Fundamentalist leaders Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler are endorsing a book written by the catalyst for a failed effort to get the Southern Baptist Convention to pass a resolution calling for a mass exodus from public schools.
Houston attorney and home-school parent Bruce Shortt said the duo which pioneered the SBC’s conservative movement provide “two key endorsements” for his book, The Harsh Truth About Public Schools, likely to influence future conversations about public education.
“It’s going to become more interesting, I think,” Shortt said in a recent interview.
The book is published by the Chalcedon Foundation, an educational organization described on its Web site as devoted to research, publishing and “promoting Christian reconstruction in all areas of life.”
While the book’s title uses the term “public” schools, Shortt prefers the term “government” schools to indicate his belief that schools are controlled not by local taxpayers and parents, but rather by the federal government, courts and teacher unions.
Those schools, he said, are increasingly hostile to Christianity, in ways that most parents don’t realize. Shortt contends that the Bible holds parents accountable for securing a Christian education for their children, which is undermined when they are sent to a public school that promotes a secular worldview and suppresses religious expression.
“Contrary to what many Christians have been led to believe, there is no such thing as a ‘neutral’ education,” Shortt writes in the book. “All education is religious and conveys a worldview, and there is no more important decision that we make as parents than how we educate our children.”
Shortt said too many Christian parents “allow an aggressively anti-Christian institution to form the minds of their children,” where evangelical teens are taught there is no such thing as absolute truth and indoctrinated to believe homosexual behavior is acceptable.
“It is sad that the condition documented in this book actually exists in a nation founded on the principles of religious liberty,” Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote in recommending Shortt’s book to readers “with courage and a desire to know the truth.”
Pressler, a retired appeals court judge from Houston, who along with Patterson engineered the “resurgence” that transformed the nation’s largest Protestant group into one of its most conservative, also wrote an endorsement.
“Bruce Shortt clearly and forcefully sets forth overwhelming evidence of the anti-Christian bias in parts of the public school system,” Pressler wrote. “This book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the future of the United States.”
Others endorsing the book include D. James Kennedy, senior minister of Coral Ridge Ministries in Florida, and Voddie Baucham, a Bible teacher who has written a book published by LifeWay Christian Resources and was a featured speaker at last summer’s SBC Pastors Conference in Indianapolis.
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. T.C. Pinckney, the co-author of Shortt’s anti-public school resolution last summer, wrote the book’s forward, quoting from Chapter 6, “A Christian education must impart a Christian worldview in which the sovereignty of God and the central role of Jesus Christ in human history and affairs are understood by every Christian child.”
“Do you really think it is possible for a child to receive such an education in a government school?” asked Pinckney, a former SBC second vice president who served on the convention’s Executive Committee and now edits The Baptist Banner, a newsletter for conservative Baptists.
Pinckney and Shortt’s resolution urged all officers and members of the Southern Baptist Convention “to remove their children from the government schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education.”
It encouraged churches to “counsel parents regarding their obligation to provide their children with a Christian education” and to “provide all of their children with Christian alternatives to government school education, either through home schooling or thoroughly Christian private schools.”
The SBC resolutions committee refused to bring Shortt and Pinckney’s controversial resolution to the floor for a vote at the convention last June, but it received much media attention in the weeks prior to the annual meeting in Indianapolis.
In November, the Missouri Baptist Convention adopted a toned-down version of the resolution warning against “the inherent dangers of secular educational philosophies” in public schools.
Shortt, Texas coordinator of an anti-public school organization called Exodus Mandate, responds to arguments that some parents don’t have time to home-school or can’t afford private school tuition by saying there are “hybrid” models of Christian education besides those two options that are within the reach of every family and church.
He writes that every church ought to be counseling parents to remove their children from “government” schools and discussing with parents of limited means how to accomplish that goal. He also says every church should support home-schooling groups and collaborate with other congregations “to find ways of bringing every Christian child out from government school bondage.”
Established in 1965 by R.J. Rushdoony to battle “secular humanism,” the Chalcedon Foundation’s activities include “foundational and leadership roles in Christian reconstruction,” according the Chalcedon.edu Web site.
The group emphasizes what it calls a “Cultural or Dominion Mandate” drawn from Gen. 1:28 and the “necessity of a return to Biblical Law.”
Bruce Prescott of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists describes “Christian Reconstructionism” as “a militant Biblicism.”
“If Rushdoony and his disciples had their way, democracy would be abolished and a Christian theocracy would be established,” Prescott wrote in 2002, “a theocracy based on the Bible along the lines of John Cotton’s Massachusetts Bay Colony.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.