A second resolution this year criticizing public schools has been submitted to the Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions Committee.
The director of an organization that offers Christian alternatives to public education and a Tennessee minister of education drafted the new resolution alerting Southern Baptist churches to the “toxic spiritual nature” of the school system.
It calls on churches to “become aggressive and pro-active in starting Christian schools and encouraging home-schooling, and provide their children with Christian alternatives to government education.”
“Southern Baptists have been playing the ‘ostrich with its head in the sand’ routine long enough,” said Grady Arnold, director of GetTheKidsOut.org and co-author of the resolution. “The time is way overdue that we acknowledge the devastating effects public school is having on the faith of our children.”
David Scarborough, minister of education at Adam’s Chapel Baptist Church in Dresden, Tenn., is co-sponsoring the measure. Scarborough said the issue is “of utmost importance.”
“Like in the days after Joshua, we are on the verge of losing an entire generation,” he said. “We are trying to help as many Southern Baptists as we can see their responsibility to educate their children according to the Scripture.”
Arnold and Scarborough’s resolution describes the government’s school system as “against Christ” and involved in indoctrinating and secularizing children.
It applauds “courageous teachers in government schools who disregard the law and bring their Christian faith into the classroom.”
“Obeying God rather than men, they try to give their students a truly Christian education,” it says. “However, having Christian teachers in the classroom should not lead anyone to believe the public schools are regularly giving children a truly Christian education.”
Arnold, former pastor of Forestwood Baptist Church in New Caney, Texas, last year supported a similar resolution that called for a mass exodus from public schools. That resolution failed to clear a committee at last year’s annual convention.
Arnold said he takes issue with Baptist leaders who argue for having their children in public schools as a Christian influence and witness. He points to the denomination’s own data—a 2002 report by the SBC Council on Family Life Report–which says 88 percent of Southern Baptist children leave the church after graduating from public high schools.
GetTheKidsOut.org is a Southern Baptist coalition associated with the Alliance for the Separation of School & State in Fresno, Calif.
The mission of GetTheKidsOut.org, according to the Web site, is to “assist Christians to work within their own denominations to alert parents of the staggering loss of faith and morals in children who attend the officially neutral ‘public schools,’ and help them find ways to move children into Christian education, whether in campus schools or home-schooling.”
The site suggests options for alternative schooling for parents who cannot afford tuition at a private school or feel home-schooling is too difficult.
Last month evangelist and author Voddie Baucham and Houston attorney Bruce Shortt submitted a resolution calling for Southern Baptist churches to investigate homosexual influences in their local schools.
Shortt co-authored last year’s unsuccessful resolution with T.C. Pinckney, a former SBC vice president and newsletter editor from Virginia. Shortt and Baucham’s resolution is being promoted by Exodus Mandate, a Columbia, S.C., that supports pulling Christian children out of public schools.
Both of the new education resolutions will be considered by the Resolutions Committee, appointed in April by SBC president Bobby Welch. Only resolutions recommended by the committee will be voted on at the June 21-22 convention in Nashville, unless messengers vote by a two-thirds majority to consider a properly submitted resolution not reported out of the committee.
Gene Mims, interim pastor of College Heights Baptist Church in Gallatin, Tenn., chairs this year’s Resolutions Committee. Mims, a former vice president at LifeWay Christian Resources, was recently named executive director of the International Baptist Network, a group aimed at unifying independent fundamental Baptists and conservative Southern Baptists.
The Southern Baptist Convention has previously passed resolutions affirming home schooling and private Christian schools, but it has never formally renounced pre-1979 resolutions affirming public education.
Last year’s Resolutions Committee declined to report Shortt and Pinckney’s statement labeling “government” schools “officially Godless” and “anti-Christian,” saying the decision about whether or not to use public schools lies with parents, and not the convention.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.