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.





TULIP is the acronym for the basic ideas of classical Calvinism.


(The simplistic version)

T — total depravity. This doesn’t mean people are as bad as they can be. It means that sin is in every part of one’s being, including the mind and will, so that a man cannot save himself.

U — unconditional election. God chooses to save people unconditionally; that is, they are not chosen on the basis of their own merit.

L — limited atonement. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross was for the purpose of saving the elect.

I — irresistible grace. When God has chosen to save someone, He will.

P — perseverence of the saints. Those people God chooses cannot lose their salvation; they will continue to believe. If they fall away, it will be only for a time.


(The TULIP in full bloom)



The first point asserts that the entire or TOTAL human being–body and soul, intellect and will, etc.–is fallen and that everyone is born spiritually dead, helpless, and passive; indeed, everyone is worse than volitionally dead or unable to desire spiritual good but is actually enslaved to sin, positively and actively hostile to the things of the Spirit (Calvinists cite, e.g., John. 1:13; 8:43, 47; 10:26; 12:37-40; 18:37; Romans. 7:18; 8:5-8; 1 Corinthians. 2:9-14).



The second point inescapably follows from the first: since one is born totally depraved and enslaved to sin, one’s ELECTION cannot be dependent or CONTINGENT on any spiritually worthy actions one commits. According to this point, God predestines or chooses to soften the hard, sin-enslaved hearts of certain fallen individuals and liberate them from their death not because of any merit they have but despite their demerits–i.e., He ELECTS to change their hearts (and thereby join them to Christ and His saving work) DESPITE the fact that they hate God and oppose Him and have hard hearts, not soft hearts, and have sin-enslaved wills, not free wills. Thus, believers have no reason to boast about themselves or their own actions: the only thing that differentiates them from Judas, Esau, or others who never respond in faith is that God gave them grace that He withheld from such reprobates (Calvinists cite, e.g., Ezek. 11:19-20; 36:26-27; Rom. 9:11-18; 1 Cor. 4:7; Eph. 2:8-10; cf. Jn. 1:13; 15:16; Acts 13:48; 16:14; 18:27; Phil. 2:13).


LIMITED ATONEMENT or Particular Redemption (= “L” of TULIP)

This point says that while Christ’s blood–indeed, His entire life, death, and resurrection–is infinitely INTENSIVE in saving power and thus unlimited in one sense, it is not infinitely EXTENSIVE and is thus limited, not universal, in the extent of its application; for while everyone CONDITIONALLY or “provisionally” shares in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection (thus, if everyone believed, everyone would be joined or married to Christ), only members of Christ’s body or bride or flock (ELECT believers) actually share in His blood (Calvinists cite, e.g., Jn. 10:11, 15, 26; 17:9; cf. 6:37, 39; 17:2, 6, 24).



This is virtually a synonym for Luther’s slogan “grace alone” (sola gratia) and is logically implied by points “T” and “U” above. It teaches that God’s INWARD CALL is perfectly EFFECTUAL or SUFFICIENT–a hard, fleshly, sinful heart need not add anything to God’s grace, such as “co-operation,” for this special call or grace is invincible, overpowering all hatred and melting all opposition (Calvinists cite, e.g., Jn. 3:6-8). Here Calvinists distinguish God’s inward, effectual call–i.e., IRRESISTIBLE GRACE or sufficient, effective grace–from His outward call, which is simply His commandments written on tablets of stone. The latter is eminently resistible, insufficient, and ineffective to give life to a dead soul or liberate a sin-enslaved heart (e.g., Acts 7:51; 13:39; Rom. 8:3).


PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS or Eternal Security (= “P” of TULIP)

This is not the idea that no matter what a believer does he or she cannot lose his or her salvation but the idea that ” . . . He who began a good work in you will perfect it . . ” (Phil. 1:6 [NASB]; cf., e.g., Jn. 6:37, 39; 10:28-29; Rom. 8:31-39)–i.e., the idea that whenever God creates faith in our hearts and thereby joins us to Christ and His saving work, He will sustain that faith, that saving relationship with Christ, causing us, by His grace, to persevere in faith.



An Explanation of the TULIP


The aforementioned “TULIP” was fashioned at the Synod of Dordt (Dordrecht) in the early 1600s only in REACTION to five assertions of the Arminians (the “Remonstrants” or Dutch “semi-Pelagian” protesters). As a result, these five points aren’t the clearest, most coherent, or most comprehensive presentation of the Calvinistic doctrine of salvation. By the way, Luther, Cranmer, Zwingli, Bullinger, Bucer, et al., were all strict predestinarians and fully Augustinian in their view of grace, etc., but the AP test seems to associate predestination only with Calvin and Zwingli).


Nonetheless, once one understands the essence of the Calvinistic order of salvation (ordo salutis), then TULIP makes sense. According to both English and American Puritans and Continental Calvinists, SALVATION is conditional, whereas ELECTION is unconditional (U = UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION). This distinction is vital to understanding TULIP: ELECTION is God’s eternal decree, outside of time, of who will have faith in Christ and thereby become a member of His body and thus be spotless and righteous and obtain eternal life; in contrast, SALVATION is God’s historical outworking of this decree in time. Thus, according to Calvinism, there is an entire chain of necessary and sufficient CONDITIONS one must meet in order to be “saved” or obtain “SALVATION”: if and only if one believes will one be joined to Christ’s body and participate in His blood and His fulfillment of the law; if and only if one is thus joined to Christ will one be justified or declared legally righteous; if and only if one is thus justified will one be adopted and volitionally sanctified and persevere in Christ; if and only if one thus perseveres will one be physically glorified and receive a transformed resurrected body and spend eternity with Christ.

HOWEVER, according to Calvinism, while one can thus ask “What must I do to be SAVED” (Acts 16:30), it is nonsense to ask “What must I do to be ELECTED?” Why? Because a volitional corpse or a spiritually dead person simply cannot read the Word or pray to God in a way that will volitionally resurrect himself (herself) or soften his (her) heart’s hostility to God–i.e., in regeneration or in being “born again,” one is passive. In a word, the unregenerate, fleshly person is TOTALLY UNABLE (= “T” of “TULIP”) to do any spiritual good–he or she can’t even co-operate or work “synergistically” with the Holy Spirit (hence Calvinism teaches a pure monergism, as did St. Augustine). Thus, if one is born a slave to sin and spiritually dead–is “TOTALLY DEPRAVED or spiritually unable”–then salvation must ULTIMATELY be a free or UNCONDITIONAL gift, in no way finally dependent or contingent on one’s actions–back to the “U” or “UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION”: God simply reaches down and chooses to breathe life into some spiritual corpses and pass over others.



The Five Points of Calvinism


There are two mains camps of theology within Christianity in America today: Arminianism and Calvinism. Calvinism is a system of biblical interpretation taught by John Calvin. Calvin lived in France in the 1500’s at the time of Martin Luther who sparked the Reformation.

The system of Calvinism adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on God’s word. It focuses on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. It also maintains that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual where he is then able and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation.

Arminianism, on the other hand, maintains that God predestined, but not in an absolute sense. Rather, He looked into the future to see who would pick him and then He chose them. Jesus died for all peoples’ sins who have ever lived and ever will live, not just the Christians. Each person is the one who decides if he wants to be saved or not. And finally, it is possible to lose your salvation (some arminians believe you cannot lose your salvation).

Basically, Calvinism is known by an acronym: T.U.L.I.P.

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)

These five categories do not comprise Calvinism in totality. They simply represent some of its main points.

Total Depravity:


Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin.

The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and sick Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And, is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, “In light of the scriptures that declare man’s true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose or desire God?” The answer is, “He cannot. Therefore God must predestine.”

Calvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature we are born again not by our own will but God’s will (John 1:12-13); God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).


Unconditional Election:
God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).

Limited Atonement:
Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many’; John 10:11, 15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bore the sins of many (not all).

Irresistible Grace:
When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that “it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy“; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is not by man’s will, but by God’s.
“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out,” (John 6:37).

Perseverance of the Saints:
You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28 where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47 where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1 where it is said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle; and Phil. 1:6 where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesus’ return.


The Virtues of Capitalism

The Virtues of Capitalism

Paul Johnson, 01.25.12, 06:00 PM EST
Forbes Magazine dated February 13, 2012

Americans are facing what is likely to be a bewildering election year, and it’s important that they keep in mind what this election is all about.

Choosing a President is the most vital act every U.S. citizen of voting age is called upon to perform. An American President is invested with truly awe-inspiring powers; therefore, the search is for a person of exemplary character who can be relied on to make the right decisions, not only on issues already before us but also on those unknown problems and events that will emerge over the next four years.

A successful President has certain simple yet definite characteristics. First is the ability to be decisive, to make clear decisions—often quickly and under pressure—on complex issues that he or she must then be able to present to the nation in terms it can grasp. Ronald Reagan had this power to an unusual degree, as did his colleague in Britain, Margaret Thatcher. It was one of the reasons they were able to form such a successful partnership.

Second, a President must possess two or three core beliefs that center on the nature and limits of government—what it ought to do, must do and should avoid doing. In an ideal world government would do only three things—and those because no one else can: run external defense, keep internal order and manage an honest currency. In the real world, however, government must perform many other duties. Yet the more it takes on, the less likely it will perform the three essentials adequately. A good President remembers this always.

Third, a President must be able to convey reassurance. Americans ought to be able to trust their President. George Washington had this gift; most Americans not only trusted him to do the right thing on their behalf but also saw him as a parental figure, exercising a form of authority that sprang from nature as well as from his election.

It would be absurd to expect the electoral system to produce a father figure every four years. It is the nature of politics that every President falls short of the ideal in one or another of the qualities described here. But it would be hard to think of anyone else so lacking in presidential essentials as Barack Obama. Indecisive and dithering, Mr. Obama doesn’t seem to possess fundamental beliefs of any kind. His central conviction, insofar as he has one, is that government will provide the answers to the nation’s problems, big or small. But there’s no evidence that he’s devoted any profound thought to how an Administration that took charge of everything would be able to function, let alone pay for everything.

What Americans ought to be looking for in Obama’s replacement is someone who can redefine, in contemporary terms, what the essential features of the American system at its best are.

The economic crisis that began in 2008 and has continued with no sign of healing is essentially a crisis in the banking system. Since the days of President Andrew Jackson in the 1830s, Americans have been suspicious of bankers, especially when they’re seen to be running the economy. This is certainly what they were doing during the first decade of the 21st century, and some kind of breakdown was inevitable.

Banks are important, and the smooth flow of financial resources from them to the rest of the economy is essential for an economy to function successfully. But banks must be subservient to the economy as a whole and should never be in a position to dictate terms or put their own special interests first.

The heart of the U.S. economy is the provision of goods and services. These must be in adequate supply at highly competitive—in terms of the rest of the world—rates and in forms that are innovative, efficient and reliable. This year’s election provides an excellent opportunity to redefine and present this message with a clarity and force that will strike home with the voters.

This is not to say that the job of the U.S. government is to shape and run the nation’s economy. Far from it. Government’s job is to make it possible for the economy to run itself, in the interests of all its components and to the benefit of the American people, whether they be producers, suppliers or consumers.

What government must ensure is that the distortions in the system that produced the 2008 economic crisis cannot be repeated and that the hijacking of the economy by irresponsible and reckless bankers does not occur again.

These are some of the themes that should dominate discussions during this year’s election. Indeed, if we want to encapsulate what the election should be about, it’s this: the reeducation of the American people in the virtues of capitalism.


The U.S. Military’s Great Green Gamble Spurs Biofuel

The U.S. Military’s Great Green Gamble Spurs Biofuel Startups

Photos by Chris Leschinsky for Forbes

Eighty miles west of El Paso, Tex., in a sunburned stretch of the New Mexico desert, Predator drones and blimps patrol the nearby border and immigration-agency SUVs speed through the desolate terrain, the occasional coyote loping across the scrub. Oddly, given that I’m more than 600 miles from the Pacific, there’s a distinct salty ocean tang wafting on the breeze. But that’s not the sea I’m smelling: The odor is emanating from algae growing in 30 acres of huge oblong ponds at Sapphire Energy’s Green Crude Farm.

Funded with $85 million from Bill Gates and other investors – plus $104 million in government cash and loan guarantees – the world’s only commercial outdoor algal biorefinery went online this summer and will eventually expand to 300 acres. The plan: extract 1.5 million gallons of green crude oil a year from patented pond scum fed a diet of carbon dioxide and sunlight.

Even before San Diego-based Sapphire broke ground on the demonstration plant last year, the U.S. Navy’s green energy warrior, Vice Admiral Philip Cullom, descended on the desert site to grill Sapphire execs on their technology and its potential to fuel battleships and jet fighters. “No question, the military has focused the company and given us a great challenge to meet,” says Sapphire executive Tim Zenk, standing on the catwalk of a tank where a mechanical arm is harvesting thick green goo pumped in from the algae ponds.

Scum ponds in the desert? The very idea conjures memories of the federal government’s decidedly mixed record at promoting alt-energy projects: Solyndra, FutureGen, A123′s electric-car batteries, synfuels in the 1980s, jojoba in the 1970s. Add to that all the many military boondoggles – Star Wars missile defense, for one – born of best intentions and bloated budgets.

Sapphire has yet to earn a dime from the Pentagon; the company’s government funding comes from the Departments of Energy and Agriculture. But since the days when the startup’s scientists were still tinkering in the lab, they’ve been sending their biofuel for evaluation to the Defense Department, the deepest-pocketed client of them all. “There’s no other entity that has the capacity, the planning, the commitment and the policy drivers to make technologies real and create a market,” says Zenk.

The U.S. military, the nation’s single largest oil consumer, wants to wean itself from petroleum, and is deploying its immense buying power and authority to commercialize nascent technologies deemed to be in the national interest.

The Navy, which aims to get half of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, has been buying biofuels in small but expensive quantities, as in four times the cost of conventional fuels. Earlier this year the Pentagon invoked the Defense Production Act to solicit proposals to build at least one integrated biorefinery with $210 million in government funding. The biofuel buy has outraged some congressional Republicans, who are attempting to bar the military from purchasing any fuel that costs more than petroleum.

It will be years before we know if the military’s biofuels bet is a multibillion-dollar folly – or if the armed forces have planted the seeds of another global industry, as it did with nuclear power, semiconductors and the Internet. This much is certain: The Pentagon’s largesse is already spurring the entrepreneurial zeal of startups like Sapphire that seek potential riches in shaping green technology to meet military needs.

For a first-hand look at that opportunity I find myself onboard a Navy C-2A Greyhound in July approaching the USS Nimitz some 45 miles off Oahu. I’m strapped into a backward-facing seat wearing a survival vest and a “cranial” – Navy-speak for a helmet equipped with sound-deadening headphones and goggles. The roar of the transport’s twin props ratchets up and an airman in the last row of the dimly lit cabin starts pumping his arm wildly. “Go! Go! Go!” That’s the signal to brace for landing. As the Greyhound drops toward the 1,100-foot deck of the aircraft carrier, the pilot throttles up to 150 miles an hour. We shoot across the tarmac until a hook embedded in the plane’s fuselage catches a cable, whiplashing us to a dead stop.

It was a short but historic flight from Honolulu, the first biofueled Navy transport to land on an aircraft carrier. We flew on algae and used cooking oil mixed in a 50-50 blend with standard petroleum aviation juice. Some 450,000 gallons of that biofuel, produced by Silicon Valley’s Solazyme and Dynamic Fuels, is also powering the 71 aircraft on deck – the F/A-18 fighter jets screaming across the blue skies above us, the E-2C Hawkeyes patrolling the surrounding airspace and the Seahawk helicopters ferrying Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and top Navy brass between two biofueled destroyers and a guided missile cruiser steaming alongside the nuclear-powered Nimitz.

Algae being harvested at Sapphire Energy’s Green Crude Farm in New Mexico.

This is the Great Green Fleet, the first Navy strike force powered by biofuels and a two-day demonstration of Mabus’ determination to permanently float an energy-independent flotilla by 2016. “We’re moving forward and we’re not going to let up,” says Vice Admiral Cullom, the deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics.

It’s not just about biofuels. The Marines are tapping solar and other technologies to make battlefield bases in Afghanistan energy independent and more impervious to enemy disruptions of supply lines that have extracted a high price in blood and treasure. And the Army in August opened bids to buy $7 billion in renewable energy to make its domestic bases less vulnerable to power grid disruptions.

Algae is one of the great green hopes for creating a biofuels industry that can reach the scale necessary to bring down costs and compete against fossil fuels. Whether grown in bioreactors or in desert ponds, algal oil mostly sidesteps the food and land conflicts that potentially can limit other biofuels. It’s largely about bioengineering, hence Solyazme’s headquarters in the biotechnology corridor of South San Francisco.

Founded in 2003 by Jonathan Wolfson, a financial entrepreneur, and genetic microbiologist Harrison Dillon, Solayzme began talking to the Department of Defense in 2007. “At the point when you’re still in test tubes and shake flasks, you’re thinking to yourself, ‘Ok, we need catalysts to continue to advance this technology,’ ” says Wolfson, sitting in a conference room that features a large framed photo of a Navy ship that steamed down the West Coast burning Solyazme’s algal oil. “As a technology-driven company we needed discipline to become a production company. And there’s no organization that I can think of that can drive more discipline into an organization than the DOD.”

Solazyme grows heterotrophic algae in bioreactors. The algae consume sugar and excrete crude oil. After Solazyme began supplying the military with small quantities of algae biofuels for evaluation, the DOD awarded the company its first significant contract in 2010. The next year a United Airlines 737 flew the first commercial biofueled flight on Solayzme’s Solajet fuel. A contract with Volkswagen followed. ”The fact that we could even make that United flight was a direct result of the work we had been doing with the Navy,” says Wolfson.

The military work also prompted discoveries of new strains of algae, which explains why next to its research labs Solazyme built a kitchen to bake up batches of chocolate chip cookies, honey mustard dipping sauce and crackers. While testing strains, Solazyme scientists found one that produces what tastes remarkably like olive oil but is healthier and could replace eggs and butter in a smorgasbord of foods. “Your mouth recognizes it as fat, but it has a remarkable reduction in calories and eliminates saturated fats,” says Genet Garamendi, Solayzme’s vice president of corporate communications, biting into an algae-infused cookie that beat Mrs. Fields’ hands down in an impromptu taste test.

Solazyme struck a deal to commercialize its Betty Crocker crude with Roquette, the French food conglomerate. Other Solazyme strains are being produced for cosmetics and the company signed an agreement with Unilver to use its algae oil in consumer products. In May, Dow Chemical said it would tap a strain of Solazyme algal oil for use in electrical transformer insulating fluids.

The commercial aviation industry is eager to become a major buyer of biofuels as a hedge against oil price spikes that can wipe out years of profit. But cash-strapped airlines are counting on the military to get production rolling. “There’s not a single commercial-scale facility up and running today and we’re all keen to see what happens to price and supply when you have commercial quantities in production,” says Jimmy Samartzis, United Airlines managing director of global environmental affairs and sustainability, referring to the Defense Department’s move to bankroll biorefineries.

United buys more 4 billion gallons fuel a year and Samartzis and other airline executives, who have worked with the Navy on biofuel standards, are on aboard the Nimitz. “When we talk to funders and investors, we consistently hear that getting that first plant will be absolutely critical and subsequent plants will be easier to fund and get off the ground,” he says.

Also on deck is Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, a Washington trade group. He says at least a dozen of his 45 member companies are expected to put in bids with the military to build the biorefineries. “That’s an incredible statement to the marketplace,” McAdams says as a biofueled fighter jet screams by.

Whether the biofuels industry can scale up to provide the 8 million barrels the Navy needs annually at a price Uncle Sam can afford is the big unknown. Areport prepared by the Rand Corp. for the Secretary of Defense last year bluntly concluded that the military would not be able to secure sufficient supplies of biofuels at a competitive price.

“Because of limited production potential, fuels derived from animal fats, waste oils, and seed oils will never have a significant role in the larger domestic commercial marketplace,” the report stated. “Algae-derived fuels might, but technology development challenges suggest that algae-derived fuels will not constitute an important fraction of the commercial fuel market until well beyond the next decade.”

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus inspects the Great Green Fleet. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy.

Such skepticism hasn’t deterred an emerging green military-industrial complex. At forums organized by the American Council on Renewable Energy in Washington, the group’s chief executive, retired Navy Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, connects his military comrades with green tech entrepreneurs, financiers and old-line defense contractors. “We want to promote a much better understanding about the government requirements,” says McGinn, “and a much greater understanding by the government of what the options are out there, not just technology but financial options to try to mobilize private capital to accelerate and expand the pace of renewable energy adoption by the military.”

That’s where Sierra Energy chief executive Michael Hart met Col. Bob Charette, Jr., director of the Marines expeditionary energy office and the force behind efforts to install green technologies on battlefield bases The startup, based in Davis, Calif., is developing technology to transform a blast furnace into a machine that can vaporize garbage and produce either diesel fuel or electricity. It’s a decidedly low-tech-looking metal cylinder connected to a conveyer belt that feeds the contraption a diet of discarded bottles, plastic, metal and other detritus. Oxygen and steam injected into the cylinder’s base gasifies the trash, leaving a gas that can be refined into diesel. The possibility of using such technology on remote battlefield bases caught the Marines’ attention and changed Sierra’s business plan.

“The Marine Corps said, ‘Make it modular so it can be delivered in the field,’ and they wanted us to produce liquid fuels, so that’s what we did,” says Hart, pointing to a prototype being tested at the decommissioned McClellan Air Force base outside Sacramento. Hart is betting that if he meets the Marines’ needs he can capture a potentially lucrative military market – and sell to cities seeking to generate renewable energy while slashing landfill bills.

“The DOD is serious as a heart attack,” he says.

In a wood-paneled office aboard the Nimitz, Vice Admiral Cullom points out that when the Navy decided to build nuclear-powered ships like this one, the technology was too expensive to be commercially viable. Yet the nuclear fleet projected American power to the far corners of the globe and laid the groundwork for a domestic nuclear power industry.

The Navy can do the same with biofuels, he argues. “We owe it to the American taxpayer to have a decent payback period, to have a good ROI,” says Cullom, a veteran commander who holds a Harvard MBA. “But our ROI is different in many ways. We also look at the long-range vision of where are we going to be. We can’t keep going on a path like this. We have got to have that path be a very different trajectory for 2020 or 2030.”

Sapphire hasn’t priced its algal oil yet, but the company expects it to be competitive with petroleum by 2018 if it can produce a minimum of 5,000 barrels a day, according to Zenk. To get there, the startup needs to develop higher-yield algae strains, cut production costs and attract capital. A lot of capital.

“I don’t want to oversell to you – there are a lot of challenges ahead of us,” says Zenk. “But every energy transition has been led by our government and primarily it’s been military-driven, and the same is true this time.”

Why Capitalism Has an Image Problem


Why Capitalism Has an Image Problem

Charles Murray examines the cloud now hanging over American business—and what today’s capitalists can do about it.


MMitt Romney’s résumé at Bain should be a slam dunk. He has been a successful capitalist, and capitalism is the best thing that has ever happened to the material condition of the human race. From the dawn of history until the 18th century, every society in the world was impoverished, with only the thinnest film of wealth on top. Then came capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. Everywhere that capitalism subsequently took hold, national wealth began to increase and poverty began to fall. Everywhere that capitalism didn’t take hold, people remained impoverished. Everywhere that capitalism has been rejected since then, poverty has increased.

Capitalism has lifted the world out of poverty because it gives people a chance to get rich by creating value and reaping the rewards. Who better to be president of the greatest of all capitalist nations than a man who got rich by being a brilliant capitalist?

Yet it hasn’t worked out that way for Mr. Romney. “Capitalist” has become an accusation. The creative destruction that is at the heart of a growing economy is now seen as evil. Americans increasingly appear to accept the mind-set that kept the world in poverty for millennia: If you’ve gotten rich, it is because you made someone else poorer.

What happened to turn the mood of the country so far from our historic celebration of economic success?

Two important changes in objective conditions have contributed to this change in mood. One is the rise of collusive capitalism. Part of that phenomenon involves crony capitalism, whereby the people on top take care of each other at shareholder expense (search on “golden parachutes”).

But the problem of crony capitalism is trivial compared with the collusion engendered by government. In today’s world, every business’s operations and bottom line are affected by rules set by legislators and bureaucrats. The result has been corruption on a massive scale. Sometimes the corruption is retail, whereby a single corporation creates a competitive advantage through the cooperation of regulators or politicians (search on “earmarks”). Sometimes the corruption is wholesale, creating an industrywide potential for profit that would not exist in the absence of government subsidies or regulations (like ethanol used to fuel cars and low-interest mortgages for people who are unlikely to pay them back). Collusive capitalism has become visible to the public and increasingly defines capitalism in the public mind.

Another change in objective conditions has been the emergence of great fortunes made quickly in the financial markets. It has always been easy for Americans to applaud people who get rich by creating products and services that people want to buy. That is why Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were American heroes a century ago, and Steve Jobs was one when he died last year.

When great wealth is generated instead by making smart buy and sell decisions in the markets, it smacks of inside knowledge, arcane financial instruments, opportunities that aren’t accessible to ordinary people, and hocus-pocus. The good that these rich people have done in the process of getting rich is obscure. The benefits of more efficient allocation of capital are huge, but they are really, really hard to explain simply and persuasively. It looks to a large proportion of the public as if we’ve got some fabulously wealthy people who haven’t done anything to deserve their wealth.

The objective changes in capitalism as it is practiced plausibly account for much of the hostility toward capitalism. But they don’t account for the unwillingness of capitalists who are getting rich the old-fashioned way—earning it—to defend themselves.

I assign that timidity to two other causes. First, large numbers of today’s successful capitalists are people of the political left who may think their own work is legitimate but feel no allegiance to capitalism as a system or kinship with capitalists on the other side of the political fence. Furthermore, these capitalists of the left are concentrated where it counts most. The most visible entrepreneurs of the high-tech industry are predominantly liberal. So are most of the people who run the entertainment and news industries. Even leaders of the financial industry increasingly share the politics of George Soros. Whether measured by fundraising data or by the members of Congress elected from the ZIP Codes where they live, the elite centers with the most clout in the culture are filled with people who are embarrassed to identify themselves as capitalists, and it shows in the cultural effect of their work.

Another factor is the segregation of capitalism from virtue. Historically, the merits of free enterprise and the obligations of success were intertwined in the national catechism. McGuffey’s Readers, the books on which generations of American children were raised, have plenty of stories treating initiative, hard work and entrepreneurialism as virtues, but just as many stories praising the virtues of self-restraint, personal integrity and concern for those who depend on you. The freedom to act and a stern moral obligation to act in certain ways were seen as two sides of the same American coin. Little of that has survived.

To accept the concept of virtue requires that you believe some ways of behaving are right and others are wrong always and everywhere. That openly judgmental stand is no longer acceptable in America’s schools nor in many American homes. Correspondingly, we have watched the deterioration of the sense of stewardship that once was so widespread among the most successful Americans and the near disappearance of the sense of seemliness that led successful capitalists to be obedient to unenforceable standards of propriety. Many senior figures in the financial world were appalled by what was going on during the run-up to the financial meltdown of 2008. Why were they so silent before and after the catastrophe? Capitalists who behave honorably and with restraint no longer have either the platform or the vocabulary to preach their own standards and to condemn capitalists who behave dishonorably and recklessly.

And so capitalism’s reputation has fallen on hard times and the principled case for capitalism must be made anew. That case has been made brilliantly and often in the past, with Milton Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom” being my own favorite. But in today’s political climate, updating the case for capitalism requires a restatement of old truths in ways that Americans from across the political spectrum can accept. Here is my best effort:

The U.S. was created to foster human flourishing. The means to that end was the exercise of liberty in the pursuit of happiness. Capitalism is the economic expression of liberty. The pursuit of happiness, with happiness defined in the classic sense of justified and lasting satisfaction with life as a whole, depends on economic liberty every bit as much as it depends on other kinds of freedom.

“Lasting and justified satisfaction with life as a whole” is produced by a relatively small set of important achievements that we can rightly attribute to our own actions. Arthur Brooks, my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, has usefully labeled such achievements “earned success.” Earned success can arise from a successful marriage, children raised well, a valued place as a member of a community, or devotion to a faith. Earned success also arises from achievement in the economic realm, which is where capitalism comes in.

Earning a living for yourself and your family through your own efforts is the most elemental form of earned success. Successfully starting a business, no matter how small, is an act of creating something out of nothing that carries satisfactions far beyond those of the money it brings in. Finding work that not only pays the bills but that you enjoy is a crucially important resource for earned success.

Making a living, starting a business and finding work that you enjoy all depend on freedom to act in the economic realm. What government can do to help is establish the rule of law so that informed and voluntary trades can take place. More formally, government can vigorously enforce laws against the use of force, fraud and criminal collusion, and use tort law to hold people liable for harm they cause others.

Everything else the government does inherently restricts economic freedom to act in pursuit of earned success. I am a libertarian and think that almost none of those restrictions are justified. But accepting the case for capitalism doesn’t require you to be a libertarian. You are free to argue that certain government interventions are justified. You just need to acknowledge this truth: Every intervention that erects barriers to starting a business, makes it expensive to hire or fire employees, restricts entry into vocations, prescribes work conditions and facilities, or confiscates profits interferes with economic liberty and usually makes it more difficult for both employers and employees to earn success. You also don’t need to be a libertarian to demand that any new intervention meet this burden of proof: It will accomplish something that tort law and enforcement of basic laws against force, fraud and collusion do not accomplish.

People with a wide range of political views can also acknowledge that these interventions do the most harm to individuals and small enterprises. Huge banks can, albeit at great expense, cope with the Dodd-Frank law’s absurd regulatory burdens; many small banks cannot. Huge corporations can cope with the myriad rules issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and their state-level counterparts. The same rules can crush small businesses and individuals trying to start small businesses.

Finally, people with a wide range of political views can acknowledge that what has happened incrementally over the past half-century has led to a labyrinthine regulatory system, irrational liability law and a corrupt tax code. Sweeping simplifications and rationalizations of all these systems are possible in ways that even moderate Democrats could accept in a less polarized political environment.

To put it another way, it should be possible to revive a national consensus affirming that capitalism embraces the best and most essential things about American life; that freeing capitalism to do what it does best won’t just create national wealth and reduce poverty, but expand the ability of Americans to achieve earned success—to pursue happiness.

Reviving that consensus also requires us to return to the vocabulary of virtue when we talk about capitalism. Personal integrity, a sense of seemliness and concern for those who depend on us are not “values” that are no better or worse than other values. Historically, they have been deeply embedded in the American version of capitalism. If it is necessary to remind the middle class and working class that the rich are not their enemies, it is equally necessary to remind the most successful among us that their obligations are not to be measured in terms of their tax bills. Their principled stewardship can nurture and restore our heritage of liberty. Their indifference to that heritage can destroy it.

—Mr. Murray is the author of “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010” and the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.


Election scandal roils campus

Election scandal roils campus

Scott Martindale Register Writer

FULLERTON Two students who were declared the winners of Troy High School‘s top student political offices in April will not assume their posts this fall after one of the candidates broke into a school database and discovered the election was rigged by the student government’s faculty adviser.

Jenny Redmond, a Troy special-education teacher, has resigned as Associated Student Body adviser. Troy senior Jacob Bigham, who revealed that the candidates named ASB president and vice president weren’t the top vote-getters, received a five-day suspension and was stripped of his ASB office, he said.

The actual winner of the Associated Student Body presidency, senior Ryan Daliwal, will assume Troy’s top student post when school begins Aug. 27.

Bigham, who ran for and won the ASB vice presidency, will not be allowed to take office; second-place finisher Taylor Kang will be ASB vice president for 2012-13.

“No one is empowered to change what the students vote,” George Giokaris, superintendent for the Fullerton Joint Union High School District, said in an interview. “There’s no question it’s unacceptable, and that message was conveyed. She overstepped her authority.”

But Troy students remain outraged by the school’s handling of the matter, noting that while Bigham received a five-day suspension immediately after coming forward with allegations of election fraud on April 23, Redmond continued teaching the ASB leadership class for the remainder of the school year.

“The implications of what I did versus what she did are not on par with each other,” said Bigham, 17, of Buena Park, who was stripped of his post as ASB secretary after exposing the scandal. “I feel changing the results of an election has far more gravity than finding out by whatever means that someone did that.”

Troy High Principal Margaret Buchan confirmed Redmond resigned as ASB adviser toward the end of the school year in June, but declined to say whether Redmond was disciplined, noting it was a confidential personnel matter. Buchan and Giokaris also declined to say whether her resignation was forced or voluntary, again citing employee privacy.

Redmond continues to work full time at the school as a special-education teacher.

“Ms. Redmond is not evil and awful – she was a very dedicated, hard-working individual prior to this incident, and through it all, she’s remained a kind, caring and hard-working teacher,” Buchan said. “I didn’t support her decision on how she reported the results, and therefore I altered the decision.”

Redmond did not return multiple phone messages left for her last week at Troy, where she is working this summer. She also did not respond to an email. She was hired five years ago by Fullerton’s high school district, according to personnel records, and served as Troy’s ASB adviser for two years.

Troy is one of the top-rated high schools in Orange County, last year clinching the No. 3 spot in The Orange County Register’s rankings of the county’s best public schools.

Students critical of school response

News of the scandal spread quickly among Troy students by word of mouth and on social media, but students said they wanted an official explanation from school administrators – an explanation that never came.

“The school didn’t know what to do at first,” said Troy senior Helen Koo, 17, who covered the story for the Oracle student newspaper. “The administration tried to handle things one step at a time, but they needed to address us about the adviser who caused all of this. There were a lot of things made uncomfortable by the school not doing anything about that.”

Within a month, Troy students had published an Oracle editorial sharply critical of the school administration over its handling of the matter.

Calling ASB elections “merely a show of democracy put on to humor” students, the students wrote that school administrators had “done little to address the students’ questions” about what had happened.

“Students feel cheated and naïve for believing that they actually had a say in the elections,” the unsigned May 18 editorial reads. “They now question the legitimacy of past elections and wonder what value, if any, future ones hold.”

Buchan defended the administration’s handling of the matter, saying she spoke extensively to the ASB class, and also let the full student body know about the changes to the ASB offices. But she said it was not necessary or productive to address the student body as a whole about all of the details of what had transpired.

“I’m not going to go back and say, ‘This horrible thing happened,’ ” Buchan said. “The piece I will focus on is the healing process – going forward. I will say we will adhere to the ASB constitution and that all election results will be transparent. The ASB kids are the leaders, and they will communicate the process to their constituents.”

Suspended student has no regrets

Bigham, who was in his second year serving on ASB, said he has no regrets about what he did, even though he was suspended from school and barred from the ASB vice presidency seat that he won.

“I know two wrongs don’t make a right, but I think there are special instances where you have to do what you’ve been taught is wrong to achieve what you’ve been taught is right,” Bigham said. “It was by default the best decision because it was the only way to obtain that information without her changing the results (in Troy’s computer system) herself” before school authorities could investigate.

Bigham said he had long been suspicious Redmond was tampering with election results. ASB elections are essentially a popularity contest with often predictable results, he acknowledged, especially for the top ASB offices.

So when the 2011 election had some unexpected results, Bigham said ASB members began gossiping, and Bigham began to take mental notes on things Redmond said to him in class concerning which students she thought should run and for what office, he said. Bigham said he feels Redmond was exerting undue and inappropriate influence over the election process.

Then, during election week in April, Bigham said he overheard a conversation between an administrator and a computer technician in which the technician revealed the default password that teachers use to access Illuminate, Troy’s Internet-based record-keeping system.

On April 21, the day after ballots were cast, Bigham – eager to see the election results – decided to use the default Illuminate password to try logging into Redmond’s account from his home computer, he said. He successfully accessed the election tallies and learned he and Daliwal had easily won their seats, he said. He also captured a digital screenshot of the results.

Two days later, election results were announced at a lunchtime ASB ceremony; Redmond handed over envelopes containing the results.

Bigham said it “didn’t shock me” when Daliwal’s sole opponent was named ASB president, and a student who finished third in the ASB vice presidential race was declared the winner of Bigham’s seat.

That afternoon, he said he met with Assistant Principal Shane York, holding nothing back as he recounted the full story. He said he was suspended the following day.

“I am always the type of person who when they see something they don’t like, they want to actively change it, whether that’s how a dance at school is organized or how elections are run or basic social policy,” Bigham said. “Everyday I find something wrong with the world, and I’m really not cool with that.”

Scope of school’s investigation limited

Buchan said the school’s investigation did not include a recount of election ballots nor an attempt by administrators to revisit the results of past elections. The student ballots used in April’s election were multiple-choice Scantron forms.

Buchan, however, confirmed that of the 16 elected positions that students cast votes for in April, the ASB president and ASB vice president were the only seats Redmond had improperly declared.

Although Buchan stressed she could not repeat anything that Redmond told her during the school investigation, Buchan said it was her opinion that Redmond may have internally justified her actions – at least in part – by invoking a clause of the school’s ASB constitution that subjects all election results to “administrative review.”

Buchan stressed, though, that the clause did not permit Redmond’s unilateral actions.

Administrative review should be used before an election, Buchan noted, to vet candidates for their academic and civic preparedness.

“We want to implement a process where students are recommended by faculty based on their work habits, academics and whether they can represent the campus,” Buchan said. “It’s such a huge responsibility – the leadership in ASB is at the center of having a good activities program.”

Buchan said she spent several weeks afterward trying to decide who to award the top two student offices to, ultimately deciding to take away the offices from the two candidates who hadn’t won. The pair, though, were given appointed positions on ASB.

The district superintendent said Troy at one point planned to offer Bigham a spot in the ASB class next year, albeit not an elected role. But school officials decided against doing so upon learning Bigham had sent “highly inappropriate text messages” to Redmond after the scandal broke, Giokaris said.

Bigham, who will be applying to colleges this fall, said he plans to discuss the scandal in his admission essay. It’s a must, he said, because it’ll be his opportunity to explain the five-day suspension on his record.

“When it first happened, my counselors and teachers were freaking out, saying this will have a huge, profound impact on everything that happens for the next five years of my life,” Bigham said.

“For me, I don’t think it will have that effect. There will be some schools that will say this is obviously the type of kid we never want on our campus, and that’s understandable. But I hope some schools will say that this is the type of student we do want on our campus.”

Obama’s Budget Flunks the Marshmallow Test

Obama’s Budget Flunks the Marshmallow Test

People who cannot defer gratification tend to be less successful. That’s also true of countries.


The president’s proposed new budget has three noteworthy characteristics: continuing unfunded entitlements to the middle class, runaway deficits to be repaid in the undefined future, and immense tax increases on the entrepreneurial class. Many commentators have complained about the damage this budget would do to our national prosperity. Less has been said about the effect it will have on something far more important: our national character.

There is a tremendous amount of research on the links among success, character and the ability to sacrifice. It all reaches the same conclusion: People who cannot defer current gratification tend to fail, and sacrifice itself is part of entrepreneurial success.

In one famous study from 1972, Stanford psychologist Walter Mischel concocted an ingenious experiment involving young children and a bag of marshmallows. He put a marshmallow on the table and told each child that if he (or she) could wait 15 minutes to eat it, he would get a second one as a reward.

About two-thirds of the kids failed the experiment. Some gave in immediately and gobbled up the marshmallow; videotape shows others in agony, trying to discipline themselves—some even banging their little heads on the table.

But the most interesting results from that study came years later. Researchers followed up on the children to see how their lives were turning out. The kids who didn’t take the marshmallow had average SAT scores 210 points higher than the kids who ate it immediately. They were less likely to drop out of college, made far more money, were less likely to go to jail, and suffered from fewer drug and alcohol problems.

But the evidence goes beyond a finding that people who can defer gratification tend to turn out well in general.

When we hear about successful entrepreneurs, it is always as if they had the Midas touch. A pimply college kid cooks up an Internet company during a boring lecture at Harvard, and before lunch he’s a billionaire. In real life, that’s not how it works. Northwestern University Professor Steven Rogers has shown that the average entrepreneur fails about four times before succeeding.

When asked about their ultimate success, entrepreneurs often talk instead about the importance of their hardships: early failures and bankruptcies, missed Little-League games, endless nights without sleep. They talk about almost losing their home and the strain all this put on their marriage. When I asked the legendary investment company founder Charles Schwab about the success of the $15 billion corporation that bears his name, he told me the story about taking out a second mortgage on his home just to make payroll in the early years.

Why this emphasis on the struggle? Entrepreneurs know that when they sacrifice, they are learning and improving, exactly what they need to do to earn success through their merits. Every sacrifice and deferred gratification makes them wiser and better, showing them that they’re not getting anything free. When success ultimately comes, they wouldn’t trade away the earlier days for anything, even if they felt wretched at the time.

What does all this have to do with public policy? The present administration believes we should be able to get our country fiscally back on track without the vast majority of Americans having to accept less from government. Year after year, no entitlement recipient is asked to give up benefits—even benefits well above a basic safety net.

Bailouts for homeowners, auto companies and financial firms have protected many from the consequences of poor decisions. And even as we run up unprecedented debt, public-sector workers continue to receive pay and benefits that exceed those of their private-sector counterparts.

The expanding welfare state exists, in no small part, to shove marshmallows into our collective mouth. The government expunges sacrifice, smooths the risk out of our economic lives, and protects us from the consequences of our actions. It is aggressively moving us away from the national entrepreneurial ethos, teaching dependency and changing our relationship to the state.

This is not conservative dogma. Look at Greece. It is easy to get lost in the weeds of sovereign-debt ratings and monetary inflexibility, but the fundamental source of that country’s problems is straightforward. Politicians were unwilling for more than a decade to ask citizens for any meaningful sacrifice in public spending, which outstripped revenues. Citizens came to feel entitled to public resources their country had not earned and could not afford. As the country faced collapse, the result has been hopelessness, helplessness and Molotov cocktails.

Is this where we want to go? If not, then we had better recognize that the right path to fiscal consolidation is not to find creative new ways to push debt into the future or vacuum more taxes out of the wealthy. It is to cut spending and reform entitlements right now. It means actual sacrifice—and that is not a bad thing.

Mr. Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute and author of the new book “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise,” forthcoming in May from Basic Books.


No Need to Panic About Global Warming

No Need to Panic About Global Warming

There’s no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy.


Editor’s Note: The following has been signed by the 16 scientists listed at the end of the article:
A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about “global warming.” Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.

In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: “I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: ‘The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.’ In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?”

In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the “pollutant” carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr. Giaever. And the number of scientific “heretics” is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now. This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 “Climategate” email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” But the warming is only missing if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.

The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere’s life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.

Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted—or worse. They have good reason to worry. In 2003, Dr. Chris de Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past thousand years. The international warming establishment quickly mounted a determined campaign to have Dr. de Freitas removed from his editorial job and fired from his university position. Fortunately, Dr. de Freitas was able to keep his university job.

This is not the way science is supposed to work, but we have seen it before—for example, in the frightening period when Trofim Lysenko hijacked biology in the Soviet Union. Soviet biologists who revealed that they believed in genes, which Lysenko maintained were a bourgeois fiction, were fired from their jobs. Many were sent to the gulag and some were condemned to death.

Why is there so much passion about global warming, and why has the issue become so vexing that the American Physical Society, from which Dr. Giaever resigned a few months ago, refused the seemingly reasonable request by many of its members to remove the word “incontrovertible” from its description of a scientific issue? There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the old question “cui bono?” Or the modern update, “Follow the money.”

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet. Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them.

Speaking for many scientists and engineers who have looked carefully and independently at the science of climate, we have a message to any candidate for public office: There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to “decarbonize” the world’s economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically.

Princeton physics professor William Happer on why a large number of scientists don’t believe that carbon dioxide is causing global warming.

A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls. This would be especially beneficial to the less-developed parts of the world that would like to share some of the same advantages of material well-being, health and life expectancy that the fully developed parts of the world enjoy now. Many other policy responses would have a negative return on investment. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.

If elected officials feel compelled to “do something” about climate, we recommend supporting the excellent scientists who are increasing our understanding of climate with well-designed instruments on satellites, in the oceans and on land, and in the analysis of observational data. The better we understand climate, the better we can cope with its ever-changing nature, which has complicated human life throughout history. However, much of the huge private and government investment in climate is badly in need of critical review.

Every candidate should support rational measures to protect and improve our environment, but it makes no sense at all to back expensive programs that divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of “incontrovertible” evidence.

Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting; Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University; Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society; Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences; William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton; Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, U.K.; William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT; James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University; Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences; Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne; Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator; Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva.

Capitalism and the Right to Rise

Capitalism and the Right to Rise   DECEMBER 19, 2011  WSJ

In freedom lies the risk of failure. But in statism lies the certainty of stagnation.


Congressman Paul Ryan recently coined a smart phrase to describe the core concept of economic freedom: “The right to rise.”

Think about it. We talk about the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to assembly. The right to rise doesn’t seem like something we should have to protect.

But we do. We have to make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise. We have to let them compete. We need to let people fight for business. We need to let people take risks. We need to let people fail. We need to let people suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And we need to let people enjoy the fruits of good decisions, even good luck.

That is what economic freedom looks like. Freedom to succeed as well as to fail, freedom to do something or nothing. People understand this. Freedom of speech, for example, means that we put up with a lot of verbal and visual garbage in order to make sure that individuals have the right to say what needs to be said, even when it is inconvenient or unpopular. We forgive the sacrifices of free speech because we value its blessings.

But when it comes to economic freedom, we are less forgiving of the cycles of growth and loss, of trial and error, and of failure and success that are part of the realities of the marketplace and life itself.

Increasingly, we have let our elected officials abridge our own economic freedoms through the annual passage of thousands of laws and their associated regulations. We see human tragedy and we demand a regulation to prevent it. We see a criminal fraud and we demand more laws. We see an industry dying and we demand it be saved. Each time, we demand “Do something . . . anything.”

As Florida’s governor for eight years, I was asked to “do something” almost every day. Many times I resisted through vetoes but many times I succumbed. And I wasn’t alone. Mayors, county chairs, governors and presidents never think their laws will harm the free market. But cumulatively, they do, and we have now imperiled the right to rise.

Woe to the elected leader who fails to deliver a multipoint plan for economic success, driven by specific government action. “Trust in the dynamism of the market” is not a phrase in today’s political lexicon.

Have we lost faith in the free-market system of entrepreneurial capitalism? Are we no longer willing to place our trust in the creative chaos unleashed by millions of people pursuing their own best economic interests?

The right to rise does not require a libertarian utopia to exist. Rather, it requires fewer, simpler and more outcome-oriented rules. Rules for which an honest cost-benefit analysis is done before their imposition. Rules that sunset so they can be eliminated or adjusted as conditions change. Rules that have disputes resolved faster and less expensively through arbitration than litigation.

In Washington, D.C., rules are going in the opposite direction. They are exploding in reach and complexity. They are created under a cloud of uncertainty, and years after their passage nobody really knows how they will work.

We either can go down the road we are on, a road where the individual is allowed to succeed only so much before being punished with ruinous taxation, where commerce ignores government action at its own peril, and where the state decides how a massive share of the economy’s resources should be spent.

Or we can return to the road we once knew and which has served us well: a road where individuals acting freely and with little restraint are able to pursue fortune and prosperity as they see fit, a road where the government’s role is not to shape the marketplace but to help prepare its citizens to prosper from it.

In short, we must choose between the straight line promised by the statists and the jagged line of economic freedom. The straight line of gradual and controlled growth is what the statists promise but can never deliver. The jagged line offers no guarantees but has a powerful record of delivering the most prosperity and the most opportunity to the most people. We cannot possibly know in advance what freedom promises for 312 million individuals. But unless we are willing to explore the jagged line of freedom, we will be stuck with the straight line. And the straight line, it turns out, is a flat line.

Mr. Bush, a Republican, was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007.


Back to School for the Billionaires


Back to School for the Billionaires

They hoped their cash could transform failing classrooms. They were wrong. NEWSWEEK investigates what their money bought.

Brent Humphreys / Redux

This story was reported and written by Center for Public Integrity.

The richest man in America stepped to the podium and declared war on the nation’s school systems. High schools had become “obsolete” and were “limiting—even ruining—the lives of millions of Americans every year.” The situation had become “almost shameful.” Bill Gates, prep-school grad and college dropout, had come before the National Governors Association seeking converts to his plan to do something about it—a plan he would back with $2 billion of his own cash.

Related: Corporate Titans Who Spent a Fortune on Schools »

Gates’s speech, in February 2005, was a signature moment in what has become a decade-long campaign to improve test scores and graduation rates, waged by a loose alliance of wealthy CEOs who arrived with no particular background in education policy—a fact that has led critics to dismiss them as “the billionaire boys’ club.” Their bets on poor urban schools have been as big as their egos and their bank accounts. Microsoft chairman Gates, computer magnate Michael Dell, investor Eli Broad, and the Walton family of Walmart fame have collectively poured some $4.4 billion into school reform in the past decade through their private foundations.

Has this big money made the big impact that they—as well as teachers, administrators, parents, and students—hoped for? In the first-of-its-kind analysis of the billionaires’ efforts, NEWSWEEK and the Center for Public Integrity crunched the numbers on graduation rates and test scores in 10 major urban districts—from New York City to Oakland—which got windfalls from these four top philanthropists.

The results, though mixed, are dispiriting proof that money alone can’t repair the desperate state of urban education. For all the millions spent on reforms, nine of the 10 school districts studied substantially trailed their state’s proficiency and graduation rates—often by 10 points or more. That’s not to say that the urban districts didn’t make gains.

The good news is many did improve and at a rate faster than their states 60 percent of the time—proof that the billionaires made some solid bets. But those spikes up weren’t enough to erase the deep gulf between poor, inner-city schools, where the big givers focused, and their suburban and rural counterparts.

“A lot of things we do don’t work out,” admitted Broad, a product of Detroit public schools and Michigan State who made a fortune in home building and financial services. “But we can take the criticism.”


The bottom line? The billionaires aspired to A-plus impact and came away with B-minus to C-minus results, according to the NEWSWEEK/CPI investigation, which was based on specially commissioned data and internal numbers shared by the philanthropists’ foundations.

Despite the money, graduation rates in Oakland actually fell by 6 percentage points—though less than the rest of California’s schools, which fell by 9 points. In Houston, graduation rates dropped about 6 points, while the remainder of Texas fell only 2. Graduation rates in New York City, on the other hand, while still trailing state averages significantly, improved markedly—up 18 points, compared with the state’s 10-point rise. Washington, D.C.’s graduation rates dropped slightly, while students’ math and reading proficiency generally improved (not being part of a state, its reading and math performance was measured against the district’s independent charter schools). The city’s education achievements, which have helped fuel a national debate over education reform captured in the hit documentary Waiting for Superman, have lately come under investigation amid suspicions of cheating (a charge the city’s recently resigned schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee, denies).

Oakland more often than not was improving faster than the rest of California, but still fared poorly at the high-school level, where reading scores trailed the rest of the state’s average by 18 percentage points in 2010. Similarly, Los Angeles over the five years often outpaced the state’s rate of improvement, but its scores lagged, including by 19 points in middle-school reading.

The confidence that marked Gates’s landmark speech to the governors’ association in 2005 has given way to humility. The billionaires have not retreated. But they have retooled, and learned a valuable lesson about their limitations.

“It’s so hard in this country to spread good practice. When we started funding, we hoped it would spread more readily,” acknowledges Vicki Phillips, the director of K–12 education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “What we learned is that the only things that spread well in school are kids’ viruses.”

Gates has abandoned his $2 billion high-school campaign focused largely on shrinking the overall size of schools in favor of a massive new effort to encourage effective teaching. And Broad put a school-principal training initiative on pause—and focuses instead on charter schools, training administrators and improving teacher performance.

Meanwhile, on the ground in the districts these billionaires selected, the excitement of being chosen for philanthropic funding has all too often given way to diminished expectations.

“The foundations are looking for rapid-fire turnaround. That’s not realistic,” said Hae-Sin Thomas, a former principal who helped manage the Gates-backed small-schools effort in Oakland before the Microsoft guru dropped that campaign.

Oakland’s school system was a case study in dysfunction. Eight years ago, the district’s financial woes led to a state takeover.

That made it a magnet for the billionaires. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation chipped in $6.2 million for its first experiment with broad data-collection methods used to monitor student and school progress. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ponied up some $30 million to help expand on a grassroots effort to shrink the schools. And Broad’s foundation invested $7 million for charter and district schools. “It was a chance to rethink how the district was designed, moving from a concept of a highly bureaucratized school system to a portfolio of schools,” explains Kevin Hall, chief operating officer for Broad’s foundation at the time.

Hopes soared—only to crash back down to earth. The district went through five superintendents in seven years. Enrollment at many schools shrank, and the district is still plagued by a 40 percent high-school dropout rate. In lower grades, better-performing students are fleeing: a third of the kids who are deemed academically proficient by sixth grade are defecting to private, suburban, or charter schools. And at least seven of the 49 new, smaller schools funded by Gates have closed; others are hanging on by a thread.

“There wasn’t a clear and thoughtful long-term plan on how you scale something that everyone needs and sustain it over the long haul,” concedes Tony Smith, the cur-rent school superintendent. “There was a strategy in place to support the creation of schools that would hopefully get to those kinds of ends, but there was no comprehensive shared commitment or framework.” What’s worse, the students who needed the most help, from the “most distressed” families, were often unaware there were better school choices available, he says.

These days, Smith is trying out his own vision of a “full-service community district”—one that tries to address challenges outside the classroom like nutrition and racism. But Gates, Broad, and Dell did leave a legacy for Smith to build on, at least in the lower grades where some schools have seen strong academic growth. The district increased from 11 to 50 the number of schools attaining a score of 700 toward the California achievement target of 800. And between 2008 and 2010, Oakland has outpaced the rest of California in improvement at the elementary- and middle-school levels.

The reform era also left its own financial mess. The officials imported during the salad days left Smith a $25 million deficit, including nearly $6 million in state fines for audit failings.

Smith sees another factor for failure inside a horrific scattering of red dots on a city map he displays on a PowerPoint in his office. Each dot is a student lost to gun violence—a dozen African-American and Latino boys gone since last summer, all slain on the hardscrabble streets of the city across the bay from San Francisco’s famed skyline.

The business titans entered the education arena convinced that America’s schools would benefit greatly from the tools of the boardroom. They sought to boost incentives for improving performance, deploy new technologies, and back innovators willing to shatter old orthodoxies.

They pressed to close schools that were failing, and sought to launch new, smaller ones. They sent principals to boot camp. Battling the long-term worry that the best and brightest passed up the classroom for more lucrative professions, they opened their checkbooks to boost teacher pay.

It was an impressive amount of industry. And in some places, it has worked out—but with unanticipated complications.

One of those places was New York City. Boasting 1 million students spread across 1,700 schools, New York City drew the lion’s share of philanthropy—$270 million from the four billionaires—and saw results. Graduation rates improved from 37 percent in 2002 to 55 percent by 2007 (New York state’s overall graduation rate by the end of that stretch: 71 percent).

The big-money donors benefited from a well-placed ally. New York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, a former Clinton White House lawyer, launched his own package of reforms that dovetailed with the billionaires’ goals—reorganizing the power structure and replacing failed schools with smaller, mission-driven ones.

He also installed “CEO”-style principals, and bucked criticism that his laser focus on core math and reading curricula was narrowing the scope of learning.

“From our point of view we were getting good results,” Klein said in an interview. “[The problem] wasn’t about the breadth of the curriculum. It was the failing of the kids.”

The numbers began to move in the right direction. But the tactics bred resentment among some educators and parents. Klein stepped down last year with low approval ratings. The CEO approach took a further hit when his successor—publishing executive Cathie Black, who had no background in education—flamed out after just 100 days on the job.

What’s worse, last year, New York state declared only a quarter of the city’s graduates college-ready, sending officials back to the drawing board. While acknowledging gains in New York, Gates decided to scrap the small-schools project, decreeing that the initiative overall had failed to produce students who were ready for the rigors of college.

“The call in many ways was made prematurely, based on evidence that wasn’t as comprehensive as it should have been,” says James Kemple, author of a study just published by Harvard Education Press that cites real gains from the Klein reforms in New York. “We are now finding the positive effects.”

No reform has won more philanthropic favor than public charter schools. Now numbering 5,000 across the country, charters receive tax dollars to operate with considerable autonomy and innovation. The quality of charter schools varies widely, and some have posted dramatic gains, owing to strategies like longer school days and strong teacher support for students. Drawn by the results of charter networks like KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program seen in the Waiting for Supermandocumentary, the billionaires have poured more than $900 million into charters, including $466 million from the Gates foundation alone.

The Walton Family Foundation hoped that its $8 million investment in Milwaukee charters would produce strong schools and a competitive environment to raise the bar across all the city’s schools. But the charters failed to outperform traditional schools. Reading scores were mostly flat over the past five years citywide. In math, elementary- and middle-school gains were stronger than in the rest of Wisconsin, but high-school proficiency dropped 2 points.

“All good philanthropy is based on testing a hypothesis. If you really peel away, you can uncover each foundation’s hypothesis. Essentially we all have a theory,” said Jim Blew, education-reform director for the Walton Family Foundation. “All the foundations are trying to tackle the same problem. And that problem is very low student achievement, especially in low-income areas.” Blew said the Waltons maintain their theory that charter competition can raise scores across school districts, and still hope that all Milwaukee schools will improve.

Michael Dell’s family foundation, too, placed a big bet on charters, along with its signature work on data and technology systems that help schools track and respond to student needs. Dell, a University of Texas dropout who was in such a hurry to enter the business world he asked to take a high-school equivalency exam at the tender age of 8, has spent heavily on children’s causes through the foundation he launched with his wife in 1999. He started in his native Texas, where his foundation helped insert a high-performing charter school onto a traditional Houston high-school campus.

Lee High School officials were excited at the prospect of copying the strongest elements of the charter. But it turned out the district wasn’t ready to let Lee try charter practices like a longer school day and taking more control over hiring, said Steve Amstutz, Lee’s principal at the time. “The premise that we were going to learn from each other really never occurred,” he explained. “It evolved to just being a lease agreement”—that is, until the charter moved to another location.

The executive director of Michael Dell’s family charity, Janet Mountain, concluded: “Should we ever try it again, we now have knowledge we can bring to the table that will set it up for better success the next time.”

The setbacks had to be a humbling experience for titans accustomed to outsize success.

Broad entered the education-reform arena with riches amassed at two Fortune 500 companies. Thinking his billions might make a difference, as he did in the Los Angeles arts and cultural community, Broad embarked on a yearlong investigation of education. “It was clear to me that if we wanted to have an impact, we could look at what others had done and then what we could do,” he told NEWSWEEK. “There weren’t many positive results that we could identify with. There was always pushback from powerful interests.”

Undaunted, Broad plowed ahead—investing in attempts to upgrade school governance and management, charters, and experiments to pay teachers for their performance instead of their length of time on the job. “We said we were not going to just write checks,” Broad said. “We were going to make investments.”

School boards seemed an especially ripe target. Broad began training efforts to get them away from what he saw as mind-numbing minutiae, like choosing paint colors for buildings or fixing stadium lights. The effort proved frustrating. Board members themselves, as he saw it, were often problematic; too many were well-meaning but not especially savvy parents, micromanagers, or excessively political.

Broad moved on to the front lines: superintendents, principals, and school-district management, ultimately spending $116 million on training people to work in schools and district offices, and another $71 million on central-office reforms and teacher evaluation, preparation, and pay schemes.

“Our role is to take risks that government is not willing to do … People question my motivation,” Broad said. Not least is a growing unease with the prominent role of private foundation money that doesn’t have the accountability constraints of public tax dollars. “The fact that I don’t concern myself about criticism or pushback helps,” Broad said.

He’s had to take some lumps. Several principal-training programs, to the tune of $45 million, were a bang-for-the-buck disappointment; student test scores under most of the principal graduates did not meet his expectations.

He pulled the plug and reevaluated before trying a “more rigorous” approach for the next round of training programs.

Graduates of his Broad Superintendents Academy and the dozens of M.B.A.s he has placed in school-district management, on the other hand, have largely measured up. Even so, superintendents sometimes shake things up only to see their efforts falter in the face of political pressures, Broad said. “Even if some of our original high expectations are not realized, we don’t give up. If we’re going to move America’s students forward, we must continue to be bold and try new approaches.”

—With Laura M. Colarusso

The analysis examined how graduation rates changed between 2002 and 2007—the most recent years for which the data is available from the nationally recognized Editorial Projects in Education Research Center—in 10 districts targeted by the big spending. The study also measured the holy grail of the education-reform movement—standardized test scores in reading and math for kindergarten through 12th grade—and compared the proficiency rates in the urban districts that benefited from billionaire bucks against the average for the rest of the schools in their states over the past five years. (That data was provided by MPR Associates, Inc., a respected education-statistics agency based in Berkeley, Calif.)

No yardstick is a perfect measure. And the billionaires’ gifts are a drop in the bucket when compared with the $600 billion spent annually on America’s schools. But the city-to-state comparison is one of the measures Broad’s own foundation uses in determining his annual award for the most improved school district. For complete data, go to publicintegrity.com.