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fairness doctrine

Howse wants to reclaim the church

Brannon Hose Last week, Brannon Howse wrote an article explaining why a biblical worldview is so critical in light of trends showing more and more people leaving the church. It seems to be mostly a marketing ploy for his program materials, but he rants on for quite a bit. He cites a book by Ken Ham titled Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it. In the book, Ham had surveys taken from conservative congregations and found that today’s kids are leaving the church at a record rate… and not just in college.

In addition, he concludes that Sunday school doesn’t help kids develop a Christian worldview and that they are “statistical failures.” Sunday school, it seems, is allowing parents to “shrug off their responsibility as the primary teachers, mentors, and pastors to their family.”

I’ll agree that there seems to be (at least anecdotally) an increasing number of parents who do “shrug off” their responsibilities in raising their children, but if Sunday school keeps them from indoctrinating their kids with a religious worldview, then I can’t help but think Sunday school can be a good thing.

From the article…

Only 11 percent of those who have left the Church did so during the college years. Almost 90 percent of them were lost in middle school and high school. By the time they got to college they were already gone! About 40 percent are leaving the Church during elementary and middle school years!

Of course, Howse’s answer to this “crisis” of mass church exodus is “Biblical worldview and apologetics training” (conveniently available for purchase from his website). Howse laments that, even though the church has had billions of dollars, only 1% of adults have what he defines as a “Biblical worldview” and teens are leaving the church in ever-increasing numbers because they don’t have that worldview. In this article, he doesn’t spell out exactly what that worldview entails (though I’m sure he does elsewhere on his site), but he does mention that churches that used to be evangelical now “reject the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, the inerrancy of Scripture and most of the essential Christian doctrines.”

He expounds a bit on what should be happening in the churches.

Even among our truly evangelical, Bible-believing churches, how many churches teach the Biblical worldview for law, science, economics, history, family, social issues, and education? At church do adults or students learn about the lie of global warming, radical environmentalism, socialism, evolution, postmodernism, situational ethics, political correctness, population control, the myth of the separation of church and state, the Biblical worldview for marriage, the Biblical role of men and women and the lie of feminism?

There’s just so much wrong in that one paragraph that it threatens to make my head hurt. When people talk about injecting religion (especially fundamentalist, evangelical religion) into every aspect of our lives, my skin starts to crawl at the thought. It’s not because, as some theists claim, that I want to live my life however I want and be able to do whatever I want without eternal consequences. I’ve addressed that before. It’s because the implication is that dogmatic, inflexible, 2,000-year-old mythology, when vehemently applied to modern life, will improve our standard of living. It’s a horribly Orwellian idea, but folks like Howse would love to have it applied world-wide.

He continues by criticizing the church’s actions.

Because the church is not answering the real-world questions of our students and the public school system is, Christian youth increasingly believe that at church we deal with “spiritual” issue but at school we talk about “real life” issues. The truth is, all issues are spiritual; every issue can be examined in light of Biblical principles but not if the church is only teaching Bible stories instead of Biblical principles contained in those Bible stories.

Schools are supposed to teach answers to “real life” issues… especially our public schools. Howse’s brand of woo (or any brand, for that matter) has no place in our public school system, for at least three reasons. First, it’s unconstitutional to promote a religious view in our schools. Second, Howse’s version of Christianity is intellectually dishonest. Third, Christianity (and other theistic religions) is morally ambiguous at best and frequently morally reprehensible.

The window of freedom is closing on America and soon I, and our other speakers, could be prosecuted for the Biblical truth we are teaching. Hate-crime laws would do just this.

That’s Howse at his alarmist, fear-mongering best. Hate-crime laws would never prevent anyone from speaking about their religion, regardless of how absurd or spiteful their religious views are. His alarmism continues with vague statements about what I assume to be the “Fairness Doctrine” and a prayer at a booster club luncheon, implying that jail time is inevitable for people who speak from a “Biblical worldview.”

Then comes another sales pitch that hinges on the OMG!!! from the previous paragraph.

Worldview Weekend is training, equipping, and encouraging individuals of all ages that will be just like these men. Our nation needs Christians that will stand up and speak out with the truth of a Biblical worldview even in the face of persecution and prosecution.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Brannon Howse if there wasn’t some conspiracy theory hullaballoo thrown in for good measure (emphasis mine).

[…] the worldview war in America is connected to four major forces; occultism/pagan spirituality, the apostate church, corrupt government/corporate officials and the educational establishment. All four of these groups are aggressively working at the national and international level to accomplish their ultimate goal of global governance as predicted by many New Age writers like Alice Bailey. The Bible predicts this will occur and at this year’s rallies we will look at how God would have us to respond to what is happening at break-neck speed.

If I didn’t think he was serious, I’d find his writing hysterically funny. As it is, it’s both disturbing and sad. People like Howse, who seem to be barely hanging onto the fringe of the fundamentalist, right-wing precipice, want to teach their views as truth to our nation’s children. It’s bad enough that otherwise seemingly rational adults subscribe to this intellectually harmful nonsense, but to promote the foisting of this drivel onto our children is reprehensible.

Fortunately, as the beginning of his article notes, kids are leaving the church in droves. No doubt some of that is from apathy, but it’s nice to imagine that some of them are just coming to the realization that religion is simply an unnecessary obstruction to a healthy, happy life. It’s also hard to buy into the “young earth creationist” idea that The Flintstones is an accurate portrayal of history.

Howse ends his article with a plea for help in getting those wayward kids back in church. He wants help distributing magazines to advertise his seminars, he wants prayers, and of course, he wants money.

Because, you know, woo is expensive.