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

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


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

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

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

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

Article IV of the Augsburg Confession.


To these material principles of the

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

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

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

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

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

God alone the glory.


Lutherans would not disagree with them as to that,

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


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

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

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

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

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

but have everlasting life”


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

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

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

where I am, there ye may be also.”


All Christians likewise agree that our

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

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

Christ Jesus.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



merits are sometimes referred to as meritum congrui.

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

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

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


The justified man, so

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

works, sometimes called  meritum condigni.


These works, in turn, give man a

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

heavenly glory”.


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

will render to every man according to his deeds.”


Ott quotes as an express

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

judge, will render…”.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

The Roman position is frequently supported by reference to several

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

proposition that eternal life is the reward for good works


and James 2:17, 24 for

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



More recent Roman dogmatic statements have backed  away from the

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

criticism of that declaration17

that the edition of the catechism that came out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

with good works.”


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

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

lost every time we slip.

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

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

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

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

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

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

consonant with Scripture they are good and valuable.



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

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

the tradition of the Church,


these writings have from a Roman perspective even

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

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

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

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

the three historic creeds.)

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

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


Here 6

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

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

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



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



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

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

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

and the truth is not in us.”24

While St. Augustine does refer to works after

conversion as assisting in salvation25

, this is in the context of works as the marks

of a live faith.


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

, it

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

by Christ.  St. Anselm of Canterbury writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

we could not do it for ourselves.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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



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

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

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

great Scholastics believed in sola fide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

and exclaiming, as he

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

lived a sinful life!”


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

against Rome.  Luther wrote:

The first and chief article is this.

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

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

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

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

Is. 53,6. 9

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

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

3,23 f.

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

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

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

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

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

of him which believeth in Christ.

Of this article nothing can be yielded or surrendered, even

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

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

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



(Emphasis added by editors of edition used; form  of

Scripture cites in original.)

Luther and Melanchthon (principal author of the Augsburg Confessions)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rome rejects this understanding35

notwithstanding the above-cited

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

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

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

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

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

let him be anathema.

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

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

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

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

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


So says Rome, but what does

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

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

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


Still, the

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

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

understanding Scripture.

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

which is how Christ and the Apostles explained Scripture.


Passages have to be 11

seen and understood in their context.


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

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

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

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


and a

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

Spirit intended.


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

interpreters dark or difficult.”


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

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

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

ceremonial Jewish law44

or to those done before conversion.


But that does not

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

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



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

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

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

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


It is

that he trusted God.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

to do good works.”51


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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

were so.’’


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

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

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



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



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

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



St. John Chrysostom


, and St. Augustine.


Like sola gratia and

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

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

and demanded scriptural refutation,  noting that popes and councils had

erred and contradicted each other.


His chief work on this doctrine is ‘‘On

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

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

St. Bernard declares that he learned his wisdom from the

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

he conceived his ideas from Scripture and pondered them under

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

taste and nourishment, until they lose themselves in the salty

sea, as happened under the papacy.


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

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

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

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



Perhaps the greatest contradiction of councils is that between the

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

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

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

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

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


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

only the Holy Spirit Himself could do that.



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

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

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



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

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

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

Immaculate Conception; her Assumption, and her perpetual virginity are

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

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

not even doctrine of the Roman Church until the 20


century.  Their own

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

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

knew nothing about it!



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

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

thoroughly discreditable reading of Matthew 16 as making Peter the

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

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

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

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

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

statement that Peter was the first bishop of Rome.


Eusebius, however, was

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

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

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

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

origin in the Donation of Constantine, a forged 8


century instrument.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

agreed with those additions.


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

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

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

may propound doctrines.


Instead, the confessions set forth as a given that

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

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



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


What the Confessions do accomplish is a systematization of Scriptural

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

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

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

founded firmly and well therein….’’


. That is a direct disclaimer of having

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

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

The Church has assembled confessional statements from the very

beginning.  The Creeds are themselves brief confessional statements.  They

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

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

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

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



Creeds and confessions that simply summarize Scripture are not 18

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

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

principle of  sola Scriptura  is upheld with confessions that are themselves


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

who would uphold the Reformation from drifting into the errors that

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

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

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

existentialist maunderings that would deprive the Word itself of its authority

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

the Word and faithful to the Reformation of the Church.

Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results


Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results


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

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

Kupchynsky Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. A little pain is good for you.

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

  1. Drill, baby, drill.

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

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

  1. Failure is an option.

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

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

  1. Strict is better than nice.

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

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

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

  1. Creativity can be learned.

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

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

  1. Grit trumps talent.

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

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

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

  1. Praise makes you weak…

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

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

8.…while stress makes you strong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global warming and corruption of science by Mark Landsbaum


Mark Landsbaum: Global warming and corruption of science

By MARK LANDSBAUM / Register columnist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


STEM focus has it bacward

STEM focus has it backward


2013-04-12 14:58:46

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

95 Social Science Reasons for Religious Worship and Practice

95 Social Science Reasons

for Religious Worship and Practice

Pat Fagan

October 16, 2012


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

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

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

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


  1. Reasons for Religion: Family


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sexual Attitudes and Behavior

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

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

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

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

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

24 Patrick F. Fagan and Althea Nagai, “Feels Thrilled, Excited During Intercourse with Current Partner,” Mapping America 116 (2012). (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). (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). (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). (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). (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). (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). (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). (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). (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). (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). (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),

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). (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. (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.”