". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


The Answer to U.S. Crime Wave Is Another Great Awakening, Legal Scholar Says

June 23, 2022

For the third year in a row, violent crime — including homicide, robbery, and rape — has risen in America’s major urban areas. Five cities stand at risk of breaking last year’s murder rate, while six cities will outdo 2021 for the highest number of serious offenses.

Milwaukee experienced a 25% increase in homicide compared with this time last year. New York City experienced 19,972 violent crimes — combining homicide, rape, robbery, and assault — since January, a 26% increase over the same period in 2021.

The tally of lawbreaking comes from comprehensive analyses of criminal data conducted by Fox News. The cities with rising levels of aggressive offenders include:

  • Washington, D.C. (13% homicide increase; 12% violent crime);
  • Atlanta (13% homicide increase; 6% violence crime);
  • Baltimore (8% homicide increase; 6% violent crime);
  • Los Angeles (7% homicide increase; 9% violent crime); and
  • Philadelphia (7% increase in violent crime).

Although not part of the study, Dallas has sustained 110 murders as of last week, an increase of 17 deaths over last year. New Orleans has far outpaced other cities in the overall increase of homicides this year over pre-pandemic levels.

Overall, the nation’s violent crime has plunged dramatically from its historic high in 1991. But the national homicide rate has spiked 29% since 2014, according to FBI statistics. 

As Congress approaches the July 4th holiday, lawmakers seem likely to pass a bill of gun restrictions supported by Senate Democrats and as many as 14 Republicans. But a legal scholar says more laws are not what America needs to stem the rising tide of urban bloodshed.

“Most gun violence is committed with illegally held guns, so that would seem to indicate that enforcement is more important than just proliferating more and more laws,” said Morse H. Tan, the dean of the Liberty University School of Law, on Thursday’s episode of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.”

He noted that gun control proponents inflate the number of victims of “gun violence” by including people who died from suicide — which accounted for 54% of all gun deaths in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center. The legacy media’s coverage also skews public perceptions, because they fail to cover ­“the greatest amount of violence,” which “happens in what should be the safety of one’s mother’s womb.”

Christians must go deeper than the patina of statistics and crime reports to get to the darkened heart of lawlessness. “As Christians, we cannot look at this separate from the spiritual ramifications of choices that we make,” said Perkins. When Americans “choose to go counter to what God’s Word has to say, I don’t think we should be surprised that that same type of violence works itself out on the streets of America.” Tan agreed that every criminal action constitutes “a reflection of the fallenness of humanity,” but he held out hope since “we believe that there is such a thing as redemption through Jesus.”

“The First and Second Great Awakenings in U.S. history had a profound effect along these lines. In the midst of the First Great Awakening, the police officers had nothing to do. The jails were empty,” Tan recounted. The power of faith to decrease lawbreaking manifested itself internationally, as well. The 1904 Welsh Revival “led to a reduction in aggregate crime by 5% to 12%,” including “much larger and persistent reductions in violent crime,” according to a 2020 study.

The principle still holds true, as “the most successful prison [rehabilitation] programs are the faith-based ones” rooted in “the transformative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Tan noted. One study found that Minnesota prisoners who took part in a program connecting convicts with faith-based services were less than half as likely to return to prison. Another study, conducted in 2008 by members of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, concluded that a prisoner’s “participation in a faith-based program … did lower the probability of engaging in serious forms of misconduct.”

Numerous studies show those who regularly attend church services are less likely to commit crime in the first place. MARRIpedia, an online database of social science related to the family, summarized: “In a major national survey of adolescents, a 6% 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. Each unit increase in a mother’s religious practice is associated with a 9% decline in her child’s delinquency. The adolescents at lowest risk for delinquency typically have highly religious mothers and are themselves highly religious.” 

Revivalists like Charles Finney preached that true acceptance of the gospel required “a change of heart” and called self-centered, anti-social behavior “the law of Satan’s empire.” But “to obey God, to serve Him, to honor Him, and promote His glory, is reasonable, and right, and just. This is a virtuous decision: this is a change of heart.”

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.