A "Kingdom Education" leader in the Southern Baptist Convention says America needs a new Christian-run "public" school system committed to turning out followers of Jesus Christ.
"We have allowed Satan to run his strategy … 'own the schools, and I will own the culture,'" Ed Gamble, director of Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools in Orlando, Fla., wrote in an opinion article in the Florida Baptist Witness.
Gamble said Christian children are "actively discipled" by the people who spend the most time teaching them. "So it is no wonder then that Christian students are involved in binge drinking, drug use, sexual experimentation and dishonesty with nearly the same frequency as unchurched youth," he said.
"What is needed," Gamble continued, "is a new 'public' school system, one that is open to the public but owned and operated by the Body of Christ."
Gamble asked readers to imagine "what if" the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, opened its largely empty church buildings during the week to start thousands of Christian schools to replace America's public-education system.
"Funding is not the problem, faith is," Gamble said. "Would God honor such a grand vision for making disciples by providing every needed resource? He will!"
"Ask God to give us America's children," Gamble said. "When Jesus owns the schools, He will own the culture and the hearts of the children!"
The Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools is a professional organization for K-12 Christian schools.
According to a Web site, the SBACS is committed to programs "that encourage and support excellence in Christian education, a biblical worldview in curriculum and admissions policies that make Christian education available to all students regardless of race, national or ethnic origin."
The group recently held a second annual event, co-sponsored with the Florida Baptist Convention, titled "Christian Schools 101." Last year it led a first-of-its-kind Kingdom Education Summit.
More recently, supporters of homeschooling and church-run Christian schools met at the Southern Baptist Convention last June in Nashville, Tenn.
Messengers at that convention adopted a resolution on education that urged parents and churches to "research and monitor" the entertainment and educational influences on children, to hold schools accountable for their moral influence and for Christian parents to "fully embrace their responsibility to make prayerful and informed decisions regarding where and how they educate their children."
In a separate article in the Baptist newspaper, Gamble identified a twofold strategy he saw coming out of the summit. Homeschoolers backed a "family-to-family" initiative advanced by E. Ray Moore of Exodus Mandate to attract a half-million more homeschooled students, while SBACS set a goal to start thousands of Christian schools in SBC churches.
There are currently about 600 Christian schools that are supported and operated by Southern Baptist churches and state conventions.
Gamble said Southern Baptist educators take their mandate not from the SBC resolution, but Article 12 of the Baptist Faith & Message, which calls for "an adequate system of Christian education," as part of a "complete spiritual program for Christ's people."
Gamble's harsh assessment of public schools contrasts with earlier comments opposing a pending resolution before the Southern Baptist Convention in 2004. The proposed resolution, which eventually died in committee, denounced "government" schools as "officially Godless" and "anti-Christian," and warned that secular education was undermining Christian values of churchgoing youth.
"This is not mainstream," Gamble was quoted as saying about the resolution, which advocated a mass exodus from public schools. "I oppose it. The language parts of it are inflammatory."
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
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