Letter from a Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King April 1963

Letter from a Birmingham Jail   Martin Luther King  April 1963

16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham’s economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants–for example, to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?” We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham’s mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene “Bull” Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: “Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?” The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state’s segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of “somebodiness” that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad’s Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro’s frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible “devil.”

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as “rabble rousers” and “outside agitators” those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies–a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle–have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as “dirty nigger-lovers.” Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful “action” antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: “Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.” In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?”

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping “order” and “preventing violence.” I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather “nonviolently” in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: “My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.” They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Published in:
King, Martin Luther Jr.


“Assad must go”

Worst economic growth since Herbert Hoover


The National Debt

Calling Terrorism  “Workplace Violence”




Iran deal

Executive Orders

President Obama and his mouthpieces have embarked on a bizarre scheme to hypnotize America into forgetting the many scandals of his presidency. They seem to think that intoning “this administration hasn’t had a scandal” over and over again will make history disappear. It’s the lamest Jedi Mind Trick ever, and is being pushed on people who know Star Wars is just a movie.

Here’s a short list of the many scandals Team Obama thinks it can make America forget:

The great “stimulus” heist: Obama seems to think nobody will remember he grabbed almost a trillion dollars for “stimulus” spending, created virtually zero private-sector jobs with it, allowed a great deal of the money to vanish into thin air, and spent the rest of his presidency complaining that he needed hundreds of billions more to repair roads and bridges.

Vast sums of taxpayer money were wasted on foolish projects that came close to the Keynesian economic satire of hiring some people to dig holes, and others to fill them in. Obama added insult to injury by appointing Vice President Joe Biden as the “sheriff” who would supposedly find all that missing stimulus loot.

Americans mostly ended up footing the bill for was an army of government jobs, and a lavish network of slush funds for the Democratic Party and its union allies. We’re supposed to forget about all that because years later, Obama’s weak economy finally dragged itself to something like normal “official” employment levels… with the U.S. national debt doubled, and our workforce rate reduced to Carter-era lows. Sorry, Democrats, but that’s more than just failed policy. It’s one of the worst government-spending scandals in our history. Democrats will howl to the moon over far, far smaller abuses of taxpayer money during the Trump administration, should any occur.

Operation Fast and Furious: Obama partisans seem to think any given example of abuse or ineptitude by their man stopped being a “scandal” the moment it seemed clear he wouldn’t be impeached over it. Operation Fast and Furious, the Obama administration’s insane program to use American gun dealers and straw purchasers to arm Mexican drug lords, is a scandal with a huge body count, prominently including Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jamie Zapata, plus hundreds of Mexican citizens. Agent Terry’s family certainly thinks it qualifies as a scandal.

It is difficult to imagine any Republican administration surviving anything remotely close to Fast and Furious. The media would have dogged a Republican president without respite, especially when it became clear his Attorney General was putting political spin ahead of accountability and the safety of the American people. Remember, AG Eric Holder escaped perjury charges by claiming he didn’t know what his own subordinates were doing – a pioneering, but sadly not unique, example of an Obama official using his or her incompetence as a defense. For years afterward, we would hear some version of “I’m not a crook, I’m just completely inept” everywhere from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But this was Barack Obama, so the media downplayed Fast and Furious news… to the point where viewers of NBC News learned about the scandal for the first time when Holder was on the verge of being held in contempt by Congress for it.

The relatively benign explanation for the astounding Fast and Furious scandal is that Obama’s Justice Department wanted to release guns into the Mexican wild, like so many radio-tagged antelope on a nature show, and follow them to arrest the big fish of organized crime. (In case you were wondering, no, the guns didn’t actually have radio tags in them – that was tried in the much smaller, and utterly disastrous, Bush-era program Obama’s team used as a model for their vastly larger and more careless program.) This explanation becomes more difficult to believe, the more you know about how careless the program was, and how abruptly it was shut down after Agent Terry’s death.

The more sinister take on Fast and Furious is that the Obama administration wanted to create gun crimes in Mexico so they could complain about lax regulations on American gun sales – “for the purposes of creating a narrative that they could use in America to try and thwart our Second Amendment constitutional rights,” as Andrew Breitbart put it during a 2012 interview.

No matter which interpretation you subscribe to, or how much you think Barack Obama knew about the program when he made scurrilous claims of executive privilege to shut down investigations, it’s an insult to a large number of murder victims to claim it wasn’t a scandal. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives hasn’t learned as much from the OFF debacle as we might have hoped.

Incidentally, the Border Patrol named a station in southern Arizona in Agent Brian Terry’s honor. On New Year’s Eve, persons unknown fired rifle shots at a Border Patrol vehicle near the station.

Eric Holder held in contempt of Congress: This was a result of Operation Fast and Furious, but it merits distinction as a separate scandal in its own right. Holder was the first sitting member of a president’s cabinet in the history of the United States to be held in contempt of Congress.

Of course, Democrats closed ranks behind Holder, the White House protected him, and the media allowed Holder to spin the contempt vote as mere “political theater.” In reality, it was a difficult step that responsible members of Congress didn’t want to take, and it was fully justified by Holder’s disgraceful conduct in the Fast and Furious investigation. No reasonable person could possibly review the way OFF was handled and conclude it was an example of transparency and accountability.

ObamaCare: Everything about ObamaCare is a scandal, from the President’s incessant lies about keeping your old plan if you liked it, to Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s “we need to pass it to find out what’s in it” dereliction of Congressional duty.

ObamaCare is a scam, pure and simple – sold on false pretenses by people who knew it wasn’t going to work the way they promised. It doesn’t feel right to dismiss it as a “failed” scheme when so much of the failure was intentional. The bill was so sloppily crafted that Democrats were basically signing blank sheets of paper when they rushed it through Congress in a foul-smelling cloud of back-room deals. ObamaCare’s designers precipitated a constitutional crisis by forgetting they left in a provision to cut subsidies for states that didn’t set up health-care exchanges – a provision that would have killed the entire program stone-dead two years ago, if it had been enforced as written.

The Supreme Court rewrote ObamaCare on the fly twice to keep it alive, which is a scandal in and of itself. President Obama delayed and rewrote the law so often it was impossible to keep track of the changes, cutting Congress out of the loop completely. (Actually, someone did keep careful track of them, and the tally was up to 70 distinct changes by January 2016.)

That made some of Obama’s rewritten mandates and deadlines blatantly illegal – but then, the Affordable Care Act isn’t really a “law” in the sense American government understood the term. In practice it became something entirely new, an enabling act that gave the executive unlimited power to do whatever it thought necessary to keep the system running. If subverting the American system of government isn’t a scandal, what is?

And let’s not forget the scandal of ObamaCare’s disastrous launch, foisted on the American people even though its designers knew it had severe flaws – the billion-dollar website that cost another billion dollars to fix after it crashed, accompanied by a constellation of state exchanges that blew up like Roman candles of bureaucratic incompetence. Let us not forget the absolute zero accountability for this disaster, mismanaged by everyone from President Obama to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who treated the biggest new government program in several generations as though it were a minor side project that could be handled by subordinates with minimal supervision.

Spying on journalists: Establishment media came about as close to falling out of love with Barack Obama as ever when his administration was caught spying on journalists.

Why, if the reporter subjected to the most egregious surveillance, James Rosen, didn’t work for Fox News, the mainstream media might have started treating Obama like a (shudder) Republican. Rosen was treated so badly that even Attorney General Eric Holder eventually admitted feeling a bit of “remorse” about it. Apparently he felt so much anguish that he suffered temporary amnesia and forgot to tell Congress that he signed off on the request to wiretap Rosen while he was testifying under oath.

The IRS scandal: The selective targeting of conservative groups by a politicized Internal Revenue Service was a scandal grenade Democrats and their media pals somehow managed to smother, even though the story began with the IRS admitting wrongdoing.

Democrats suffocated the scandal by acting like circus clowns during congressional hearings, but at no point were the actual facts of the case truly obscured: yes, pro-life and Tea Party groups were deliberately targeted for extra scrutiny, their tax exemption applications outrageously delayed until after the 2012 election without actually being refused. If anything remotely comparable had been done to, say, environmentalist and minority activist groups by the IRS under a Republican administration, the results would have been apocalyptic.

There’s also no question about the facts of the follow-up scandal, in which IRS officials brazenly lied about having backups of relevant computer data. The American people were expected to believe that multiple state-of-the-art hard drives failed, and were instantly shredded instead of being subjected to data recovery procedures.

Luckily for the politicized IRS, the Justice Department was hyper-politicized under Obama too, so no charges were filed, and scandal kingpin Lois Lerner got to enjoy her taxpayer-funded retirement after taking the Fifth to thwart lawful congressional investigation.

Benghazi: This is the clearest example of Obama and his supporters thinking all of his pre-2012 scandals ceased to exist the moment he won re-election. Benghazi has been investigated extensively, and argued about passionately, since the night of September 11, 2012. Nothing can change the absolute fact that the Obama administration’s story for the first few weeks after the attack was false, and they knew it was false. They spun a phony story to buy themselves a little time during a presidential election campaign, and it worked.

Nothing can change the fact that Libya was a disaster after Obama’s unlawful military operation. Nothing can obscure the truth that Ambassador Christopher Stevens was sent into a known terrorist hot zone without a backup plan to ensure his safety. Everything else from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and their defenders is pure political spin. They dragged the story out for years, until they thought it couldn’t hurt them any more. That doesn’t erase its status as a scandal. (And they were evidently incorrect in their belief that it couldn’t hurt them any more!)

Hillary Clinton’s secret server: While we’re on the subject of Hillary Clinton, her secret email server is an Obama scandal, too. She perpetrated her email offenses while working as his Secretary of State, and contrary to Obama’s false assertions, he knew about it.

Plenty of Obama officials other than Clinton played email games, most infamously EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, who created a false identity for herself named “Richard Windsor” to get around government transparency rules.

The Pigford scandal: Named after a landmark lawsuit from the Bill Clinton era, the abuse of a program meant to compensate minority farmers for racial discrimination exploded under Obama. After years of left-wing attacks on Andrew Breitbart for daring to speak up about the scandal, the mainstream media – no less than the New York Timesfinally admitted his critique of the program was accurate in 2013.

Once again: if careless mishandling (or deliberate politicized misuse) of huge sums of taxpayer money isn’t a scandal, what is?

NSA spying scandal: Opinions about the nature and intensity of this scandal vary wildly across the political spectrum, but there’s no doubt that Edward Snowden’s pilfering of sensitive National Security Agency data was a debacle that damaged national security. We had the ghastly spectacle of Attorney General Holder thanking Snowden for performing a public service by exposing surveillance programs Holder’s own administration didn’t want to talk about.

President Obama and his administration made many false statements as they tried to contain the political damage. The fallout included significant losses for U.S. companies, and diplomatic problems for the United States. Just about everything Obama did before, during, and after the Snowden saga damaged the relationship between American citizens and their government.

Bowe Bergdahl: Bergdahl’s ultimate fate rests in the hands of a military court (unless Obama pardons him) but no verdict can erase the scandalous way this administration conducted the prisoner swap that freed him from the Taliban and its allies. Many lies were told, the law was flouted, a deal of questionable wisdom was struck with his captors, and outraged Americans demanded recognition for the soldiers who died searching for Bergdahl after he abandoned his post.

Iran nuclear deal and ransom payment: Everything about Obama’s dealings with Iran has been scandalous, beginning with his silence while the Green Revolution was brutally put down by the mullahs in 2009. The Iran nuclear deal was pushed with lies and media manipulation. The infamous pallet of cash that wasn’t a ransom has become symbolic of Obama’s mendacity and penchant for breaking the rules, when he thinks following them is too much trouble.

Polluting the Colorado river: The Environmental Protection Agency managed to turn the Colorado River orange under this greenest of green Presidents. Of course there was a cover-up. Would you expect anything less from this “transparent” administration?

The GSA scandal: The General Services Administration was caught wasting ridiculous amounts of taxpayer money on lavish parties and silly projects. Heroic efforts to resist accountability were made, leaving puzzled observers to ask what it took to get fired from government employment under Barack Obama. (Alas, it was hardly the last time that question would be asked.) Oh, and of course there was a cover-up from the Most Scandal-Free Administration Ever.

The VA death-list scandal: The Department of Veterans Affairs has long been troubled, but the big scandals broke on Obama’s watch, most infamously the secret death lists veterans were put on while executives handed in phony status reports and signed themselves up for big bonuses. Obama was more interested in spinning the news and minimizing his political exposure than addressing problems; in few areas outside ObamaCare has his rhetoric been more hollow, his promises more meaningless.

Solyndra: The marquee green energy scandal wrote “crony capitalism” into the American political lexicon, as corners were cut and protocols ignored to shovel billions of taxpayer dollars at companies with absurdly unrealistic business models. President Obama’s ability to pick bad investments was remarkable. Luckily for him, American taxpayers covered his losses.

Secret Service gone wild: The Obama years saw one scandal after another hit the Secret Service, from agents going wild with hookers in Columbia, to a fence jumper penetrating the White House, and tipsy Secret Service officials driving their car into a security barrier.

Shutdown theater: Obama hit the American people hard during the great government shutdown crisis of 2013, doing everything he could to make American citizens feel maximum pain – from using “Barry-cades” to keep war veterans away from their memorials, to releasing illegal alien criminals from detention centers. It was an infuriating lesson for voters in how every dollar they get from government is a dollar that can be used against them, when they are impudent enough to demand spending restraint.

Coin Word Problems

Coin Word Problems

  1. Phil T. Rich has some coins in his pocket consisting of dimes, nickels, and pennies. He has two more nickels than dimes, and three times as many pennies as nickels. How many of each kind of coin does he have if the total value is 52 cents?


First try to determine which type of coin he has fewest of. This is often a good way to find what to let x stand for. Here he has fewer dimes than nickels or pennies.

The question asks how many of each kind of coin (not how much they are worth). That is, what number of each kind of coin does he have? So, let

x = number of dimes

Go back to one fact at a time. He has two more nickels than dimes.

x + 2 = number of nickels

Another fact is that he has three times as many pennies as nickels.

3(x + 2) = number of pennies

Next the information left for the equation is that the total value is 52 cents. You can’t say that the total number of coins equals 52 cents. Number of must be changed to value. If you had two dimes, you would have 20 cents. You multiplied how many coins by how much each is worth. So let’s change our how many to how much. If you have the number of dimes, multiply by 10 to change to cents. Multiply the number of nickels by 5 to change to cents. The number of pennies is the same as the number of cents.

Number of Coins Value in Cents
x = number of dimes  10x = number of cents in dimes
x + 2 = number of nickels 5(x + 2) = number of cents in nickels
3(x + 2) = number of pennies 3(x+ 2) = number of cents in pennies

Now we can add the amounts of money. If you make it all pennies, there are no decimals.

10x + 5(x + 2) + 3(x + 2) = 52

10x +5x + 10 + 3x + 6 = 52

18x + 16 = 52

18x = 36

x = 2


x = 2

x + 2 = 4

3(x + 2) = 12


2 dimes

4 nickels

12 pennies


  1. Ernest Worker had a collection of silver coins worth $205. There were five times as many quarters as half-dollars (50-cent pieces) and 200 fewer dimes than quarters. How many of each kind of coin did the Ernest have?


First try to determine which type of coin he has fewest of. This is often a good way to find what to let x stand for. Here he has fewer dimes than nickels or pennies.

The question asks how many of each kind of coin (not how much they are worth). That is, what number of each kind of coin does he have? So, let

x = number of dimes

Number of Coins Value in Cents
x = number of half-dollars 50x = number of cents in half-dollars
5x = number of quarters 25(5x) = number of cents in quarters
5x – 200 = number of dimes 10(5x – 200) = number of cents in dimes


Remember, everything has been changed to cents. So $205 has to be changed to cents by multiplying by 100. $205 has to be changed to cents by multiplying by 100. $205 = 20,500 cents.

50x + 25(5x) + 10(5x – 200) = 20,500

50x + 125x + 50x – 2000 = 20,500

225x = 22,500

x = 100

5x = 500

5x – 200 = 300

So, Ernest has 100 half-dollars, 500 quarters and 300 dimes.


  1. Kay Oss bought $32.56 worth of stamps. She bought 20 more 19-cent stamps than 50-cent stamps. She bought twice as many 32-cent stamps as 19-cent stamps. How many of each kind did she buy?


Number of Stamps Value in Cents
x = number of 50-cent stamps 50x
x + 20 = number of 19-cents 19(x + 20)
2(x + 20) = number of 32-cent stamps 32[2(x+ 20)]


Remember, $32.56 equals 3256 cents.

50x + 19(x + 20) + 32[2(x + 20)] = 3256

50x + 19x + 380 + 64x + 1160 = 3256

133x = 1596

x = 12

x + 20 = 32

2(x + 20) = 64


Kay purchased 12 50-cent stamps, 32 19-cent stamps and 64 32-cent stamps


12(50) + 19(32) + 64(32) = 3256

600 + 608 + 2048 = 3256

3256 = 3256


  1. A collection of coins has a value of 64 cents. There are two more nickels than dimes and three times as many pennies as dimes. How many of each kind of coin are there?


Number of Coins Value in Cents
x = number of dimes 10x = value of dimes
x + 2 = number of nickels 5(x + 2) = value of nickels
3x = number of pennies 3x = number of pennies

The total value of the dimes, nickels, and quarters equals 64 cents.


10x + 5(x + 2) + 3x = 64

10x + 5x + 10 + 3x = 64

18x = 54


x = 3

x + 2 = 5

3x = 9


There are 3 dimes, 5 nickels and 9 pennies.


3(10 cents) = 30

5(5 cents) = 25

9(1 cent) = 9


Total = 64 cents


  1. Lotta Spences has ten bills in her wallet. She has a total of $40. If she has one more $5 bill than $10 bills, and two more $ bills than $5 bills, how many of each does she have? (There are two ways of working this problem. See if you can do it both ways.)


Number of Bills Values in dollars
x = number of $10 bills 10x = value of $10 bills
x + 1 = numbers of $5 bills 5(x +1) = value of $5 bills
(x + 1) + 2 = number of $1 bills 1(x + 3) = value of $1 bills


10x + 5(x + 1) + (x + 3) = 40

10x + 5x + 5 + x + 3 = 40

16x = 32


x = 2

x + 1 = 3

x + 3 = 5


Lotta has 2 ten dollar bills, 3 five dollar bills and 5 one dollar bills.


2($10) = $20

3($5) = 15

5($1) = 5


Total = $40


  1. Dan D. Lyons bought $21.44 worth of stamps at the post office. He bought 10 more 4-cent stamps than 19-cent stamps. The number of 32-cent stamps was three times the number of 19-cent stamps. He also bought two $1 stamps. How many of each kind of stamp did he purchase?


Number of Stamps Value in Cents
x = number of 19-cent stamps 19x
x + 10 = number of 4-cent stamps 4(x + 10)
3x = number of 32-cent stamps 32(3x)
2 = number of $1 stamps 2(100)


19x + 4(x + 10) + 32(3x) + 2(100) = 2144

19x + 4x + 40 +96x + 200 = 2144

119x + 240 = 2144

119x = 1904

199x = 1904


x = 16

x + 10 = 26

3x = 48


Dan purchased 16 19-cent stamps, 26 4-cent stamps and 48 32-cent stamps.


19(16) + 4(26) + 32(48) + 200 =2144

304 + 104 + 1536 + 200 = 2144

2144 = 2144


  1. Nick O’ Time purchases a selection of wrenches for his shop. His bill is $78. He buys the same number of $1.50 and $2.50 wrench­es, and half that many of $4 wrenches. The number of $3 wrenches is one more than the number of $4 wrenches. How many of each did he purchase? (Hint: if you have not worked with fractions, use decimals for all fractional parts.)


Number of Wrenches

x = number of $4.00 wrenches

2x = number of $1.50 wrenches

2x = number of $2.50 wrenches

x + 1 = number of $3.00 wrenches

Value in Dollars

(x)(4.00) = value of $4.00 wrenches

(2x) (1.50) = value of $1.50 wrenches

(2x)(2.50) = value of $2.50 wrenches

(x + 1)(3.00) = value of $3.00 wrenches


x(4.00) + 2x(1.50) + 2x(2.50) + (x + 1)(3.00) = 78

Note in this problem that the decimal is removed when you clear parentheses.

4x + 3x + 5x + 3x + 3 = 78

15x = 75


x = 5

2x = 10

x + 1 = 6


Nick purchased 5 $4.00 wrenches,10 $1.50 wrenches, 10 $2.50 wrenches and 6 $3.00 wrenches.


5($4.00) = $20

10($1.50) = 15

10($2.50) = 25

6($3.00) = 18


Total = $78


  1. Phoebe Small at the XYZ Department Store receives $15 in change for her cash drawer at the start of each day. She receives twice as many dimes as fifty-cent pieces, and the same number of quarters as dimes. She has twice as many nickels as dimes and a dollar’s worth of pennies. How many of each kind of coin does she receive?


Number of Coins Value in Cents
x = number of 50-cent pieces 50x = value of 50-cent pieces
2x = number of 10-cent pieces 10(2x) = value of 10-cent pieces
2x = number of 25-cent pieces 25(2x) = value of 25-cent pieces
4x = number of 5-cent pieces 5(4x) = value of 5-cent pieces
100 = number of 1-cent pieces 1(100) = value of 1-cent pieces


Fifteen dollars equals 1500 cents.

50x + 2x(10) + 2x(25) + 4x(5) + 100 =1500

50x + 20x + 50x 20x + 100 = 1500

140x = 1400


x = 10

2x = 20

2x = 20

4x = 40


Phoebe has 10 50 cents pieces, 20 10 cents pieces, 20 25 cents pieces, 40 5 cents pieces and 100 1 cent pieces.


10(50 cents) = $5

20(10 cents) = 2

20(25 cents) = 5

40(5 cents) = 2

100(1 cent) = 1


Total = $15


  1. A collection of 36 coins consists of nickels, dimes, and quarters. There are three fewer quarters than nickels and six more dimes than quarters. How many of each kind of coin are there?

Let  x = number of quarters (there are fewer quarters)

x + 3 = number of nickels

x + 6 = number of dimes

Here we do not change to cents because the number of coins is given.


x + (x + 3) + (x + 6) = 36

3x + 9 = 36

3x = 27


x = 9 quarters

x + 3 = 12 nickels

x + 6 = 15 dimes


9 +12 + 15 = 36

36 = 36



  1. The cash drawer of the Greasy Spoon Cafe contains $227 in bills. There are six more $5 bills than $10 bills. The number of $1 bills is two more than 24 times the number of $10 bills. How many bills of each kind are there?

Let: x= number of dollars in $10 bills.

5(x + 6) = number of dollars in $5 bills.

24x + 2 = number of dollars in $1 bills.


10x + 5(x + 6) + 24x + 2 = 227

10x + 5x + 30 + 24x + 2 = 227

39x + 32 = 227

39x = 195


x = 5

x + 6 = 11

24x + 2 = 122


10(5) + 5(11) + 24(5) + 2 = 227

50 + 55 + 120 + 2 = 227

227 = 227


  1. Lois Lane went to the drugstore. She bought a bottle of aspirin and a bottle of Tylenol. The aspirin cost $1.25 more than the Tylenol. She also bought cologne which cost twice as much as the total of the other two combined. How much did each cost if her total (without tax) was $24.75?

Let x = cost in cents of Tylenol

x + 125 = cost in cents of aspirin

2(x + x + 125) = cost in cents of cologne


x + x + 125 + 2(2x + 125) = 2475

2x + 125 +4x + 250 + 2475

6x + 375 + 2475

6x = 2100


x = 350

x + 125 = 475

2(2x + 125) = 1650


3.50 + 4.75 + 16.50 = 24.75

24.75 = 24.75



  1. Superman bought some gum and some candy. The number of packages of gum was one more than the number of mints. The number of mints was three times the number of candy bars. If gum was 24 cents a package, mints were 10 cents each, and candy bars were 35 cents each, how many of each did he get for $5.72?

Let x = number of 35 cent candy bars

3x = number of 10 cent mints

3x + 1 = the number of 24 cent packages of gum

Value in Cents

35x = cents for candy bar

10(3x) = cents for mints

24(3x+1)= cents for gum


35x + 10(3x) + 24(3x+1) = 572

35x + 30x + 72x + 24= 572

137x + 24 = 572

137x = 548


x = 4

3x = 12

3x + 1 = 13


4(35) + 12(10) + 13(24) = 572

140 + 120 + 312 + = 572

572 = 572



  1. Clay Potts had $50 to buy his groceries. He needed milk at $1.95 a carton, bread at $2.39 a loaf, breakfast cereal at $3.00 a box, and meat at $5.39 a pound. He bought twice as many cartons of milk as loaves of bread and one more package of cereal than loaves of bread. He also bought the same number of pounds of meat as packages of cereal. How many of each item did he pur­chase if he received $12.25 in change?

Let x = number of loaves of bread at $2.39 each

2x = number of cartons of milk at $1.95 each

x + 1 =number of packages of cereal at $3.00 each

x + 1 = number of pounds of meat at $5.39 each

Cost in cents

239x = cost of bread

195(2x) = cost of milk

300(x + 1) = cost of cereal

539(x + 1) = cost of meat


239x + 195(2x) + 300(x + 1) + 539(x + 1) = 5000 – 1225

239x + 390x + 300x + 300 + 539x + 539 = 3775

1468x + 839 = 3775

1468x = 2936


x = 2

2x = 4                                                                    

x + 1 = 3

x + 1 = 3


169(2) + 130(4) + 200(3) + 359(3) = 3500 – 1225

338 + 520 + 600 + 1077 = 2535

2535 = 2535



  1. Mr. Merrill has 3 times as many nickels as dimes. The coins have a total value of $1.50. How many of each coin does he have?

Let n = number of nickels.

Let d = number of dimes.

n = 3d

.05n + .10d = 1.50

Multiply through by 100

5n + 10d = 150

Use (n = 3d) and sub in 3d for n

5n + 10d = 150

5(3d) + 10d = 150

15d + 10d = 150

25d = 150

d = 6


There are 6 dimes and 18 nickels

6 dimes equals 60 cents and 18 nickels equals 90 cents

60 cents and 90 cents = $1.50


  1. Ms. Lynch has 21 coins in nickels and dimes. Their total value is $1.65. How many of each coin does she have?

Let n = number of nickels.

Let d = number of dimes.

n + d = 21

.05n + .10d = $1.65

Multiply through by 100

5n + 10d = 165

Multiply first equation by -5

-5n + -5d = -105

Add both equations

5n + 10d = 165


-5n -5d = -105


5d = 60

d = 12


Ms. Lynch has 12 dimes and 9 nickels.

12 dimes equals $1.20 and 9 nickels equals 45 cents

$1.20 and 45 cents = $1.65.



  1. A vending machine that takes only dimes and quarters contains 30 coins, with a total value of $4.20. How many of each coin are there?

Let d = number of dimes.

Let q = number of quarters.

d + q = 30

.10d + .25q = $4.20

Multiply through by 100

10d + 25q = 420

Multiply first equation by -10

-10d + -10q = -300

Add both equations

10d + 25q = 420


-10d + -10q = -300


15q = 120

q = 8


The vending machine has 8 quarters and 22 dimes.

8 quarters equals $2.00 and 22 dimes equals $2.20

$2.00 and  $2.20 equals $4.20


  1. The total value of the $1 bills and $5 bills in a cash box is $124. There are 8 more $5 bills than $1 bills. How many of each are there?

Let x = number of one dollar bills

Let f = number of five dollar bills.

1x + 5f = 124

x + 8 = f

Substitute (x+ 8) for f in the first equation.

1x + 5(x + 8) = 124

x + 5x + 40 = 124

6x + 40 = 124

6x = 84

x = 14


There are 14 one dollar bills and 22 five dollar bills.

$14 + $110 = $124


  1. A collection of nickels and quarters amounts to $2.60. There are 16 coins in all. How many of each coin are there?

Let n = number of nickels

Let q = number of quarters.

n + q = 16

.05n + .25q = $2.60

Multiply through by 100

5n + 25q = 260

Multiply first equation by -5

-5n + – 5q = -80

Add both equations

5n + 25q = 260


-5n + – 5q = -80


20q = 180

q = 9 and n = 7


The collection contains 9 quarters ($2.25) and 7 nickels (.35)







  1. Joe Lick bought some 20-cent and 25-cent stamps. He bought 32 stamps in all, and paid $7.40 for them. How many stamps of each kind did he buy?

Let x = number of 20 cent stamps

Let y = number of 25 cent stamps

x + y = 32

.20x + .25y = $7.40

Multiply through by 100

20x + 25y = 740

Multiply first equation by -20

-20x + -20y = -640

Add both equations

20x + 25y = 740


-20x + -20y = -640


5y = 100

y = 20 and x = 12


Joe lick has 20 25 cent stamps (5.00) and 12 20 cent stamps ($2.40)








  1. For a school play, 340 tickets valued at $810 were sold. Some cost $2 and some cost $3. How many tickets of each kind were sold?

Let x = number of two dollar tickets.

Let y = number of three dollar tickets.

x + y = 340

$2x + $3y = $810

Multiply first equation by -2

-2x + -2y = -680

Add both equations

2x + 3y = 810


-2x + -2y = -680


y = 130 and x = 210


The school play sold 210 two dollar tickets ($420) and 130 three dollar tickets ($390)







  1. Romeo bought a mixture of 20-cent, 35-cent, and 50-cent valentines. The number of 20-cent valentines was 1 more than twice the number of 35-cent valentines, and the number of 50-cent valentines was 2 less than the number of 35-cent ones. If he spent $4.20 all together, how many valentines of each kind did he buy?

Let x = number of 20 cent stamps.

Let y = number of 35 cent stamps

Let z = number of 50 cent stamps

x = 2y + 1

z = y – 2

.20x + .35y + .50z = 4.20

Multiply third equation through by 100

20x + 35y + 50z = 420

Substitute x = 2y + 1 into third equation

Substitute z = y – 2 into third equation

20x + 35y + 50z = 420

20(2y + 1) + 35y + 50(y – 2) = 420

40y + 20 + 35y + 50y – 100 = 420

125y – 80 = 420

125y = 500

y = 4 and x = 9  and z = 2


Romeo purchased nine 20 cent stamps (1.80), four 35 cent stamps (1.40), and two 50 cent stamps (1.00).







4.20 or $4.20


Age Word Problems

Age Word Problems

  1. Sid Upp’s father is four times as old as Tip. Five years ago he was seven times as old. Find the absolute value of the difference of the ages now.


Let x = Sid’s age now   (smaller number)

4x = father’s age now

The problem tells you about their ages at another time. Five years ago your age would be 5 less than your age now.


x – 5 = Sid’s age 5 years ago

4x – 5 = father’s age 5 years ago

Five years ago he was seven times as old (as he was)

4x – 5 = 7(x – 5)

4x – 5 = 7x – 35

4x = 7x – 30

-3x = -30

Divide both sides of the equation by 3

x = 10


Sid is 10 and the father is 40.


  1. Abbott is 6 years older than Costello. Six years ago Abbott was twice as old as Costello. How old is each now?


Let x = Costello’s age now   (smaller number)

x + 6 = Abbott’s age now


x – 6 = Costello’s age 6 years ago

(x + 6) – 6 = Abbott’s age 6 years ago

Six years ago she was twice as old as him.


(x + 6) – 6 = 2(x – 6)

x = 2x – 12

-x = -12

x = 12 and x + 6 = 18


Costello is 12 and Abbott is 18.


  1. Willie’s Father is 26 years older than Willie. In 10 years, the sum of their ages will be 80. What are their present ages?



Let x = Willie’s age now.

Let x + 26 = Father’s age now.

In 10 Years

x + 10 = Willie’s age in 10 years

(x + 26) + 10 = Father’s age in 10 years


x + 10 + (x + 26) + 10 = 80

2x + 46 = 80

x = 17 and x + 26 = 43


Willie is 17 now.

Willie’s father is 43 now.


  1. Tess T. Fye is twice as old as Inda Cates. If 8 is subtracted from Inda Cate’s age and 4 is added to Tess T. Fye’s age, Tess T. Fye will then be four times as old as Inda Cates. Find their ages.


Let x = Inda Cates age now.

Let 2x = Tess T. Fye’s age now.


x – 8 = 8 subtracted from Inda Cate’s age.

2x + 4 = 4 added to Tess T. Fye’s age.


2x +  4 = 4(x – 8)

2x + 4 = 4x – 32

-2x = -36

x = 18

2x = 36


Tess T. Fye’s age is 36 years.

Inda Cate’s age is 18 years.

  1. A man is four times as old as his son. In 3 years, the father will be three times as old as his son. How old is each now?


Let x = son’s age now.

Let 4x = Father’s age now.

In 3 Years:

x + 3 = son’s age in 3 years

4x + 3 = father’s age in 3 years

In 3 years, the father will be three times as old as his son.


4x + 3 = 3(x + 3)

4x + 3 = 3x + 9

x = 6 and 4x = 24


The father’s age now is 24 years.

The son’s age now is 6 years.

  1. Robin Banks is 8 years older than Willie Catchup. Twenty years ago Robin was three times as old as Willie. How old is each now?

Let w = Willie’s age now.

Let w + 8 Robin’s age now.


w – 20 = Willie’s age 20 years ago.

(w + 8) – 20 = Robin’s age 20 years ago.


(w + 8) – 20 = 3(w – 20)

w -12 = 3w – 60

-2w = -48

w = 24 and w + 8 = 32


Willy is 24 and Robin is 32.

  1. Bill Dupp’s is twice as old as Doug Upp. If 16 is added to Doug’s age and 16 is subtracted from Bill’s age, their ages will then be equal. What are their present ages?


Doug’s age = x

Bill’s age = 2x

Bill Dupp is twice as old as Doug Upp.


2x – 16 = Bill’s current age

x + 16 = Doug’s current age

If 16 is added to Doug’s age and 16 is subtracted from Bill’s age they will be equal.


2x – 16 = x + 16

2x = x + 32

x = 32


Doug Dupps is 32 and Bill Dupp is 64.


  1. In 4 years Calvin’s age will be the same as Hobbes’s age now. In 2 years, Hobbes will be twice as old as Calvin. Find their ages now.


Let x = Hobbes’s age now.

x – 4 = Calvin’s age now.

In 2 years time, Hobbes’s age is x + 2

In 2 years time, Calvin’s age is (x – 4) + 2

The problem tells you about their ages at another time. Two years later your age would be 2 more than your age now.


x + 2 = 2[(x – 4) + 2]

x + 2 = 2x – 8 + 4

x + 2 = 2x – 4

x = 6 and x – 4 = 2


So Calvin’s age is 2 and Hobbes’s age is 6.


  1. Justin Case is twice as old as her daughter Jewell. Ten years ago the sum of their ages was 46 years. How old is Justin?


Let x = Jewell’s age
2x = Justin’s age

The problem talked about their age at another time which was ten years ago. So, that would be less than 10 because it was ten years ago.
x – 10 = Jewell’s age ten years ago
2x – 10 = Justin’s age ten years ago.

Ten years ago the sum of their ages was 46.


x – 10 + 2x – 10 = 46

3x – 20 = 46

3x = 66


x = 22


Jewell’s age is 22 and Justin’s is 44.

  1. A Roman statue is three times as old as a Florentine statue. One hundred years from now the Roman statue will be twice as old. How old is the Roman statue?



Let the Florentine statue = x

Let the Roman statue = 3x

In 100 years

The age of the Florentine statue = x + 100

The age of the roman statute =  3x + 100


3x + 100 = 2(x + 100)

3x + 100 = 2x + 200

x = 100

3x = 300


The age of the Florentine statue is 100 now.

The age of the roman statute is 300 now.

  1. Butch Err’s age in 20 years will be the same as Janet’s age is now. Ten years from now, Janet’s age will be twice Butch’s. What are their present ages?



Let Butch’s age= X+20

Let Janet’s age= X

10 Years From Now

Let Butch’s age = X + 30

Let Janet’s age = X + 10


x + 30 = 2(x + 10)

x + 30 = 2x + 20

10 = x


Butch Err’s age now is 10 years.

Janet’s age now is 30 years.


  1. Moe Tell’s age is three times Fran Tick’s. If 20 is added to Fran’s age and 20 is subtracted from Moe’s, their ages will be equal. How old is each now?


Let x = Fran Tick’s age now.

Let 3x = Moe Tell’s age now.


Moe’s age = 3x – 20

Fran’s age = x + 20

If 20 is added to Fran’s age and 20 is subtracted from Moe’s then their ages will be equal.


3x – 20 = x + 20

3x= x + 40

2x = 40

x = 20 and 3x = 60


Moe Tell’s age is 60 and Fran Tick’s age is 20 years old.



  1. Andy is twice as old as Kate, In 6 years, their ages will total 60. How old is each now?


Let a = Andy’s age now.

Let k = Kate’s age now.


a = 2k


(a+6) + (k+6) = 60


Substitute a for 2k




(2k + 6) + (k+6) = 60


Combine Like Terms


3k + 12 = 60


3k = 48


k = 16


a = 32




Andy is 32 years old and Kate is 16 years old.


  1. Mrs. Wang is 23 years older than her daughter. In 5 years, their ages will total 63. How old are they now?



Let w = Mrs. Wang’s age now.

Let d = daughter’s age now.

w = d + 23

d + 5 + w + 5 = 63 or d + w + 10 = 63 or d + w = 53

d + w + = 53

w = d + 23

d + (d + 23) = 53

2d + 23 = 53

2d = 30

d = 15 and w = 38


The daughter is 15 and Mrs. Wang is 38.

  1. Matthew is 3 times as old as Jenny. In 7 years, he will be twice as old as she will be then. How old is each now?




Let Matthew’s age = 3j

Let Jenny’s age = j

7 Years From Now

3j + 7 = 2(j + 7)


3j + 7 = 2(j + 7)

3j + 7 = 2j + 14

j + 7 = 14

j = 7


Matthew’s age is 21 and Jenny’s age= 7

  1. Juan is 8 years older than his sister. In 3 years, he will be twice as old as she will be then. How old are they now?


Let j = Juan’s age now.

Let s = sister’s age now.


j  = s + 8


j + 3 = 2(s + 3)


Substitute s + 8 for j




(s + 8) + 3 = 2(s + 3)


s + 11 = 2s + 6


-s + 11 = 6


-s = -5


s = 5




Juan is 13


His sister is 5


  1. Melissa is 24 years Younger than Joyce. In 2 years, Joyce will be 3 times as old as Melissa will be then. How old are they now?



Let m = Melissa’s age now

Let j = Joyce’s age now


j = m + 24

j + 2 = 3 (m + 2)

Substitute m + 24 for j


(m + 24) + 2 = 3 (m + 2)

m + 22 = 3m + 2

-2m = -20

m = 10


Joyce is 34 years old

Melissa is 10 years old


  1. Tom is 4 years Older than Jerry. Nine years ago Tom was 5 times as old as Jerry was then. How old is each now?



Let t = Tom’s age now.

Let j = Jerry’s age now.


t = j + 4

t + 9 = 5(j + 9)

Substitute (j + 4) for t.


(j + 4) – 9 = 5 (j – 9)

j – 5 = 5j – 45

j = 5j – 40

– 4j = – 40

– j = – 10

j = 10


t = 14

j = 10

Tome is 14 and Jerry is 10 now.


  1. Kathy is 6 years younger than Bill. Twelve years ago, Bill was twice as old as Kathy Was then. How old are they now?


Let k = Kathy’s age now.

Let b = Bill’s age now.


k + 6 = b

2(k – 12) = b – 12

Substitute (k + 6) for b.



2(k – 12) = (k + 6) – 12

2k – 24 = k – 6

k – 24 = -6

k = 18


k = 18

b = 24

Kathy is 18 and Bill is 24 now.

12 years ago Kathy was 6 and Bill was 12


  1. Dr. Garcia is twice as old as his son. Twenty years ago, he was 4 times as old as his Son was then How old are they now?


Let g = Dr. Garcia’s age now.

Let s = son’s age now.


2s = g

g – 20 = 4(s-20)

Substitute 2s for g.


2s – 20 = 4(s-20)

2s – 20 = 4s-80

-20 = 2s – 80

60 = 2s

s = 30


s = 30

g = 60

The son is 30 now and Dr. Garcia is 60 now.

20 years ago the son was 10 and Dr. Garcia was 40

  1. Mr. Klinker is 35 and his daughter is 10. In how many years will Mr. Klinker be twice as old as his daughter?


Let k = Mr. Klinker’s age now.

Let d = Daughter’s age now.


k + x = 2( d + x)

Replace k with 35 and d with 10


35 + x = 20 + 2x

35 + x = 20 + 2x

35 = 20 + x

15 = x

x = 15


In 15 years, Mr. Klinker will be 50, and his daughter will be 25, thus making Mr. Klinker twice his daughter’s age.


  1. George is 7 and his mother is 37. In how many years will his mother be 3 times as old as he is?


Let g = George’s age now.

Let m = mother’s age now.


g + x = 3(m + x)

Replace g with 7, and m with 37.


37 + x = 3(7+x)

37 + x = 21 + 3x

37 = 21 + 2x

16 = 2x

x = 8


In 8 years, George’s mother will be 3 times older than him.


  1. Pete is 14 and his grandfather is 54. How many years ago was his grandfather 6 times as old as Pete?


Let p = Pete’s age now.

Let g = grandfather’s age now.


6(p – x) = g – x

Replace p with 14, and g with 54.

6(14 – x) = 54 – x

84 – 6x = 54 – x

84 = 54 + 5x

30 = 5x

x = 6


6 years ago Pete was 8 and the grandfather was 48.


  1. Dorothy is 14 years younger than Rita. Ten years ago, Rita was 3 times as old as Dorothy was then. How old is each now?


Let d = Dorothy’s age now

Let r = Rita’s age now


d + 14 = r

r – 10 = 3(d – 10)

Replace r with d + 14


r – 10 = 3(d – 10)

d + 14 – 10 = 3(d – 10)

d + 4 = 3d – 30

4 = 2d – 30

2d = 34

d = 17


Dorothy is 17 and Rita is 31.


10 years ago Dorothy was 7 and Rita was 21.


  1. Ms. Ford is 48 and Ms. Lincoln is 35. How many years ago was Ms. Ford exactly twice as old as Ms. Lincoln?


Let f = Ms. Ford’s age now

Let l = Ms. Lincoln’s age now


2(f –  x) = l – x

Replace f with 48, and l with 35.


f –  x = 2(l – x)

48 –  x = 2(35 – x)

48 – x = 70 – 2x

48 + x = 70


x = 22



In 22 years ago , Ms. Ford’s was 26 and Ms. Lincoln’s was 13.



  1. Steve is 5 times as old as Janis. In 12 years, he will be twice as old as she will be then. How old are they now?



Let s = Steve’s age now

Let j = Janis’s age now

s = 5j

Then (In 12 Years)

(s + 12) = 2(j + 12)


s = 5j

(s + 12) = 2(j + 12)

(5j + 12) = 2(j + 12)

5j + 12 = 2j + 24

3j = 12

j = 4 so s = 32


Janis’s age is 4 and Steve’s age is 32.


  1. Mary is 4 years older than Toni. Sam is twice as old as Mary. The sum of their three ages is 8 times Toni’s age. How old are they?.



Let m = Mary’s age now.

Let t = Toni’s age now.

Let s = Sam’s age now.

t + 4 = m

s = 2m

m + t + s = 8t

Replace m with (t + 4)

Replace s with 2m and then replace the m in 2m with (t + 4)


(t + 4) + t + 2m = 8t

(t + 4) + t + 2(t+ 4) = 8t

t + 4 + t + 2t + 8 = 8t

4t + 12 = 8t

4t = 12

t = 3


Toni is 3

Mary is 7

Sam is 14

3 + 7 + 14 = 8(3)

24 = 24



  1. Larry is 8 years older than his sister. In 3 years, he will be twice as old as she is now. How old are they now?



Let l = Larry’s age now

Let s = sister’s age now

s + 8 = l

2(s + 3) = l + 3

Replace l with s + 8

2(s + 3) = l + 3

2(s + 3) = (s + 8) + 3

2s + 6 = s + 11

s + 6 = 11

s = 5


Larry is 13 and his sister is 5

In 3 years Larry will be 16 and his sister will be 8.



  1. Barry is 8 years older than his sister. In 3 years, he will be twice as old as she will be then. How old is each now?




Let b = Barry’s age now.

Let s = sister’s age now

b = 8 + s

Then (In 3 Years)

(b + 3) = 2(s + 3)


b = 8 + s

(b + 3) = 2(s + 3)

s + 11 = 2s + 6

11 = s + 6

s = 5


Barry is 13 and his sister is 5.


  1. Jennifer is 6 years older than Sue. In 4 years, she will be twice as old as Sue was 5 years ago. Find their ages now.




Let j = Jennifer’s age now.

Let s = Sue’s age now

j = s + 6

Then (In 4 Years)

j + 4 = 2(s – 5)


(s + 6) + 4 = 2(s – 5)

s + 10 = 2s – 10

10 = s – 10

20 = s

s = 20


Sue is 20 and Jennifer is 26.


  1. Adam is 5 years younger than Eve. In 1 year, Eve will be three times as old as Adam was 4 years ago. Find their ages now.



Let a = Adam’s age now.

Let e = Eve’s age now

a + 5 = e

Then (In 1 Years)

3(a – 4) = e + 1


3(a – 4) = e + 1

Replace e with (a + 5)

3(a – 4) = a + 5 + 1

3a – 12 = a + 6

2a – 12 = 6

2a = 18

a = 9


Adam is 9 and Eve is 14

In one year Eve will be 15 and 4 years ago Adam was 5.



  1. Jack is twice as old as Jill. In 2 years, Jack will be 4 times as old as Jill was 9 years ago. How old are they now?



Let j = Jack’s age now.

Let x = Jill’s age now

j = 2x

Then (In 2 Years)

j + 2 = 4(x – 9)


j + 2 = 4(x – 9)

(2x) + 2 = 4(x – 9)

2x + 2 = 4x – 36

2 = 2x – 36

38 = 2x

x = 19


Jill is 19 and Jack is 38.


  1. Four years ago, Katie was twice as old as Anne was then. In 6 years, Anne will be the same age that Katie is now. How old is each now?



Let k = Katie’s age now.

Let a = Anne’s age now

k – 4 = 2(a – 4)

k = a + 6


k – 4 = 2(a – 4)

Replace k with (a + 6)

(a + 6) – 4 = 2(a – 4)

a + 2 = 2a – 8

2 = a – 8

a = 10


Anne is 10 and Katie is 16

In 6 years Anne will be 16 and Katie is 16 now.

4 years ago Anne was 6 and Katie was 12


34. Five years ago. Tom was one third as old as his father was then. In 5 years Tom will be half as old as his father will be then. Find their ages now.



Let t = Tom’s age now.

Let f = Father’s age now

3(t – 5) = f – 5

2(t + 5) = f + 5


2 equations

3(t – 5) = f – 5

2(t + 5) = f + 5

First equation

3(t – 5) = f – 5

3t – 15 = f – 5

Second equation

2(t + 5) = f + 5

2t + 10  = f + 5

Solve second equation for f

2t + 10  = f + 5

2t + 5 = f

Substatute f form second equation for f in first equation

3t – 15 = (2t + 5) – 5


3t – 15 = 2t

t = 15


Tom is 15 and his Father is 35.

Five years ago Tom was 10 and his Father was 30. Tom will be 1/3 his father’s age.

In 5 years Tom will be 20 and his Father will be 40. Tom will be half his father’s a





Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone
Solus Christus – Christ Alone
Sola Gratia – Grace Alone
Sola Fide – Faith Alone
Soli Deo Gloria – The Glory of God Alone

Unwarranted confidence in human ability is a product of fallen human nature … God’s grace in Christ is not merely necessary but is the sole efficient cause of salvation. We confess that human beings are born spiritually dead and are incapable even of cooperating with regenerating grace. We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life. We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature. – Cambridge Declaration


The Reformation’s theological basis, though deep, was simple, resting

on a handful of fundamental principles.  Our salvation is entirely by God’s

grace and not of our own doing. We receive that grace, and are justified,

through faith, and not by any works we do.  These principles were set forth in

Article IV of the Augsburg Confession.


To these material principles of the

Reformation is added the formal principle, stated in the Formula of Concord,

that the sole norm and rule of doctrine is the Holy Scripture.   These three

principles are referred to as the ‘‘three solas’’——by grace alone, through faith

alone, learned from Scripture alone. Some writers,  especially among the

Reformed, would add two other ‘‘solas’’——for the sake of Christ alone, and to

God alone the glory.


Lutherans would not disagree with them as to that,

though those two ‘‘solas’’ are actually  solo propter Christum and  soli Deo


Nothing could be more important to each of us than knowing whether we

are saved, whether we are destined for eternal life with God.   There has been a

certain tension in Christian doctrine from the very beginning.  Christians agree

that the saved have eternal life with God; “For God so loved the world that he

gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish

but have everlasting life”


; “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it we not

so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and 2

prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that

where I am, there ye may be also.”


All Christians likewise agree that our

salvation comes by God’s grace.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory

of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in

Christ Jesus.”


This is the sola gratia, not on its face a controversial teaching.

How do we get this grace?  The Scripture itself provides on its face a

couple of answers, which, if they are taken alone and not together as a whole,

could appear to conflict, and it is at this point that the Reformation parts ways

with Rome.  The Roman Catholic church has, for about 800 years, told us that

there are certain works necessary on our part both before and after justification.

Before justification there is a preparation necessary, they say.  These include, in

addition to the faith  fear of Divine justice; hope in the mercy of God for the sake

of the merits of Christ; the beginning of the love of God; hate and detestation of

sin; and the purpose of receiving Baptism and of beginning a new life.



merits are sometimes referred to as meritum congrui.

With justifying grace, the Romans teach, the soul is transformed, and the

Christian becomes a partaker of the Divine nature, receiving an infusion of, and

developing a habit of, or an aptitude for, charity.


The justified man, so

transformed, becomes more like God, being in a state of grace, and does good

works, sometimes called  meritum condigni.


These works, in turn, give man a

claim to a supernatural reward, and that reward is eternal life and “an increase of

heavenly glory”.


As support for this teaching, the Romans cite St. Paul:  “(God) 3

will render to every man according to his deeds.”


Ott quotes as an express

statement of the meritum condigni:  “the crown of justice which the Lord, the just

judge, will render…”.



This exegesis is questionable, once one looks at it in context.  Paul is here

not talking about good works that he has done, for  which he is to receive a

reward.  Rather, he is talking about remaining in the faith, and the reward is to

those who are in the faith.  Here is the passage in context:  “For I am now ready

to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good

fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up

for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give

me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his



The whole passage shows that it is not any particular good work,

but simply remaining in the faith, that brings this crown of righteousness.

The Roman position is frequently supported by reference to several

statements in the Epistle of St. James.  James 1:12 is cited by Ott for the

proposition that eternal life is the reward for good works


and James 2:17, 24 for

the more sweeping pronouncement that justification is by works as well as by



More recent Roman dogmatic statements have backed  away from the

meritum congrui.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:  “Since the

initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of 4

forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of  conversion.” (emphasis in



On the other hand, the  meritum condigni  is still very much part of

Roman teaching:  “Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for

ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase

of charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” (emphasis in original)



Obviously, fairness requires that we not task Rome with a doctrine that it has

abandoned; what it still teaches remains part of the discussion.  To understand

the Lutheran and Reformed arguments in this regard, it is necessary to include

Rome’s teachings of meritum congrui as well as meritum condigni.

We are talking here about a change in Rome’s teachings that has occurred

just in the last few decades—in church history, something that might as well be

yesterday.  The meritum congrui was still in Ott’s dogmatics in 1960.  Since then

there have been the Second Vatican Council, the accession to the Papacy of John

Paul II and the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification  of the Pope and the

Lutheran World Federation.  It is certainly relevant to confessional Lutherans’

criticism of that declaration17

that the edition of the catechism that came out

since the declaration still states that we attain eternal life with our own merits.

The Romans concede freely that this leaves us without any assurance of

salvation, but that we must doubt to the end of our days whether we have

eternal life.  Ott writes, “A just man merits for himself through each good work

an increase of sanctifying grace, eternal life (if he dies in a state of grace) and an

increase of heavenly glory…As grace is the preliminary stage of glory, and as 5

glory is proportional to good works, the measure of grace must also increase

with good works.”


Since “the grace by which we are justified may be lost, and

is lost by every grievous sin”, the infused virtues and gifts of the Holy Ghost are

lost every time we slip.

But the entire works-based theory of justification is itself a change from

Rome’s own former teachings.  Such had not always been the Catholic

understanding of justification.  While in Reformation theology, by the principle

of sola Scriptura, the writings of early church fathers cannot be themselves the

source of doctrine, they certainly are a witness to what the Church has taught at

other times, how the Scripture has been understood, and where they in fact are

consonant with Scripture they are good and valuable.



When one takes the Roman teaching that the authority of Scripture also

applies to the writings of those in apostolic succession as they are received into

the tradition of the Church,


these writings have from a Roman perspective even

more weight.  So looking at some earlier Church sources is helpful whether one

begins from a Protestant or a Roman dogmatic structure.  (I refer throughout this

article to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church simply as “Roman” so as

not to imply that Lutheran or Reformed theology is not catholic, as defined by

the three historic creeds.)

St. Augustine writes, “Men are not saved by good works, nor by the free

determination of their own will, but by the grace of God through faith.”


Here 6

is the sola fide, from the pen of one of the greatest Catholic fathers.  He continues,

“But this part of the human race to which God has promised pardon and a share

in His eternal kingdom, can they be restored through the merit of their own



He adds later that sinful man needs a mediator, which is Jesus



.  Further, he writes that the pardon given for the sake of Christ’s

atonement extends to the entire life of the saints, which is not free of sin, pointing

to St. John’s admonition:  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves

and the truth is not in us.”24

While St. Augustine does refer to works after

conversion as assisting in salvation25

, this is in the context of works as the marks

of a live faith.


Further, while it is certainly true that satisfaction must be made for sin27

, it

was long recognized that in fact this satisfaction has been made for us vicariously

by Christ.  St. Anselm of Canterbury writes:

…the father was unwilling for the human race to be restored

unless man performed a great act, equal to the Son’s death.  Since

reason did not demand what another could not do, the Son says

that the Father wills his death, while he himself prefers to suffer

death rather than leave the human race unsaved.  It is as though he

were to say:  “Since thou dost not will that the reconciliation of the

world should be brought about in any other way, I say that in this

sense, thou willest my death.  Therefore, let this thy will be done;

that is, let my death take place, that the world may be reconciled to 7




St. Anselm puts great emphasis on the redemptive act of Christ:

This is just what puzzles them most, when we call this

deliverance “redemption”.  In what captivity, they ask us, in what

prison or in whose power were you held, from which God could

not deliver you, without redeeming you by so many labors and in

the end by his own blood?  Perhaps we will reply:  He redeemed us

from sins and from his own wrath and from hell and  from the

power of the devil, whom he came himself to conquer for us, since

we could not do it for ourselves.


It is not surprising that perhaps the strongest echo of St. Anselm of

Canterbury would be in the following prayer written by another archbishop of

Canterbury almost 500 years later, Thomas Cranmer:  “All glory be to thee,

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst

give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our

redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full,

perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole




Rome, while honoring and certainly never repudiating St. Anselm, has not

given his theology anything like the credit it is due.  The Catholic Encyclopedia

ascribes this largely to the form of his writing and the turning of Roman theology 8

soon after he had written to the Aristotelian approach of St. Thomas Aquinas and



Perhaps that is how it was passed up; but the substance of his writing

on this point is honored in the omission from the canons of the council of Trent,

etc..  Far more plausible is that Rome did not want to show that the first of the

great Scholastics believed in sola fide.

The Lutheran confessors tell us that St. Bernard of Clairvaux changed his

view of justification right at the end of his life, quoting him as writing:  “There is

need that you must first believe that you cannot have forgiveness of sin except

by the grace of God; next that thereafter you cannot have and do any good work,

unless God grants it to you; lastly that you cannot earn eternal life with your

works, though it is not given to you without merit”32

and exclaiming, as he

looked back on a life of all manner of work for the church, “Perdite vixi!  I have

lived a sinful life!”


The Reformation at least initially made this the central article of its protest

against Rome.  Luther wrote:

The first and chief article is this.

That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, as was

raised again for our justification, Rom. 4,25;

And He alone is the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of

the world, John  1, 25; and God has laid upon Him the iniquities of us all,

Is. 53,6. 9

Likewise: All have sinned and are justified without merit by His

grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood, Rom.

3,23 f.

Now, since it is necessary to believe this, and it cannot be

otherwise acquired or apprehended by any work, law or merit, it is

clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us, as St. Paul says,

Rom. 3,28:  For we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the

deeds of the Law. Likewise v. 26: That He might be just, and the Justifier

of him which believeth in Christ.

Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered, even

though heaven and earth, and whatever will not abide, should sink

to ruin…And upon this article all things depend which we teach

and practise in opposition to the Pope, the devil and the whole



(Emphasis added by editors of edition used; form  of

Scripture cites in original.)

Luther and Melanchthon (principal author of the Augsburg Confessions)

are in accord with St. Anselm’s view in seeing the righteousness of the faithful

not as some work that they do either before or after conversion, but as an

essentially judicial act by God, in which Christ’s  satisfaction operates as a

redemption, through which the righteousness of Christ is then imputed to us and

we are declared righteous. Luther emphasized the point in his translation of the 10

Bible by translating Rom. 3:28 “allein durch den Glauben”—by faith alone, “alone”

being an insertion but one that does not undermine, but reinforces, the text.

Rome rejects this understanding35

notwithstanding the above-cited

authority of some of their own greatest theologians and saints.  The Council of

Trent went so far as to say, “If anyone says that the ungodly is justified by faith

alone in such a way that he understands that nothing else is required which

cooperates toward obtaining the grace of justification and that it is in no way

necessary for him to be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will,

let him be anathema.

36…If anyone says that a man is justified either solely by the

imputation of Christ’s righteousness or solely by the remission of sins, to the

exclusion of the grace and charity which is poured out into their hearts by the

Holy Spirit and stays with them, or also that the grace by which we are justified

is only the favor of God, let him be anathema.”


So says Rome, but what does

Scripture say about the respective role of faith and works in our justification?

Again, as will be examined more closely below, Scripture is the sole norm

and rule of doctrine.  All other authorities are normed by Scripture.


Still, the

Romans have adduced some Scripture in apparent support of their position.

How are we to understand what we are reading?  We apply some basic rules of

understanding Scripture.

The most basic rule is that Scripture is to be interpreted by Scripture.,

which is how Christ and the Apostles explained Scripture.


Passages have to be 11

seen and understood in their context.


Ott’s reference to a portion of 2 Tim. 4:8

without giving the whole verse or preceding verses is an example of the dangers

of misinterpretation that inhere if something is lifted out of its proper context;

they have to be interpreted with each other.  They have a single Author,


and a

single meaning, which is not to be any other meaning than that which the Holy

Spirit intended.


It “alone can shed light on those verses which appear to

interpreters dark or difficult.”


So we cannot read Scripture schizophrenically; there can ultimately be no

conflict in the apparent conflict between the Scriptural authorities cited above.

Rome would make the works that do not justify us refer only to works of

ceremonial Jewish law44

or to those done before conversion.


But that does not

work, and the key is in the seemingly innocuous verse that tells us that

“Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”



That key will open only one reading of Rom. 3:, Eph. 2:8,9 and James 2.

We see that it is not that Abram had gone from Ur to Haran to Canaan, nor that

he proceeded to make a baby—after all, efforts to anticipate God’s promise,

though Abraham did beget a son, Ishmael, that was not the promised son.


It is

that he trusted God.


Again, Abraham’s trust in God directs us back to another

passage—his preparing to sacrifice Isaac.  God did not actually want Abraham to

sacrifice Isaac; He ultimately provided the sheep to be sacrificed.  But Abraham

believed God’s promises, that through this child, God would make Abraham the

father of many nations. God would not and did not betray his promise.


Therefore, when Sts. Paul and James each speak of Abraham and his being

counted righteous, both actually citing the same verse, they cannot mean

different things.  They must mean the same thing.  And that same thing is simply

this:  Faith, if it is genuine, will show itself in works. Those works are the marks

of a live faith; a faith that will not produce works is not really faith at all.



is not simply knowing and believing the story.  The devil himself knows and

believes the story.  Faith is an abiding confidence in God.  With such faith, “the

Holy Ghost is received, hearts are renewed with new affections, so as to be able

to do good works.”51


Those works are not done because they justify. Justification is by that

point accomplished.  But the regenerate man seeks to do the will of God; “he that

knows that he has a Father gracious to him through Christ, truly knows God; he

knows also that God cares for him” and is reconciled to God.  The good works

follow, they do not cause, justification, which is and remains by faith alone—sola




There is no question that the principle of  Sola Scriptura, ‘‘Only

Scripture’’, as the source of our doctrine, lies at the very heart of the

Reformation, and arguably of Christianity itself.   Christ Himself, when

questioned as to his authenticity, responded, ‘‘Search the scriptures; for in

them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.’’



St. John asserts the Scriptures as containing the saving faith: ‘‘But these are

written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and 13

that believing ye might have life through his name.’’



When, in the early apostolic era, the Bereans wished to be sure that

what they heard from Paul and other speakers was true, St. Luke tells us

with approval that they ‘‘searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things

were so.’’


St. Paul, warning St. Timothy of the coming obstacles to his

teaching, urges him to continue in what he has learned, and proceeds to

define that as the Scriptures, inspired of God and  ‘‘profitable for doctrine’’



In his epistle to the Galatians, he warns against adding or changing



The principle of Sola Scriptura is upheld by the very church fathers to

whom opponents of the principle wish to refer for doctrine, including



St. John Chrysostom


, and St. Augustine.


Like sola gratia and

sola fide, it was not a new conception at the time of the Reformation.

Luther, in his response to the charges at Worms, relied on Scripture

and demanded scriptural refutation,  noting that popes and councils had

erred and contradicted each other.


His chief work on this doctrine is ‘‘On

the Church and the Councils’’.  He quotes St. Augustine’s injunction to

believe none of the fathers without Scripture on his side.  He writes further:

St. Bernard declares that he learned his wisdom from the

trees, such as oaks and pines, which were his teachers; that is, 14

he conceived his ideas from Scripture and pondered them under

the trees. He adds that he regards the holy fathers highly, but

does not heed all their sayings, explaining why in the following

parable: he would rather drink from the spring itself than from

the brook, as do all men, who once they have a chance to drink

from the spring forget about the brook, unless they use the

brook to lead them to the spring. Thus Scripture, too, must

remain master and judge, for when we follow the brooks too far,

they lead us too far away from the spring, and lose both their

taste and nourishment, until they lose themselves in the salty

sea, as happened under the papacy.


In ‘‘On the Councils and the Church’’, the entire Reformation argument

for sola Scriptura is set forth.  Councils disagreed with each other.  Eminent

and revered early Church fathers disagreed, for example on whether one who

had been baptized by heretics without the formulation of Matt. 28 had to be



Perhaps the greatest contradiction of councils is that between the

Second Council of Orange and the Council of Trent.  The former affirmed

Augustine’s teaching of  sola fide against both Pelagius’s assertion that we

could of our own free will achieve salvation by our own deeds and Vincent of

Lerins’s Semi-Pelagianism, which claimed that we had to cooperate in our

salvation, though acknowledging that God’s grace was indeed necessary.


Luther rejects the idea that a council can establish an article of faith, saying

only the Holy Spirit Himself could do that.



The question sometimes raised is whether Lutherans, with our Book of

Concord, have simply established a new tradition to form an independent

source of doctrine.  Some Roman Catholics accuse Lutheranism of that.



There is, however, a radical difference between Roman or Eastern tradition

and the Lutheran Confessions.  There is a host of Roman teachings for which

either no authority or dubious authority can be found in Scripture.  Mary’s

Immaculate Conception; her Assumption, and her perpetual virginity are

doctrines of the Roman Church.  There is no Scripture to support them, but

only tradition of indeterminate origin.  In the case of the Assumption, it was

not even doctrine of the Roman Church until the 20


century.  Their own

encyclopedia attempts to prove that this is ancient doctrine, incredibly, by

pointing to the late fourth century writer Epiphanius, who wrote that he

knew nothing about it!



In the same way, the Pope as the successor of Peter, and through

Peter, the head of the whole Church of Christ, is based entirely on a

thoroughly discreditable reading of Matthew 16 as making Peter the

foundation of the Church, an interpretation that, in fact, the early Church

fathers also rejected, saying that the rock on which the Church is founded is 16

Christ Himself, and Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ.  The Church is

not built on the petros of Peter’s person, but on the petra of his confession.

The idea of the Pope as successor to Peter has its origin in Eusebius’s

statement that Peter was the first bishop of Rome.


Eusebius, however, was

attributing no particular authority to that office  by reason of such an

illustrious first holder.  Even if Eusebius is right, which is questionable for

any number of reasons, that proves nothing.  Instead, it turns out that the

idea of the successor of Peter as ‘‘supreme pope and vicar of Christ’’ has its

origin in the Donation of Constantine, a forged 8


century instrument.


There is only one comparable item in the Lutheran Confessions, which

are otherwise entirely an exposition of Scripture.  Selnecker’s insertion of the

word ‘‘sempervirgine’’ into his Latin translation of Part I of the Smalcald

Articles is the introduction of something utterly out of character with the

Book of Concord.  The belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity is not necessarily

wrong or impermissible, but it is something for which there is no Scriptural

warrant.  In addition to being a deviation from the rule of sola scriptura, it is

also bad translation practice. This was a translation of Luther’s text done 30

years after Luther’s death, inserting a word Luther had not used.  By

comparison, Jonas, when his German translation of the Apology included

material not in Melanchthon’s original, he consulted with Melanchthon, who

agreed with those additions.


The Confessions are not an addition to Scripture, in the sense of the

Roman tradition.  There is no claim of some unwritten apostolic tradition

preserved within the Church or of a teaching authority of the Church which

may propound doctrines.


Instead, the confessions set forth as a given that

there is only one rule and norm of doctrine, and that is Scripture.  The

authority of Scripture is, in Robert Preus’s words, absolute and final.



is why they cite Scripture hundreds, if not thousands, of times.


What the Confessions do accomplish is a systematization of Scriptural

doctrine.  All of the central doctrines of Scripture are presented in them

unaltered.  The Confessions are confessed ‘‘not because it was composed by

our theologians, but because it has been taken from God’s Word and is

founded firmly and well therein….’’


. That is a direct disclaimer of having

any kind of magisterial authority, of having the Holy Spirit in the treasure of

the heart of Luther, Chemnitz or any other Lutheran Confessor.

The Church has assembled confessional statements from the very

beginning.  The Creeds are themselves brief confessional statements.  They

were formulated against the heresies of the fourth and fifth centuries at or as

a result of the first four great councils of the church.  Again, those creeds are

not confessed because four great councils produced  them, or because our

theologians produced them, but because they correctly state the teaching of



Creeds and confessions that simply summarize Scripture are not 18

setting themselves up as independent authorities.   The Church, in its

ministerial role, setting forth for its people that which Scripture says.  The

principle of  sola Scriptura  is upheld with confessions that are themselves


The ‘‘solas’’ are valuable to the Church.  Kept in mind, they keep those

who would uphold the Reformation from drifting into the errors that

prompted the Reformation in the first place.  Abandoned, they lead to

Romanizing, or even worse, into Pentecostal enthusiasm in which doctrine

moves this way and that with the personal feelings of each Christian, or into

existentialist maunderings that would deprive the Word itself of its authority

in our eyes.  Through the ‘‘solas’’, we can remain on the right road, faithful to

the Word and faithful to the Reformation of the Church.

Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results


Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results


I had a teacher once who called his students “idiots” when they screwed up. He was our orchestra conductor, a fierce Ukrainian immigrant named Jerry Kupchynsky, and when someone played out of tune, he would stop the entire group to yell, “Who eez deaf in first violins!?” He made us rehearse until our fingers almost bled. He corrected our wayward hands and arms by poking at us with a pencil.

Today, he’d be fired. But when he died a few years ago, he was celebrated: Forty years’ worth of former students and colleagues flew back to my New Jersey hometown from every corner of the country, old instruments in tow, to play a concert in his memory. I was among them, toting my long-neglected viola. When the curtain rose on our concert that day, we had formed a symphony orchestra the size of the New York Philharmonic.

Kupchynsky Family

Mr. K began teaching at East Brunswick High School when it opened in 1958.

I was stunned by the outpouring for the gruff old teacher we knew as Mr. K. But I was equally struck by the success of his former students. Some were musicians, but most had distinguished themselves in other fields, like law, academia and medicine. Research tells us that there is a positive correlation between music education and academic achievement. But that alone didn’t explain the belated surge of gratitude for a teacher who basically tortured us through adolescence.

We’re in the midst of a national wave of self-recrimination over the U.S. education system. Every day there is hand-wringing over our students falling behind the rest of the world. Fifteen-year-olds in the U.S. trail students in 12 other nations in science and 17 in math, bested by their counterparts not just in Asia but in Finland, Estonia and the Netherlands, too. An entire industry of books and consultants has grown up that capitalizes on our collective fear that American education is inadequate and asks what American educators are doing wrong.

I would ask a different question. What did Mr. K do right? What can we learn from a teacher whose methods fly in the face of everything we think we know about education today, but who was undeniably effective?

As it turns out, quite a lot. Comparing Mr. K’s methods with the latest findings in fields from music to math to medicine leads to a single, startling conclusion: It’s time to revive old-fashioned education. Not just traditional but old-fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict discipline and unyielding demands. Because here’s the thing: It works.

Now I’m not calling for abuse; I’d be the first to complain if a teacher called my kids names. But the latest evidence backs up my modest proposal. Studies have now shown, among other things, the benefits of moderate childhood stress; how praise kills kids’ self-esteem; and why grit is a better predictor of success than SAT scores.

All of which flies in the face of the kinder, gentler philosophy that has dominated American education over the past few decades. The conventional wisdom holds that teachers are supposed to tease knowledge out of students, rather than pound it into their heads. Projects and collaborative learning are applauded; traditional methods like lecturing and memorization—derided as “drill and kill”—are frowned upon, dismissed as a surefire way to suck young minds dry of creativity and motivation.

But the conventional wisdom is wrong. And the following eight principles—a manifesto if you will, a battle cry inspired by my old teacher and buttressed by new research—explain why.

  1. A little pain is good for you.

Psychologist K. Anders Ericsson gained fame for his research showing that true expertise requires about 10,000 hours of practice, a notion popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers.” But an often-overlooked finding from the same study is equally important: True expertise requires teachers who give “constructive, even painful, feedback,” as Dr. Ericsson put it in a 2007 Harvard Business Review article. He assessed research on top performers in fields ranging from violin performance to surgery to computer programming to chess. And he found that all of them “deliberately picked unsentimental coaches who would challenge them and drive them to higher levels of performance.”

  1. Drill, baby, drill.

Rote learning, long discredited, is now recognized as one reason that children whose families come from India (where memorization is still prized) are creaming their peers in the National Spelling Bee Championship. This cultural difference also helps to explain why students in China (and Chinese families in the U.S.) are better at math. Meanwhile, American students struggle with complex math problems because, as research makes abundantly clear, they lack fluency in basic addition and subtraction—and few of them were made to memorize their times tables.

William Klemm of Texas A&M University argues that the U.S. needs to reverse the bias against memorization. Even the U.S. Department of Education raised alarm bells, chastising American schools in a 2008 report that bemoaned the lack of math fluency (a notion it mentioned no fewer than 17 times). It concluded that schools need to embrace the dreaded “drill and practice.”

  1. Failure is an option.

Kids who understand that failure is a necessary aspect of learning actually perform better. In a 2012 study, 111 French sixth-graders were given anagram problems that were too difficult for them to solve. One group was then told that failure and trying again are part of the learning process. On subsequent tests, those children consistently outperformed their peers.

The fear, of course is that failure will traumatize our kids, sapping them of self-esteem. Wrong again. In a 2006 study, a Bowling Green State University graduate student followed 31 Ohio band students who were required to audition for placement and found that even students who placed lowest “did not decrease in their motivation and self-esteem in the long term.” The study concluded that educators need “not be as concerned about the negative effects” of picking winners and losers.

  1. Strict is better than nice.

What makes a teacher successful? To find out, starting in 2005 a team of researchers led by Claremont Graduate University education professor Mary Poplin spent five years observing 31 of the most highly effective teachers (measured by student test scores) in the worst schools of Los Angeles, in neighborhoods like South Central and Watts. Their No. 1 finding: “They were strict,” she says. “None of us expected that.”

The researchers had assumed that the most effective teachers would lead students to knowledge through collaborative learning and discussion. Instead, they found disciplinarians who relied on traditional methods of explicit instruction, like lectures. “The core belief of these teachers was, ‘Every student in my room is underperforming based on their potential, and it’s my job to do something about it—and I can do something about it,'” says Prof. Poplin.

She reported her findings in a lengthy academic paper. But she says that a fourth-grader summarized her conclusions much more succinctly this way: “When I was in first grade and second grade and third grade, when I cried my teachers coddled me. When I got to Mrs. T’s room, she told me to suck it up and get to work. I think she’s right. I need to work harder.”

  1. Creativity can be learned.

The rap on traditional education is that it kills children’s’ creativity. But Temple University psychology professor Robert W. Weisberg’s research suggests just the opposite. Prof. Weisberg has studied creative geniuses including Thomas Edison, Frank Lloyd Wright and Picasso—and has concluded that there is no such thing as a born genius. Most creative giants work ferociously hard and, through a series of incremental steps, achieve things that appear (to the outside world) like epiphanies and breakthroughs.

Prof. Weisberg analyzed Picasso’s 1937 masterpiece Guernica, for instance, which was painted after the Spanish city was bombed by the Germans. The painting is considered a fresh and original concept, but Prof. Weisberg found instead that it was closely related to several of Picasso’s earlier works and drew upon his study of paintings by Goya and then-prevalent Communist Party imagery. The bottom line, Prof. Weisberg told me, is that creativity goes back in many ways to the basics. “You have to immerse yourself in a discipline before you create in that discipline. It is built on a foundation of learning the discipline, which is what your music teacher was requiring of you.”

  1. Grit trumps talent.

In recent years, University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth has studied spelling bee champs, Ivy League undergrads and cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.—all together, over 2,800 subjects. In all of them, she found that grit—defined as passion and perseverance for long-term goals—is the best predictor of success. In fact, grit is usually unrelated or even negatively correlated with talent.

Prof. Duckworth, who started her career as a public school math teacher and just won a 2013 MacArthur “genius grant,” developed a “Grit Scale” that asks people to rate themselves on a dozen statements, like “I finish whatever I begin” and “I become interested in new pursuits every few months.” When she applied the scale to incoming West Point cadets, she found that those who scored higher were less likely to drop out of the school’s notoriously brutal summer boot camp known as “Beast Barracks.” West Point’s own measure—an index that includes SAT scores, class rank, leadership and physical aptitude—wasn’t able to predict retention.

Prof. Duckworth believes that grit can be taught. One surprisingly simple factor, she says, is optimism—the belief among both teachers and students that they have the ability to change and thus to improve. In a 2009 study of newly minted teachers, she rated each for optimism (as measured by a questionnaire) before the school year began. At the end of the year, the students whose teachers were optimists had made greater academic gains.

  1. Praise makes you weak…

My old teacher Mr. K seldom praised us. His highest compliment was “not bad.” It turns out he was onto something. Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck has found that 10-year-olds praised for being “smart” became less confident. But kids told that they were “hard workers” became more confident and better performers.

“The whole point of intelligence praise is to boost confidence and motivation, but both were gone in a flash,” wrote Prof. Dweck in a 2007 article in the journal Educational Leadership. “If success meant they were smart, then struggling meant they were not.”

8.…while stress makes you strong.

A 2011 University at Buffalo study found that a moderate amount of stress in childhood promotes resilience. Psychology professor Mark D. Seery gave healthy undergraduates a stress assessment based on their exposure to 37 different kinds of significant negative events, such as death or illness of a family member. Then he plunged their hands into ice water. The students who had experienced a moderate number of stressful events actually felt less pain than those who had experienced no stress at all.

“Having this history of dealing with these negative things leads people to be more likely to have a propensity for general resilience,” Prof. Seery told me. “They are better equipped to deal with even mundane, everyday stressors.”

Prof. Seery’s findings build on research by University of Nebraska psychologist Richard Dienstbier, who pioneered the concept of “toughness”—the idea that dealing with even routine stresses makes you stronger. How would you define routine stresses? “Mundane things, like having a hardass kind of teacher,” Prof. Seery says.

My tough old teacher Mr. K could have written the book on any one of these principles. Admittedly, individually, these are forbidding precepts: cold, unyielding, and kind of scary.

But collectively, they convey something very different: confidence. At their core is the belief, the faith really, in students’ ability to do better. There is something to be said about a teacher who is demanding and tough not because he thinks students will never learn but because he is so absolutely certain that they will.

Decades later, Mr. K’s former students finally figured it out, too. “He taught us discipline,” explained a violinist who went on to become an Ivy League-trained doctor. “Self-motivation,” added a tech executive who once played the cello. “Resilience,” said a professional cellist. “He taught us how to fail—and how to pick ourselves up again.”

Clearly, Mr. K’s methods aren’t for everyone. But you can’t argue with his results. And that’s a lesson we can all learn from.

Ms. Lipman is co-author, with Melanie Kupchynsky, of “Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations,” to be published by Hyperion on Oct. 1. She is a former deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and former editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Portfolio.

Global warming and corruption of science by Mark Landsbaum


Mark Landsbaum: Global warming and corruption of science

By MARK LANDSBAUM / Register columnist

The Church of Global Warming is well-established in government.

“Global Warming has become a religion,” says Dr. Richard Lindzen, MIT’s Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology. “A surprisingly large number of people seem to have concluded that all that gives meaning to their lives is the belief that they are saving the planet by paying attention to their carbon footprint.”

The well-established religion of global warming demands converts, insists on hefty tithing and virtually excommunicates unbelievers. These are serious problems when combined with the government’s power to coerce. You can run, but you can’t hide, from the Church of Global Warming’s enforcers.

Another problem is that science is corrupted by circumventing the scientific method and demonizing dissent. The faddish denomination Church of Global Warming recently was reborn as the Church of Climate Change. The original name became too difficult for even true believers to utter without embarrassment since global warming has been undetectable for 17 years.

C.S. Lewis, author of “Narnia” and Christian-themed books, noted the corruption of science nearly 70 years ago.

“Lewis pointed out that, in the modern world, people will believe almost anything if it’s dressed up in the name of science,” says Dr. John West, associate director at the Center for Science and Culture and editor of “The Magician’s Twin,” a collection of Lewis’ essays (and a film) on corruption of science. Lewis’ book, “The Hideous Strength,” explored twisting of science to advance horrors such as sterilization of the “unfit” and selective breeding.

Science, done properly, helps understand reality. But even then, science doesn’t tell us what should be done once we understand. Contemporary pressure groups largely have co-opted science to advance political agendas, foremost among them today, climate change.

Where once scientific findings were offered for debate, the contemporary model dictates findings and demands its advice be followed. Be wary when someone says, “Science says we must.”

Real science doesn’t do that. Science split the atom. Science didn’t dictate dropping the bomb.

With Congress soon to reconvene, and President Barack Obama likely soon to turn his attention from Syria to domestic issues, beware of policies supposedly mandated by scientific “consensus.” Any honest scientist should be able – and willing – to point to any number of “consensus” beliefs later proven to be poppycock.

Beware when scientists insist that debate must end because the science is settled. They should be saying, “Here’s what our research shows. Test it to see if it’s true.”

Corruption of the scientific process has spread to highest levels. In 2010, the United States National Academy of Sciences dropped all pretense and revealed itself to be a shameless advocacy group, urging the government “to take drastic action to raise the cost of using coal and oil to slow global warming,” the New York Times reported.

“It’s not an opinion,” said a NAS chairman, “it’s what the science tells you.” In other words, drop that bomb.

Some advocating such diktats may recall President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning about the growing power of the military-industrial complex. They should re-read his 1961 farewell address. He also warned of, “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by federal employment, project allocations and the power of money,” something he said is “gravely to be regarded.”

“[P]ublic policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite,” were Eisenhower’s prescient words.

All of this would be disturbing enough, if scientists were getting things right. But because of the motive of “project allocations and the power of money,” so-called science no longer can be trusted.

A recent paper made headlines in claiming a 97 percent “consensus” in scientific studies on global warming. But the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s Andrew Montford’s review of the survey’s methods showed the alleged consensus “is so broad that it incorporates the views of most prominent climate skeptics.”

“The consensus as described by the survey is virtually meaningless and tells us nothing about the current state of scientific opinion beyond the trivial observation that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that human activities have warmed the planet to some unspecified extent,” Montford said.

Bjorn Lomborg, author of “Cool it – The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming,” says the 97 percent finding got just about everything wrong. Of 12,000 papers surveyed from the past 25 years, only 1.6 percent explicitly endorsed global warming with numbers. “[N]obody said anything about dangerous global warming; this meme simply got attached afterwards (by Obama and many others),” said Lomborg.

Here’s some news real scientists should welcome. An article in Nature Climate Change compared actual temperatures over the past 20 years to 37 of the climate models used to project future temperature increase. Real temperatures rose at half the rate claimed by global warming priests.

True science says, “Test our conclusions.” Don’t expect global warming believers to welcome such a real-world test.


STEM focus has it bacward

STEM focus has it backward


2013-04-12 14:58:46

Much has been said the past 10 to 15 years in the media, public education forums and government circles about the need to improve student math and science scores so we don’t fall even further behind in international rankings. The word on the lips of all concerned is STEM.

There are two key problems with this acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The first and, perhaps, less significant, is the confusion among some people with stem-cell research. The second problem is the implication that each of the four fields is a stand-alone discipline.

A better way to describe it is to reverse the order of the letters, to make it METS (No, it has nothing to do with baseball; in any case, I’m a Yankees fan). The rationale is to emphasize that a solid math education must come first, that math is essential for students to become engineers, who then develop technology, which enables advances in science. These last three fields, so essential to the future success of the country, cannot thrive without practitioners having a solid math foundation. The importance of a solid mathematics education goes beyond the current conversation of improved proficiency on test scores.

I have used the word mathematics frequently in my education and career but never until recently thought about the actual meaning of the term. I found interesting literal definitions in two ancient languages. In Greek, it is “learning.” In Hebrew, its root is “thinking.”

They tell us that mathematics gives us the critical ability to learn and think logically in any field of education. The skills of learning today are more important than knowledge, which is so readily available on the Internet. To quote the futurist Alvin Toffler, “The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but, rather, those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

A solid foundation in mathematics and science develops and hones the skills of posing hypotheses, designing experiments and controls, analyzing data, recognizing patterns, seeking evidence, conclusions and proof, solving problems and seeking absolutes, while being open to new information. Studying mathematics not only will develop more engineers and scientists, but also produce more citizens who can learn and think creatively and critically, no matter their career fields. The workforce of tomorrow, in all fields, will demand it.

Teaching methods used today stress memorization and the use of calculators. Students are taught by rote instead of analyzing and understanding, with the primary focus placed on test scores. Test scores are essential but not sufficient. If we believe that the objective of a quality education for our children is to develop the skills associated with learning and thinking, we need to do more.

First, incentives are needed to attract and retain top high school and college students, passionate about math and science, to become teachers. This will require higher pay and public recognition. We must get away from the “all teachers are created equal” syndrome. The education system is competing with private industry for top young technical talent, and it must do something to respond.

Second, new and innovative teaching programs need to be implemented, integrating available technology to stimulate students’ creativity, imagination and confidence. They need more hands-on and contextual learning in order to spark their curiosity and enjoyment of learning.

A number of such programs have been developed by nonprofit organizations in Orange County and are being utilized by elementary and middle schools. For example, the MIND Research Institute has developed a unique math learning curriculum, which has been recognized nationally with close to 500,000 students across the country benefiting from it. The curriculum is based on computer games and visual learning, with students progressing at their own pace.

Another such organization is Science@OC, which partners with Orange County public school educators to develop science-literate students through inquiry-based instruction – an approach that puts a major emphasis on hands-on lab work – the cool stuff that ignites a passion for understanding how the physical world works.

These organizations and many others in Orange County are making a difference at a critical time.

America needs to move decisively, quickly, creatively and effectively to prepare our students with 21st century METS skills before we lose a generation that has become incapable of competing in a global economy.

Mike Lefkowitz is president of The Semel Group, a consultancy for businesses and nonprofits.

95 Social Science Reasons for Religious Worship and Practice

95 Social Science Reasons

for Religious Worship and Practice

Pat Fagan

October 16, 2012


A century ago, non-believers could push religion aside as an irritating superstition that had to be endured because the majority and the Founder Fathers held to it. To ignore religion today, atheists would also have to throw reason and science aside as well, because developments in sociology, psychology and economics make religion’s abundant benefits clear to all who investigate it.

U.S. federal data repeatedly make clear that the practice of religion is a great public and private good. Given its myriad benefits, it is clear religious practice indirectly but powerfully saves the taxpayer much and also adds to public revenues.

Reasonable atheists and agnostics will voice, not opposition to religious practice, but public gratitude for the good it does. Worship’s benefits flow over to all the other major institutions of the nation: the family, education, the marketplace and income, and government. Worship’s rewards are visible, for example, in education and human capital development, sexual behavior, relational strength, psychological and physical well-being, and in a significant decrease in a variety of social ills.

Presently there is much discussion of religious liberty and its centrality to the American way of life. The data contained in this paper should reinforce the confidence of every believer and instill respect for religion in those who do not believe, for faith is a major enabler of our constitutional system of self-government.


  1. Reasons for Religion: Family


  1. Numerous sociological studies have shown that valuing religion and regularly practicing it are associated with greater marital stability, higher levels of marital satisfaction, and an increased inclination to marry.1
  2. Religious attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability,2 confirming even studies conducted over 50 years ago.3
  3. Couples who acknowledged a divine purpose in their marriage were more likely to collaborate, to have greater marital adjustment, and to perceive more benefits from marriage.4
  4. These same couples also said that they were less likely to use aggression or to come to a stalemate in their disagreements.5
  5. Couples whose marriages lasted 30 years or more reported that their faith helped them to deal with difficult times, was a source of moral guidance in making decisions and dealing with conflict, and encouraged them to maintain their commitment to their marriages.6
  6. The more frequently husbands attended religious services, the happier their wives said they were with the level of affection and understanding they received and the amount of time their husbands spent with them.7
  7. Sixty percent who attended religious services at least monthly perceived their marriages as “very satisfactory,” compared with 43 percent of those who attended religious services less often.8
  8. Compared with peers who attend religious services several times a week, young women who never attend are seven times more likely to cohabit. Women who attend weekly are one third less likely to cohabit than those who attend less than once a month.9

1 Andrew J. Weaver, Judith A. Samford, Virginia J. Morgan, David B. Larson, Harold G. Koenig, and Kevin J. Flannelly, “A Systematic Review of Research on Religion in Six Primary Marriage and Family Journals: 1995-1999,” American Journal of Family Therapy 30, no. 4 (July 2002): 293-309.

2 David B. Larson, Susan S. Larson, and John Gartner, “Families, Relationships and Health,” in Behavior and Medicine, ed. Danny Wedding (St. Louis: Mosby Year Book, Inc., 1990), 135-147.

3 Lee G. Burchinal, “Marital Satisfaction and Religious Behavior,” American Sociological Review 22, no. 3 (June 1957): 306-310.

4 Christopher G. Ellison and Kristin L. Anderson, “Religious Involvement and Domestic Violence Among U.S. Couples,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 40, issue 2 (June 2001): 269-286.

5 Christopher G. Ellison and Kristin L. Anderson, “Religious Involvement and Domestic Violence Among U.S. Couples,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 40, issue 2 (June 2001): 269-286.

6 Linda C. Robinson, “Marital Strengths in Enduring Marriages,” Family Relations 42, no. 1 (1993): 38-45.

7 W. Bradford Wilcox, Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 186.

8 Howard M. Bahr and Bruce A. Chadwick, “Religion and Family in Middleton, USA,” Journal of Marriage and Family 47 (May 1985): 407-414.

9 Arland Thornton, W.G. Axinn, and D.H. Hill, “Reciprocal Effects of Religiosity, Cohabitation, and Marriage,” American Journal of Sociology 98, no. 3 (November 1992): 628-651.


  1. Similarly, churchgoing adults tend to cease regular religious practice when they begin to cohabit.10
  2. Those who attended religious services infrequently as adolescents and considered religion to be of low importance are more likely to cohabit as young adults.11
  3. Children whose mothers frequently attended religious services are 50 percent less likely to cohabit than their peers whose mothers were not actively religious.12


  1. Parents who attend religious services are more likely to enjoy a better relationship with their children13 and to be more involved in their children’s education.14
  2. The greater a child’s religious involvement, the more likely both the child and parent will agree about the quality of their relationship,15 the more similar their values will be, and the greater their emotional closeness will be.16
  3. A child’s religious involvement is highly correlated to emotional closeness with his or her parents.17
  4. Mothers who became more religious throughout the first 18 years of their child’s life reported a better relationship with their children, regardless of the level of their religious practice before the children were born.18
  5. When 18-year-olds attended religious services with approximately the same frequency as their mothers, the mothers reported significantly better relationships with their children, even many years later, indicating that the effects of similar religious practice endure.19

10 Arland Thornton, W.G. Axinn, and D.H. Hill, “Reciprocal Effects of Religiosity, Cohabitation, and Marriage,” American Journal of Sociology 98, no. 3 (November 1992): 628-651.

11 Kazuo Yamaguchi, “Dynamic Relationships Between Premarital Cohabitation and Illicit Drug Use: An Event-History Analysis of Role Selection and Role Socialization,” American Sociological Review 50, no. 4 (August 1985): 530-546.

12 Arland Thornton, W.G. Axinn, and D.H. Hill, “Reciprocal Effects of Religiosity, Cohabitation, and Marriage,” American Journal of Sociology 98, no. 3 (November 1992): 628-651.

13 Lisa D. Pearce and William G. Axinn, “The Impact of Family Religious Life on the Quality of Mother-Child Relations,” American Sociological Review 63, no. 6 (December 1998): 810-828.

14 W. Bradford Wilcox, “Religion, Convention, and Paternal Involvement,” Journal of Marriage and Family 64, no. 3 (August 2002): 780-792.

15 William S. Aquilino, “Two Views of One Relationship: Comparing Parents’ and Young Adult Children’s Reports of the Quality of Intergenerational Relations,” Journal of Marriage and Family 61, no. 4 (November 1999): 858-870.

16 Lisa D. Pearce and Dana L. Haynie, “Intergenerational Religious Dynamics and Adolescent Delinquency,” Social Forces 82, no. 4 (June 2004): 1553-1572.

17 Lisa D. Pearce and Dana L. Haynie, “Intergenerational Religious Dynamics and Adolescent Delinquency,” Social Forces 82, no. 4 (June 2004): 1553-1572.

18 Lisa D. Pearce and William G. Axinn, “The Impact of Family Religious Life on the Quality of Mother-Child Relations,” American Sociological Review 63, no. 6 (December 1998): 810-828.

19 Lisa D. Pearce and William G. Axinn, “The Impact of Family Religious Life on the Quality of Mother-Child Relations,” American Sociological Review 63, no. 6 (December 1998): 810-828.


  1. A father’s religious affiliation and religious attendance are positively associated with his involvement with his children in ways such as interacting one-on-one, having dinner with his family, and volunteering for youth-related activities.20
  2. Compared to fathers who have no religious affiliation, those who attend religious services frequently are more likely to monitor, spend time with, and praise and hug their children.21
  3. A father’s frequency of religious attendance is a stronger predictor of paternal involvement in one-on-one activities with children than are employment and income—the factors most frequently cited in the academic literature on fatherhood.22
  4. Compared to children whose parents do not attend church at all, children whose parents attend church services exhibit more self-control while under parental supervision in their homes.23

Sexual Attitudes and Behavior

  1. The 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey shows that, of adults aged 18 to 59, those in intact marriages who worship weekly were most likely to say they felt thrilled and excited during intercourse with their current sexual partner. Almost 92 percent of adults who worship weekly reported feeling thrilled and excited, compared to only about 85 percent who never worship.24
  2. Very religious women report greater satisfaction in sexual intercourse with their husbands than do moderately religious or non-religious women.25
  3. Greater levels of community religious practice are correlated with lower levels of teen sexual activity.26
  4. Traditional values and religious beliefs are among the most common factors cited by teens as their reason for remaining sexually abstinent, second only to fear (e.g., fear of an unwanted pregnancy, a sexually transmitted disease, or parental discipline).27

20 W. Bradford Wilcox, Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 112-118.

21 W. Bradford Wilcox, Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 112-118.

22 W. Bradford Wilcox, Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 112-118.

23 John P. Bartkowski, Xiaohe Xu, and Martin L. Levin, “Religion and Child Development: Evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study,” Social Science Research 37, no. 1 (March 2007): 18-36.

24 Patrick F. Fagan and Althea Nagai, “Feels Thrilled, Excited During Intercourse with Current Partner,” Mapping America 116 (2012). http://www.frc.org/marri-mappingamerica/mapping-america-116-feels-thrilled-excited-during-intercourse-with-current-sexual-partner (accessed September 21, 2012).

25 Carol Tavris and Susan Sadd, The Redbook Report on Female Sexuality (New York: Delacorte Press, 1977).

26 John O.G. Billy, “Contextual Effects on the Sexual Behavior of Adolescent Women,” Journal of Marriage and Family 56, no. 2 (May 1994): 387-404.

27 Lynn Blinn-Pike, “Why Abstinent Adolescents Report They Have Not Had Sex: Understanding Sexually Resilient Youth,” Family Relations 48, no. 3 (July 1999): 295-301.



  1. Youth who attend religious services more frequently have less permissive attitudes toward sexual activity and less sexual experience than peers who attend religious services less frequently.28
  2. An analysis of National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health found that each increase in religiosity on their scale29 reduced the odds of becoming sexually active by 16 percent for girls and by 12 percent for boys.30
  3. Men and women who are religious are more likely to have less permissive sexual attitudes, and they are influenced by religion more than any other variable when it comes to their sexual choices.31
  4. Individuals who attend religious services more often are less likely to have a positive view of extramarital sexual relationships.32
  5. Those with higher levels of religious commitment and who regularly attend religious services are much less likely to engage in premarital sex or extramarital affairs or to have multiple sexual partners.33
  6. Among both conservative and mainline Protestants, religious affiliation and religious attendance consistently predict negative attitudes toward divorce and premarital sexual intercourse.34

Family Weaknesses

  1. Couples who share the same religious commitment are less likely to commit acts of domestic violence.35
  2. Men who attend religious services at least weekly are less than half as likely to commit an act of violence against their partners as their peers who attend once yearly or less.36

28 Arland Thornton, “Religious Participation and Adolescent Sexual Behavior and Attitudes,” Journal of Marriage and Family 51, no. 3 (August 1989): 641-653.

29 In this study, religiosity was a composite score between 3 and 12 representing an individual’s religious attendance, participation in religious youth activities, and self-rated importance of religion.

30 Sharon Scales Rostosky, Mark D. Regnerus, and Margaret Laurie Comer Wright, “Coital Debut: The Role of Religiosity and Sex Attitudes in the Add Health Survey,” Journal of Sex Research 40, no. 4 (November 2003): 358-367.

31 Lisa D. Wade, “Relationship Dissolution as a Life Stage Transition: Effects on Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors,” Journal of Marriage and Family 64, no. 4 (November 2002): 898-914.

Sharon Scales Rostosky, Mark D. Regnerus, and Margaret Laurie Comer Wright, “Coital Debut: The Role of Religiosity and Sex Attitudes in the Add Health Survey,” Journal of Sex Research 40, no. 4 (November 2003): 358-367.

32 Gerbert Kraaykamp, “Trends and Countertrends in Sexual Permissiveness: Three Decades of Attitude Change in the Netherlands: 1965-1995,” Journal of Marriage and Family 64, no. 1 (February 2002): 225­239.

33 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Objective Hope—Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Systematic Review of the Literature, by Byron R. Johnson, Ralph Brett Tompkins, and Derek Webb (2002). www.manhattaninstitute.org/pdf/crrucs_objective_hope.pdf (accessed September 6, 2012).

34 W. Bradford Wilcox, Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 81.

35 Christopher G. Ellison, John P. Bartkowski, and Kristin L. Anderson, “Are There Religious Variations in Domestic Violence?” Journal of Family Issues 20, no. 1 (January 1999): 87-113.

36 Christopher G. Ellison, John P. Bartkowski, and Kristin L. Anderson, “Are There Religious Variations in Domestic Violence?” Journal of Family Issues 20, no. 1 (January 1999): 87-113.


  1. Regular attendance at religious services has a strong and statistically significant inverse association with the incidence of domestic abuse.37
  2. Mothers who attended religious services less often over time reported a lower-quality relationship with their adult child.38
  3. Compared to those who consider themselves “very religious,” those who are “not at all religious” are far more likely to bear a child out of wedlock (among whites, three times as likely; among Hispanics, 2.5 times as likely; and among blacks, twice as likely).39


  1. Marriages in which both spouses attend religious services frequently are 2.4 times less likely to end in divorce than marriages in which neither spouse worships. 40
  2. The likelihood of divorce is reduced when husbands and wives share the same religious commitment. Such couples report a greater sense of well-being and more satisfaction with their marital relationship.41
  3. Those who cease attending religious services divorce 2.5 times more frequently than those who continue their religious practice.42
  4. Those who consider their religious beliefs “very important” are 22 percent less likely to divorce than those to whom religious beliefs are only “somewhat important.”43
  5. Couples who share the same faith are more likely to reunite if they separate than are couples who do not share the same religious affiliation. One study found that fully a third of the separated spouses who had the same religious affiliation reconciled, compared with less than one-fifth of those with different affiliations.44
  6. Women who are more religious are less likely to experience divorce or separation than are their less religious peers.45

37 Christopher G. Ellison and Kristin L. Anderson, “Religious Involvement and Domestic Violence Among U.S. Couples,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 40, issue 2 (June 2001): 269-286.

38 Lisa D. Pearce and William G. Axinn, “The Impact of Family Religious Life on the Quality of Mother-Child Relations,” American Sociological Review 63, no. 6 (December 1998): 810-828.

39 Allan F. Abrahamse, Beyond Stereotypes: Who Becomes a Single Teenage Mother? (Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, 1988), 37-50.

40 Vaughn R.A. Call and Tim B. Heaton, “Religious Influence on Marital Stability,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 36, no. 3 (September 1997): 382-392.

41 Lisa D. Pearce and Dana L. Haynie, “Intergenerational Religious Dynamics and Adolescent Delinquency,” Social Forces 82, no. 4 (June 2004): 1553-1572.

42 Timothy T. Clydesdale, “Family Behaviors Among Early U.S. Baby Boomers: Exploring the Effects of Religion and Income Change, 1965-1982,” Social Forces 76, no. 2 (December 1997): 605-635.

43 Chris Knoester and Alan Booth, “Barriers to Divorce: When Are They Effective? When Are They Not?” Journal of Family Issues 27, no. 1 (January 2000): 78-99.

44 Howard Wineberg, “Marital Reconciliation in the United States: Which Couples Are Successful?” Journal of Marriage and Family 56, no. 1 (February 1994): 80-88.

45 Karen Price Carver, “Female Employment and First Union Dissolution in Puerto Rico,” Journal of Marriage and Family 55, no. 3 (1993) 686-698.


  1. Reasons for Religion: Education
  2. Increased religious attendance is correlated with higher grades.46 Students who frequently attend religious services scored 2.32 points higher on tests in math and reading than their less religiously-involved peers.47
  3. More than 75 percent of students who become more religious during their college years achieve above-average college grades.48
  4. Religiously involved students spend more time on their homework and work harder in school than non-religious students.49
  5. Frequent religious attendance correlates with lower dropout rates and greater school attachment.50
  6. Frequent religious attendance results in a fivefold decrease in the likelihood that youth will skip school, compared to those who seldom or never attend.51
  7. The greater is parents’ religious involvement, the more likely they will have higher educational expectations for their children and will communicate with their children about their education.52
  8. Frequent religious practice is positively correlated with higher educational aspirations.53
  9. Students who attend church weekly while growing up have significantly more years of total schooling by their early thirties than peers who do not attend church at all.54

46 Mark D. Regnerus and Glen H. Elder, “Religion and Vulnerability Among Low-Risk Adolescents,” Social Science Research 32 (2003): 644, 650. Regnerus and Elder analyzed 9,200 youth from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. They also found that each unit increase in church attendance decreased the likelihood of getting poor grades by 13 percent.

J.L. Glanville, D. Sikkink, and E.I. Hernández, “Religious Involvement and Educational Outcomes: The Role of Social Capital and Extracurricular Participation,” Sociological Quarterly 49 (2008): 105-137.

47 Mark D. Regnerus, “Shaping Schooling Success: Religious Socialization and Educational Outcomes in Metropolitan Public Schools,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 39, issue 3 (September 2000): 363-370.

48 David S. Zern, “Some Connections Between Increasing Religiousness and Academic Accomplishment in a College Population,” Adolescence 24, no. 93 (1989): 152. Zern, in his sample of 251, also found that neither past nor present religious practice was related to grade point average in college.

49 Chandra Muller and Christopher G. Ellison, “Religious Involvement, Social Capital, and Adolescents’ Academic Progress: Evidence from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988,” Sociological Focus 34 (2001): 155-183.

50 Mark D. Regnerus, “Shaping Schooling Success: Religious Socialization and Educational Outcomes in Metropolitan Public Schools,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 39, issue 3 (September 2000): 363-370.

51 Douglas M. Sloane and Raymond H. Potvin, “Religion and Delinquency: Cutting Through the Maze,” Social Forces 65, no. 1 (September 1986): 87-105.

52 Chandra Muller and Christopher G. Ellison, “Religious Involvement, Social Capital, and Adolescents’ Academic Progress: Evidence from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988,” Sociological Focus 34, no. 2 (May 2001): 155-183.

53 University of Pennsylvania, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Making the Grade: The Influence of Religion upon the Academic Performance of Youth in Disadvantaged Communities, by Mark D. Regnerus, Report no. 3 (2001).

54 L.D. Loury, “Does Church Attendance Really Increase Schooling?” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 43 (2004): 119-127.


  1. Attending religious services and activities positively affects inner-city youths’ school attendance, work activity, and allocation of time—all of which are further linked to reduced likelihood to be deviant.55

III. Reasons for Religion: Health

  1. Men and women who attend church weekly have the lowest mortality rates.56
  2. Religious practice delivers longevity benefits, most significantly by encouraging a support network among family and friends that helps to maintain a pattern of regimented care, reducing one’s mortality risk from infectious diseases and diabetes.57
  3. Greater longevity is consistently and significantly correlated with higher levels of religious practice and involvement, regardless of the sex, race, education, or health history of those studied.58
  4. A literature review of medical, public health, and social science literature that empirically addressed the link between religion and mortality found that religious practice decreases mortality rates.59
  5. Those who are religiously involved live an average of seven years longer than those who are not. This gap is as great as that between non-smokers and those who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day.60
  6. Among African–Americans, the benefit of religion to longevity is particularly large. The average life span of religious blacks is 14 years longer than that of their nonreligious peers.61
  7. Among African Americans (aged 18 to 54), those who attend church more than weekly have an even lower mortality risk than those who attend just once a week or not at all.62

55 National Bureau of Economic Research, Who Escapes? The Relation of Churchgoing and Other Background Factors to the Socioeconomic Performance of Black Male Youths from Inner-City Tracts, by Richard B. Freeman, Working Paper No. 1656 (June 1985).

56 Douglas Oman and Dwayne Reed, “Religion and Mortality Among the Community-Dwelling Elderly,” American Journal of Public Health 88, no. 10 (1998): 1471-1472.

57 Robert A. Hummer, Richard G. Rogers, Charles B. Nam, and Christopher G. Ellison, “Religious Involvement and U.S. Adult Mortality,” Demography 36, no. 2 (May 1999): 273-285.

58 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Objective Hope—Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Systematic Review of the Literature, by Byron R. Johnson, Ralph Brett Tompkins, and Derek Webb (2002). www.manhattaninstitute.org/pdf/crrucs_objective_hope.pdf (accessed September 6, 2012).

59 Robert A. Hummer, Christopher G. Ellison, Richard G. Rogers, Benjamin E. Moulton, and Ron R. Romero, “Religious Involvement and Adult Mortality in the United States: Review and Perspective,” Southern Medical Journal 97, no. 12 (December 2004): 1223-1230.

60 Mark D. Regnerus, “Religion and Positive Adolescent Outcomes: A Review of Research and Theory,” Review of Religious Research 44, no. 4 (June 2003): 394-413.

61 Robert A. Hummer, Richard G. Rogers, Charles B. Nam, and Christopher G. Ellison, “Religious Involvement and U.S. Adult Mortality,” Demography 36, no. 2 (May 1999): 273-285.

62 Christopher G. Ellison, Robert A. Hummer, Shannon Cormier, and Richard G. Rogers, “Religious Involvement and Mortality Risk among African American Adults,” Research on Aging 22 (2000): 651-652.


  1. Adolescents whose mothers attend religious services at least weekly display better health, greater problem-solving skills, and higher overall satisfaction with their lives, regardless of race, gender, income, or family structure.63
  2. Youths who both attend religious services weekly and rate religion as important in their lives are more likely to eat healthfully, sleep sufficiently, and exercise regularly.64
  3. Young people who both attend religious services weekly and rate religion as important in their lives are less likely to engage in risky behavior, such as drunk driving, riding with drunk drivers, driving without a seatbelt, or engaging in interpersonal violence. They are also less likely to smoke (tobacco or marijuana) or drink heavily.65
  4. Those with higher levels of religious commitment may have a reduced risk of colitis, various types of cancer, and untimely death.66
  5. One study shows that religion and spirituality have protective effects against mortality regarding cardiovascular disease.67

Mental Health

  1. Good mental health is highly correlated to religious participation.68
  2. An increase in religious practice is associated with having greater hope and a greater sense of purpose in life.69
  3. A literature review of 99 studies found “some positive association…between religious involvement and greater happiness, life satisfaction, morale, positive affect, or some other measure of well-being” 81 percent of the time. This analysis included a wide diversity among ages, races, and denominations.70
  4. Religious affiliation and regular church attendance are among the most common reasons people give to explain their own happiness.71

63 Christopher G. Ellison, John P. Bartkowski, and Kristin L. Anderson, “Are There Religious Variations in Domestic Violence?” Journal of Family Issues 20, no. 1 (January 1999): 87-113.

64 John M. Wallace, Jr. and Tyrone A. Forman, “Religion’s Role in Promoting Health and Reducing Risk Among American Youth,” Health Education and Behavior 25, no. 6 (December 1998): 730, 733.

65 John M. Wallace, Jr. and Tyrone A. Forman, “Religion’s Role in Promoting Health and Reducing Risk Among American Youth,” Health Education and Behavior 25, no. 6 (December 1998): 730-733.

66 Jeffrey S. Levin and Preston L. Schiller, “Is There a Religious Factor in Health?” Journal of Religion and Health 26, no. 1 (March 1987): 9-35.

67 Yoichi Chida, Andrew Steptoe, and Lynda H. Powell, “Religiosity/Spirituality and Mortality,” Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 78 (2009): 86, 88.

68 Diane R. Brown and Lawrence E. Gary, “Religious Involvement and Health Status Among African-American Males,” Journal of the National Medical Association 86, no. 11 (1994): 828.

69 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Objective Hope—Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Systematic Review of the Literature, by Byron R. Johnson, Ralph Brett Tompkins, and Derek Webb (2002). www.manhattaninstitute.org/pdf/crrucs_objective_hope.pdf (accessed September 6, 2012).

70 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Objective Hope—Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Systematic Review of the Literature, by Byron R. Johnson, Ralph Brett Tompkins, and Derek Webb (2002). www.manhattaninstitute.org/pdf/crrucs_objective_hope.pdf (accessed September 6, 2012).

71 B. Beit-Hallami, “Psychology of Religion 1880-1939: The Rise and Fall of a Psychological Movement,” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 10 (1974): 84-90.


  1. Happiness is greater and psychological health is better among those who attend religious services regularly.72
  2. A majority of the literature in an extensive review concluded that religious commitment and practice lead to increased self-esteem and that religious practice correlates with increased social support.73
  3. First-graders and kindergartners whose parents attend religious services are less likely to experience anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, and sadness.74
  4. More frequent attendance at religious services predicts less distress among adults75 and high school students,76 even when controlling for its normal socio-demographic predictors.
  5. African-Americans who were more religious reported a greater sense of control than less religious respondents; this greater sense of control was, in turn, correlated with decreased distress.77
  6. People who are frequently involved in religious activities and highly value their religious faith are at reduced risk of depression, according to a review of more than 100 studies.78
  7. Those who participate in community religious services have lower levels of depression than those who do not fellowship in a religious community but pray alone.79
  8. Adolescents at one public school in Texas who frequently attended religious services and derived great meaning and purpose from religion in their lives had lower levels of depression than their less religious peers.80

72 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Objective Hope—Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Systematic Review of the Literature, by Byron R. Johnson, Ralph Brett Tompkins, and Derek Webb (2002). www.manhattaninstitute.org/pdf/crrucs_objective_hope.pdf (accessed September 6, 2012).

73 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Objective Hope—Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Systematic Review of the Literature, by Byron R. Johnson, Ralph Brett Tompkins, and Derek Webb (2002). www.manhattaninstitute.org/pdf/crrucs_objective_hope.pdf (accessed September 6, 2012).

74 John P. Bartkowski, Xiaohe Xu, and Martin L. Levin, “Religion and Child Development: Evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study,” Social Science Research 37, no. 1 (March 2007): 18-36.

75 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Objective Hope—Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Systematic Review of the Literature, by Byron R. Johnson, Ralph Brett Tompkins, and Derek Webb (2002). www.manhattaninstitute.org/pdf/crrucs_objective_hope.pdf (accessed September 6, 2012).

76 Christopher G. Ellison, John P. Bartkowski, and Kristin L. Anderson, “Are There Religious Variations in Domestic Violence?” Journal of Family Issues 20, no. 1 (January 1999): 87-113.

J.M. Mosher and P.J. Handal, “The Relationship Between Religion and Psychological Distress in Adolescents,” Journal of Psychology and Theology 25, issue 4 (Winter 1997): 449-457.

77 Sung Joon Jang and Byron R. Johnson, “Explaining Religious Effects on Distress Among African Americans,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 43, no. 2 (June 2004): 239-260.

78 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Objective Hope—Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Systematic Review of the Literature, by Byron R. Johnson, Ralph Brett Tompkins, and Derek Webb (2002). www.manhattaninstitute.org/pdf/crrucs_objective_hope.pdf (accessed September 6, 2012).

79 Christopher G. Ellison, “Race, Religious Involvement, and Depressive Symptomatology in a Southeastern U.S. Community,” Social Science and Medicine 40, no. 11 (June 1995): 1561-1572.


  1. Religious practice correlates with reduced incidence of suicide, as demonstrated by 87 percent of the studies reviewed in a 2002 meta-analysis.81 By contrast, a lack of religious affiliation correlates with an increased risk of suicide.82

Addictive Behaviors

  1. While a strong family remains the best defense against the negative effects of pornography, it is even more effective when coupled with religious worship.83
  2. There is a negative correlation between weekly religious participation and the habits of smoking and drinking.84
  3. Religious activity reduces cigarette consumption among the elderly.85
  4. There is a high correlation between religious involvement and reduced likelihood to consume alcohol.86 This remains true even if a religion does not specifically prohibit consuming alcohol.87
  5. Adolescents,88 psychiatric patients,89 and recovering alcohol addicts90 all show lower rates of alcohol abuse as they engage more frequently in religious activities.

80 Loyd S. Wright, Christopher J. Frost, and Stephen J. Wisecarver, “Church Attendance, Meaningfulness of Religion, and Depressive Symptomatology Among Adolescents,” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 22, no. 5 (October 1993): 559-568.

81 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Objective Hope—Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Systematic Review of the Literature, by Byron R. Johnson, Ralph Brett Tompkins, and Derek Webb (2002). www.manhattaninstitute.org/pdf/crrucs_objective_hope.pdf (accessed September 6, 2012).

82 Frank Tovato, “Domestic/Religious Individualism and Youth Suicide in Canada,” Family Perspective 24, no. 1 (1990): 69-81.

83 Marriage and Religion Research Institute, Quality of Parent-Child Relationship, Religious Attendance, and Family Structure, by Nicholas Zill, Mapping America 48 (2009). http://www.frc.org/mappingamerica/mapping-america-48-quality-of-parent-child-relationship-religious-attendance-and-family-structure (accessed September 6, 2012). See also Mapping America publications on U.S. patterns of viewing x-rated movies (Mapping America 37-39) and adultery (Mapping America 73-75), http://www.mappingamericaproject.org.

84 William J. Strawbridge, Sarah J. Shema, Richard D. Cohen, and George A. Kaplan, “Religious Attendance Increases Survival by Improving and Maintaining Good Health Behaviors, Mental Health, and Social Relationships,” Annals of Behavioral Medicine 23, no. 1 (2001): 68-74.

85 Harold G. Koenig, Linda K. George, Harvey J. Cohen, Judith C. Hays, David B. Larson, and Dan G. Blazer, “The Relationship Between Religious Activities and Cigarette Smoking in Older Adults,” Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences 53A, issue 6 (November 1998): M426-M434.

86 Deborah Hasin, Jean Endicott, and Collins Lewis, “Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Patients with Affective Syndrome,” Comprehensive Psychiatry 26, issue 3 (May-June 1985): 283-295.

Achaempong Y. Amoeateng and Stephen J. Bahr, “Religion, Family, and Drug Abuse,” Sociological Perspectives 29 (1986): 53-73.

John K. Cochran, Leonard Beghley, and E. Wilbur Block, “Religiosity and Alcohol Behavior: An Exploration of Reference Group Therapy,” Sociological Forum 3, no. 2 (Spring 1988): 256-276.

87 Achaempong Y. Amoeateng and Stephen J. Bahr, “Religion, Family, and Drug Abuse,” Sociological Perspectives 29 (1986): 53-73.

John K. Cochran, Leonard Beghley, and E. Wilbur Block, “Religiosity and Alcohol Behavior: An Exploration of Reference Group Therapy,” Sociological Forum 3, no. 2 (Spring 1988): 256-276.

88 Marvin D. Free, Jr., “Religiosity, Religious Conservatism, Bonds to School, and Juvenile Delinquency Among Three Categories of Drug Users,” Deviant Behavior 15, no. 2 (1994) 151-170.

89 David A. Brizer, “Religiosity and Drug Abuse Among Psychiatric Inpatients,” American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 19, no. 3 (September 1993): 337-345.


  1. Higher levels of maternal religious practice are related to significantly lower rates of alcohol abuse among adolescents, even after controlling for religious denomination and adolescents’ peer associations—two factors that also influence their level of drinking.91
  2. Religious involvement is associated with less drug abuse and makes one less likely to develop long-term addiction problems.92
  3. The more dangerous the drug, the more religious practice deters its use, amplifying the already positive, deterrent effects of strong family relations, strong school achievement, and positive peer influences.93
  4. Reasons for Religion: Society

Social Effects

  1. Metropolitan areas with high rates of congregational membership and areas with high levels of religious homogeneity tend to have lower homicide and suicide rates than other metropolitan areas.94
  2. States with more religious populations tend to have fewer homicides and fewer suicides.95
  3. Religious attendance is associated with direct decreases in both minor and major forms of crime and deviance, to an extent unrivalled by government welfare programs.96
  4. There is a 57 percent decrease in likelihood to deal drugs and a 39 percent decrease in likelihood to commit a crime among the young, black inner city population if they attend religious services regularly.97
  5. In a major national survey of adolescents, a 6 percent reduction in delinquency was associated with a one-point increase on an index that combined adolescents’ frequency of religious attendance with their rating of religion’s importance.98

90 Stephanie Carroll, “Spirituality and Purpose in Life in Alcoholism Recovery,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol 54, no. 3 (May 1993): 297-301.

91 Vangie A. Foshee and Bryan R. Hollinger, “Maternal Religiosity, Adolescent Social Bonding, and Adolescent Alcohol Use,” Journal of Early Adolescence 16, no. 4 (November 1996): 451-468.

92 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, Objective Hope—Assessing the Effectiveness of Faith-Based Organizations: A Systematic Review of the Literature, by Byron R. Johnson, Ralph Brett Tompkins, and Derek Webb (2002). www.manhattaninstitute.org/pdf/crrucs_objective_hope.pdf (accessed September 6, 2012).

93 Edward M. Adlaf, “Drug Use and Religious Affiliation: Feelings and Behavior,” British Journal of Addiction 80, no. 2 (June 1985): 163-171.

94 Robert A. Hummer, Christopher G. Ellison, Richard G. Rogers, Benjamin E. Moulton, and Ron R. Romero, “Religious Involvement and Adult Mortality in the United States: Review and Perspective,” Southern Medical Journal 97, no. 12 (December 2004): 1224-1225.

95 David Lester, “Religiosity and Personal Violence: A Regional Analysis of Suicide and Homicide Rates,” The Journal of Social Psychology 127, no. 6 (December 1987): 685-686.

96 Byron R. Johnson, David B. Larson, Spencer De Li, and Sung Joon Jang, “Escaping from the Crime of Inner Cities: Church Attendance and Religious Salience Among Disadvantaged Youth,” Justice Quarterly 17, no. 2 (June 2000): 377-339.

97 Byron R. Johnson, David B. Larson, Spencer De Li, and Sung Joon Jang, “Escaping from the Crime of Inner Cities: Church Attendance and Religious Salience Among Disadvantaged Youth,” Justice Quarterly 17, no. 2 (June 2000): 377-339.


  1. Each unit increase in a mother’s religious practice is associated with a 9 percent decline in her child’s delinquency. The adolescents at lowest risk for delinquency typically have highly religious mothers and are themselves highly religious.99
  2. Children who attend religious services at least weekly are more likely to have positive social development than those who never attend religious services.100


Charitable Giving

  1. Religious practice positively affects compassion, regardless of political perspective.101
  2. Compared with religiously unaffiliated peers, religious individuals are 15 percent more likely to report having tender, concerned feelings for the disadvantaged. This gap is reduced by only 2 percent when the effects of education, income, marital status, sex, race, and age are taken into account.102
  3. Religious individuals are 40 percent more likely than their secular counterparts to give money to charities.103
  4. Among those who feel compassion for the disadvantaged, religious respondents are 23 percentage points more likely to donate to charities at least yearly and 32 percentage points more likely to donate monthly than are their secular counterparts.104
  5. Individuals with a religious affiliation are 30 percent more likely to donate to organizations assisting the poor, compared to their secular counterparts.105
  6. Compared to their secular counterparts, religious individuals are more than twice as likely to volunteer.106 They are 34 percentage points more likely to volunteer at least yearly and 22 percentage points more likely to volunteer monthly.107

The Centrality of Religion in American History

The Founding Fathers, without the benefit of modern social science but with knowledge of history, keen observation, and sharp intellect, all saw religion’s essential role in the functioning of the state. John Adams, second president of the United States and co-

98 Lisa D. Pearce and Dana L. Haynie, “Intergenerational Religious Dynamics and Adolescent Delinquency,” Social Forces 82, no. 4 (June 2004): 1553-1572.

99 Lisa D. Pearce and Dana L. Haynie, “Intergenerational Religious Dynamics and Adolescent Delinquency,” Social Forces 82, no. 4 (June 2004): 1553-1572.

100 Marriage and Religion Research Institute, Children’s Positive Social Development and Religious Attendance, by Nicholas Zill and Patrick Fagan, Mapping America 58. http://www.frc.org/mappingamerica/mapping-america-58-childrens-positive-social-development-and-religious-attendance (accessed July 26, 2012).

101 Arthur C. Brooks, “Compassion, Religion, and Politics,” The Public Interest (Fall 2004): 57-66.

102 Arthur C. Brooks, “Compassion, Religion, and Politics,” The Public Interest (Fall 2004): 57-66.

103 Arthur C. Brooks, “Compassion, Religion, and Politics,” The Public Interest (Fall 2004): 57-66.

104 Arthur C. Brooks, “Compassion, Religion, and Politics,” The Public Interest (Fall 2004): 57-66.

105 Mark D. Regnerus, Christian Smith, and David Sikkink, “Who Gives to the Poor? The Influence of Religious Tradition and Political Location on the Personal Generosity of Americans Toward the Poor,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 37, no. 3 (September 1998): 481-493.

106 Arthur C. Brooks, “Compassion, Religion, and Politics,” The Public Interest (Fall 2004): 57-66.

107 Arthur C. Brooks, “Compassion, Religion, and Politics,” The Public Interest (Fall 2004): 57-66.


author of the Federalist Papers, recognized that “[o]ur Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”108

Thomas Jefferson, keen defender of religious freedom for all—believers and non-believers alike—made clear in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (January 16, 1786) that religious convictions should not be forcibly taken from nor thrust upon individuals:

We, the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief: but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.”109

George Washington summarized the importance of religion for the prosperity of the new nation with particular eloquence in his farewell address:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness—these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. . . .’Tis substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.110

The morality to which Washington referred is inculcated largely through religious practice.


To those who believe in God, it is no surprise that aligning one’s life with His will helps people to more fully express their nature and achieve happiness. To those who do not believe in God but do place faith in scientific investigation, the data indicate that behaving religiously has benefits for individuals and society that must be factored into public discourse, with due deference to the common good done.

The Founding Fathers would have concurred, from Washington and Adams through to Jefferson, Hamilton, and Franklin. The Republic not only benefits from the practice of the worship of God; it may even depend on it.

108 Henry Steele Commager, ed., Documents of American History, 9th ed. (NJ: Prentice Hall, 1973), 175.

109 Henry Steele Commager, ed., Documents of American History, 9th ed. (NJ: Prentice Hall, 1973), 175.

110 George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796, in George Washington: A Collection, ed. W.B. Allen (Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Classics, 1988), 521.