Are Southern Baptists About To Abandon Government Schools?
recently submitted to the Southern Baptist Convention for its annual
meeting to be held in Indianapolis on June 1516 calls on parents
in this country’s largest Protestant denomination to pull their
children out of government schools, and either homeschool them or
send them to private Christian schools.
S.C. native Thomas C. Pinckney, a retired Air Force brigadier general
and longstanding critic of state-sponsored education, and Bruce
Shortt, a Texas attorney, jointly submitted the resolution. Pinckney
is a past Second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention
and publishes The Baptist Banner from Alexandria, Va. His
voice carries a great deal of weight within the denomination, which
has over 43,000 churches with more than 16.3 million members. Shortt
is Texas coordinator for the South Carolina-based Exodus
Mandate project. The Resolution has caused enough of a stir
to warrant coverage in major newspapers around the country.
several years now Exodus Mandate has been calling on Christian parents
to abandon Pharaoh’s school system, as Exodus Mandate founder Rev.
E. Ray Moore calls it in his book Let
My Children Go (2002). In his book Rev. Moore argues in
detail that government schools were a bad idea to begin with. From
the start they were steeped in assumptions that were both anti-Christian
and alien to the principles on which the United States was founded.
For example, the government schools initially established in Massachusetts
by Horace Mann and his Unitarian cohorts followed what has become
known as the "Prussian model," holding that the individual
should be educated into the service of the omnipotent state. Despite
all the efforts afoot to "reform" government schools,
the problems are intrinsic to the government education model itself.
Therefore they cannot be reformed, and we shouldn’t try.
to the strongly-worded resolution, "children taught in the
government schools are receiving an anti-Christian education"
because "government schools are by their own confession humanistic
and secular in their instruction, [thus] the education offered by
the government schools is officially Godless …" and "millions
of children in government schools spend 7 hours a day, 180 days
a year being taught that God is irrelevant to every area
of life …" (italics in original).
resolution also cites the growing acceptability of homosexuality
by government schools as evidence of their corruption: "homosexual
organizations are present as approved student ‘clubs’ in thousands
of government schools and are spreading rapidly … Just as it would
be fooling for the warrior to give his arrows to his enemies, it
is foolish for Christians to give their children to be trained in
schools run by the enemies of God."
and Shortt also invite us to consider a study by the Nehemiah
Institute based on extensive surveys of student worldviews,
attitudes and beliefs. According to this study, children growing
up in Christian homes tend more and more to adopt a humanist worldview
after attending government schools. The Institute has discovered
"that acceptance of a secular humanist worldview by Christian
children attending government schools has increased dramatically
over the last fifteen years … the Southern Baptist Council on Family
Life reported to the 2002 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist
Convention that 88 percent of the children raised in evangelical
homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return; …"
Resolution thus urges Christian parents "to remove their children
from the government schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly
Christian education …" It also urges Southern Baptist churches
to offer facilities where Christian education may be delivered:
"Be it further resolved that the 2004 Annual Meeting of the
Southern Baptist Convention encourages all churches associated with
the Southern Baptist Convention to work energetically to counsel
parents regarding their obligation to provide their children with
a Christian education" and "to provide all of their children
with Christian alternatives to government school education, either
through home schooling or thoroughly Christian private schools."
and foremost, argues the Resolution, are Scriptural reasons: "the
Bible commands that fathers are to bring up their children in the
training and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6: 4)." In his book
Rev. Moore cites a number of relevant passages. Deut. 6: 6-7 says,
"And these words which I command you today shall be in your
heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall
talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way,
when you lie down, when you rise up." Proverbs 22: 6 is also
telling: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when
he is old, he will not depart from it."
to paraphrase Rev. Moore, Scripture commands parents to assume control
of their children’s education with assistance from the church.
second reason is Constitutional. Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution
mention education as a federal responsibility. The Framers considered
education to be a matter for states and local communities to undertake.
The bottom line from a Constitutional point of view therefore is
that under any literal reading of the Constitution, the massive
federalization of government schools in recent years is blatantly
are other reasons Southern Baptists (or others) might consider abandoning
government schools. These have to do with government schools’ increasing
failure to educate. For over 20 years now, their decline has been
in evidence, with the well known study "A Nation At Risk"
(1983) sounding the first official alarms. Moreover, the more money
the federal government has thrown at the schools, the worse they
have gotten. Billions have been spent on public education since
Jimmy Carter created the U.S. Department of Education in the late
1970s. From 1970 to 1995, per-pupil expenditures in government schools
increased by over 75 percent. In the 20002001 school year,
per-pupil expenditures surpassed $7,000 per pupil, with little evidence
of significant improvement. According to the U.S. Department of
Education’s own statistics and recent NAEP assessments, only 31
percent of 4th graders can read proficiently. Only 32
percent can do simple arithmetic. Only 29 percent have gained any
proficiency in science. Only 18 percent have learned any U.S. history.
the mid-1980s I taught logic at a flagship state university. In
the mid-1990s I also taught logic at another flagship state university.
The difference was akin to day versus night. I could cover material
in the 1980s that I could not begin to cover by the mid-1990s! Other
instructors from elsewhere in the country told me similar stories.
We had all experienced a precipitous across-the-board decline in
the level of student preparedness for college-level work. Faculty
members should have been sounding the alarm, but too many were busy
with their own politically correct agendas.
after Goals 2000 and the blatantly anti-intellectual School-To-Work
model, followed up by its current stepchild No Child Left Behind,
arguably the most intrusive (and expensive) federal program in U.S.
history, there is no concrete, agreed-upon evidence of government
schools’ improvement. There is, however, abundant evidence that
we live in a dumbed-down land. There are adult Americans who cannot
tell you who the vice president is, name their state’s senators
(or tell you how many U.S. senators there are), or, say, walk up
to a wall map of the world and point to Iraq. Indeed, some cannot
even find the United States!
are producing a generation, moreover, whose reasoning abilities
and capacity to evaluate information are astoundingly low. Just
recently I had a conversation with an acquaintance who was complaining
about the high price of gas. I pointed out that if you adjust for
inflation, prices at the pumps were actually higher under the Carter
Administration. "But I’m paying more today than anyone did
then!" she retorted. It dawned on me that the concept of adjusting
for inflation was simply beyond her. She had only the vaguest idea
what I was talking about.
presentations on health topics ranging from first aid to stroke
prevention education are now presented at what would once have been
considered a sixth-grade reading level. Even then, crucial information
is often not processed by listeners unless the speaker resorts to
scare tactics. It is as if the listeners’ minds have been somehow
shut off to whatever does not affect them directly and immediately.
to Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, the
dumbing down of America has been systematic and deliberate the
product of elite operatives who began their work on government schools
almost a hundred years ago often just following the assumptions
of those who created government schools. They worked through highly
secretive organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations
and immense tax-exempt foundations such as that of Rockefeller.
The promotion of materialism and humanism was no accident. The architects
of the current educational world order relied upon the thoroughly
materialist theories in "experimental psychology" (such
as those of Wilhelm Wundt) and regarded children as the moral equivalent
of animals. The Rockefeller Foundation bankrolled John Dewey’s "progressive
education" which began the long, intergenerational process
of dumbing down. The schools were further corrupted when Alfred
C. Kinsey’s theories of sexuality also materialist through and through broke
the ties between sexuality and Judeo-Christian moral imperatives,
and these were incorporated into government schools in the guise
of "sexuality education."
of course, was long before the federal government fully centralized
its educational system through the Carter-created U.S. Department
of Education, and we moved toward the School-To-Work model pushed
by the Clintons and their cronies in the mid-1990s. According to
this model, education is exclusively vocational; children should
be tracked into one of a fairly specific set of occupations by their
middle-school years, with their subsequent learning to be tracked
around these. Thus they serve the purposes of big government and
big business rather than being allowed to find their own way in
life. The long-term goal: a population of sheep, suited to work
in a global planned economy regulated by a world government.
light of all this, not just Southern Baptists but all Christians
and all people who wish to live lives free of the fetters
of the omnipresent and omnipotent state have plenty of reason
to leave the federal government’s (Pharaoh’s) school system. Clearly,
government schools are producing graduates utterly unsuited to live
in a free society. There is no need to fear that abandoning government
schools means abandoning education as educrats will argue
hysterically if this resolution is adopted. We now have evidence
that homeschooled children are usually around four years ahead of
their government-schooled counterparts in every major subject area.
They win awards, go on to attend prestigious universities, and even
occasionally write books.
adopt the resolution would be a radical step for Southern Baptists,
who have always assumed that Christianity and government education
were compatible. However, given the tailspin government schools
have been in during the past few decades, when the Southern Baptist
Convention holds its annual meeting in Indianapolis beginning on
June 15, the nation’s largest Christian denomination might just
reconsider its stance. If it does, we can expect shock waves to
reverberate through this country’s education establishment.
May 29, 2004
Yates [send him mail]
Ph.D. in philosophy and is the author of Civil
Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action
(1994). He is an adjunct scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
His new book, In
Defense of Logic,
is almost completed. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina, and plans
to launch his author’s website soon.
© 2004 LewRockwell.com