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Thanks for posting this Frank. This illustrates the problem with the thinking that God has a hand in every day to day detail of our lives. Some people want to think the God they worship is the one true God and they way they worship is the only correct way (and everything else is wrong maybe even heretical), so they 'back end' evidence into their thinking to try and prove their point.

Caleb Powers

I suspect that the real reason for the increase in crime was demographic, not economic, and ditto for its ultimate drop. Crime is largely a young man's game. Statistically, most violent crimes are committed by males aged between their mid teens and mid twenties.

The baby boom is generally described as beginning at the end of World War II. A person born in 1946 would have turned 16 in 1962, the year of the Supreme Court decision you mention. If the baby boom is defined as ending in roughly 1960, we have a huge increase in the number of young men in our country between the early 1960s and the early 1980s. This is one reason that our colleges and universities expanded so much in the '60s and '70s: there were just more students available to teach. With the end of the baby boom, the number of likely criminals decreased, and the crime rate dropped.

Another possible reason for the drop is more troubling, and please understand that I report this, not advocate it. In their recent book Freakanomics, New York Times columnists Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner report on statistics that suggest that it's not just young men who commit violent crimes, it's predominently young men born to poor or dysfunctional mothers.

Abortion was made legal nationwide in 1973, by the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade. The women statistically most likely to obtain abortions are poor. A person born in 1973 would have turned 20 in 1993, when Bill Clinton took office.

The authors are embarrassed to report statistics that suggest that the drop in the crime rate, when looked at in specific states, is directly correlated to the number of abortions performed in those states. Again, it's a straight demographic theory: If there are fewer potential criminals, there will be fewer crimes.

The authors certainly don't suggest that abortion should be justified as lowering the crime rate, but they are unable to explain the statistics any other way. If these statistics are true (and they appear to be), they suggest that our educational and social system has failed deeply in helping young males rise above their economic circumstances and become functioning members of society.

So, it may well be that the crime rate was affected by a Supreme Court decision, just not the one the christian right thought it was.


Steven D. Levitt in his book "Freakonomics" offers another reason for the drop in crime rate during the nineties. His explanation? Legalized abortion. The drop in birth rate due to legalized abortion in the seventies caught up with the crime rate in the nineties. He actually makes a compelling case for this.

Jack Brooks

If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, then the God he worshiped does have a hand in the details of every day, and the way he worshiped in fact is the only way (which in fact is what Christ taught, which offended his fellow Jews at the time just as much as it offends pluralists and agnostics now).

But to reduce America's social or crime problems to the elimination of a content-neutral ceremonial prayer is mistaken. The prayer serves as a cultural emblem of something bigger. The nation has become a great deal more amoral, pleasure-addicted, and sociopathically self-centered. Children are wrecked by their parents' marital faithlessness, drunkenness, and abuse. They get taught a view of life that is godless and ruthlessly self-oriented. They're taught that they came from nothing, mean nothing, and are heading into an eternal nothing. Then we're shocked -- shocked! -- at all the suicides, pain-numbing-through-drugs, and crime.

All those factors count for more than the loss of one ceremonial prayer (which wouldn't pass theological muster in either Testament).

Respect for other people's rights springs out of a higher respect for their God-given nature, and the consequences (both here and hereafter) for trampling them. Otherwise, life is just a matter of how much you can get away with. With that mentality, even if you do good, ethics become an empty exercise in sentimentality and and pragmatism.

J. Pick

What a terrible editorial. There is but one fact (694%) among a slew of rhetorical questions that cannot be answered with logic or fact. This column space is wasted on your poor writing and unamusing musings. There is no "meat." What is your point? Clinton's policies helped curb violent crime? God disn't like Clinton's policies? God's "anger" does or does not affect crime rate? Who knows - not me and certainly not you. It's wishy-washy and uninteresting. If you're going to write and get published, at least make an effort to make a point one way or the other.


I find this editoral to be pointless at best and condescending at worst.
Condescending to Conservative Christians in particular, and to anyone such as myself who tends to have a deep respect for the "old" teachings, even tho they may not subscribe to them 100%.

While the ruling itself probably had little direct effect on crime or morality in America, the ruling and many more that have essentially undermined the "old ways of thinking" where morality is concerned, certainly have taken their toll on this country.

"Removing God" from the schools has often amounted to removing common sense from the classroom setting. Just because God said "thou shalt not kill, commit adultry, or do a host of other things", and just because conservatives agree adamantly, do not mean that this is a bad thing to teach our kids.

Yeah, unchecked conservatives are bound to go overboard, just as unchecked liberals do. In our zeal to disassociate from one another, we have left the middle ground of common sense, and are standing on the precarious edges, and our society is on a downhill spiral. Politicians cannot turn things around for us. Only a people who are grounded in common sense (ironically the same common sense expoused in the Bible) and compassion for their fellow man, who may be of a different color or different religious or cultural persuasion that ourselves can make a difference.

And while I found this article to be most useless in the furtherment of society or public discourse, I find many of his observations (in other articles)to be fair, balanced and insightful. Just my thoughts....


Poor writing? Are you kidding? This was hilarious:

"We'll never know how many lives were saved, how many muggings averted, how many armed robberies stopped by that simple poem: "A rock. A river. A tree. Hosts to species long since departed..."

Speak for yourself, J.Pick. I found the musings to be quite amusing.

I also found worth in the premise of the post: that an organization can twist any statistic to mean whatever the organization wants to promote.

And the comments prove that folks will sign right up to defend that view.


Can someone explain to me why 'bible-belters' would vote for Bush? Does he follow the teachings of Christ?

Blake Reas

I find this article to be a perfect example of over generalization. Mr. Lockwood there are two possibilities either you are running a smear campaign on what you term "conservative Christians" or you are absolutely ignorant of the Conservative movement.
I am one of those conservatives and I do not think that I can say one way or another if God is "mad" at the United States, and I am not sure if a Christian should be all that concerned about that if He was. Scripture no where says this, and as you noted he God has not decided to write anything on the walls.
Here are some suggestions concerning the article:

(1) Acknowledge the fact that, as in Liberal and moderate theology, there is a wide range of perspectives, in the massive genus that you feel you need to malign, called Conservative Christian.

(2) Next time that you use the term "Conservative Christian" make sure you adequately say whether you mean Jerry Falwell Hyperfundamentalist, Reformed Evangelicals. The point is that not all conservatives say stupid things, just like not all liberals say stupid things.

(3) Remember giving your opponent a fair shake will always get your opinions heard and respected more than a smear campaign.

The Metaphysical Club


Marcia, I guess the thing that gets me is how common sense is often the victim when people from the right or left are reacting to what the other side has said. Here we have a case of a conserative/pro Republican organization claiming that "removing God" from schools was a mistake. Right on cue, Liberals (including the article writer, and apparently yourself) automatically feel obliged to make light of it. Conservatives on the other hand are going to summarily dismiss anything coming from MoveON.org as being totally misleading.

The point I am trying to make is that the truth is the truth, regardless of who says it. A few years ago, Dan Quale (not as smart as Bill Clinton) said that children were better off being in a two parent home, as opposed to a one parent home. Duh. But liberals were on his case immediately, because to them it was an implied attack on single parents, gays, etc. Hey, I am a single parent, but I agree with Dan - kids are better off with both a loving Mom and Dad in the same household. And you know what - if Micheal Moore were to say the same thing (as Quale said), then I will agree with him too.

David Dunn

The God that the Jews, Christians and Muslims worship, Jesus called the devil.

He may well be right.

The God of the Bible killed women and children, was jealous of humanity, didn't like freethinkers.

He didn't like men trimming the hair around their temples; he likes women to cover their heads or their whole body. He likes big beards, but doesn't like pork of shellfish. However he apparently likes fish on Fridays.

This is the God of the AFA. It's also the God that wants everybody to worship him. But he can't keep his own commandments.

This is the God we're supposed to pledge allegiance to. This is the God politicians want posted on government property as the plagerized Ten Commandments.

This is the God who may have brought Katrina as punishment on Southern evangelicals for voting for G. W. Bush.

Paschal Baute

Beware of politicians like Bush who declare themsevles "God fearing" and use their devotion to justify their actions and policies. W. is a very successful con-man who has conned the evangelicals to support an Administration that in almost every single think it does, from minimum wage to the denial of global warming is contrary to gospel values and the wisdom of Jesus. He has become the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.
His com-uppance may be near. "He brings down the mighty from their thrones." Luke 1. He is impeachable on at least five issues, as is already shown by a new book by a lawyer. The next few weeks and months will be most interesting.

Jack Brooks

Clinton didn't cause God's wrath. Clinton was God's wrath!

Kevin R.

I for one would like to see this law school educated, Pacific Northwest, not from around here liberal take his socialist musings back to Harvard, or Idaho, or anywhere except where I have to be exposed to it.

Caleb Powers

Funny, no one was referring to Frank as being left leaning when he was defending the Mormons, praising Salt Lake City, singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or praising the Baptists for their relief work in New Orleans.


Could it be that Bill Clinton is much more human than the media has made him out to be. Could the fact that he tried to make all Americans feel like they were part of this country, and that they all mattered, had an affect on crime. Their input counted and their production was part of a greater good. Maybe Bill Clinton relied on a greater power for guidance than we could ever accept or know and what he did for America was out of his love for a people and a country and not for greed and power. What other modern day President is there to compare him with?

Jack Brooks

Or how about developing an opinion of someone based on actual things said and done by the person? Real words and actions that tell us Clinton was and is an extremely charismatic but deceitful; damaged by his dysfunctional, abusive up-bringing, incredibly self-centered; a foul-mouthed narcissist; chronically unfaithful to his wife; a perjurer; a man who loathes the military; who had no consistent grasp of how the military works or what it's for; whose tactical stupidity and inaction emboldened Islamic terrorism to make bigger and more violent moves against the West; who supports the destruction of an infant's brain even as he or she is crowning; and whose stewardship of the economy was benefited only by the latent effects of Bush I's policies, the unexpected dot.com boom, and the fact that he blessedly had some competent finance people running Treasury. How about that? I would call putting a man like that in the most powerful elected position in the country "the wrath of God."


if the wrath of God were to descend upon us, there would be no questioning of it.

Caleb Powers

Just remember that it was a Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, who warned us exactly what the military is like and what it does when he used the phrase "military industrial complex." And if there was ever a president who understood the military, it was Eisenhower.

Another leader who understood exactly what the military was about was Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, who in his little book "War Is A Racket," pointed this out many years ago. As he said, "War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives."

This is more true now than ever. People always say, well, some wars are necessary. We needed to stop Hitler, for example. The seeds that allowed Hitler to rise were planted in the treaty ending World War I. World War II was a failure of diplomacy and international relations in the years leading up to it. War is usually the result of the failure to deal with problems and issues in a constructive way before they become acute. If we had done after World War I what we did after World War II, that is, rebuild Germany instead of trying to destroy it, we could have avoided the bloodiest war in history.

This illustrates the old saw that violence is always the last refuge of the incompetent.

Kyle Potter

Um, I think Frank's use of the phrase "some conservatives" when characterizing these jokers protects him pretty well from any charges of "overgeneralization."

F. Ellsworth Lockwood

Excellent work. Classical Frank. I about gagged at the reader's comment, "What is your point?" I didn't know whether to laugh, to cry, or to just throw up.

The "point," for me at least, was so obvious: It is idiotic to try to pinpoint American moral behavior as the trigger for any real or imagined "judgements of God" that have been visited upon our nation, and we make ourselves out to be fools when we try to analyze catastrophes in that way.

As an aside (opinion): Our actions do have natural consequences which are quite adequate as punishment for any real "offenses to God."

J. Newman

I loved your editorial! I cringe everytime someone talks about God being taken out of schools by the Supreme Court. God is still there, if you subscribe to the belief that He lives in our hearts. Only now we don't impose it on those who feel differently, as that tricky little Constitution requires. Children may still pray as much as they choose, as long as it is not imposed by a teacher or authority figure. No Court could, or would, take away a child's right to silent prayer. I'm also glad that a person of faith can object to the rhetoric proposed by the AFA which makes Christians look ridiculous.

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