george_hancockstefanAbout 15 years ago, the well-known sociologist from Princeton University wrote a book entitled The Battle for the American Soul. In this informative book he presented some of the major ideas that were competing for Americans in politics, business, military forces and religion.  One of the things that was not mentioned as a competitor was the concept of neutrality.

This week we are preparing for the Vacation Bible School which will be held on July 8-12, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon. This event is sponsored by all the churches in the community – Catholic and Protestant and it will be held at the Atlantic Highlands Elementary School. 

This community event gives me an opportunity to talk with children and parents in our churches and in our community. In contrast with bygone days when children were bored in the summer time because they did not have so many things to do, our community is saturated with events and activities for children. There are sports training camps for cheerleaders, hockey, baseball, soccer, swimming – you name it.  There are advanced educational activities where children learn to excel in computer skills, math skills, and literary skills. All of these events and exercises are good for the mind and the body, but what about the child’s soul?

The Bible teaches us that every child is a gift from the Lord.  The children belong to the Lord and in His grace and mercy He has entrusted them to us.  Raise the child in the fear and the knowledge of the Lord we are told and when he is old he will not depart from the Lord’s ways. 

Probably one of the things that still surprises me is when parents tell me that they do not want to influence their children when it comes to religion.  They talk about this glorious neutrality or their willingness to defend their children from any religious input so that when their children reach their adulthood, they will choose rightly.  My surprise is that the concept of neutrality does not exist.  I have never met a neutral child, a neutral politician, a neutral journalist, a neutral educator.  All of us have viewpoints and worldviews.  But the fact that they are sending their children to so many other activities, just negates the concept of neutrality, unless their children do only the things that they like and nothing else.


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Yet as I have met some parents who believe in neutrality, I have met some people who have surprised me by arguing that we should not use negative words.  The last word that some people have condemned is the word terrorist. The reasoning behind this I was told that by now when we think of terrorism we immediately think of Moslems. The absurdity of this logic is that if we stop using the word terrorist the people who are considered terrorists will stop their activities and start selling pretzels and nuts! There are good Moslems and there are terrorists who come from Moslem and Christian countries.  Since I was still perplexed I asked if it is OK to call the Devil the enemy of everything that is good, or the opposite of God!  Or are we afraid to call the Devil evil because he will be offended at us? 

The battle for the souls of our children is going on.  We as parents have given the opportunity to shape the minds, the hearts and the directions of our children’s lives.  By not teaching them about God, by not teaching them about God’s Holy Word we are teaching them the opposite.  I pray that we as parents and grandparents will influence our children and grandchildren in the way they should go and when they grow up they will use what they have learned and we will be proud of their accomplishments.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...