- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2006

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — There almost certainly will be no Southern Baptist exodus from the nation’s public schools — at least for now.

Leaders of the nation’s second-largest Christian denomination yesterday refused to support a resolution that would have urged the denomination to form an “exit strategy” for pulling Southern Baptist children from public schools in favor of home schools or private Christian schools.

The proposal, offered by Roger Moran of Troy, Mo., and Texas author Bruce N. Shortt, came as many of the nation’s 16.2 million Southern Baptists worry about how classrooms are handling subjects such as homosexuality and “intelligent design.”

Instead of putting the exit strategy before delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, the denomination’s resolutions committee called on members to “engage the culture of our public school systems” by exerting “godly influence,” including standing for election to local school boards.

The public schools issue has been simmering for several years. A resolution similar to the one offered by Mr. Moran and Mr. Shortt failed to pass two years ago. Delegates at last year’s annual meeting approved a resolution urging parents and churches “to exercise their rights to investigate diligently the curricula, textbooks and programs in our community schools.”

“We are commanded biblically to train our children in the nurture of the Lord,” said Mr. Moran, who sits on the SBC’s executive committee. “The public schools are no longer allowed … to even acknowledge the God of the Bible.”

Mr. Moran, who owns a company that makes construction supplies, has nine children, ages 18 months to 18 years. All have been home-schooled or attended Christian schools, he said.

The proposal from Mr. Moran and Mr. Shortt, author of “The Harsh Truth About Public Schools,” complained that curricula teaching “the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable” are being implemented in public schools. It also criticized a federal court ruling last year that banned a Pennsylvania school system’s classroom mention of “intelligent design” — the notion that life is so complex it must have been created by a higher intelligence.

The resolution approved by the SBC committee refers to the Pennsylvania decision, but it also goes out of its way to “affirm the hundreds of thousands of Christian men and women who teach in our public schools.”

Also yesterday, the SBC unofficially barred members who drink alcohol from serving as trustees or members of any SBC entity.

The ban, part of an anti-alcohol resolution that was easily approved by delegates, was proposed by Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Although stopping short of officially preventing drinkers from serving, it “urges” that no one be elected or appointed to SBC offices if they are “a user of alcohol.”

“Use of alcohol as a beverage can and does impede the message of Jesus Christ” that Southern Baptists are trying to spread, Mr. Richards said.

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