The head of Southern Baptists’ public-policy arm called teaching about homosexuality in public schools “societal child abuse” and said failure to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage would be “a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions for children” in a Monday radio broadcast.

Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, interviewed Focus on the Family founder James Dobson June 5 on the “For Faith & Family” radio program. The interview, promoting Dobson’s new book, Marriage Under Fire, was the third consecutive program devoted to “the battle we are facing in this country to save the institution of marriage,” anticipating a June 6 vote in the U.S. Senate on the Marriage Protection Act.

Dobson, a psychologist, said gay marriage “just creates havoc for boys and girls.”

“They are very, very sensitive to stability,” Dobson said.

“And this whole movement–the homosexual activist movement–has as one of its major goals to gain control of the public schools,” Dobson continued. “In California, in Massachusetts and in other places, it has now penetrated the curriculum to the point that 5-year-olds–I mean we’re talking kindergarteners–are being taught homosexual propaganda.”

Land agreed: “As far as I’m concerned that’s societal child abuse.”

“It is, and I cannot believe the parents in California, for example, permit this,” Dobson continued. “It just takes my breath away. Can you imagine these little kids going off to school?

“They’re carrying their little lunch pails. They don’t know anything about anything. They’re wide-eyed and they’re waiting to learn, and when they get there, instead of the teacher–or at least in addition to the teacher trying to teach the ABCs–the teacher’s got these kids in a circle, and she’s sitting there telling them about adult perverse behavior.

“That makes absolutely no sense at all. I mean it has been known for 50 years that you have to protect children from adult sexuality. They’re not ready to understand it. You can talk about where babies come from, but you don’t talk about adult sexuality, and certainly not adult perverse sexuality.”

Dobson urged California parents to remove their children from public schools in 2002, saying the state legislature had mandated the teaching of “homosexual propaganda” in public schools.

Last year the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution urging parents and churches everywhere to investigate whether their local school districts promote homosexuality “as a morally legitimate lifestyle” through textbooks, curricula or programs with titles like tolerance and anti-bullying.

On Friday’s program, Land said without passage of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as union of a man and women terms like “husband and wife” will be replaced by “partner and spouse” and children in marriage preparation and sex education classes will have to be taught about homosexual sex, because to do otherwise would be discrimination.

Quoting a 2004 Wall Street Journal editorial by Mary Ann Glendon, Land said parents who complain will be branded as “homophobes” and that religious liberty is at stake.

“If we allow our children to be reared in a society where unnatural behavior is called normal and healthy and is affirmed and is seen as a perfectly healthy family situation for children, God’s judgment will come on us as a nation,” Land warned.

Land has not endorsed a resolution proposed for consideration at this year’s convention, which meets next week in Greensboro, N.C., urging Southern Baptists to take the next step and develop an “exit strategy” from the government school system.

But the resolution, which must clear a committee in order to come to a vote, has received backing from Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler, who coined the term “exit strategy” in a column just prior to last year’s annual convention meeting.

The proposed new resolution, submitted by Houston layman Bruce Shortt and Roger Moran, a representative to the SBC Executive Committee from Missouri, says despite last year’s resolution, “government schools continue to adopt and implement curricula and policies teaching that the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable.”

It urges Southern Baptists to “heed Dr. Mohler’s call to develop an exit strategy from the government schools,” with particular attention to the needs of “orphans, single parents and the disadvantaged.”

Dobson, in his interview with Land, said what concerns him most is, “If you do polling on teenagers and college students, you’ll find that they bought this whole notion of civil rights and discrimination and all of that explanation for what’s going on here.”

“And the church–pardon me, Rich, you and I are great lovers of the church–the church has not taught their young people the biblical view of marriage. And so there’s no counterpunch. There’s no balance to what they’re hearing.”

Moran, a member of First Baptist Church in Winfield, Mo., said May 27 on National Public Radio the time has come for responsible Southern Baptists to develop an exit strategy from public schools, because “the public schools are no longer allowed to train our children in the ways the Scripture commands that we train them, and that is in the ways of the Lord, and not in the ways of the world.”

Moran cited a study claiming 88 percent of evangelical youth leave the church after they turn 18. Asked if he blames the schools, Moran said, “The blame falls directly on the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention, in that we have failed to sound the alarm.”

Moran said whether or not a resolution is passed in Greensboro is less important than getting Southern Baptists to re-examine their views on public schools. “If you pass a resolution, so what?” he said. “It’s ultimately about changing the hearts and minds of Southern Baptists and saying, ‘We need to think about it.'”

Bob Allen is managing editor of

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