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Southern Baptists Call for Investigation of Public Schools

The Southern Baptist Convention on Wednesday passed a resolution urging parents and churches to investigate whether their community schools promote homosexuality.

“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,” says the resolution, compiled from two resolutions submitted by individuals prior to the June 21-22 SBC annual meeting in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Nashville, Tenn.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Describing public schools as “an effective gateway to children’s hearts and minds,” the statement urges parents and churches to “research and monitor the entertainment and educational influences on their children.”
 
It encourages Southern Baptists to “investigate diligently the curricula, textbooks and programs in our community schools and to demand discontinuation of offensive material and programs.”
 
It finally urges 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.”
 
Bruce Shortt, a member of North Oaks Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, who submitted a resolution that included a call for parents to remove their children from schools found to promote homosexuality through gay student clubs and other influences such as diversity and anti-bullying programs, called it an “important first step toward protecting our children.”
 
Larry Reagan, who helped write the other school resolution considered by the committee, also spoke in support of the statement. “I don’t think there’s a more clear and concise statement we could make,” said Reagan, pastor of Adams Chapel Baptist Church in Dresden, Tenn.
 
“Public schools are a mission field, but they are a killing field to our children,” added Robert Dreyfus, a retired dentist from Ocklawaha, Fla., and state coordinator of Exodus Mandate, a group which supports removing kids from public schools altogether,
 
The Resolutions Committee accepted a friendly amendment offered from the floor by Jim Goforth of Florrisant, Mo., who said his wife has worked in education for 22 years. It added a commendation for “godly teachers and students who feel a call from God to take a stand for Christ at secular schools to be a light shining in the darkness.”
 
The committee resolution “puts the Southern Baptist Convention in a leadership position among evangelicals on this issue,” Shortt, a Houston attorney who co-sponsored his resolution with author and conference speaker Voddie Baucham, told EthicsDaily.com.
 
Shortt told messengers there are 3,000 homosexual clubs in America’s middle and high schools, which, along with other programs with titles like “safe schools,” are “teaching by stealth that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle.”
 
Last year Shortt offered an earlier anti-public school resolution, along with Virginia editor T.C. Pinckney, which did not make it out of the resolutions committee.
 
“I also would ask you that when you go home that you investigate diligently your school district to determine whether that school district is betraying [the public] trust,” Shortt told messengers.
 
Some convention leaders were on record as opposing Shortt and Baucham’s resolution, which encouraged churches finding themselves in a school district promoting homosexuality to “inform the parents of this fact and encourage them to remove their children from the school district’s schools immediately.”
 
Richard Land of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission told the Houston Chronicle he could “confidently predict this resolution in its present form will not pass the Southern Baptist Convention.”
 
“This resolution just says withdraw,” Land said. “It says nothing about seeking to reform the public schools.”
 
SBC president Bobby Welch also said he opposed a call to remove children from public schools. He told the Associated Press that “public schools offer the greatest mission field” and are “a great place to make a difference.”
 
The resolution picked up several endorsements, however, including Rick Scarborough of Vision America and 58 statewide leaders of pro-family group that wrote the Resolutions Committee urging members to bring the resolution forward.
 
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays opposed it, saying safe-schools programs do not promote homosexuality.
 
“Contrary to the language of this resolution, we do not target children to undermine a parent’s religious teaching or the values children learn at home,” the group said. “Rather our goal is to prevent violent physical and verbal attacks on students who are gay or those perceived to be gay.”
 
Other resolutions passed Wednesday included declaring an end to the Disney boycott (see related story) and statements opposing stem-cell research and obstruction of judicial nominees. Other resolutions affirmed political speech in churches, U.S. troops and President Bush and efforts to curb smoking among teenagers.
 
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
 
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Baptist Press Silent on Homosexuality in Schools Resolution
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