Ron Strom is commentary editor of WND, a post he took after serving as a news editor since 2000. Prior to coming on board with WND, Strom worked in politics in California. Married and the father of two homeschool graduates, he has served in leadership positions in his church, local nonprofit boards and in county government.More ↓Less ↑
A resolution supporters hope will make it to the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting next month calls on the millions of members of the denomination to pull their kids out of government schools and either homeschool them or send them to Christian schools.
Introduced by a well-known leader of the SBC and a Baptist attorney, the resolution asks “all officers and members of the Southern Baptist Convention and the churches associated with it to remove their children from the government schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education, for the glory of God, the good of Christ’s church, and the strength of their own commitment to Jesus.”
The authors use Scripture in the resolution to argue those Baptists who trust the public-school system with their children are being disobedient to God.
“Government schools are by their own confession humanistic and secular in their instruction, [and] the education offered by the government schools is officially Godless,” the measure states.
Noting that “the millions of children in government schools spend seven hours a day, 180 days a year being taught that God is irrelevant to every area of life,” the resolution says, “Many Christian children in government schools are converted to an anti-Christian worldview rather than evangelizing their schoolmates.”
The measure is sponsored by T.C. Pinckney, a retired brigadier general who has been active in SBC leadership for several years, and Bruce N. Shortt, a homeschooing dad and attorney who holds advanced degrees from both Harvard and Stanford.
Shortt says the biggest problem he faces in pushing the resolution is that Christian parents are in denial about the dangers of government schools.
“At this point, there are many, many pastors and parents who need to be educated about our obligation to provide a Christian education to our children,” Shortt told WND. “In time, most [SBC members] are going to understand better that the little red schoolhouse has really become the little white sepulcher, and it’s a seething cauldron of spiritual, moral and academic pathologies.”
Shortt says when he talks to parents, he frames the issue very quickly.
“The issue is this,” he said, “the government schools are killing our children morally, spiritually and academically. The question we confront as Christian parents is, how dead do we want our children to be?”
He says he views the issue as one of “spiritual blindness,” noting that roughly 85 percent of Christians send their children to government schools.
“If you had a congregation where 85 percent of the people had a drug problem or an adultery problem, you’d hear about it from the pulpit,” he said, “and yet in most churches right now, this is an issue that’s not discussed.”
The activist says he considers sending children to government schools as “the grossest kind of sin,” saying Christians don’t want to be confronted with the issue because it would be inconvenient and financially challenging to kick the public-school habit.
Both Pinckney and Shortt are involved in a ministry called Exodus Mandate, which seeks to educate Christians about the nature of public schools and encourages them to take their children out of that environment.
The resolution went to the SBC Resolutions Committee on April 29. That panel typically makes recommendations to the full convention.
Shortt says he hopes to get an up-or-down vote on the floor of the convention in Indianapolis during the event, which is slated for the second week of June.
“Whether it’s voted up or down this time is really not the issue,” he said. “What we have to do is simply get a hearing for the issue and begin the debate.”
Shortt says a “liberal element” got control of the SBC in the ’60s and ’70s, but that conservatives began taking control in the 1980s. He says the new leadership repaired what he called the “theological damage that was done to the SBC,” and now he is working to repair the “cultural damage.” Part of that mission includes exhorting members to educate their children in a Christian manner.
“Much of the SBC leadership understands this issue now,” Shortt said. “Jack Graham, who is the current president, is very supportive of Christian education.”
Part of Shortt’s goal, he says, is to see more Baptist schools started around the country to which members could send their children.
“It’s a big job,” he comment, “because we have roughly 42,000 churches affiliated with the convention and only 650 schools.”
Though some homschooling advocates also shun age-segregated Christian schools, which they don’t see as much different from government schools, the resolution includes the option of sending children to private, Christian institutions.
“There are people who feel called to homeschool,” Short said, “and I think it’s a wonderful thing if they do. I also think there are some parents who for one reason or another believe that they can’t [homeschool] or would prefer not to.”
Both Pinckney and Shortt plan to be at the annual meeting of the convention next month to argue for their resolution.
Shortt predicts if 10-15 percent of children are pulled from government schools, the “$500 billion behemoth” will be delegitimized and will collapse financially – both results he welcomes.
If the resolution were to pass, the attorney says, it would not only “send shockwaves through the Southern Baptist Convention,” but other conservatives in other denominations would take up the issue and push similar measures.
Shortt says he hopes the resolution impresses on Christians the need “to focus on rescuing our children from Pharaoh’s schools.”