Americans have been sold a bill of goods concerning the complicated nature of the society in which we now live. Some things are, indeed, more complicated and fast-paced; of that there can be little doubt. But some things are, in fact, just as simple as they ever were. Such simplicity presented itself for examination when two separate news stories, both from my home state of Nebraska, caught my eye in the last couple of weeks. Juxtaposed, the two form a microcosm of the sad moral state of American society in the 21st Century.
The first article tells the story of 33-year-old Christopher Taylor, a 2001 computer engineering graduate of the University of Nebraska. Between jobs in his chosen field, Taylor refused to be a burden to his family, the taxpayers or anyone else. Instead, in order to make ends meet, he dutifully accepted a position far below his skill and education level, as a delivery driver for a local Pizza Hut.
On the night of September 10, 2010, Taylor delivered a pizza to what turned out to be an empty Omaha apartment. Waiting for him there were four teenage punks, one of whom stabbed him to death. The four then stole the $25 in cash he was carrying. They were soon captured by authorities. Two of them are to be tried for first-degree murder, the other two for robbery and criminal conspiracy.
The kid who actually wielded the knife in the fatal stabbing is 16 years old. Perhaps not coincidentally, his father is serving a sentence in the Nebraska State Penitentiary for drug conspiracy.
A few days after this story shocked the sensibilities of Nebraskans, another article appeared detailing how the Nebraska chapter of the ACLU is warning public school administrators to beware of allowing Christian speakers to bring their message of faith and good citizenship to the youth of our state. The headline in the Omaha World-Herald read, "How much religion is too much in schools?"
Really? After five decades of purging our public schools of all vestiges of Christianity — or even a code of morality based on its teachings — four teenagers entrap and brutally murder a man, and the public question on the table is whether there is too much religion in our schools? If it were not a persistently asked question by supposedly educated, intelligent and reasonable people, and if it were not such a sad irony, this query would be laughable!
The specific issue that has the ACLU in their usual, anti-Christian snit stems largely from a "controversial" talk to junior and senior high school students, given regularly by Ron Brown, a University of Nebraska assistant football coach. Brown is a devout, evangelical believer, and his message is simple: "Be accountable, be dependable, be responsible." He also stresses his faith, saying, "I'm going to talk about Jesus Christ whenever I'm talking about drugs or alcohol or character."
Brown's talks to students are always voluntary, and the reception from the students — starved as they are for moral guidance in our government schools — is almost universally positive. However, as is always the case in these matters, one sniveling complaint was filed by someone who chose to be offended by the message, and the usual suspects had to ride to the rescue to prevent someone — anyone — from hearing an affirmative message about the power of faith.
Coach Brown says his message is the same one he has delivered to students and young athletes for the last twenty years, and he isn't going to change it because of the ACLU.
Good for him!
These two paradoxical narratives paint a heartbreaking portrait of where we are in 2010 America. Perhaps if these four teens had heard an uplifting proclamation like the one the ACLU wants to prevent Ron Brown from delivering to their generation, both stories would have a very different ending.