Dec 2, 2008

Liars, Thieves, Cheats - An Upcoming Generation Of Christians

By Bill Wilson

If you want to see the future of a country, just look at the present generation of youth. The Josephson Institute, a California-based organization promoting character and ethics, did just that and the results were alarming. The good news is that not all American teens lie, cheat and steal, just the vast and overwhelming majority of them. The bad news is that teens attending private and religious schools are among the worst of them. The Institute's biannual survey of nearly 30,000 high schools indicated that 83 percent of students confessed to lying to a parent about something significant, but religious and private school students were some two percent more likely to lie to parents than those attending public schools.

Moreover, 26 percent confessed to lying on at least one or two questions on the survey. But lying wasn't the only problem. The Institute reports, "Students attending non-religious independent schools reported the lowest cheating rate (47 percent) while 63 percent of students from religious schools cheated." Those attending religious schools were less likely to steal. The theft rate among all schools was 30 percent and some 19 percent of those who attend religious schools admitted to stealing something from a store in the past year. Honor students, students involved in youth activities and student leaders were less likely to steal, but even among those, more than 20 percent stole something in the last year.

The Josephson Institute says these results are alarming because someday soon these teens will be America's politicians, corporate executives, police, teachers, journalists, generals and parents. What's alarming to me is that the survey found that those who are attending religious private schools are overall slightly more likely to lie and cheat than those attending public schools. If this is true-well, maybe the public school kids are better liars on the survey than the Christian kids-we as Christians are doing a very poor job transferring Christian values and morals to our children and grandchildren.

The Bible has a lot of good advice for raising children. Often quoted is Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way that he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Teaching a child right from wrong and the discipline to live a righteous life seems to be an ingredient missing in much of Christianity. Drifting away from the Bible and its instruction and relying on man's interpretations, curricula, or even the imbalance of showing grace and mercy without consequences are all recipes for disaster. Another Proverb, 13:34, says, "He that spares the rod, hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him quickly." We must do a better job teaching love, truth, honor, justice and responsibility.