Baptists turn from public schools to private plans

From Yonat Shimron and McClatchy Newspapers.

“Convinced that God has been erased from public schools, Southern Baptists are now working to open their own schools, where Jesus is writ large and Bible study is part of the daily curriculum.

Church leaders are not calling for a wholesale exodus from public schools, which would be a monumental hit, considering that Southern Baptists make up the nation’s largest Protestant denomination with 16 million members.

Rather, they talk about alternatives to public schools capable of educating a new generation ready and willing to advocate for biblical principles rather than popular culture.

“In the public schools, you don’t just have neutrality, you have hostility toward organized religion,” said Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. “A lot of parents are fed up.”

Southeastern is leading the push, having sponsored a Christian School 101 workshop Aug. 27 and 28. The program was designed to train church leaders to open private schools.

At Southeastern and elsewhere, Southern Baptists have become convinced that fighting to change the system is futile. They say public schools have long demonstrated a commitment to teaching evolution over creationism, world faiths over Christianity, sex education over abstinence, moral relativism over Christian claims of truth.

The denomination’s disenchantment with public schools is not new. It dates to the 1920s, when states debated the teaching of creationism versus evolution. Evolution increasingly won out, despite the verdict in the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” in Tennessee, which gave the victory to creationists. The 1962 and 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decisions banning prayer and devotional readings from public schools only increased Southern Baptists’ ire.

Since then, alienation from public schools has grown alongside the nation’s culture wars, pitting evangelical Christians against secularists.”

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