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 ↑
Saying the church must not usurp parents’ authority in the home, the Southern Baptist Convention today voted down a resolution that urged members to pull their children out of government schools.
The vote occurred on the last day of the SBC’s annual meeting in Indianapolis, Ind.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the resolution, written by Baptist activists Bruce N. Shortt and T.C. Pinckney, calls on the millions of members of the denomination to take their kids out of public schools and either homeschool them or send them to Christian schools.
Shortt tells WND there were six resolutions on education the Resolutions Committee considered, and rather than referring any out to the floor of the convention, the panel offered a measure warning against “the cultural drift in our nation toward secularism.”
Said Shortt: “They didn’t want to touch this [government schools] issue; it’s radioactive.”
During consideration of the broader resolution on the floor, Pinckney rose to offer an amendment that would have incorporated most of his anti-public-schools proposal into the measure. After some lively debate, that amendment was defeated by a hand vote. Shortt estimated over 70 percent of the members voted no.
Shortt says there was “tremendous pressure” put on the Resolutions Committee by the president of the SBC and other officials not to refer out the schools resolution.
During the debate on the issue, Shortt said, “there was a parade of SBC leaders and members of the Resolutions Committee speaking vehemently against it.”
Shortt was grateful he and Pinckney were able to get the issue out before the 5,000 members in attendance.
“Frankly, if the leadership had reported it out favorably, it would have passed,” he noted. “With them being adamantly opposed, it is very hard to pass any sort of resolution.”
According to Shortt, some people want to take a similar resolution to their state Baptist conventions.
“The real point has been to raise this issue to a highly visible level,” he said, “and at that we have been very successful.”
Shortt was not surprised by the outcome, noting Baptists have traditionally supported government schooling.
“As a demographic group, Southern Baptists have been a slice of society that has supported government schools probably more consistently than anybody else,” Shortt said. “[Public schools] are almost viewed as a sacred institution.”
He says economic issues play into the issue, as many Baptist pastors have wives who work in the public schools and parishioners who are teachers and administrators.
According to the Associated Press, Rev. Calvin Wittman of Wheat Ridge, Colo., chairman of the Resolution Committee, said it is parents who must decide how to school their children.
He said the denomination must be careful “not to usurp the authority that God has placed firmly in the home,” and there isn’t enough consensus among church members to approve the resolution.
Shortt agreed there is a lack of consensus at this time within the church, but he emphasized the Bible commands parents to give their children a Christian education.
“A lot of these pastors are worried about church mortgages and jobs,” Shortt said, so they don’t want to risk alienating such a large group of church members.
Shortt is convinced that even though the resolution failed, people will take action to pull their kids out of government school after hearing the issue debated and publicized.
The defeated resolution used Scripture 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.”
Shortt told WND last month: “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. 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.”