A Kentucky educator criticized evangelist Franklin Graham for bashing public schools in a letter promoting a program aimed at equipping youth to share their faith.

Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, began a June letter promoting a new ministry called “Dare to be a Daniel” like this:

“Are you saddened as you watch our country’s public schools systematically eliminate any trace of God from the classroom? Are you sick and tired of the fact that students can barely even mention the Name of Jesus Christ without fear of punishment or the threat of lawsuit?”

“Children today are forbidden to pray in schools like most of us did when we were children,” he continued. “The Ten Commandments–the Judeo-Christian bedrock of morality–can’t be posted in the hallways. Not only are expressions of Christian faith off-limits, but in many cases, an immoral, godless agenda is often pushed upon children. Just the other day, I read where a homosexual storybook was being read to second-graders.

“It’s a shame and a disgrace that our society has come to this. It seems the government lacks the moral will and vision to do anything. Many times, biased, liberal courts only make matters worse. School boards often bend and bow to secular forces that are hostile to God and His standards.”

Graham said there is “no question, the moral foundation that was laid by our forefathers–based on God’s laws and principles–is being destroyed.” The solution, he said, is to train the nation’s youth to be “salt and light” in “a morally dark and sick society.”

The materials promoting “Dare to be a Daniel” take a more positive tone, prompting Mary Ann Blankenship, executive director of the Kentucky Education Association, to protest.

“As a Christian and lifelong admirer of Dr. Graham, I am glad that you are assisting today’s Christian youth in talking about their faith,” she wrote.

But Blankenship said she was “deeply disappointed” that Graham began his letter by bashing public schools, observing “I believe you could have easily made your point and sold your program without” it.

“You have unfairly castigated the millions of Christian adults who see one of the places of their ministry the public schools and who live their faith every day in public schools,” she said. “You have further needlessly criticized countless students who likewise express their faith, both through their deeds and their words, in public schools.”

Blankenship, nearly a 35-year veteran of public education in three different states, said she has had “not one shred of firsthand experience” that would cause her to agree with Graham’s assessment that “a godless agenda is often pushed upon children.”

“That’s just not true,” she said. “I don’t doubt that there may be a public school somewhere or even a school district somewhere that may be doing things that I don’t approve of. But to make the generalization that public schools are ‘godless’ is unfair and hurtful.”

“More to the point,” she added, “I believe that you could have made your point and promoted your program without this negative introduction.”

Blankenship circulated her comments in an e-mail copied to EthicsDaily.com, in which she said, “I’m tired of the ‘Christian’ public school bashers going unanswered.”

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.

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