Cheating. Bullying. Cybersexting. Hazing. Molestation. Suicide. Drug abuse. Murder. Scanning the headlines of the latest scandals in America's schools, it's quite clear that the problem is not that there's too much God in students' lives.
The problem is that there isn't nearly enough of Him.
With the malfunction of moral seatbelts and the erosion of moral guardrails, too many kids have turned to a pantheon of false gods, crutches and palliatives. They're obsessed with "Slender Man" and "Vampire Diaries." Alex from Target's hair and Rihanna's tattoos. Overpriced basketball sneakers and underdressed reality stars. Choking games and YouTube games. Gossip and hookups. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat.
It's all about selfies over self-control, blurred lines over bright lines.
In a metastatic youth culture of soullessness and rootlessness, the idea of high school teens voluntarily using their free time to pray and sing hymns is not just a breath of fresh air. It's salvation.
But leave it to secularists run amok to punish faithful young followers of Christ.
Last week, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a religious freedom lawsuit against Pine Creek High School here in my adopted hometown of Colorado Springs. Chase Windebank, a senior at the District 20 school, had been convening an informal prayer group for the past three years "in a quiet area to sing Christian religious songs, pray, and to discuss issues of the day from a religious perspective."
Windebank and his friends weren't disrupting classroom time. They shared their Christian faith during an open period earned by high-achieving students. Other kids used the time to play on their phones, eat snacks, get fresh air outside, or schedule meetings for a wide variety of both official and unofficial school clubs.
A Pine Creek choir teacher had given permission to Windebank and his fellow worshipers to meet in an empty music practice room. No complaints ever ensued from other students or faculty. For three years, the group encountered no problems, according to ADF's complaint. But in late September, Windebank was summoned to the assistant principal's office and ordered to stop praying because of "the separation of church and state."
The school singled out the young man of faith's harmless activities and banned members of his group from discussing current issues of the day from a religious perspective during an open period in an unobtrusive meeting place.
As Todd Starnes of Fox News, who broke the story of the lawsuit last week, lamented: "Public school administrators and their lawyers have succeeded in suppressing and oppressing the Christian voice at Pine Creek High School."
It defies common sense that in conservative-leaning Colorado Springs, home to a vibrant faith community and leading evangelical organizations, students would be reprimanded and deprived of basic constitutional rights. As a letter from local parents to the school district decried: "To what benefit does it serve a school to limit the ability for a student to pray with their friends, fellowship with their friends, or discuss daily events from a Christian perspective? It is obvious that School District 20 is taking a freedom FROM religion perspective, not a freedom OF religion perspective."
Think about it: If the high-schoolers gathered in the cafeteria to listen to Billboard magazine's No. 1 pop hit "Habits (Stay High)" -- "You're gone and I gotta stay high/ all the time/ to keep you off my mind" -- school officials would have no issue.
If they lounged in a courtyard to joke about the latest girl-fight videos or off-color joke memes posted on Vine, no problem.
If they discussed the latest "Walking Dead" episode or napped in the library? All good.
But singing "Amazing Grace" and studying scripture? This subversion must be stopped!
How did we get here? And in Colorado Springs, of all places -- not Berkeley or Boulder or Boston? Blame cowardice, ignorance and politically correct bureaucrats pledging allegiance to one nation, under godlessness, without religious liberty, and the occult of extreme secularism for all.