- - Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Comedian Bill Maher held little back on the Jan. 20 episode of HBO‘s “Real Time,” pondering what in the world is unfolding in our public schools and imploring the Democratic Party to take responsibility.

“Anything that has to do with schools or education is something really the Democrats have to answer for because they control it,” Mr. Maher said on his show. “I mean, when you look at the Democratic convention, it’s like three-quarters of them are teachers.”

Despite being a “big defender of teachers,” Mr. Maher called the current dynamics in many public schools “outrageous” — and he’s patently correct. The host discussed horrific incidents such as the recent horror involving a 6-year-old who shot and seriously injured his teacher in Newport News, Virginia.

Mr. Maher lamented, “We’ve completely lost control of our schools,” at one point pondering how the pandemonium happened. The TV host certainly deserves praise for admitting we have a problem — and a pat on the back for contemplating how the United States allowed it to fester.

But here’s the real problem at the core of this discussion: Most people don’t want to confront the fundamental factors leading to our self-inflicted wounds.

Just 28% of Americans have “a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in” public schools, according to Gallup. And those statistics aren’t improving. America is at one of the most bizarre crossroads imaginable, with a crisis of our own making permeating almost every facet of society. 

Despite every measurable statistic showing us the right way forward, we brazenly scoff, pretend we don’t see the warning signs and trudge on toward an ever-approaching cultural cliff.

We like to blame the schools because they’re an easy scapegoat, but our educational facilities — despite often perpetuating and fueling these problems — are merely exposing that our great social experiment of dismissing God in place of ourselves is failing miserably.

By all measures, today’s young people are in a dire predicament, with mental health issues ravaging Generation Z. By some estimates, more than 27% of these younger Americans have said they have fair or poor mental health, with nearly half (46%) claiming that their mental health status is worse than before COVID-19 began. 

And the statistics don’t end there, as 11% of people between 18 and 25 have said they’ve had “serious thoughts about suicide,” with 20% of high school students saying the same. Mix in drug overdoses and other plights, and the dangerous culture condition worsens. 

That brings me back to Mr. Maher’s revealing “Real Time” conversation. Commentator Andrew Sullivan, one of Mr. Maher’s guests, offered his take on what’s going wrong in our schools, citing a lack of respect for authority — and the human need for it.

“One thing we used to tell kids was that there is someone in authority,” Mr. Sullivan said. “And, at some point, you have to take note of that person in authority. Children who are taught there’s no such thing as authority — the most important thing is expressing yourself at all times — are never held responsible for anything or constantly being excused for everything, they’re gonna end up this way.”

This begins to scratch the surface, though it speaks to just one piece of the overarching puzzle. See, the problem isn’t just general authority; it’s the recognition of an ultimate command — a divine Lord above mankind to which humans are responsible. 

Mr. Sullivan is correct to say there’s a crisis of authority in culture and our schools, and the “all about me” culture feeds off this quagmire. But what we’re really watching is a spiritual crisis on steroids. At some point along the way, America decided to strip away the ingredients of a reverent culture, axing prayer, morals and Judeo-Christian principles. 

The obsession with the separation of church and state became a convenient excuse to expel biblical morals and replace them with a new set of secular standards that not only ignore what is holy, but also often eschew, attack and assault the sacred.

It’s an embrace of a new cultural order so bizarre and contorted that encouraging kids to embrace a multitude of pronouns and gender theories is somehow treated, at times, as more normative — and permissible — than a football coach praying on the 50-yard line. 

Identity has become an obsession, though its parameters are misplaced, with society and many schools focusing on nearly every arena but the one that truly matters: an identity rooted in and predicated on the very God who created us.

No one wants a theocracy, but for anyone paying attention, the reality is apparent: Culture’s move away from the divine and toward the self has sparked generations of chaos, mental health struggles, unhappiness and strife — and the end seems nowhere in sight. 

Too many of us have bought the lie that we can find meaning and validation within ourselves. Plus, we’ve spent decades telling kids they’re mere evolutionary accidents, that they’re the arbiters of their own truth, and that anyone who tells them otherwise is flat-out wrong.

Unfortunately, this blueprint isn’t working. Our schools are exposing the brokenness we’ve enabled throughout our culture. Removing morals and values and replacing them with a vacuum has served no one well. The only question is: When will we wake up and save our youth? 

• Billy Hallowell is a digital TV host and interviewer for Faithwire and CBN News and the co-host of CBN’s “Quick Start Podcast.” He is the author of four books, including “Playing With Fire: A Modern Investigation Into Demons, Exorcism, and Ghosts,” and “The Armageddon Code: One Journalist’s Quest for End-Times Answers.”

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