The second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention is a strong supporter of a movement to urge parents to pull their children out of public schools in favor of homeschooling or private Christian schools.
Wiley Drake, the third-highest elected officer in the 16 million-member SBC, has submitted an “exit strategy” resolution to the California Southern Baptist Convention, scheduled Nov. 15-16 in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />San Jose.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
The “exit strategy” language comes from a June 2005 article by Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“I believe that now is the time for responsible Southern Baptists to develop an exit strategy from the public schools,” Mohler wrote. “This strategy would affirm the basic and ultimate responsibility of Christian parents to take charge of the education of their own children. The strategy would also affirm the responsibility of churches to equip parents, support families and offer alternatives. At the same time, this strategy must acknowledge that Southern Baptist churches, families and parents do not yet see the same realities, the same threats and the same challenges in every context. Sadly, this is almost certainly just a matter of time.”
Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif., endorsed Mohler’s recommendation in an Oct. 18 press release.
“Dr. Mohler is right, Southern Baptists, and Christians generally, need to plan a Christian educational future for our children,” Drake said. “Anyone who thinks that a few hours of youth group and church will have more influence on a child’s faith and worldview than 40 to 50 hours a week of public school classes, activities and homework is simply not being honest with himself.”
The conservative news site WorldNetDaily.com interviewed Drake for a story that appeared Friday.
“Basically, (the education system) has been saying, ‘You have to let us teach your kids anything we want,'” Drake said. “Well, we don’t like it and we’re not going to put up with it.”
WorldNetDaily estimated that a large school movement by Southern Baptists to double or triple the size of a homeschool community already numbering 2.5 million students.
Drake said the call for abandoning the government’s secular school didn’t develop overnight.
“We’ve been hoping against hope that somewhere along the line we could wake them up and get their attention,” he said. “We did our best, we hung in there with them as long as we could. We just can’t put up with them any longer.”
“All of this is based on the fact that schools have been teaching a New World Order rather than an Old World order, a Biblically-based world order, as it applies to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“We finally had to do something,” he said.
Some SBC leaders, including those in churches that sponsor Christian schools, oppose the exit strategy, fearing it might offend educators who are members of their churches. Opponents managed to block an education resolution in committee at this summer’s SBC annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C.
But a grassroots network supporting the idea managed to get resolutions introduced in state and regional convention in the continental United States, according to Wednesday’s press release. That is an increase from about 25 states in 2005 and 15 in 2004.
A model resolution on the Exodus Mandate Web site denounces “dogmatic Darwinism” and ”
curricula and policies teaching that the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable” in public schools.
It “encourages each church associated with the Southern Baptist Convention to heed Dr. Mohler’s call to develop an exit strategy from the government’s schools” and “urges that particular attention be given in the development of such exit strategies to the needs of orphans, single parents, and the disadvantaged.”
“When the third-highest rating Southern Baptist Convention leader calls for an exit from public schools, he represents a lot of fundamentalists,” said Robert Parham, executive director of the BaptistCenter for Ethics. “Neither his position of leadership nor clarity of direction should be underestimated. Except for the Baptist General Association of Virginia, Baptist General Convention of Missouri and Baptist General Convention of Texas, all other Baptist state conventions are controlled by fundamentalists who are first-cousins theologically of the anti-public school Baptists. Drake and his comrades are serious and determined.”
“Thoughtful Baptists ignore them at the peril of public education,” Parham said. “If Baptist clergy don’t speak up for public education, public school teachers need to know that means their pastors are really against public education. What is needed is for public school teachers to get their clergy on record and for goodwill Baptist clergy to speak up for great public schools.”
In 2005 the SBC passed a resolution urging Southern Baptists to “investigate diligently” their local schools to see if they promote anti-Christian or pro-homosexual views.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
See our special resource section on Christians and public schools.