Wholesome Role Models?
Two teachers in Broward County, Florida were suspended without pay last fall for performing lewd acts in a sex club. Both teachers were arrested in sheriff's office raids on the club, and the school board immediately voted to suspend the teachers indefinitely without pay. According to media accounts, however, public outcry in protest of the severity of the punishment arose so vehemently that the school board reversed itself just two weeks later so that the teachers remained within the public school system at full pay, but did not return to the classroom.
Edwin Darden, a spokesman for the National Association of State Boards of Education, said that the initial decision was fraught with difficulties. "It can't simply reflect the board's moral judgment. The members have to look at what sort of impact the behavior will have on the teacher's ability of be effective in the classroom."
American Family Association Journal, October 1999
More than sixty leading scientists and science writers predicted societal and medical trends for coming years in an Internet survey. Some of them anticipate:
The dramatic fall in the rate of growth in global population. Peter Schwartz, chairman of Global Business Network, says the "horror stories" of world population reaching 20 or even 50 billion circulating only a few years ago had apparently proved unfounded. The total was expected to reach only 10 or 11 billion by mid-century.
The coming ability to remodel human life, from slowing the aging process to altering intelligence. Professor Steven Quartz, of the California Institute of Technology, argues: "Feasible technologies to retool human life will put us face to face with the basic dilemma of deciding what it means to be human within two decades."
The end of money. Thomas Petzinger of The Wall Street Journal, reminds us that: "Today most of the money in the world isn't even made of paper, much less metal. It exists as binary digits."
People changing into machines. Professor Rodney Brookes, director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, argues that cochlea (hearing) implants, artificial retinas, silicon chips covered with networks of nerve cells and other devices will result in a "merger between flesh and machines".
The Sydney Morning Herald, January 11, 2000
Hell has lost its fire and brimstone in the minds of most Americans. A recent poll shows that more people believe in hell today than they did in the 1950s, but think of hell as a state of existence where a person suffers deprivation from God rather than as a physical place. While 64 percent of respondents said there was a hell, 53 percent agreed it is "more of an anguished state of existence eternally separated from God" than an actual place. Thirty-four percent said hell is an actual place where people suffer eternal fiery torments.
Religion Today News, January 27, 2000
The State of Our Union
Recent research suggests 72 percent of Americans believe that fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America. Statistics reveal, however, that most Americans are not taking necessary action to solve the problem.
Forty percent of the children of divorced parents haven't seen their dads in the last year.
Thirty-six percent of children, approximately 24.7 million, don't live with their biological father. In 1960, just 9 percent of children lived with one parent.
The number of live births to unmarried women increased from 224,300 in 1960 to 1,248,000 in 1995, while the number of children living with never-married mothers grew from 221,000 in 1960 to 5,862,000 in 1995.
San Diego Union-Tribune, June 20, 1999
Attend Church, Live Longer!
For the overall population, the life-expectancy gap between those who attend church more than once a week and those who never attend is more than seven years, favoring those who attend, according to the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Insight, August 2, 1999
Teens: Preventing Disaster
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University in New York found some startling connections between teen drug and alcohol abuse, and sexual activity. The report, Dangerous Liaisons: Substance Abuse and Sex, released in December 1999, found:
• Sixty-three percent of teens who drink alcohol – and 70 percent of teens who drink frequently – have had sex, whereas only 26 percent who have abstained from alcohol have had sex.
• Seventy-two percent of teens who use drugs and 81 percent who are heavy users have had sex, contrasted with 36 percent who never have used drugs.
• Teens fourteen years of age and younger who drink alcohol are twice as likely to have sexual intercourse than those who do not.
• Teens fourteen and younger who use drugs are four times as likely to have sex than non-users of the same age.
• Teens fifteen and older who drink are seven times as likely to have sex and twice as likely to have it with four or more partners than those who do not drink.
• Teens fifteen and older who use drugs are five times as likely to have sex and three times as likely to have four or more sexual partners than those who abstain from drugs.
• Alcohol – whether used by the victim, the attacker or both – is involved in 46 to 75 percent of date rapes of college students. Among imprisoned sex offenders, 38 percent were under the influence of alcohol when they committed the crime. Women with alcohol and other drug problems are more likely to have been sexually abused as children or sexually assaulted.
In an August, 1999 report, CASA addressed the correlation between teen worship attendance and "at-risk" behavior.
The report showed 53 percent of young people say they attend such services at least four times a month. The contrast with those who attend less than once a month included:
• Only 10 percent of youth who attend religious services at least four times a month have smoked marijuana, while 25 percent of those who attend less than once a month have smoked marijuana.
• Seven percent of those who attend at least four times a month have smoked cigarettes, contrasted with 16 percent who attend less than once a month.
• Nine percent of regular attenders drink alcohol in a typical week, while 21 percent of irregular attenders drink in a typical week.
• More than half, 56 percent, of youth who attend at least four times a month say they will never use an illegal drug in the future, while only 15 percent of those who attend less than once a month say they will abstain.
The Ten Commandments – Immoral?
Humanistic author Lewis Vaughn objects to posting the Ten Commandments in school because "it's more than just bad government – it's bad for my children. It's bad for them because pushing the Ten Commandments as a moral code is bad ethics, bad religion, and bad psychology." He goes on cite seven reasons why:
1. They conflict with one another.
2. They are too vague to be useful.
3. They are inadequate.
4. They are absolutist to the point of being immoral.
5. They have no divine authority.
6. There is no evidence that they work.
7. They give children the wrong idea about morality.
Free Inquiry, Fall 1999
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil …" Isaiah 5:20
"Pornography on the Web is a good thing."
– Jeffrey Douglas, attorney for the Free Speech Coalition. He also described pornography as a "home grown American product" that provides jobs and taxes, and contributes billions of dollars to the economy.
Reuters, October 8, 1999