Southern Baptists in North and South Dakota passed a resolution decrying teaching contrary to “traditional Judeo-Christian values” in public schools and encouraged churches to aid parents in choosing educational alternatives that ensure their children’s “physical, moral, emotional and spiritual development.”
An education resolution approved last month by messengers to the Dakota Baptist Convention commended educators and students who bear Christian witness in public schools for “serving in the mission field of our public education system.”
The resolution stopped short of recommending an “exit strategy” from public schools called for in a proposed Southern Baptist Convention resolution that stalled in committee this summer. But a co-sponsor of that resolution said the Dakota resolution “essentially endorsed” a failed 2004 SBC resolution that would have called on Christian parents to remove their children from public schools and educate them either by homeschooling or sending them to private Christian schools.
The Dakota resolution noted “recent court decisions and philosophical/cultural changes have led many public schools to move in directions contrary to the traditional Judeo-Christian values and teachings which characterized public education for the first two centuries of our nation’s history.”
It said “parents have the primary responsibility to educate and develop their children in a way that enables them to ‘grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.'”
It called on “all parents to embrace their responsibility to educate their children by choosing a means of education that ensures their children’s physical, moral, emotional and spiritual development, with a goal of raising godly men and women who are thoroughly equipped and solidly committed to live as disciples of Jesus Christ and to the fulfillment of His Great Commission.”
“Not only does no government school ‘ensure’ these things, they are legally prohibited from contributing to the goal,” said Bruce Shortt, who co-authored this summer’s proposed exit-strategy resolution with SBC Executive Committee member Roger Moran. “Those who claim that their schools are ‘different’ don’t understand the law and the culture of the education establishment, and they have never come to grips with the abundant data on the impact of the government school habit on the worldview of successive generations of Americans.”
Shortt, a Houston attorney and leader in Exodus Mandate, a group that advocates replacing public education with a network of home and private Christian schools, said he suspects many Baptist state conventions around the country will pass resolutions in response to his. “I’m glad that Baptist in the Dakotas and elsewhere have taken the first step and are now talking about this issue,” he said.
The Dakota resolution urged “churches to partner with parents in discovering and accessing the best means of education.”
It also encouraged “pastors and church members to be salt and light by building personal relationships with leaders of local public school districts and by becoming actively involved in the decision-making process of local public school districts.”
It thanks and commended “all Christian educators, those in Christian schools, in homes across the Dakotas, and those serving in the mission field of our public education system, and all Christian students who represent Christ on their school campuses, both private and public.”
One Baptist state convention meeting this week, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, catered to homeschool families by offering educational opportunities for children including internships, supervised study hall and a field trip to view “Texas: The Big Picture” on Austin’s only IMAX screen.
A representative of an association of Southern Baptist homeschoolers was scheduled to be on hand to field questions from individuals interested in homeschooling.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.