The Decline of Nations: Its Causes and Cure
By: Bishop John F. Noll, Bishop of Fort Wayne, Indiana 1940
“When we are bemoaning the present sad state of the world, let us look to our school rooms for at least part of the answer. While we continue to educate our children almost entirely in terms of material things, we cannot expect them to pay much attention to spiritual values when either effort or circumstances puts the fate of millions into their hands.”
-Editorial comment in Ave Maria
“There existed once a Christian order in the United States, a return to that order will be possible only by re-creating a Christian public opinion through the schools, and colleges, through the press and radio. That order will prevail in our country to which the vast majority of the citizenry subscribe not only in theory, but which they will defend and promote- but to do this they must possess knowledge, quite definite, of Christian principles. That knowledge is not being imparted to the youth of America today.
We repeat that the ‘religion in education’ question must be solved if a better social order is to prevail in the future. Will people let the nation perish rather than bury unfounded prejudices based on ‘union of Church and State’ bogey?
In the fall of 1911, three years before the last World War, Harper’s Weekly carried this forcible statement:
The greatest cure-all for all the difficulties and troubles that lie ahead in this country, and all other countries, is the improvement mentally, spiritually, morally of the people of the country. The powers that must be used to secure that improvement are education and religion. Education gets ample attention, but without the strong reinforcement of religion, it will not bring our country and our civilization safely through the perils ahead of it. It is mainly to religion we must look to make men friends of peace, respecters of justice, upholders of righteousness. If there be nothing in our life but grab and get, no joys but the joys of the senses, no happiness but what is based on material superfluities, we shall not last long nor go far.
[Some stand] in the way of the introduction of religious instruction into the schools, or even the use of the schools for religious instruction after school hours. The same opponents of the popular will have been the most ardent abettors of what is now commonly known as academic freedom for the teacher. While he (she) may not impart religious instruction, he (she) may express anti-religious views with impunity. In fact the leading antagonist of Christianity and of morality in our day are the idols of many a college and university professor, and they propagate the doctrine of these irreligious philosophers in the class room and on the campus.
When the Church lifts her voice in criticism of these enemies of society, she is accused of being wedded to an old philosophy which has become antiquated; she is charged with being out of step with modern progress. If the old philosophy was right, then the Church is still right. The soundness of the new philosophy might be well gauged by its fruits, and they are the cause of many social and political evils which have harassed the world for many years and which many fear, will bring to a certain ruin. Since these new philosophies, Godless philosophies, have no other consistent opponent in the world, if society would be saved from them, it must again look to the Catholic Church!”