An organization that supported last summer’s Southern Baptist Convention resolution calling on churches to investigate homosexual influences in public schools on Thursday announced a “family-to-family” initiative to increase the number of children educated at home by 1 million over the next five to seven years.
Exodus Mandate, a national organization that supports home-schooling and church-based Christian schools as an alternative to public education, launched the “Home-schooling Family-to-Family” program to enlist experienced home-schoolers to mentor families they know to give it a try.
While most home-schoolers already have conversations with friends, neighbors and relatives who are interested in home-schooling but are afraid to start, the initiative calls on those parents to become more intentional in outreach efforts, thereby strengthening state and local home-school organizations.
“Home-schooling Family-to-Family asks experienced home-schoolers to become more evangelical by transforming home-schooling conversations across the kitchen table with friends, neighbors, and relatives into a positive home-schooling outreach,” said E. Ray Moore Jr., a retired Air Force chaplain and executive director of Exodus Mandate, based in Columbia, S.C.
The program urges mentors to guide new families through curriculum decisions, introduce them to support groups and the social side of home-schooling, provide regular encouragement and counsel and pray for them, according to a press release.
Along with Web site materials and an e-newsletter, the program will make available DVDs, CDs, articles and brochures designed to help mentors bring families to an “informed decision about whether to home-school.”
Exodus Mandate supported an SBC resolution passed in June highlighting efforts by “homosexual activists” to “promote the acceptance among schoolchildren of homosexuality as a morally legitimate lifestyle.”
It urged parents and churches to “to exercise their rights to investigate diligently the curricula, textbooks and programs in our community schools and to demand discontinuation of offensive material and programs” and called on Christian parents to “fully embrace their responsibility to make prayerful and informed decisions regarding where and how they educate their children, whether they choose public, private or home schooling.”
While the convention opposed a call a year earlier for a mass exodus from public schools, at least one denominational leader said he believes “momentum is clearly on the side” of the movement toward private Christian education.
“I believe that now is the time for responsible Southern Baptists to develop an exit strategy from the public schools,” Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote in June. “This strategy would affirm the basic and ultimate responsibility of Christian parents to take charge of the education of their own children. The strategy would also affirm the responsibility of churches to equip parents, support families and offer alternatives.”
“At the same time,” Mohler said, “this strategy must acknowledge that Southern Baptist churches, families and parents do not yet see the same realities, the same threats and the same challenges in every context. Sadly, this is almost certainly just a matter of time.”
Elizabeth Watkins, founder and director of the Southern Baptist Convention Home Education Association, endorsed the Home-schooling Family-to-Family initiative, citing implications not only for education but also for evangelism and church growth.
“Families with children are a huge mission field,” Watkins said. “HFTF is a wonderful opportunity for evangelism and Christian character development as well as home-school mentoring.”
Bruce Shortt, a Houston attorney and co-sponsor of the SBC resolution, agreed.
“Unlike the gimmicks that often pass for Christian evangelism today, Christian home-schooling is true revival, and HFTF is the perfect opportunity for Christian home-schoolers to become more evangelical,” said Shortt, author of The Harsh Truth About Public Schools and Texas coordinator of Exodus Mandate.
Earlier Exodus Mandate pledged support for a commitment by an on-line home-schooling academy offering $1.2 million in curriculum and 10 scholarships for relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina and low-income families.
“We know that many home-schooling families had their curricula destroyed by the storm,” Beth Te Grotenhuis, CEO of Alpha Omega Publishers, said in a statement. “With all of the worries those families must have, we want to make sure that replacing their curricula isn’t one of them.”
“We also hope that families displaced by the storm who have been considering home-schooling will take advantage of our offer of free Switched-On Schoolhouse to get started,” she added. “Alpha Omega has long been committed to serving the home-school community, and we are grateful that we have the ability to extend the hand of Christian brotherhood to families in need.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.