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In 1967

A Cause of the Decline of the Church

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories: Popular Culture  
The decline of morality in the US over the past 30+ years is clichéd. It has been bemoaned from pulpits and used as a popular vehicle for Christian guilt-trips. I have felt the guilt. I have taken the trip, but I had never heard the cause of this moral decline identified as I did in Michael Medved’s recent book, Right Turns.

In his book, Medved chronicles his transformation from secular, Jewish liberalism to devout Orthodox Judaism and enthusiastic conservatism. He makes many intriguing observations, but the one I focus on now is a mere a parenthetical statement on page 86. In 1967, Lyndon Johnson changed the draft policy in a way the drastically affected the church. Medved attended Yale during the draft for the Vietnam war, and this provides the backdrop for his observation.

Students would no longer receive draft deferments for graduate and professional school. This changed everything for the students of the era, forcing us to confront the war more personally than before…Only medical students and divinity students would remain exempt from their armed forces obligations. Naturally, tens of thousands of applicants discovered new enthusiasm for healing or holy careers. (Most historians of religion in America trace the sharp leftward tilt in most denominations to the draft-avoidance strategies that soon filled seminaries and divinity schools beyond capacity.)

This was new information to me. I can understand why I didn’t learn this in my regular Baptist alma maters. For Baptists there have been two categories of “Christians” in the past 75 years. Good Baptists, liberal Christians. Oh! And there are the Northern Baptists too. But only we have held firmly to the truth—the faithful remnant.


In spite of our refusal to fellowship with any of these liberal, leprous limbs of the body of Christ, they have had an influence on the character of our nation. Baptist schools required a testimony of faith, and I am sure that this kept them from the difficulties Medved noted. Nevertheless, this influx of self-centered cowards that flowed into the seminaries of America has had a detrimental effect on the morality of their churches. Not all of them flunked out as Gore did (This did answer one of my unanswered questions from the 2000 presidential elections: Why did Al Gore even enter seminary in the first place?). Those who remained infected many of the churches in America with their me-first ethic.

And the rest is history…except…that was 38 years ago. So all those who picked up the cloth on false pretenses will soon reach retirement. If Medved is right—and it seems plausible to me, then we should begin to see a correction of this trajectory of irreligion. As we have an opportunity to learn from the lives of our parents, we learn to discern cause and effect. When these baby-boomers who denied the reality of consequences leave their pulpits and posts in academia, others who are not wedded to this same foolishness will step in. The teaching will move back toward the truth. This is the Spirit’s work, and this 1967 gambit of our enemy will not continue its ill effects.

As we move ahead, we need not feel that they argue on equal footing with us. They are morally bankrupt. Only our forbearance allows them to still peddle their fraudulent wares. Their babbling nonsense has no relevance to our search for truth. Abandon them. Forget the “no fool left behind” idiocy of the last thirty years. We do not need to answer every baseless falsehood.

The church is ready to shed some dead weight. Gird yourself and get ready to run.


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