The concern for moral education has never really diminished through the course of American history. It was urgent in the seventeenth century as it is today. Constant through the ages is the sense of "moral crisis" that attends the young. Panic, outrage, passionate admonitions from the moral gatekeepers of society-so it has been in each generation. (Hunter, 2000, p. 77)
Many in the United States believe that the nation has entered the twenty-first century in a time of moral decline. They find evidence for this belief in school shootings, unsafe streets, corporate corruption, malfeasance by public officials, widespread drug abuse, the ubiquitous celebration of sex and violence in the media, a perceptible loss in civility in public interactions, and countless other indicators that people in the United States are losing their moral grip. These events, such as the infamous breast-bearing climax to JanetJackson's 2004 Super Bowl half time performance, "have left many Americans wholly desensitized to the civil and moral grotesqueness that stalks so many of our streets" (Ryan, Sweeder, & Bednar, 2001, p. 3). Incidents of violence are also not limited to our nation's inner cities, which are the locus of immorality in the minds of many despite the occurrences of suburban school shootings, middle-class gang rapes, infanticide among affluent teens, and other problems occurring outside urban centers of poverty (Pitts, 2001).