thing is a metaphor for the United States Government today. They are getting people to do things not because they are moral but because they are simple or expedient. We can not bow down to this type of training.
When these words were written in 1943 it was four before the Emerson Case (1947) where Hugo Black changed how we view the Church and State today. The problem is look at Bishop Fulton’s words in 1943,” We need these standards and beliefs today, but who shall say what are the beliefs of an educational system? There is no agreement on principles and no uniform set of values. In time of peace the only universal agreement was a negative one, namely, that the Church is non-essential; and in time of war, another negative one, a hatred of Hitler. Education now affirms that the function which was once performed by religion can be better performed by a school without religion.”
We can not have this today. Everson happened and now we have the state government teaching morals without God in the classroom all over the United States. Is there little wonder what has happened to our society.
According to a 2019 Gallop Poll, in the face of these problems and threats, the majority of Americans have little confidence that the federal government and their elected officials are up to meeting the major challenges that lie ahead. More than eight-in-ten say they are worried about the way the government in Washington works, including 49% who are very worried. A similar share worries about the ability of political leaders to solve the nation’s biggest problems, with 48% saying they are very worried about this. And, when asked what impact the federal government will have on finding solutions to the country’s future problems, more say Washington will have a negative impact than a positive one (55% vs. 44%).
This is very strange. 90% of incumbents win their House seats in every election. Yet Americans are worried about their government officials handling their jobs. If they can’t handle their jobs who is to blame? Could we look at the people who voted for them each and every election? Are we the problems or does it go much deeper than that?
Maybe we should look at a politician who was a politician when politics worked for Amercians. President Calvin Coolidge said in May 1928, "Unless our people are thoroughly instructed in the great truths of religion, they are not fitted to understand our institutions, or to provide them with adequate support."
Let us go back to the past and take a look at our future. Go to the wisdom of Bishop Sheen and see that we need to once again instruct the great truths of religion to our youth before it is too late.