Monday, December 2, 2013

No Sinner Left Behind: America’s Teachers and Ministers Are Failing!

I DON’T KNOW ABOUT ANYONE ELSE, but I’m tired of hearing about America’s failing schools. Google “education crisis in America” and you turn up 368 million results in seconds.

The first story listed is a warning from U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The situation is dire, he claims. American adults lack math and technical skills needed for success in a modern workplace. Compared to counterparts in most developed nations the average U. S. worker is an absolute dolt.

And who can you blame except teachers!

I happen to be a retired teacher and the story got me wondering. If our schools are in crisis what other institutional problems might pundits be missing? Are America’s doctors failing? Do we have a “hospital crisis” too? The same type of evidence used to prove there’s an “education crisis” indicates that we do. Now I have worse news to deliver. Similar evidence shows we have a “church crisis” on our hands.

This is serious, folks. Eternal damnation is no laughing matter.

In fact, I hereby declare myself a famous “church reformer.” I am going to be like Michelle Rhee, who talks constantly about what must be done to fix the schools. I will offer all kinds of fixing advice, like Secretary Duncan, or Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. They have plans to save every student. I will make their efforts look puny. I will have a plan to save every sinner!

True, I have never been a minister. I have never written a sermon. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure I remember all the commandments. But I have sat in a church pew. Not recently, I admit, but that’s a technicality.

School reformers never seem to teach or teach only briefly. That doesn’t stop them from spewing drivel.

Why am I so fired up today? The kinds of charts and graphs used to show teachers are failing also prove ministers, rabbis and priests are failing—and failing badly. Sin is up. Church attendance is down. According to Church Leaders magazine only 17.7% of Americans attend church weekly.

Even worse, when asked about attendance, we lie! Almost twice as many of us say we attend as actually show up in pews during services. Even if rampant lying wasn’t a problem, the picture would be bleak:

37% of Americans claim they go to church or mosque or temple weekly or more;
33% go monthly or yearly;
29% admit they never go at all.

Look at this chart:

THE MORE I THINK ABOUT IT the more I realize I need to write a book! That’s what famous reformers do. I will go on television and offer sage advice. Then I will go on tour and earn a few fat speaking fees.

While I get busy writing here’s what every concerned citizen can do. Call your representatives in Congress! Tell them we need a new 1,100 page law called No Sinner Left Behind. Tell them to model it after No Child Left Behind. Tell them we must set higher standards in churches. We don’t need more prayer in school. We need more prayer in cathedrals!

Don’t believe we have a “church crisis?” Look at the facts! We’ve got sex between unmarried people occurring in every nook and cranny of the nation. (See chart below.) And who can you blame? The couples having the sex? The people who don’t go to church? Oh no. It has to be the fault of the men and the women in the pulpits. (It’s like the “education crisis” where teachers get blame, even when 1 out of every 7 students misses at least a month of school each year.)

Sorry, I may be hyperventilating. But consider the evidence! More than 40% of babies in the United States are born to unwed mothers:

And what about the same “racial gap” we see in our schools? Look at divorce rates shown on the following chart. Don’t tell me poverty or conditions in neighborhoods around the churches or virulent racism in American history factor into this situation. That’s just priests and rabbis making excuses, like teachers in high-poverty areas.

So, get with it Reverend! Shape up Father. It’s time to save every sinner. Or you will be replaced.

Do ministers have tenure?

Well, if they do, we should take it away.

As I was saying, look at this gap! The crappy ministers must work in the black and white churches. How else can you explain the success of Asian-American religious leaders? Asian-American couples are half as likely to divorce. Statistics also show that 16% of Asian-American babies are born out of wedlock. For all other Americans the figure is 41%. Eight out of ten Asian-American kids are raised in two-parent families. Oddly enough—and I have no idea why this is true—the average Asian-American kid does better in school.

Anyway, good job Hindu temple leaders! Outstanding teaching, Buddhist and Shinto thinkers. You aren’t leaving sinners behind.

NOW THAT I HAVE IDENTIFIED THIS CRISIS, it is up to me, as famous church reformer, to offer advice. So, here’s what we do:

First:  require ministers to focus on “basics” in every sermon. Then measure “before” and “after” rates of sinning. If lying and cursing continue, publish the names of failing priests, etc. in local papers.

If rates of adultery and stealing fall ministers earn merit pay.

Second:  grade churches. That way, parishioners know which reverends are most likely to help them save their souls. Suppose 39% of marriages performed by a Presbyterian minister end in divorce, vs. 19% for a Lutheran minister down the street. Then the latter church gets a “B+” and the former a “D” and you fire the minister.

Third:  introduce Common Core Church Standards. I admit that one’s going to be hard, since there are so many different ideas about how to get to Heaven. I’m still working on this; but I promise I’ll have all the answers if you buy my book.

Fourth: get smarter ministers! School reformers say the problem in U. S. education is that teachers are too dumb. So, create a program modeled on the efforts of Wendy Kopp, and “Teach for America.” Get top students from Harvard and Yale and Stanford to enter the ministry. Call this new organization “Preach for America.”

Trust me:  it would be great.

Really, I have all kinds of bold ideas—so buy my book as soon as you can. It would make the perfect stocking stuffer. And remember, there’s not a moment to lose. America’s teachers and ministers are all failing.

Clearly, we need to start grading churches.
We need to hold ministers accountable when their parishioners sin.

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