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The Washington Times
October 19, 1999

If parents don’t teach values, others fill void

By Michael Farris
The Washington Times
October 19, 1999

One of the most treasured opportunities for parents is to transmit our core values to our children. Our views about love of God, love of country, the need for honesty, and the value of loyalty to our family are just a few of these key beliefs.

I was recently given a book, “The Bridger Generation: America’s Second Largest Generation, What They Believe, How to Reach Them,” by Thom Rainer, published by Broadman & Holman. Mr. Rainer provides statistics that should give every parent a chill.

He examines the transmission of religious beliefs from one generation to the next. Specifically, he looks at this issue in the context of four generations of those who profess to be born-again Christians: builders (born before 1946), boomers (1946-64), busters (1965-76), and bridgers (1977-94).

He found that the following percentages of the generations professed a personal relationship with Christ: builders, 65 percent; boomers, 35 percent; busters, 15 percent; and bridgers, 4 percent. The generational fall-off is astounding to me.

This failure to transmit a core value arises among a religious group whose professes to believe that they have a duty to evangelize the whole world for Christ. What is apparent is that at least half of those growing up in the homes of evangelicals haven't adopted the religious convictions of their parents.

The most important lesson I learn from this as an evangelical Christian is that I should not assume that my children will adopt my faith simply by osmosis. I need to take daily affirmative steps to ensure that my children learn to love God and His Word in a personal daily relationship.

This lesson has other applications as well. If I want my children to have the values I hold dear about liberty and love of America, I dare not ignore my duty to transmit those convictions to my children.

There is no substitute for both time and instruction. If I want my children to share my core beliefs, I must spend time with my children, and I must directly teach and live those beliefs in front of them.

Parents may think they are doing this, but perhaps we should think again. I can guarantee you that network TV programming does not share the beliefs of any person who has managed to read this far in this column.

Your child’s mind is like an election. You cast ballots. The TV casts ballots. Your child’s school casts ballots. Their friends cast ballots. Video games cast ballots. Movies cast ballots. Who cast the most ballots in your child’s mind last week?

If you believe that the others who affect your child’s mind exert a benign influence, think again.

Take the arena that is most pertinent to this column—education. Multicultural education is not about celebrating all cultures. I handled one of the first lawsuits in the nation that concerned multicultural education and diversity.

It was called Mozert v. Hawkins County Schools. My liberal opponents called it the “Scopes II Trial.” The issue was whether children could be assigned an alternative book if the designated text offended their religious faith.

All manner of religions were represented in the book, but the only appearances of Christianity were for the purpose of exposing it to insinuated or explicit ridicule. Witchcraft, Eastern mystic religions, and others were presented positively. That is multiculturalism.

Women were presented in careers of all types, but women who want to choose the role of wife and mother were demeaned either directly or by lack of an appropriate role models. That is the feminist version of diversity.

Children who refused to read this book were expelled from school. The school and People for the American Way (which sponsored the law firm who defended the school) justified expulsions for refusing to read “diversity”—texts as promoting “tolerance.” It appeared to me that the tacticians of tolerance weren’t tolerant.

The philosophy I challenged in court in the late 1980s in the elementary schools of Hawkins County, Tenn., is the overwhelmingly dominant philosophy of education—especially at the high school and college levels.

When a child’s life is filled with television, coercive lessons on tolerance, the raunchy reeducation of MTV and “diversity” lessons that never reinforce the traditional beliefs of their families, it is little wonder that their belief systems differ so radically from those of their parents.

If your children end up rejecting your beliefs and values, even something as important to you as your faith in God, you won’t be alone. Thom Rainer’s statistics prove that the same thing has happened to millions of others. But the feeling of lonely anguish that comes from a child’s rejection of things you hold dear is never truly assuaged.

Teach your children what you believe. The coercive partisans of “tolerance” will teach them if you don’t.

Michael Farris is the father of 10 home-schooled children and chairman of the
Home School Legal Defense Association

Copyright 2000 News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit our web site at