As Americans of all stripes continue to see the fabric of their Nation rip apart at the seams, we understand that nearly all our social ills today are downstream from our country’s general decline in faith. Thankfully, the Texas state legislature is taking bold steps to reverse this trend and help instill in our children the values of faith and freedom that make us the world’s greatest country. Texas currently has two bills pending that would be a vital first step in restoring the faith of our Nation and instilling our Judeo-Christian heritage in the hearts and minds of our young people.
The first of these bills is S.B. 1515, introduced by state Senator Phil King, which would require that Texas elementary or secondary schools display a framed copy of the Ten Commandments in each classroom. The benefits of such a bill are not purely religious; Christians and non-Christians alike can benefit from reminders to respect those around them, honor their parents and elders, be truthful in word and deed, and follow other lessons from the Ten Commandments that are not exclusive to Christianity. Our society today could use more people who practice these teachings.
The second bill is S.B. 1396, which was introduced by state Senator Mayes Middleton. This legislation would allow all Texas public and charter schools to require their campuses to set aside time for students and faculty to engage in prayer or read the Bible and other religious texts. This policy could provide many positive benefits, such as giving children an opportunity to spend time in quiet contemplation and be alone with their thoughts in the midst of the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The simple fact is that our Nation needs a revival of faith now more than ever. Data from Pew Research shows that only about 65% of American adults identify as Christian today. And there is not a revival more needed than among our youth. One Gallup poll showed that, while each generation is seeing a large drop in membership of churches, synagogues, or mosques, the largest generational decrease is coming from millennials, with a 15% decrease in church membership since 2008–2010.
Furthermore, the youngest of America’s generations are more irreligious than our older ones. More than 80% of the Silent Generation and about 74% of Baby Boomers describe themselves as Christians today, compared to only 50% of Millennials. At the same time, only about one-third of Millennials attend religious services once or twice a month, and only 22% report weekly church attendance. Unsurprisingly, increases in crime, fatherlessness, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, and so many more of the problems our society faces today have all mirrored this decline in religiosity, and they will only continue to proliferate if we allow these trends to continue.
Our Founding Fathers understood the importance of religion and viewed the Bible as a necessity in promoting good values throughout the country. After all, in the midst of the Revolutionary War, Congress viewed a shortage of Bibles as so threatening that taxpayer dollars were used to purchase Bibles. One congressional committee stated, “[T]he use of the Bible is so universal and its importance so great, . . . your Committee recommend that Congress will order the Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 Bibles from Holland, Scotland, or elsewhere, into the different ports of the States of the Union,” and Congress agreed.
Bills like the ones being put forward in Texas are perfectly in line with our founding documents, which declare that each and every one of us is endowed with certain inalienable rights “by our Creator.” Our Founding Fathers realized that without this religious bulwark as a basis for our society, we could never maintain the moral foundation we would need as a country. In fact, John Adams made sure this would be known when he stated, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
As that moral foundation continues to disintegrate before our very eyes, Texas should be applauded for taking steps to restore our country’s values to our young people. Although the bills being considered by the Texas legislature will not reverse these trends overnight, they are an important step in bringing faith-based values back to the forefront of our society. As members of the one blood human race, we must act with liberty, justice, and compassion for all. All Americans should support such efforts to reinvigorate our society with the values that made us great in the first place.