Many people consider the time before the 1960s as a golden age for all sorts of good things.
For example, Woodrow Kroll wrote:
America had a splendid heritage in the Word of God. We built our government on it. We built our laws on it. We built our lives on it. But when we began to put the Bible on the back burner, a New America was formed. It’s an America that is not friendly toward the Bible, an America that doesn’t read the Bible or respect it. It’s an America in which Bible illiteracy is rampant.Taking Back the Good Book: How America Forgot the Bible and Why It Matters to You
Kroll points to events in the 1960s as the beginning of the change — assassinations, protests, women’s liberation, and anti-establishment views.
He cites research showing that “by 1969 church attendance was down eleven points from 1955 among Catholics and five points among Protestants.”
Kroll also believes two Supreme Court rulings during the 1960s had a major influence:
- Engal v. Vitale in 1962, ruling prayer in schools unconstitutional
- Abington v. Schempp in 1963, declaring the reading of the Bible over a school’s intercom system unconstitutional
So, have we found the starting point?
Is this the cause of biblical illiteracy in America?
Kroll is correct that these events had a major impact on the church and on society.
However, there is historical evidence that casts doubt on these things being the reasons for the current “crisis” of biblical illiteracy in the United States.
Maybe it’s time to examine the “golden age” of the 1950s—including that drop in church attendance Kroll cited in his book.
A Serious Look at Biblical Literacy