Southern Baptists decide not to make history

By Samuel Blumenfeld

The Southern Baptist Convention could have made history at their meeting last June in Indianapolis if they had voted in favor of the Christian Education Resolution submitted by T.C. Pinckney and Bruce Shortt.

The purpose of the resolution was to get Baptists to remove their children from the public schools and either educate them at home or in good Christian schools. It would have required Southern Baptists to create schools of their own in which their children could be educated in the love and admonition of the Lord.

The atheist, anti-Christian public schools would have been dealt a tremendous blow if millions of Christian children were removed from the public schools, causing a virtual revolution in American education. The acceptance of that resolution would have given Christian education in America a tremendous boost.

The resolution was introduced on the floor on June 16, but failed to pass. Pinckney and Shortt made an effort to amend another resolution decrying the secularization of American culture. The debate lasted about 15 minutes, and the majority of the 8,500 attendees rejected the resolution. However, the very fact that the resolution was submitted and gained a tremendous amount of media publicity is considered something of a partial victory by its sponsors.

Actually, between 20 and 30 percent of the delegates favored the resolution. But apparently too many Southern Baptist ministers didn’t want to rock the public-education boat because there are so many teachers and administrators in their congregations, particularly in small towns.

And that is why the humanists and atheists continue to win more and more Christian children over to their side. Too many Baptists are willing to sacrifice their own children on the altar of secular government education rather than take the more difficult stand on principle.

Despite this setback, the movement to separate Christian children from the public schools continues to grow. E. Ray Moore, director of the Exodus Mandate Project, sees the resolution as just the first attempt to influence the Southern Baptist Convention. The sponsors plan to submit similar resolutions at future conventions until it is finally accepted.

Marshall Fritz, president of the Alliance for the Separation of School & State, recently announced the creation of a new division of his organization, Its purpose is to alert Christian parents “of the staggering loss of faith in children who attend public schools.”

According to Fritz, “Studies by George Barna, the Nehemiah Institute, and the Southern Baptist Convention show that 70 to 88 percent of children from Christian families will leave the faith after graduation.”

It was the outpouring of media coverage and popular interest in the resolution that persuaded Fritz that the much-needed national dialogue on the subject has just begun and had to be continued vigorously. His organization plans to produce a study kit for churches informing them of how serious the loss of faith by youth has been in their communities and how to address the problem.

Although the Southern Baptists chose not to make history, history does provide us with some important lessons. Back in 1849, when the Protestants of Massachusetts were debating whether or not to support the secular public-school movement, they decided in favor of support, but with some very strong reservations. They wrote in their Committee Report:

The benefits of this system, in offering instruction to all, are so many and so great that its religious deficiencies – especially since they can be otherwise supplied, do not seem to be a sufficient reason for abandoning it, and adopting in place of it, a system of denominational parochial schools …

If after a full and faithful experiment, it should at last be seen that fidelity to the religious interests of our children forbids a further patronage of the system, we can unite with the Evangelical Christians in the establishment of private schools, in which more full doctrinal religious instruction may be possible.

No Christian can deny that a “full and faithful experiment” has taken place and has turned out to be a colossal disaster for the “religious interests” of Christian children. As a result, millions of Christian parents are now educating their children at home, creating a vibrant Christian homeschool movement.

By now, the Southern Baptist Convention should have seen the handwriting on the wall. It is time for Christians to acknowledge the failure of the public-school experiment and do what must be done.