SBC declines move from public schools - Word&Way

SBC declines move from public schools

By Greg Warner

Indianapolis (ABP) – Southern Baptists adopted resolutions June 16 lamenting America's "cultural drift…toward secularization" and urging Christians to engage culture and vote "biblical values." But SBC messengers stopped short of calling for a withdrawal from public schools.

Eight resolutions were adopted, most with little debate or opposition, by the 8,500 messengers attending the annual Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis.

The committee declined to act on a resolution proposed by T.C. Pinckney of Virginia and Bruce Shortt of Texas asking Southern Baptists to remove their children from "godless" and "anti-Christian" public schools. A motion by Pinckney to add the anti-school language to the resolution on secularization failed on a show-of-hands vote.

Pinckney's proposed amendment encouraged all Southern Baptists to provide their children with "a truly Christian education" through Christian schools and home schools and asked churches to "provide counsel and assistance" to help parents do that. "Government schools are becoming actively anti-Christian," Pinckney said.

Committee chairman Calvin Wittman of Colorado said the SBC did not want to "usurp" the responsibility of parents to decide how to educate their children.

Wittman noted the SBC in recent years has spoken "sufficiently" on the issue of schools and Christian education, with 11 previous resolutions lamenting the secularization of public schools and supporting Christian public teachers, Christian schools and home-schooling.

Jim Goforth of Missouri, speaking against Pinkney's amendment, said pulling Christian children out of public schools means "darkness will completely take over the schools." He told about his son leading a fellow public-school student to faith in Jesus.

Shortt, who spoke in favor of the amendment, said the belief that children will positively influence schools as "salt and light" is "misapplied theology." Childhood is a time of discipleship, he said, and placing children in an "anti-Christian" school will corrupt them.

After defeating the Pinckney motion, messengers passed the resolution on secularization unchanged. The statement said "the cultural shift in our nation toward secularism obscures moral absolutes under the guise of tolerance."

Southern Baptists took blame and repented "for our part in the cultural decline that is taking place on our watch" and urged Southern Baptists to "aggressively engage the culture by speaking the truth in love concerning every aspect of life, public and private."

A resolution on Christian citizenship urged "all Christians to vote in accordance with biblical values rather than according to party lines, personalities or candidate rhetoric." It called on churches to conduct voter registration and education.

The resolution supporting a Federal Marriage Amendment, which would define marriage as between one man and one woman, would counter attempts to legalize same-sex marriage and the actions by some elected officials to issue "counterfeit marriage licenses," the statement said.

The resolution commending Reagan called him "a man of prayer and strong faith" who "exemplified the hallmarks of a Christian leader." It credited Reagan with respecting the sanctity of life and liberating millions from communism.

One resolution urged prayer for soldiers and "to find tangible ways" to support them, but it did not take a specific position on the Iraq war.

Another resolution expressed appreciation to God and to the "many faithful men and women who made sacrifices to lead the conservative resurgence" that won control of the SBC 25 years ago.

Other resolutions commended the SBC's LifeWay Christian Resources for producing the new Holman Christian Standard Bible and thanked the people of Indianapolis and those who organized the annual convention.

(See the 6-24-04 print edition of Word&Way for more SBC coverage.)