By Luther Blackmon
J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, has repeatedly told us that the greatest factors in preventing juvenile delinquency and crime are discipline and the influence of religion in their lives. Statistics show that a very small percentage of the people in our penal institutions have ever attended church regularly. Less than five percent, I believe. But parents are not impressed. Only 51 percent of the people in this country are even “church related,” as they put it. And only a small percentage of the 51 percent attend worship more than three times a year. In the church of Christ, you can find as many who don’t attend as you can find who do. It would be safe to say that less than 25 percent of the youth attend worship except on “special” occasions. The one thing that would exercise the greatest influence in their lives to keep them from crime and delinquency, to say nothing of the salvation of their souls, the parents don’t give them. They give them money to spend, parks, playgrounds, dance halls, country clubs and nearly everything else that appeals to the flesh. But the one thing that has proven most effective, they deny them: The example of godly, church-going, Biblereading parents.
There are many reasons for this. One is the utter spiritual bankruptcy of these parents. They care nothing for God until tragedy strikes them or they think they are going to die. Dad spends $25 or $50 a year for newspapers and knows all about current happenings. Mother may belong to the Book of the Month Club, or spends long hours at canasta or some other game. The children know about science fiction and Elizabeth Taylor. The spend an average of 36 hours a week in front of the T.V. set – smaller children. But the Bible is a keepsake. It is the depository for old pictures and locks of hair. Not much chance of their being lost there because that is one book that is seldom touched. On the Lord’s day these parents are too tired to go to worship. So they wash the car or cut the grass or play a game of golf or visit some friends or play poker while their children observe the fine examples their parents are setting. This sort of conduct is understandable in parents who deny the existence of God, heaven or hell, and who believe that the Bible is folklore. But for parents who recognize that their children have not only a body and an intellect, but also a soul, there is no excuse. There is no city of refuge where they may hide when the day of reckoning comes. Juvenile crime is constantly on the increase. But don’t blame the kids too much. They did not ask for the kind of parents they have.
(Written several years ago)