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Columnist Says ID Ruling Should Prompt Exodus from Public Schools

A judge’s decision banning the teaching of intelligent design in a Dover, Pa., school district should convince Christian parents to remove their children from public schools, conservative columnist Cal Thomas wrote last week.

The Dec. 20 ruling by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones that teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution is an unconstitutional establishment of religion “should persuade parents who’ve been waffling to take their kids and join the growing exodus from state schools into educational environments more conducive to their beliefs,” said Thomas, whose twice-weekly column appears in more than 600 newspapers.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Thomas, a former religious-right insider who in 2000 co-authored Blinded By Might, a book arguing the Moral Majority had failed and urging evangelicals to withdraw from secular politics, said religious conservatives now should wake up to the futility of trying to force secular schools to reflect their beliefs.
 
“Religious parents should exercise the opportunity that has always been theirs,” Thomas wrote. “They should remove their children from state schools with their instruction manuals for turning them into secular liberals, and place them in private schools–or home school them–where they will be taught the truth, according to their parents’ beliefs.”
 
“Too many parents, who would never send their children to a church on Sunday that taught doctrines they believed to be wrong, have had no problem placing them in state schools five days a week where they are taught conflicting doctrines and ideas,” he said.
 
While private schooling or home schooling costs extra money, Thomas said, children are worth the cost.
 
“Surely, a child is more valuable than material possessions,” he wrote. “Our children are our letters to the future. It’s up to parents to decide whether they want to send them ‘first class’ or ‘postage due.'”
 
Thomas’ column is the latest boost to a growing “Christian education” movement encouraging parents to accept responsibility for educating their children and to remove them from the government school system and either enroll them in church-run schools or personally teach them at home.
 
The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s second-largest denomination behind Catholics, in June adopted a resolution urging parents and churches to investigate whether their local schools are trying to indoctrinate children into accepting homosexuality and, if so, to pull them out of public schools.
 
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Bruce Shortt, a sponsor of the SBC resolution, wrote a Dec. 20 column in WorldNetDaily.com contending that unless parents develop an “exit strategy” from public schools, a large percentage of their children’s generation will cease to be Christian.
 
Shortt, a Houston attorney and leader in the Exodus Mandate movement promoting private home schooling, quoted a study recognizing that failure of Jewish families to provide their children with religious education is resulting in greater numbers of younger Jews who are estranged from Judaism. Citing studies by George Barna and Christian Smith, he said, the same could be said about Christianity.
 
Anthony Gordon and Richard Horowitz “make their point poignantly by asking Jewish parents, ‘Will your grandchildren be Jews?'” Shortt said. “For Christians the relevant question is, ‘Will your children be Christians.’ Unless parents and pastors decide to change their priorities, the data from Barna and others demonstrate that the answer is clearly ‘no’ for 90 percent or more of Christian parents.”
 
Heading into Baptist state conventions this fall, Exodus Mandate sent out a press release saying resolutions modeled after the SBC’s call for investigation of homosexual activism in schools would be introduced in state and regional conventions covering 28 states.
 
While a number of conventions did not bring resolutions to a vote, at least eight passed resolutions related to either education or homosexual “activism.”
 
The Tennessee Baptist Convention, according to the Baptist & Reflector, adopted a resolution offered “in the spirit and letter” of the SBC resolution urging parents to monitor and investigate educational influences on children.
 
The Kentucky Baptist Convention passed a resolution warning that “homosexual activists and their allies are devoting substantial resources and using political power to promote the acceptance among schoolchildren of homosexuality as a morally legitimate lifestyle.”
 
The Kentucky resolution urged parents and churches to “research and monitor the entertainment and educational influences on children” and to “exercise their rights to investigate diligently the curricula, textbooks and programs in our community schools and to demand discontinuation of offensive material and programs.”
 
It also called on Christian parents to “fully embrace their responsibility to make prayerful and
informed decisions regarding where and how they educate their children, whether they choose public, private or home schooling, to ensure their physical, moral, emotional and spiritual well-being, with a goal of raising godly men and women who are thoroughly equipped to live as fully devoted followers of Christ.”
 
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, Missouri Baptist Convention, Northwest Baptist Convention and Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma all passed resolutions on parental involvement in education, according to news reports, while the Arkansas Baptist State Convention adopted a resolution countering “homosexual activism.”
 
The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware formed a committee to research how to make Maryland public-school curriculum more biblical and family friendly.
 
The South Carolina, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and Southern Baptists of Texas conventions all adopted resolutions supporting the teaching of intelligent design.
 
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
 
Previous related stories:
2005 Year in Review
Sympathy for Advocates of Intelligent Design
Resolution Sponsor Says Anti-Public School Sentiment Growing Among Southern Baptists
Southern Baptists Call for Investigation of Public Schools
PCA Rejects Resolution Against Public Schools
Baptist Newspaper Calls for Education Resolution
Family Groups Endorse SBC Resolution
Resolutions Committee Called on to Report School Resolution
Southern Baptist Leaders Need to Be Honest About Public Schools
Baptist Press Silent on Homosexuality in Schools Resolution
BP Burned Before Over Public vs. Private Schools
Experts Offer Supporting Testimony for Resolution on Homosexuality and Schools
Proposed SBC Resolution Decries Public Schools as ‘Toxic’
Proposed SBC Resolution Calls for Investigation of Homosexuality in Schools
Evangelist Opposes Homosexual ‘Agenda’ in Schools
Resolution on Homosexuality in Schools Wins Endorsements
Proposed Resolution a Departure from History of SBC Support for Public Schools