|Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum and an organization that advocates Christian schooling as an alternative to public schools are part of a new coalition calling on California parents to remove their children from public schools.
Exodus Mandate, a South Carolina-based ministry that has previously called on the Southern Baptist Convention to boycott public schools nationwide, is among 12 Christian grassroots organizations, five of which are based in California, endorsing the Campaign for Children and Families' call for California families and churches to rescue their children from the state's public schools.
The Exodus Mandate promotes K-12 Christian and home-based education and seeks to reframe the national debate away from reforming public education toward families and churches choosing Christian schools or home schooling for their children.
"The biblical and theological case for Christian families and churches to practice K-12 Christian schooling or home schooling is strong," said E. Ray Moore, a retired Army Reserve chaplain and Gulf War I veteran who founded the Exodus Mandate 10 years ago. "Christians should begin with the belief that children belong to the Lord and are a stewardship of the family, not the state."
The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's second-largest faith group behind Roman Catholics, has so far declined in annual resolutions to go on record as supporting a mass exodus from public schools, but an influential theologian being nominated in June as the convention's next president has advocated an "exit strategy" from public schools.
"I am convinced that the time has come for Christians to develop an exit strategy from the public schools," Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes in a new book, Culture Shift.
"The strategy would also affirm the responsibility of churches to equip parents, support families and offer alternatives," he writes. "At the same time, this strategy must acknowledge that Christian 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."
The new California coalition formed after a failed effort for a voter referendum to repeal legislation signed last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that conservative critics say mandates public school to indoctrinate children to accept homosexuality as normal.
"Many of us have worked to reform public schools," Schlafly said in a press release. "Unfortunately, SB 777 and the related legislation represent a repudiation of 2,000 years of Christian moral teaching on human sexuality, marriage and the family. The result is that California's schools are now promoting behaviors and lifestyles that are physically and spiritually dangerous for children. Consequently, in California, parents must try to find alternatives to the public schools."
Randy Thomasson of the California-based Campaign for Children and Families said he has seen the trend away from parental rights and toward sexual indoctrination of children coming for several years.
"First, the law allowed public schools to voluntarily promote homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality," Thomasson said. "Then the law required public schools to accept homosexual, bisexual and transsexual teachers as role models for impressionable children. Now, the law has been changed to effectively require the positive portrayal of homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality to six million children in California government-controlled schools. To rescue their children, loving parents need to find an alternative to government schools, and every church needs to make it a priority to help parents be in charge of their children's education again."
Bruce Shortt, author of The Harsh Truth About Public Schools and the leading Southern Baptist proponent of the Exodus Mandate, said telling children that sexual orientation and gender are relative and merely a matter of personal choice will send additional messages that they must reach their own conclusions about their own sexuality and that they can't really tell whether they would like something unless they try it. "The likely consequences of this for children, the institution of the family, our churches and our culture are horrendous," he said.
Last fall Exodus Mandate honored Shortt, a Houston attorney and home-school father, for his efforts to promote Christian education and home schooling in the SBC. Shortt shared the award with T.C. Pinckney, a former second vice president of the SBC. Pinckney, a retired Air Force brigadier general, spoke in 2001 to the SBC Executive Committee, the denomination's most powerful legislative body, about the need to respond to "anti-Christian government schools."
"The ideal, most biblical solution is for parents to teach their children, to be home-schoolers," Pinckney said. "All our churches should welcome and openly encourage home-schoolers. But clearly many parents cannot or will not home-school. For their children we need to start large numbers of Christian schools."
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
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