- - Tuesday, June 5, 2012

When historians one day look back on the rise and fall of the American republic, it won’t only be our habitual deficit spending and lack of financial discipline they blame for our demise, but the deficit of faith and lack of religion in our children’s generation.

The beliefs and values that once served as the foundation for our government and the moral compass for our society already have been so undermined among our youth that it may take a miracle to restore them.

The Bible says nothing is impossible with God. The spiritual revival we need may test that theory.

Thanks to aggressive atheists who are successfully imposing a pervasively more godless society, our kids’ generation is growing up believing that America is meant to be free of religion, not free for religion.

You might wonder where they get such a notion, until you remember that one of the fastest-growing student groups in America is the Secular Student Alliance, an organization that envisions a future “in which nontheistic students are respected voices in public discourse and vital partners in the secular movement’s charge against irrationality and dogma.”

Even in public schools without active groups of atheists or anti-theists, the American schoolhouse is a decidedly secular place, where students of faith increasingly are told they can’t speak out about their beliefs if such views can be construed as bigoted.

Earlier this year, for example, a student essay in a Wisconsin high school newspaper attracted national attention because the author expressed opposition to gay marriage and adoption on religious grounds. A gay couple in the community complained. The next thing he knew, the student was threatened with suspension and called ignorant by his district’s superintendent.

That’s just the sort of response that promotes religious freedom and teaches kids, “Your right to believe what you wish and speak out about it is protected in America.”

Not.

Similarly, media directed at our nation’s youth is decidedly secular, and even holds religion and religious people in disdain. Watch any episode of “Family Guy” and listen for the jokes about Jesus, and you’ll see what I mean. (Or just trust me on this one, because that’s 30 minutes you can never get back.)

Is it any wonder that in such a culture, researchers say young Americans are dropping out of religion at five to six times the historic rate (30 percent to 40 percent have no religion today, versus 5 percent to 10 percent a generation ago), according to a 2010 article in Christianity Today.

“Free from religion” appears to be winning.

And if the Obamacare contraception mandate remains intact and ultimately is forced upon religious institutions and other employers of moral conscience, the notion of religious freedom as we know it will be a thing of the past.

On Friday, the “Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally” will take place in 155 cities across the country, focusing on opposition to the Obamacare mandate that requires all employers, including those with religious or moral objections, to provide free contraception and abortifacient drugs as part of the standard health insurance package required by law.

I’ll be among the hundreds of speakers at those gatherings in support of religious freedom, and while I was honored to be asked to speak, I’m dismayed that such a rally is even necessary.

In the United States of America, standing up for religious freedom should sound as odd to us as standing up for the right to drink soda or eat salt or buy a Happy Meal or be born once you have been conceived.

Oh, wait. Those things aren’t a given, either.

Alarmingly, our children are growing up in a time when the freedoms we have taken for granted remain only precariously guaranteed. If religious freedom goes, the dominoes will fall quickly.

Stand up, indeed. For a rally near you, go to http://standupforreligiousfreedom.com/

Marybeth Hicks is the author of “Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left’s Assault on Our Families, Faith and Freedom.” Find her on the web at http://marybethhicks.com.