Originally created 07/24/99

Claims Southern 'experiment' failed

The region stretching from Virginia to eastern Texas is, with good reason, known as the Bible Belt. Our Southern heritage is steeped in religion and the Bible.

Until the Supreme Court rulings of the last couple of decades that more strictly defined separation of church and state, prayer was ubiquitous in public life. School days started with prayer, as did football games. There was often public grace said before lunch in the school cafeteria. Meetings of governmental bodies opened with a prayer. The Ten Commandments and Bible verses were posted in many schoolrooms and government offices. Christianity seemed to be part of the very air we breathed.

Yet, during all that time, this region also had by far the highest rate of violent crimes in the country. The roots of crime and violence are multifaceted. To single out any one thing as the cause of increased violence is simplistic. To attack it without modifying the other factors will surely fail and may make things worse.

We have conducted the experiment of relying on religion while ignoring other parts of our culture. It failed! Let's work together on realistic approaches to a very serious problem rather than continuing to divide people of good will who happen to have different religious viewpoints.

Andy C. Reese, Augusta

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