Failure to report a Southern Baptist Convention resolution calling for an exit strategy from public schools is not an affirmation of public education, but rather a strategic shift aimed at controlling the school system instead of withdrawing, according to a moderate leader.
Bruce Prescott, executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, termed Wednesday’s resolution on “Engaging the Direction of the Public School System” a “positive spin to a bold plan by Christian Nationalists, Dominionists and Christian Reconstructionists within the SBC to either takeover or destroy the public school system in America.”
“Instead of pressing for an immediate ‘exit strategy’ from the public schools, the SBC is encouraging Baptists to engage in political action to takeover the boards of education at public schools,” Prescott, a long-time observer of the religious right, said in a Weblog.
The resolution, drafted by a committee, borrowed language cataloguing problems with public education from an exit-strategy resolution proposed by Baptist laymen Bruce Shortt and Roger Moran, but replaced the exodus language with a call for engagement.
The statement adopted by the convention says “children are the blessed promise of our next generation, and we are obligated to secure their education” and “the loss of even one generation of children can adversely affect the spiritual dynamic of our nation.”
It notes that “in December 2005, a federal judge ruled in favor of government schools indoctrinating children with dogmatic Darwinism (Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District), which radically influences their view of origins,” that “public schools continue to adopt and implement curricula and policies teaching that the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable” and “a humanistic and secular orientation pervades much of the public school system.”
It says, “Children are our most important mission field, and the overwhelming majority of Christians have made the government school system their children’s teacher.”
The resolution affirms “the hundreds of thousands of Christian men and women who teach in our public schools” and encourages young people “who are seriously considering the teaching profession as a possible calling of God to pursue that calling.”
It finally encourages “all Southern Baptist churches to solicit individuals from their membership to engage the culture of our public school systems nationwide by running for election to their local school boards and exerting their godly influence upon these school systems.”
Alluding to media reports that portrayed the resolution as a rejection of the exit strategy, Prescott said EthicsDaily.com, which carried a story about it Thursday, “appears to be the only news source that realizes how the Resolutions Committee of the SBC has managed to give a positive spin to a bold plan by Christian Nationalists, Dominionists, and Christian Reconstructionists within the SBC to either takeover or destroy the public school system in America.”
In a “Kingdom Education Summit” held in conjunction with the SBC annual meeting, Ed Gamble, executive director of the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools, said instead of talking about withdrawing from the government school system, he has begun using positive language like “building a new public school system.”
“In our denomination the idea of public education is so deeply entrenched when you say something negative you are immediately on the defensive,” Gamble said.
Gamble said this generation of Americans as parents “has failed to pass the baton of spiritual truth to the next generation.”
“We’re not too bad at leading them to Christ, but we’re not doing well at discipling them,” he said.
Gamble said it is futile to expect children to receive a Christ-centered education in an institution that by law cannot honor Christ.
“To do kingdom education requires more than youth ministry and Sunday school,” he said. “Somehow we think we’re going to get the job done when 90 percent of parents send their child to a school that is secular. It’s not going to work.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.