TIGERVILLE, S.C. — Former U.S. Marshal and Greenville County Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown told the assembled graduates at North Greenville University's fall commencement service last Thursday that he’s often asked what accounts for the sharp increase in crime, especially the increase in violent crimes in our society today.
Brown said that the decline of family values is the major contributor.
“There are more single-parent homes than ever before. Divorce is commonplace. Illegitimate births continue to increase and there is no longer a social stigma when unmarried women have children,” said Brown. “Many children grow up without good male role models.”
Brown said that there is a growing welfare class and “some people say that abled bodied people are paid not to work. The American work ethic is not as good as it used to be.”
He explained that many seem to have lost all hope and as a result stop trying to do better.
Brown said the loss of hope seems to be the primary cause of people turning to drugs and alcohol.
“Drug and alcohol abuse is a major factor in crime and more of our younger children are getting involved with gangs at an early age and using violence to settle differences,” he said. “What do we do about it?”
Brown said that the United States does not build character like it used to.
“There was a time in our country that Christian values, ideals, and ethics were much more important than they are today. I think more people have lost their way and don’t know how to live right. They certainly don’t know how to raise their children to become good and productive citizens,” Brown said. “Morality is as out of date as a horse and buggy.”
Brown said that “the greatest truths are found in the Bible” and made reference to Luke 10:25 where Jesus relates the parable of the Good Samaritan, which he considers to be a perfect example of the three philosophies of people who populate our world today: ‘What’s yours is mine;’ ‘what’s mine is mine;’ and ‘what’s mine is yours.’
According to Brown, the philosophy of the Good Samaritan, “What’s mine is yours,” is the Christian way.
“There are some who want to take ‘under God’ out of the pledge of allegiance and replace it with ‘under government.’ We must not let this happen,” Brown said emphatically.
Brown said there are no government programs to correct the nation’s ills. They must be corrected with proper values, morals, and ethics.
“Our country has gone away from the lessons of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. When people do nothing and hurry along the way, they help send this country further in the wrong direction,” he said. “Jesus asked which of these [three philosophies] you think represented the 'neighbor' to the man that fell to the hands of the robber. It was the one who had mercy. The one who cared to get involved,” said Brown. “Jesus said go and do likewise.”
Brown concluded his speech by challenging the graduates to “Go and do likewise.”
At the conclusion of Brown’s address, the university awarded him an honorary Doctor of Christian Leadership.
“This will hang in my house in a special place,” said Brown.
This commencement ceremony was historic for NGU. The school awarded a total of 166 degrees from its undergraduate and graduate programs. Fifty-three of these were graduate degrees.
The first three students from the Criminal Justice and Legal Studies degree program received their diplomas. The recipients were Erik Klemm from Taylors, Daniel Marsh from Pickens, and Jack Merckle from Greer.
Pictured: NGU’s first criminal justice and legal studies graduates. L to R: Jack Merckle; Angelia Turner, Director of Criminal Justice and Legal Studies in College of Adult Professional Studies; and Daniel Marsh. Not pictured: Erik Klemm.