On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

Do kids who go to church do better at school?


Absolutely and the effect is dramatic, writes Dr. Pat Fagan.  In a study just released, he cites independent findings by more than 100 social scientists who have published their own studies over the last two decades establishing the profound effect that attending church has on kids’ performance at school.


Church kids have higher grade point averages – scoring 14.4 percent higher than non-attenders. Church kids also spend more time on their homework, according to the studies.


Dr. Fagan is the director of the Center for Research on Marriage and Religion and Senior Fellow at the Marriage and Religion Research Institute in Washington, D.C.


His findings show that church attendance is one of the most effective ways to impact low-income students. Additionally, 75 percent of college students who become more committed to their faith during their college years perform above average.


In his report, “Religious Practice and Educational Attainment,” he lists numerous scientific studies that show that a student with solid faith is able to deal with the conflicts affecting kids – and attain better academically, have better work habits and possess higher personal expectations of achievement.


Church-going kids have reduced “behavioral risks” such as drug abuse, gang membership, alcohol use or sexual experimentation.


His lengthy and somewhat academic report is not light reading. The basis of his report is the findings of a large number of other researchers whose studies have confirmed the benefits of a personal faith.


For example, Dr. Fagan cites Chandra Muller and Christopher G. Ellison. Their study, “Religious Involvement, Social Capital, and Adolescents’ Academic Progress: Evidence from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988,” was published in 2001 in the journal Sociological Focus. Its findings were that religiously involved students spend more time on their homework and work harder in school.


That church-going students achieve more than non-churched kids was determined in a number of studies, including “Religion and the Well-Being of Adolescents,” published in the Journal of Social Issues by M. J. Donahue and P.L. Benson, “Religion and Vulnerability Among Low-Risk Adolesecents,” published in 2003 by Mark D. Regnerus and Glen H. Elder in Social Science Research, and in “Religious Involvement and Educational Outcomes: The Role of Social Capital and Extracurricular Participation,” published in 2008 by J. L. Glanville, D. Sikkink, and E.I. Hernandez in Sociological Quarterly.


“Regnerus and Elder analyzed 9,200 youth from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health,” reports Dr. Fagan. They found that church attendance decreased the likelihood of getting poor grades by 13 percent. Furthermore, students who attended religious activities weekly or more frequently were found to have a grade point average 14.4 percent higher than students who never attended.” They also found that “frequent religious attendance also correlates with lower dropout rates and greater school attachment.”


Why is all this research important? We live in times in which long-established beliefs, such as that going to church is good for kids, is no longer assumed to be true. Movies, TV shows and popular literature portray clergymen as sexual perverts, power-hungry tyrants and cult leaders. Church-going is seldom a norm in popular entertainment or literature. It is the rare TV family that regularly attends Sunday school.


So Dr. Fagan set out to study whether the popular perception is true – that church is detrimental to kids. He found exactly the opposite. What is important is that he didn’t do the studies himself. His task was to compile the findings of scores of independent researchers.


“The overall impact of religious practice is illustrated dramatically” throughout the studies that he cites. Some 81 percent of published studies showed the positive benefit of religious practice, 15 percent showed neutral effects and only 4 percent showed harm.


“Each of these systematic reviews indicated more than 80 percent benefit, and none indicated more than 10 percent harm,” reported Dr. Fagan.


“Looking specifically at math and reading scores, students who frequently attend religious services scored 2.32 points higher on tests in these subjects than their less religiously-involved peers,” he found, citing a study by Regnerus titled “Shaping Schooling Success: Religious Socialization and Educational Outcomes in Metropolitan Public Schools,” published in 2000 in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.


“Parents’ religious attendance is also a significant indicator,” writes Dr. Fagan. He cites findings by Annebert Dijkstra and Jules L. Peschar reported in “Religious Determinants of Academic Attainment in the Netherlands,” published in 1996 in the Comparative Education Review‘s Special Issue on Religion. That study showed that Dutch students who held a strong Christian worldview and whose families attended religious services scored higher academically than those who did not.


CLICK HERE FOR: Church kids are less likely to divorce and more likely to overcome poverty.

The University of California at Davis has decided that Christians actually may not be oppressors who are undeserving of any rights.
The university has backed away from a policy which in effect lumped followers of Jesus with Nazis, slaveowners and skinheads.

The definition had been listed in a university document called, “The Principles of Community.” 

That official statement defined “Religious/Spiritual Discrimination” as “The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion. In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.”

“This is radical political correctness run amok,” said David French, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, a law firm which defends Christian rights. The ADF wrote a letter on behalf of more than 25 UCD students who had objected to the policy and wanted it revised.

French pointed out the absurdity of Christians being labels as oppressors along with the implication that non-Christians are the only oppressed people on campus. 

Raheem Reed, an associate executive vice chancellor at UCD, said he had received French’s letter and removed the definition from the university website.

“I certainly can see how a Christian student reading that definition might feel and that’s why it was immediately disabled and taken down,” Reed said. “This is not how we define religious discrimination.” 

A UCD student said a complaint had been made to the university last November, but it nothing was done. A student, who asked not to be identified, said university officials asked her to reaffirm “The Principles of Community” last semester. She refused when she realized that Christians were not protected under the policy. 

“To have a non-discrimination policy that excludes the Christian faith is a cause for action,” she said. “In higher academia, one would hope that a diversity of ideas and beliefs would be appreciated. But my experience has been that this has not always been the case. There is a real fear of academic bias against the Christian faith.” 

Reed said he regrets that Christian students might feel intimidated. “We want everyone to feel safe, welcomed and supportive,” he said. 

“Not only are we taking it down, but now we’re going to look at what kind of affirmative steps we can take to reassure those members of our campus community who may have felt somewhat threatened or intimidated by it.” 

French said the students who complained have asked for anonymity since they are fearful of backlash if their identities became known.

“This is a symbol of the seeming impunity in which universities violate the law to establish a radical, secular-left agenda.”

Nine Hawaiian lawmakers recently gathered on the floor of their state senate, bowed their heads and continued an American tradition older than our nation itself.
They prayed.

“Nine senators gathered near the Hawaiian flag on the senate floor, joined hands and bowed their heads,” reported Tim Sakahara of Hawaii News Now. “Senator Will Espero led the prayer. Joining him were Senators Mike Gabbard, Clarence Nishihara, Glenn Wakai, Michelle Kidani, Suzanne Chun Oakland, Pohai Ryan, Gilbert Kahele and Ronald Kouchi. They did not have a microphone. No one in the public gallery was asked to stand or participate. The whole thing lasted about 30 seconds.

“Then they made their way to their desks and a moment later the session officially began.”
Only days earlier, the Democrat-dominated Hawaii Senate had voted to become the first legislative body to end daily prayer in their state chambers out of fear of the American Civil Liberties Union. The Senate is made up of 24 Democrats and 1 Republican.
According to press reports, the ACLU had written a letter claiming the prayers violated the separation of church and state. That prompted the state attorney general to advise the senate that he doubted their handling of prayers – by inviting speakers from various religions to preach before every session – could survive the inevitable court challenge, said Democratic Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria.
But how can anyone say that the framers of the U.S. Constitution would have disapproved of prayer. Congress has opened with prayer ever since September 7, 1774, when the Reverend Jacob Duché, Rector of Philadelphia’s Christ Church, read aloud the 35th Psalm, then prayed:

“O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. To Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give. Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle!
“Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.
Those present recorded that at the opening of the Continental Congress, a motion had been made that an opening prayer should be offered.
However, a couple of people suggested that the great religious diversity of the group – Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and others – would make such prayer unwise.

The great statesman Samuel Adams stood.

He declared he was “no bigot, and could hear a prayer from any gentleman of piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend to his country.”
The motion for prayer was approved. The Reverend Duche was summoned.
Opening with prayer continues in Congress to this day – and has in other legislature in America. This is the first time that a legislature has caved into the ACLU’s intimidation.
“When are Christians going to stand up and take back their rights and freedoms before it is too late and God has been wiped out of everything?” asks columnist Susan Hillman. “Which state is going to have the strength to stand up and fight? America was founded on freedom and people are needlessly just sitting there and letting it be stolen away after it was fought for by our forefathers.”
The sole Republican in Hawaii’s Senate, Sam Slom, asked fellow members to at least make the prayers voluntary instead of banning the practice all together. “The Senate must stand for something,” he protested, “and not back away when there are challenges.”

His plea fell on deaf ears.

The Senate voted to halt their opening prayer.
So, when the state Senate reconvened, Senator Espero organized a impromptu prayer circle on the floor of the Senate.
“One can call it a silent protest. We’re just saying we’re continuing a tradition that’s being done a little differently than in the past,” he said to reporters. “There are some people who believe we have completely stopped prayer in the senate chamber and that is not the case.”
While the ACLU was able to halt the traditional prayers given by the Indiana House temporarily, Indiana appealed to a federal court; and the court overturned the decision. As of 2008, prayers are back in Indiana.
In Marsh v. Chambers, 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prayers at the start of each legislative day are not a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Such prayers are deeply embedded in the history and tradition of the nation.
But Hawaii has caved in now.
Let us pray that other states will not follow.

boat.jpgThe four retired Americans slain by Somali pirates February 22 had spent the last decade giving away Bibles while sailing around the world, according to the log of their voyage.

Scott and Jean Adam of Marina del Rey, California, and friends Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Seattle, were executed when pirates fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. Navy warship, then apparently panicked as the Navy ship approached.

 This is the first time in recent memory that Somali pirates have killed Americans — who they usually hold for million-dollar ransoms.

What was different this time? Was it that the 58-foot sailboat, The Quest, was packed full of Bibles?

adams.jpgJean and Scott had shared a dream through their 15 years of marriage. They wanted to retire and sail around the world while handing out Bibles to missionaries and pastors in obscure places throughout the South Pacific.

The purpose of their voyage, Jean Adam wrote in the voyage log was “to allow the power of the Word to transform lives.”

“Extraordinary are the times,” she wrote, “when people have been praying for Bibles for their group or their schools. When we arrive, we are often greeted by the attitude of ‘We were expecting you’ and ‘What took you so long?’

“We seek fertile ground for the Word and homes for our Bibles,” she wrote in another log entry. “Often, the ultimate homes are best found by people who are already living locally and seeking and cultivating that fertile ground.”

They enjoyed boosting the spirits of hard-working preachers and mission workers, she wrote: “We are often an amazing encouragement to folks who are long past ‘the honeymoon’ stage of their ministry.”

Their Internet log describes “over 60,000 miles of seeking homes for the Bibles. Anytime we have workers on the boat or come into the dock and have an opportunity to talk to people, we find more homes for our Bibles.”

The log tells of sailing to exotic islands most folks only dream of. 

“Our mission in Fiji has been much like Tonga,” she wrote in one log entry. “We thought more remote villages would be more in need of Bibles. We appreciated the fact that our gifts are received with such great enthusiasm.”

She wrote of stopping at remote Gau Island where the native pastor carefully checked to make sure the Bibles were authentic.

“He’s old enough to be suspect of any ‘free’ gift,” Jean wrote. “Often people have an agenda.”

The couple supported themselves financially — and were not aligned with any organized outreach. “Scott and I feel that we can do more as ‘unassociated missionaries,'” she wrote. “This allows us to follow the Spirit as we search for ‘homes’ for our Bibles. We hope to be a blessing to those who receive these. This year, we shipped 17 cases of Bibles to The Quest in New Zealand for our mission (about 500 Bibles).

“We had hoped to send more, but the shipping costs were oppressive.

Jean wrote in a later entry of how “we learned last year of a schoolteacher that was selling the Bibles to parents in her school. We were so astonished that we decided to have a stamp made up. The words on the stamp are: ‘A gift from your friends in the United States. Quest Bible Ministry. NOT FOR SALE.’

“In Albert Bay, on Rabi Island, we met folks whose families came from the Kiribati Islands to the north. When we came ashore we were warmly greeted. They spoke enough English that we had a very fun time.”

“Budd Reef was our next stop. This was an atoll where we came through a very narrow slot in the reef to make it to the only anchorage just before dark.

“There’s not a lot of level ground on Vanuca Island and what there is of it has to be used for housing and planting.”

On another tiny island, she wrote: “A family of six were the only people living on Suwarrow. The closest people live almost 300 miles away upwind. With a radio that rarely has enough power to transmit their situation is often tenuous. Clearly these folks were happy to have the encouragement of the Bibles we brought and the two morning prayer services we led on Sundays.”

It was on the island of Penrhyn in the Cook Islands that the couple encountered a school principal who had been praying that someone would bring Bibles for his 50 students.

“There was not a Bible to be found anywhere at the school,” wrote Jean. “He has been praying since his arrival for these Bibles. He’s just frustrated that it took us so long to get here! In addition to Bibles we also gave some children’s literature. So all-in-all we were all pretty happy about finding Bible homes in this school!

On Samoa, Jean wrote: “Life is full of surprises! Our visit to the Seafarer’s Center in Pago Pago gave us an opportunity to get our Bibles onto container ships that have Filipino crews. Many of the people from the Philippines read English. We also found that there is a great need for Bibles in Mandarin Chinese.

On “the rather remote island of Niuatoputapu,” she told how “the Customs lady wore black. People were in mourning for a month because their King had just died.

“We continued south to a little island called Uiha. When crossing the reef to get into the anchorage, our depth meter registered 11 feet or 2 1/2 feet under our keel. The village seemed deserted when we arrived because people were out harvesting produce for dinner.”

Why would the Somali pirates murder such gentle retirees? Was it because their boat was packed with Christian Bibles? “The pirates in northern Somalia are not hard-line Islamists and a yacht carrying Bibles is not likely to be a problem,” the Associated Press reported. Two Somali pirates spoke with Reuters, the British news service, by telephone. “Our  colleagues called us this morning, that they were being attacked by a U.S. warship,” said a pirate who identified himself as Mohamud.

“The U.S. warship shot in the head two of my comrades who were on the deck of the yacht by the time they alerted us,” Mohamud said. “This is the time we ordered the other comrades inside yacht to react — kill the four Americans because there was no other alternative — then our line got cut.”

A U.S. Navy spokesman said after a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at one of their ships and gunfire was heard aboard The Quest, Navy Seals responded, but found all four of the retirees had been shot by their captors.

Despite attempts to save their lives, the Navy said, all four died of their wounds.

“‘We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard The Quest,‘ said General James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command Commander. “Two pirates died during the confrontation and U.S. forces found the remains of two other pirates already dead aboard the vessel. Thirteen pirates were captured and detained, along with two already in custody. A total of 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking.

“The remains of the four Americans were taken aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, as were the 15 pirates in custody.”

There is no word yet on where the pirates will be taken for trial. They could go to Kenya or they could come back to the U.S. There is a precedent for both.

Vice Admiral Mark Fox, Commander of Centcom’s Naval Forces, told Fox News there was “absolutely no warning” before the hostage situation turned deadly. “At 8 a.m. local time,” he said, “a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at the USS Sterett (one of four U.S. Naval ships monitoring the situation) from pirates on board the Quest. The shot missed, but immediately after gunfire erupted inside the cabin of the Quest.” 

“‘Several pirates appeared on deck and moved up to the bow with their hands in the air in surrender. That’s when U.S. Special Operations Forces approached on small boats and boarded the yacht.

“When a Navy Seals unit reached the yacht, they found two pirates had already been killed by small-arms fire. As they went below deck, there was an exchange of fire that killed one pirate. The other pirate was killed by a Seal who used a knife in close combat,” said Vice Adm. Fox.

jean-scott-adam.jpg“It is with great sadness that I learned today of the killing of all the Americans on board The Quest, including my friends Jean and Scott Adam,” wrote Lynn Walford, editor of the Internet publication Wireless and Mobile News. “Scott helped people believe in themselves. He loved sailing and found a great partner in Jean to sail with him around the world. They had a mission. They shared their blessings and love wherever they went. 

“They will be missed by us all. May you rest in peace with smooth sailing in the hereafter. Thank you, Jean and Scott for sharing your love and light with us.”