News outlets are reporting that senator Sylvia Allen, a Republican from Arizona is trying to pass legislation making it mandatory for citizens to attend church services. She claims that “corrupt souls” are the root of the problems in America, particular, gun violence. Allen told the state’s appropriations committee, “It is the soul that is corrupt and how we get back to a moral rebirth in this country, I don’t know. We are slowly eroding religion at every opportunity that we have. We should probably be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth.”
I am not sure what to think of this proposal. First, it would violate the Constitution as the government is not supposed to endorse any religion. Second, what of those people who do not go to church or may be atheists? Should they be forced to attend church services as well? Lastly, people must be open to going to church and cannot be force. God gives us free will. We can accept or reject Him. It seems Sylvia Allen is proposing this idea out of nostalgia. She described missing how religion played a big role in society, “People prayed, people went to church, I remember on Sundays the stores were closed.” I do not see this bill or anything similar even making it to a discussion. Instead of forcing people to attend church, churches need to go out to them and present their message in a way that is faithful to God and speaks to the people of today. This is what Pope Francis is doing and calling all Catholics to do.
The internet can be such a good thing. It can link distant people and educate others. However, it can also be a place for great evil to thrive.
One such evil is taking hold now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other social networks. The hashtag #cutforZayn, #cut4Zayn and other variations of it have been trending encouraging fans (namely girls) to cut themselves in protest to former “One Direction” singer, 22-year-old Zayn Malik abandonment of the boyband.
Zayn Malik quit the group after citing stress and wanting to live a “normal” life free from the spotlight his former boyband generated. The group, “One Direction” is very popular today with millions of fans, mostly tweens or young pubescent girls. These girls are drawn to the vocal talent and handsome looks of the group’s male members. Unfortunately, as with any group of fans, fanaticism takes hold. Reason, conscience and morals are thrown out and replaced with instinctual animalistic drives.
Many young girls which clear mental problems are resorting to cutting themselves and posting images of their self-harm after Malik left the group. Psychologists and other mental health professionals are outraged and calling on parents and schools to monitor children for any signs of self-harm as well as to monitor their social network usage.
According to studies, girls are more prevalent to cutting themselves with boys with 1 out of 5 young females ages 10 to 18 are resorting to this self-harm. This does not mean that boys do not harm themselves. They sometimes restore to burning instead of cutting. The DSM calls this cutting of oneself “Non-Suicidal Self-Injury” or “NSSI.” This self-harm brings about endorphins in the brain to help a teen cope with stress. The sensation of pain is a way of venting stress similar to someone punching a wall or an object when frustrated. NSSI is comorbid with other mental illnesses. Anyone exhibiting signs of it should see psychological services immediately.
To any young girls reading this post, please do not harm yourself. No one is worth harming yourself over. You need to understand that things in life change. This boyband member wanted to try something new. He has every right to do that. Moreover, these celebrities make money off of you. They do not sit at home thinking about each fan. This is a business. The people who do care for you are your family and friends who do not want to see you hurting yourself. You are all that matters, not some boyband who will become “old news” in a few years as did the Beatles or any other boyband that followed them.
Leonard Sax MD PhD is a physician, psychologist, and author of “Boys Adrift” (Basic Books, 2007) and “Girls on the Edge” (Basic Books, 2010).
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