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The old Southern Baptist Convention held its annual session last month. The SBC organized in 1845 because Baptists in the North objected to sending missionaries who owned slaves or were supported by slave owners.

So, rather than clean up their act and quit owing slaves, Baptists of the South got together and organized their own separate group of churches. They named it the Southern Baptist Convention.

Week before last in the SBC gathering it was decided to “investigate” public schools. They voted “to hold accountable schools, institutions and industries for their moral influence on our children.”

The resolution also urged parents and churches “to investigate diligently the curricula, textbooks and programs in our community schools and to demand discontinuation of offensive material and programs.”

Just a year ago the SBC rejected a proposal urging Baptists to remove their children from “godless” and “anti-Christian” public schools. Not a very good way to help public schools. This year they decided an “investigation” was called for. And the self-righteous SBC called for removing children from schools that seek to influence students to accept homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle.

Such is not my lifestyle, and I do not believe one in a thousand classroom teachers seek to get students to accept it as their lifestyle. It reminds me of Don Quixote, the knight errant, charging the windmills with his homemade lance, claiming the windmills to be giants and a threat to society.

Without the eloquence of Don Quixote, Robert Dreyfus of Florida told messengers: “It’s just devastating to me what is happening to our children. Public schools are a mission field, but they’re a killing field to our children. If we do not speak out on this issue, I think Southern Baptists will in the future greatly regret not having addressed this issue.”

SBC messengers defeated an amendment to another resolution that urged “maintaining the maximum individual freedoms of all loyal Americans.” This was made out of concern for “the abridgement of our constitutional rights” through the Patriot Act and other measures.

The SBC has become nothing less than a political machine–a tool of the Republican Party. Too strong a word? The SBC also resolved that “all future presidents nominate strict constructionist judges, who will interpret rather than make law.” That is the exact Republican stance in Congress.

Another resolution expressed “deep disappointment” in a recent U.S. House vote in favor of expanded stem-cell research and urged the U.S. Senate to reject such legislation. It reminds one of when the Roman Catholic Church chastised Galileo for promoting the Copernican theory that the earth is not stationary, but revolves around the sun.

Galileo was found guilty by the Inquisition and condemned to lifelong imprisonment. SBC messengers are as wrong now as the pope was in 1633. A church meeting is not the place to decide what is good science.

Just as Don Quixote went on his mad-hatter ways for 940 pages (in my English translation) so evidently are those today who would dictate what giants need to be destroyed and hold up the same science as Pope Urban VIII and other 17th century popes.

Britt Towery is a retired Southern Baptist missionary. His opinions appear weekly in the Brownwood Bulletin in Brownwood, Texas.

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