Will a last-minute flood of endorsements from pro-family Christian groups convince the Southern Baptist Convention to vote on a resolution urging Baptist parents to pull their children out of public schools that promote a homosexual agenda?
The SBC’s annual meeting will be held June 21–22. As one of the biggest Christian denominations in the country (almost 16 million members nationwide), a Southern Baptist exodus from the public schools would be a major development.
The resolution’s co-sponsor, Houston attorney and author Bruce Shortt, said he has received endorsements from at least 60 grassroots groups so far, with more coming in every day.
“With the avalanche of endorsements from organizations close to the grass roots,” Shortt said, “and Rick Scarborough’s endorsement and the very strong D. James Kennedy/Joel Belz/Steven Warhurst resolution introduced at the PCA [Presbyterian Church in America] General Assembly this week, we are seeing the tip of the iceberg of widespread, intense grassroots dissatisfaction with the public school system. That dissatisfaction, in my opinion, goes far beyond the issues raised in the Baucham-Shortt resolution.”
Rev. Voddie Baucham Jr., a prominent Southern Baptist radio and television minister, cosponsors the resolution with Bruce Shortt.
The proposal asks Baptist parents to investigate whether their local public schools promote homosexuality via “gay-straight alliance” clubs, “sex education,” or “tolerance/diversity programs”; and, if so, to remove their children from those schools.
“We’re running out of time” to record all the endorsements before the annual meeting, Shortt said. “More are coming in every day.”
Dozens of state affiliates from coast to coast, belonging to large national organizations, have signed on in support of the proposal. They represent some of the most influential national organizations in America — Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, and the Eagle Forum.
Many small, independent groups — from the Article 8 Alliance in Massachusetts to the Center for Arizona Policy, and most points in between — have also tendered endorsements.
Shortt thanked Diane Gramley from the American Family Association of Pennsylvania for her volunteer work in receiving and acknowledging the endorsements.
Mohler, Scarborough, on Board
As this article was being prepared, Dr. R. Albert Mohler — president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a former chairman of the SBC resolutions committee — came out in strong support of the Baucham-Shortt resolution.
“Every week, new reports of atrocities in the public schools appear … These reports are no longer isolated and anecdotal,” Mohler said. “Forces opposed to what Southern Baptist churches and families believe dominate the public school arena.” (For the full text of Mohler’s remarks, see http://www.albertmohler.com/commentary_read.php?cdate=2005-06-17.)
“I believe that now is the time for responsible Southern Baptists to develop an exit strategy from the public schools,” he concluded.
High-profile support for the resolution has also come from Dr. Rick Scarborough of Vision America and the Rick Scarborough Report (www.visionamerica.us). Scarborough urged his readers to contact the SBC resolutions committee and to urge them to bring Shortt’s proposal to the floor for a vote.
“Whatever messengers [voting delegates] decide to do,” he said, “given the gay indoctrination all too prevalent in our public schools, this is a matter that deserves serious discussion.”
SBC Committee Silent
With the decision just days away, the SBC resolutions committee has declined to answer questions as to whether they will release the proposal for a vote.
At the SBC’s Annual Meeting last year, Shortt offered a more strongly worded proposal, cosponsored by retired General T.C. Pinckney. It focused national media attention on the meeting, but the committee declined to make a recommendation and the proposal was defeated on the floor.
Mohler acknowledged that this year’s proposal “had a polarizing effect within the denomination” and that some on the committee are working to keep it from getting a vote.
“Whatever happens at the meeting,” Shortt said, “we’ve cracked open the wall. No one can make this issue go away.”