The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is helping to promote a “Christian School 101” conference sponsored by the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools, scheduled Aug. 27-28 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
According to the Biblical Recorder, Executive Director Milton Hollifield told the state convention Executive Committee the seminar is not part of an organized effort to get parents to remove their children from public schools and educate them either in church-run private schools or at home.
Hollifield said the conference is just to provide information on how churches can start private schools. “I don’t want Christian representation out of public schools,” he said, in part because not everyone can afford private Christian schools. “I favor Christian schools, but not a movement to pull everyone out of public schools.”
The Southern Baptist Convention may consider a resolution encouraging churches to begin Christian schools when it meets this month in San Antonio, Texas. A resolution submitted to a committee uses SBC President Frank Page’s call last year for Southern Baptist churches to begin offering Christian schools, both for families who can and cannot afford such education.
Though his name is mentioned six times in the resolution, Page told the Greenville News he doesn’t agree with the Exodus Mandate’s push for Southern Baptists to pull their children out of what it calls an “anti-Christian government school system.” Page said two of his three daughters attended Christian schools, and he supports the right of parents to choose public school for their children as well as Christian school or home school.
Ed Gamble, executive director of the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools, says instead of talking about withdrawing from the government school system, he has begun using positive language about “building a new public school system.”
“In our denomination the idea of public education is so deeply entrenched when you say something negative you are immediately on the defensive,” Gamble said last summer at a Kingdom Education Summit held in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C.
Gamble believes America needs a new “public” school system, open to everyone, but owned and operated not by the government but rather by the “Body of Christ.”
“The educational system is broken for Christian people and it needs to be fixed,” Gamble said earlier this month on “The Osgood File” on the CBS Radio Network. “When we teach a child that math is secular or that history is secular and that it has no real sacredness to it, we disconnect him from the very thing that gives meaning and purpose to life.”
Gamble envisions a nationwide system of at least 5,000 Baptist schools by 2025. “Our job is to convince southern Baptists pastors to start building schools,” Gamble told Charles Osgood May 4. “Not dozens, hundreds. Maybe not even hundreds, thousands of schools. Thousands of schools.”
Southern Baptist have a long way to go. They now operate about 700 schools, compared to more than 8,000 Catholic schools and 1,500 among all branches of Lutherans, but with 43,000 Southern Baptist churches in the nation, Gamble believes the denomination is poised to become a major player in Kingdom education.
“The Christian school movement may well be the next Sunday school movement in our churches,” Gamble wrote on the SBACS Web site.
Over the next 10 or 15 years, he wrote in 2004, “it will be as unusual to find a church that is not sponsoring or supporting a Christian school and a home school network as it is today to find a church that does not have a Sunday school program.”
Gamble predicts the Christian school movement and the home school movement together “are going to radically reshape the way America does school in the next two decades.”
Gamble preaches that it is futile to expect children to receive a Christ-centered education in a public school that by law cannot honor Christ.
“We have allowed Satan to run his strategy,” Gamble wrote in an opinion article last year in the Florida Baptist Witness. “Own the schools, and I [Satan] will own the culture.”
“I wouldn’t send my children to a school in Baghdad to get an education. I want them to get an education about American values and American culture,” Gamble told the Greenville News. “So why would Christian people send their kids to be schooled in an environment that teaches them the opposite of what they learn in church and in a Christian home?”
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina plans to help promote the “Christian School 101” conference with a mass mailing to the state’s churches, estimated to cost about $2,000.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.