A man who this summer called for a mass exodus of Southern Baptists from public schools now says sending children to a Christian school might not be enough.
Parents must also distinguish between schools that are “truly” Christian and those that are Christian only in name, says T.C. Pinckney, a retired Air Force general who unsuccessfully tried to get the Southern Baptist Convention to pass a resolution declaring government-run schools to be “godless” and “anti-Christian.”<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
“There are schools that have Christian in their name or perhaps some denomination in their name, and perhaps they open the school day over the intercom [with prayer] and close it with prayer over the intercom,” Pinckney said in the August 2004 American Family Association Journal. “But they use exactly the same materials and have the exact same academic perspective that government schools do.”
He advised parents wanting to send their children to Christian schools to visit the schools and “examine the textbooks, sit in on some classes, talk to the principal, observe the students” and also to pay attention to the type of dress and language at the school.
E. Ray Moore, director of Exodus Mandate, who supported the resolution co-authored by Pinckney and <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Houston attorney Bruce Shortt, said three warning signs parents should look for in deciding whether to place their children in public schools are secular curriculum, non-Christian teachers and peer pressure.
A committee at the June SBC gathering in Indianapolis declined to recommend Pinckney and Shortt’s resolution, which said that Bible holds parents, and not the government, accountable for the education of their children. Convention messengers also rejected efforts by Pinckney to amend a resolution on “secularization” to include some of the language from his proposal.
Among opposition to the resolution, which gained widespread media attention prior to the annual convention, was that it is helpful for Christian teachers to have students who are Christians to bring a positive influence into secular schools.
While Pinckney’s resolution commended efforts of adults who choose careers in public education because they view it as a mission field, he said children need to be nurtured and trained, not sent out as missionaries.
“If the United States gets into war where we have to draft soldiers, we do not draft soldiers one day and put them into combat the next,” he said. “They’re not ready for it. They have to be trained.”
While Pinckney and supporters failed to get their resolution passed, they hope the effort paid off by informing parents about what they believe it will take to save children from “government” schools.
“If we save our children, we may save our churches,” said Moore, a retired Army Reserve chaplain and political consultant who according to his online resume worked on former Vice President Dan Quayle’s first campaign for Senate and Pat Robertson’s campaign for president. “And having saved our churches, we still, at this late hour, may have saved our nation. So we feel this is an agenda for revival and renewal and the re-Christianization of America.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.