Southern Baptist homeschool advocates are seeking to have resolutions calling for an “exit strategy” from public schools introduced at all 43 state and regional Baptist convention meetings this fall.
In 2004 exit-strategy resolutions were introduced in 15 Southern Baptist state conventions. Last year the number increased to about 30. Despite failure to get a resolution considered at this summer’s Southern Baptist Convention, a leader said the exodus movement is still gaining ground in churches.
“The tide has turned dramatically on the education question over the last two years,” Houston attorney Bruce Shortt said in a news story on a homeschool advocacy Web site.
Short predicted, “A strong state and regional convention effort will advance the cause of Christian education much farther, both within the SBC and in other denominations.”
The Home School Legal Defense Association endorsed the proposed resolutions. “Many current homeschoolers have already considered the issues outlined in the resolution and freely concluded that public school is not an acceptable alternative for the provision of a Christian education,” according to the news release.
The HSLDA, based in Purcellville, Va., describes itself as a “nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed.”
In March 12 members of Congress met with homeschool leaders in Washington for an annual policy meeting, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
Frist, a potential candidate for president in 2008, praised the HSLDA in a statement.
“Homeschooled children deserve the same treatment as their public and private school peers, and the Home School Legal Defense Association is an outstanding advocate for homeschool families across America,” Frist said. “Parents and families should have the freedom and the choice to educate their children as they see fit, and the HSLDA does outstanding work in helping make America a better place to raise our children.”
The 2004 SBC resolution that failed to clear a committee described problems in public education including “indoctrinating children with dogmatic Darwinism” and “teaching that the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable.”
It called on responsible Southern Baptists to “develop an exit strategy from the government schools,” a term first used in a 2005 commentary by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler.
“The anti-public school leaders have an unrelenting moral consistency,” said Robert Parham of the BaptistCenter for Ethics, “unlike the Southern Baptist fundamentalist leaders who demonize public schools but refuse to support the withdrawal from them for fear of a backlash from Southern Baptist church members.”
“The fundamentalist preachers are all talk and no walk,” Parham said. “If they believe what they preach, then they should back these anti-education state-convention resolutions. If they don’t have the backbone to support the anti-public school leaders, then they should stop damning public education. Moral integrity is necessary.”
Parham said state convention executive directors and newspaper editors, most of whom are loyal to the Southern Baptist Convention, “should be honest with rank-and-file church members this fall about what they really think about public education–support the passage of the anti-public school resolutions or speak up for the great good that public education does.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.