A second member of the Southern Baptist Convention resolutions committee is on record as agreeing there needs to be an “exit strategy” from public schools.
According to Agape Press, Ida Mae South declined to comment directly on a specific proposed resolution calling on the denomination to develop a plan for helping Baptist parents to leave the government’s schools, while also providing for needs of the poor, orphans and single parents.
But South, a member of the SBC Executive Committee with a term expiring in 2009, told the American Family Association news service she believes schools are getting worse and most teach a completely secular worldview.
“I think we who are in areas where there’s very little problem are kind of shaken when we find that someone is about to sue because their child heard the word ‘God’ mentioned in school,” she said. “So even those of us in areas that have very little problem are beginning to wake up to realize that we do have problems.”
Another resolutions committee member, Darrell Orman, said earlier he believes the committee ought to bring the resolution to the convention floor for a vote.
A retired educator and member of First Baptist Church in Mathison, Miss., South is one of 10 committee members who begin meeting Thursday to review resolutions on a variety of topics submitted by messengers for possible action at next week’s SBC annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C.
Last year the SBC passed a resolution urging churches and parents to investigate whether their local schools promote acceptance of homosexuality and demand removal of offensive material.
South said homosexuality is a symptom of deeper problems. “The teaching of homosexuality as being perfectly normal is more or less a symbol of what’s wrong with our schools,” she said, “because all the other things kind of fit in with that.”
The new resolution, co-sponsored by Roger Moran, a Missouri layman who serves alongside South on the Executive Committee, and Bruce Shortt, who co-authored two previous resolutions on the topic, says the situation that prompted last year’s statement is only getting worse.
It denounces both a federal court ruling in December 2005 outlawing the teaching of intelligent design–as indoctrinating children with “dogmatic Darwinianism”–and a November ruling that parents have no right to stop schools from teaching their children about sex.
The resolution urges Southern Baptists to heed a call last year by Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler, who wrote in a column, “I believe that now is the time for responsible Southern Baptists to develop an exit strategy from the public schools.”
Mohler repeated the call on a recent radio broadcast. “I’m not saying that I can say for everyone that now is the time when they have to pull out of the public schools,” he said on “The Albert Mohler Program” May 3. “I am saying that it’s our responsibility at the very least to have a strategy so that we would know what we would do with our children and with the children of our churches as well as the children of our family, should we come to the conclusion that it is that time.”
Southern Seminary is a sponsor of a “Kingdom Education Summit,” which supports the exit-strategy call, scheduled next Wednesday in conjunction with the SBC meeting in Greensboro. Another seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is also a sponsor. Both schools have faculty members speaking on the program.
Two years ago the resolutions committee refused to report a resolution co-written by Shortt and former convention officer T.C. Pinckney calling for a mass exodus by Southern Baptists from public schools. Some SBC leaders, while personally supportive of private Christian education, opposed the resolution then, saying it is up to the parents, not the convention, to make choices about educating their children.
An education resolution adopted by the convention in 2005, however, urged parents a “to research and monitor the entertainment and educational influences on children” and “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, to ensure their physical, moral, emotional, and spiritual well-being, with a goal of raising godly men and women who are thoroughly equipped to live as fully devoted followers of Christ.”
For most SBC leaders that choice is increasingly church-sponsored Christian academies, and homeschooling is becoming the norm on campuses of some seminaries.
Both daughters of Jerry Sutton, pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., and the most recent candidate to announce he will be nominated for SBC president, are graduates of Donelson Christian Academy, who went on to study at Liberty University.
Page will get a chance to discuss the exit strategy whether or not it comes to the floor. SBC President Bobby Welch appointed him to be a member of this year’s resolutions committee.
Page is being nominated for president by Forrest Pollock, pastor of BellShoalsBaptistChurch in Brandon, Fla., another resolutions committee member.
Page’s Church, First Baptist of Taylors, which is the top contributor in dollar amount to the Cooperative Program in the South Carolina Baptist Convention, does not sponsor a Christian school.
Pollock’s church, Bell Shoals Baptist, does–a K-8 ministry named Bell Shoals Baptist Academy.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.