A CONDENSED CHRONOLOGICAL LOOK AT AMERICA’S MORAL DECLINE FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE
[The following excerpts are taken from the book, Eradicate: Blotting Out God In America, chapter 14, “The Last 50 Years in America.” These selected events reveal the increase of immorality and the lack of Christian influence on our culture happening at the same time.]
By the end of this timeline you’ll see massive evidence of the fading impact of Christianity on American culture. The church is on life support. We’ve been examining how false teachings have led to a weakened witness for Jesus Christ. Because of our ineffectiveness, morals and values have eroded in America over many decades. So much has happened in the last fifty years that has shaped the United States; some events impacted our nation for the better while some chipped away at us for the worse.
America was a much friendlier, safer, and simpler place to live in 1962. Unlike the fast-paced, impersonal, high-tech, Internet age today, there was a sense of community. Churches, libraries, and playgrounds were always packed, and families spent plenty of time together.
The average price of a brand new house was $12,500. The Jetson’s premiered while The Flintstones cartoon was into its second full season on television. John F. Kennedy was still alive, and Johnny Carson took the seat for the first time as host of The Tonight Show. Elvis Presley’s big hit was “Return to Sender,” and if Americans weren’t twisting to Chubby Checker, they were doing “The Loco-Motion.” The first James Bond movie, Dr. No, was in theaters and a few of the top movies were Laurence of Arabia, The Miracle Worker, and West Side Story.
The Beach Boys also got their start in 1962 and surfed to success with their fun harmonies. The Isley Brothers recorded the original “Twist and Shout,” and in a decision that would prove fortuitous, Ringo Starr replaced the Beatles original drummer Pete Best. Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. People were more kind, optimistic, and hard working. The unemployment rate was 5.2%, and the average family income was $5,800 a year.
Ninety percent of American households owned a television set, and Zenith marketed its first color TV with a 21-inch round screen! A gallon of gas was just 28 cents and a dozen eggs were 32 cents. The first K-Mart and the first Wal-Mart opened in 1962. An electric popcorn maker was $38.95, and a pair of roller skates cost $36. Dick Van Dyke and the Beverly Hillbillies were on television. Marilyn Monroe died, and Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man first appeared.
Families were still thriving, and many people even knew their neighbors! I remember in the early 70s, men from the neighborhood helping my dad paint and put a new roof on our home while my mom brought out cold lemonade, beer, or soda. In turn, when they needed a hand, Dad would be on a ladder working over on their house. We can honestly say those were happier times.
Unknown to most people, there were some well-established underground movements working to blot out God in America. Some past historical events were morally and spiritually devastating. We have fallen for creative rhetoric that would have us believe in nothing, but tolerate everything. I wonder how different things might be today if Christians had taken a stand or had put up a fight through the years. People of faith need to wake up fast.
1962: Engle v. Vitale. This landmark ruling starts our selected timeline. Suddenly, after about 184 years of American history and progress, the court became concerned with reinterpreting the First Amendment. Why? Some parents of public school students complained that the voluntary prayer to “Almighty God” contradicted their religious beliefs. This was the [offending] school prayer:
“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.”1
The Court decided prayer in public schools breached the constitution’s wall of separation between church and state. Looking back now, we see that under the extremely liberal-leaning Warren Court in the 1950s and 1960s, secular progressives gained new ground. It’s crucial to remember presidents appoint justices and judges. The church did not resist, and the moral slide continued.
1962: The Beatles release their first single “Love Me Do” followed by “Please Please Me.” They would go on to be one of the biggest influences in the world on culture, entertainment and on the entire music industry.
1962: The American Law Institute (ALI) advocates for a change in national abortion laws. A panel of lawyers, scholars and jurists develop the “Model Penal Code on Abortion,” which recommends abortion be legal in cases of rape, incest, severe fetal defects, and when the women’s life or health was at risk.
1963: The Bible is kicked out of public schools. In this case, (Abington v. Schempp) the court ruled that no state law or school board could require the reading of Bible passages at the beginning of each school day. Edward Schempp, a Unitarian Universalist from Abington Township, Pennsylvania, filed suit against the School District. The school district appealed to the Supreme Court, and the case was consolidated with a similar Maryland case launched by Madalyn Murray.
1963: Militant activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair creates the group American Atheists. O’Hair was the mother of plaintiff William J. Murray III, in Murray v. Curlett. O’Hare took the school board of Baltimore to court for allowing prayer in school. Attorneys representing the school districts stated the purpose of Bible reading and prayer was to keep order in schools and provide a proper moral climate for students. Christian organizations were silent so the case went virtually uncontested before the Court. The Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in favor of abolishing school prayer and Bible reading in the public schools.
1963: Betty Friedan publishes The Feminine Mystique, frequently seen as beginning of modern women’s movement. In her book, Friedan examines and confronts the stay-at-home mom role for women. By doing so, Friedan awakens renewed discussion about roles for women in society, and this book becomes credited as one of the major influences of feminism.
1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22. Lee Harvey Oswald is arrested and two days later is shot and killed by Jack Ruby. It shocked America. This was just two years shy of the 100 year anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Many didn’t believe it could happen again … and a nation mourned.
1964: The Beatles make their first trip to America drawing tens of thousands of fans to airports just to get a glimpse of the Fab Four. They are the first band in history to play at a baseball stadium, Shea Stadium in New York. Wherever they went from this point on, there were fans screaming, some fainting, and crowds barely being contained by police and security.
1964: The Beatles had twelve songs on the Billboard Top 100 chart. In April of that year, they held all five of the top five spots on the chart including “Can’t Buy Me Love” at number one –something that will most likely never happen again in music history.
1964-1968: President Lyndon Johnson launches his Great Society, establishing Medicare, Medicaid, The Housing Act, and dozens of other programs intended to lift Americans out of poverty. In his 1964 State of the Union speech, Johnson declared a War on Poverty. He and the Democrat-controlled congress funded programs that were supposed to provide a safety net for Americans and other programs such as the Food Stamp Program that were supposed to help hurting families in the nation. Congress also gave Johnson the green light to begin funding education and environmental programs. The era of big government spending was underway.
In a 1965 speech, President Johnson said his Great Society “is a society where no child will go unfed, and no youngster will go unschooled.” The “War on Poverty” failed to help those who needed it the most and has piled massive debt on future generations. (In fiscal year 2011, the number of people receiving food stamps has soared to an average of 44.7 million, up 33% from fiscal year 2009 when President Obama’s stimulus act made it easier for childless, jobless adults to qualify for the program and increased the monthly benefit by about 15 %.)2
1965: Homosexual activists picket the White House and Pentagon. San Francisco’s first gay drag ball takes place; the first gay community center opens in San Francisco.
1965: Griswold v. Connecticut – the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, Estelle Griswold, and her Medical Director are arrested and convicted for giving information, instruction, and other medical advice to married couples about birth control. After a series of appeals, the case lands before the U.S. Supreme Court. (Since 1879, Connecticut had a law against providing information on birth control and using drugs or instruments to prevent pregnancy.) The court nullified the Connecticut statute. Griswold v. Connecticut was a landmark case because it established that the U.S. Constitution guaranteed Americans the “right to privacy” even though this was not explicitly stated as such in the original document! The right to privacy set up a legal precedent that would be used in Roe v. Wade.3
1965 – 1969: VIETNAM – America officially enters the Vietnam War. Democratic President Lyndon Johnson sends over 200,000 troops to the conflict. His goal for U.S. involvement in Vietnam was not for the U.S. to win the war, but for U.S. troops to bolster South Vietnam’s defenses until South Vietnam could take over. By entering the Vietnam War without a goal to win, Johnson set the stage for future public and troop disappointment when the U.S. found themselves in a stalemate with the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong.
1965: Voting Rights Act is passed, authorizing direct federal intervention to enable blacks to vote. Muslim minister Malcolm X, also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz is assassinated by members of the Nation of Islam (Black Muslims) in New York City.4
1966: By August, The Beatles have sold 150 million records world¬wide in the last few years. Within nine months, the Beatles’ global gross would be $98 million in sales.
1966: Time Magazine celebrates Easter with cover story “Is God Dead?” William Hamilton, the leading radical theologian who helped influence the controversial Death of God movement during the 1960s was quoted by The Oregonian as saying, “We need to redefine Christianity as a possibility without the presence of God.” Hamilton wasn’t the only theologian with this view and others sought to construct “a post-theistic theology without the existence of an omnipotent God.” Episcopalian priest and religion professor at Temple University, Paul Van Buren, rejected God yet presented Jesus as a model human.5
1967: The first gay campus group is formed at Columbia College in New York City.
1967: It’s the Summer of Love in San Francisco as the hippie movement becomes increasingly prominent. One hundred thousand hippies celebrate the sexual revolution which is known for “free love” (sex with no thought of consequence). During the Vietnam War, “make love, not war” is the motto.
1967: The Beatles release an innovative new album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. One of the most influential lines from the title track is “I get high with a little help from my friends.” With the Summer of Love in full swing, many assumed the song supported LSD, and drug use skyrocketed.6
1967: Bonnie and Clyde hits the theaters, shooting up the restrictive code that guarded movie violence for thirty-three years and launches a new era of American film.
1967: “The ‘New’ Social Studies” is published in the NEA Journal, describing the addition of sociology and social psychology curriculum in public schools.7
1968: Race riots erupt across the country. Black Panther Party members carry loaded weapons and numerous civil rights organizations take up the mantra “Black Power!” As a Baptist minister, Martin Luther King kept encouraging nonviolent protests in the Civil Rights Movement, but the movement was becoming divided.
Violence is what brought King back to Memphis on April 3, 1968. He was delayed due to a bomb threat for his flight in Atlanta before takeoff, but that night he gave his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech and again encouraged taking a nonviolent stand. King’s thoughts were on history, on his mission, and on his mortality as he said there are difficult days ahead, and he didn’t know what was going to happen. He concluded the speech saying:
“I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the Promised Land. And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”8
1968: Thirty-nine year old Martin Luther King is assassinated outside his second floor room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, April 4, at 6:01 PM, just after getting ready to go to dinner.
1968: The Beatles travel to Rishikesh, India, to study yoga and transcendental meditation (TM) with Hindu mystic Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. During their retreat, the Beatles, especially Lennon and Harrison, were looking for more ‘cosmic awareness’ and had been experimenting with LSD. Maharishi helped them process the death of their manager, Brian Epstein, who had died of a drug overdose. Joining the Beatles in India was Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra’s wife Mia Farrow, her sister Prudence Farrow, Yoko Ono, as well as several other celebrities. Prudence Farrow, a UC Berkeley graduate, went on to teach TM for thirty-seven years.
The 1968 gathering in India, with all its high-powered celebrity, attracted a press following. The Saturday Evening Post ran a cover story on the trip in a May 1968 edition, having sent a reporter to go with the Beatles to Rishikesh. Because of this exposure, millions of people in America chose to follow their pop idols by experimenting with drugs, practicing TM or both. Epstein’s death, the Beatle’s world fame, lack of privacy, and that trip to India began a process of unraveling that would lead to the group’s demise. They would not perform another concert together. Today, people throughout society including many church leaders and Christians in America have been influenced by Hindu mysticism.
1968: The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) film rating system was instituted. One reason for its creation at the time was to have an alternative to the government doing the regulating of movie content. For decades, many other countries already had movie rating systems, but due to the increase of violence, “realism” portrayed in films, and some sexual content in the 1960’s, the United States had to implement a form of regulation. Further describing the changing times, Entertainment Weekly’s Mark Harris pointed out that the movie ratings system wasn’t designed for automated ticket purchasing. Harris explains:
“The ratings system was created at a time when American movie houses were single-screen venues with on-site managers, adult ushers, and a ticket saleslady who looked like your homeroom teacher. The rule that kids must be accompanied to R-rated movies by a ‘’parent or adult guardian’’ has always rested on the fiction that a fifteen-year-old can be ‘’protected’’ from distressing content by the presence of an eighteen-year-old. In the age of pay cable, online porn, and one-touch downloads, that’s preposterously quaint.”9
1968: U.S. troop numbers in Vietnam reach 540,000 in December.
1969: Republican President Richard Nixon is sworn in as the thirty-seventh American President on January 20. Nixon takes over the office of the presidency and within five months, Nixon orders the first of many U.S. troop withdrawals from Vietnam.
1969: Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Mission. America boasts the first manned mission to land on the Moon. The first steps by human beings on another planet were taken by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on July 20, 1969. Americans celebrated the achievement with amazement.
1969: Woodstock! It was billed as “An Aquarian Exhibition: 3 Days of Peace and Music” in White Lake, New York, on rented dairy farmland August 15-17. Promoters expected 150 – 200,000 people, but during the sometimes rainy weekend, thirty-two acts performed outdoors in front of nearly 500,000 concert-goers. Despite the thirty-minute lines for water, at least hour-long wait to use a toilet, and many lawsuits that would follow, the festival was a huge success overall.
There were drugs, sex, rock and roll, and a lot of mud from the periods of rain. It is widely regarded as a pivotal moment in pop music history. Rolling Stone called it one of the 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll. Woodstock 1969 marked the peak for hippie counterculture. Their naive ideals of peace, love, tolerance, and unity resonated throughout the country at a time when Americans were divided over politics, race, religion, and war – not too different than today.
1969: In a Gallup poll, 68% of respondents said premarital sex was wrong and 21% said it was not. (By 2009, forty years later, in response to the same question only 32% said premarital sex was wrong and 60% said it was not wrong.)
Click here for: the next two decades: the 1970s & 1980s
Click here for: The 1990′s timeline of immorality – part three of four excerpts