How well are the nation’s biggest ministries and pro-family organizations doing at encouraging Christian parents to get their children a Christian education?
According to the Exodus Mandate, not very well at all.
Exodus Mandate recently went to the National Religious Broadcasters convention to make a public release of its “Report Card,” grading nine national ministries on their commitment to Christian schooling.
The organizations graded were Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, the American Family Association, WallBuilders, FamilyLife, Josh McDowell Ministries, Vision America, and Coral Ridge Ministries.
Coral Ridge earned the highest overall grade, a B, and none of the other eight scored better than C+. No one received an A. The Report Card can be seen on the Exodus Mandate’s website, www.exodusmandate.org.
Failing Tactics, Failing Grades
Exodus Mandate “studied programs, publications and web pages of the ministries and organizations rated.” The persons who conducted the review are listed, with their credentials, on the Exodus website.
The groups were graded on nine individual “rating criteria.” Some of these criteria brought in poor marks for all concerned. For example, “Does not advocate lobbying, voting, or legislation as the primary means to effect cultural renewal” resulted in a C- for Coral Ridge and D or D- for all the others. The organizations and ministries did even worse when it came to “Does not support the delusion that ‘public school reform’ will resolve our spiritual and cultural crisis.” There, Coral Ridge eked out a C while the Family Research Council and WallBuilders each received an F for failure. The others didn’t do much better.
Exodus Mandate Director E. Ray Moore said the Report Card project might have generated some hard feelings, but was necessary.
“These are the ministries and organizations that say they’re going to change society and affect the course of the country—and they’re failing,” Moore said. “Many of these people do see politics, legislation, and lobbying as the primary means of cultural change. They may say they don’t, but that’s how they behave. They buy into a corrupt system that they went into politics to defeat.”
Exodus Mandate says education is, and always has been, the primary means of changing the culture. Certainly the Irreligious Left, which has for so long controlled public schooling in America, has successfully brought about much of the cultural change it wanted—even while America was electing “conservatives” to the presidency and Congress.
“If you want to change the culture,” Moore said, “you have to start where God starts, with the family and church. That means a Christian education for the children, as mandated by Scripture. But I’m afraid most evangelicals apparently do not have a Biblical theology for education.”
Getting the Message
With tens of millions of Christian children receiving a daily dose of secular, anti-Christian education in the public schools, the national ministries’ devotion to politics and lobbying is a prescription for losing the culture war, argues the Exodus Mandate.
“We’re asking these leaders to take a sabbatical from politics and join us,” Moore said. “It’s better to drain the swamp than to try to kill all the mosquitoes. Unless Christian children get a Christian education, we can’t even maintain our culture—much less take it back.”
The Christian Right, he said, went into politics while the Secular Left “went after our culture and our institutions. Anyone can see the result.
“We have appealed to many of these leaders for years. I’ve personally handed books and literature and tapes to some of the leaders of these groups at conferences, seminars, etc. I don’t know if they’ve all gotten the message, but I know some of them have. We are going to hold them accountable.”
As well as the national ministries and organizations, Moore said, many of America’s churches “have been AWOL in the most important battle of our time.”
As a result, he said, aggressive secularism has not only dominated American culture, but has now obtained political dominance, too.
“The next couple of years will be the moment of maximum danger for the church and the nation,” Moore said, “but also the moment of maximum opportunity. The church has always operated best under pressure. The early church grew up in an anti-Christian culture.”
The ministries and organizations graded in the Report Card have not responded publicly. When we asked Focus on the Family to respond, a terse email answered, “[W]e are not commenting on the Exodus Mandate Report Card and will be unable to accommodate your request.” Others simply didn’t return our phone calls.
However, we did get responses from Josh McDowell, Coral Ridge Ministries, and WallBuilders.
Ward Coleman, speaking for Josh McDowell Ministries, said he didn’t think the Report Card was accurate.
“I think they just looked at websites, etc., which don’t show everything,” Coleman said. “Whenever Josh speaks, he really promotes Christian schools and homeschooling. He’s got two daughters in Christian schools. At least hear the speaker in an appropriate setting before you grade the ministry.”
Nevertheless, Coleman said he agreed that the ministries should do more to get Christian children into Christian education—“but don’t alienate the public,” he added.
“On the whole,” he said, “our churches have been too accommodating with the culture. We let an anti-Christian culture take over what was a Christian culture in America. Over the years, our churches have not been truly committed to preserving a Christian way of life.”
John Aman of Coral Ridge Ministries reminded us that the ministry’s founder, D. James Kennedy, actively supported Christian schooling and campaigned to have Christian children taken out of anti-Christian schools.1
“Sending our kids to the public schools,” Aman said, “is a bit like when the Turks used to capture Christian children and raise them to be Muslim janissaries.
“What Exodus Mandate has brought to light really is a very significant point. If we don’t educate our children, the battles on Capitol Hill are just last-ditch efforts to keep the Huns from the gates. It’s a very difficult issue for churches and ministries to address, but necessary if we want to stop the secularization of our children. I’m glad they brought this issue to light.”
Dr. Kennedy died in 2007. His place as host of The Coral Ridge Hour on television has been taken by Jerry Newcombe, who also commented favorably on the Exodus Mandate’s mission.
“What scares me most,” Newcombe said, “is the younger evangelicals who don’t seem to care about abortion, who’ve bought into certain aspects of the homosexual agenda. And where do the young evangelicals get those secular ideas? In public schools!
“We’re in trouble, educationally and culturally. Homeschools and Christian schools are the shining light. Can you imagine how badly off we’d be without them?”
Even so, Newcombe did not seem to like the tone of the Exodus Mandate Report Card.
“At Coral Ridge, we support all those ministries,” he said. “Each works in its own area and makes valuable resources available to all of us.”
David Barton, head of WallBuilders was not at all pleased with the Report Card. WallBuilders was given an overall grade of C-, with an F for “Does not support the delusion that ‘public school reform’ will resolve our spiritual and cultural crisis.”
“They never even talked to us,” Barton said. “We totally agree with them, that Christian children ought to be in Christian education—so why are they going after me? Of course we support Christian schooling. I founded a Christian school!
“But there are millions of Christian kids in the public schools today, and how do you get them out? I agree that those kids need to leave the public schools, but I’m not going to sit back and throw bombs without proposing an alternative.”
If the Foundations Be Destroyed …
Taken together, the nine national ministries and pro-family organizations are supported by millions of Americans, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars in contributions and dues. And yet the secularization and deterioration of American culture continues as if none of these groups even existed.
America is under judgment for disobedience to God. Rev. Joseph Morecraft, III, pastor of the Chalcedon Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, comments:
“When politicians turn from God as the source of salvation, life and sovereignty, and legislate, adjudicate and execute their laws and policies, they will always: (1) call evil good and good evil; (2) encourage evil and lawlessness in society; (3) bring down the judgment of God on their nation, which will dry up prosperity, blessing, health and security.”2
Throughout the Bible, God commands His people to be responsible for the education of their children and see to it that the children grow up with a knowledge of God’s Word and in loving faithfulness to Him. There is certainly no Biblical warrant whatsoever for turning children over to strangers five days a week for thirteen years, to be taught that Christianity is bad, abortion and sodomy are good, and government and Darwin have all the answers.
But this is exactly what we have done for better than one hundred years. The result is a culture in which one in three babies is born out of wedlock, if not aborted; government and corporate funds are used to promote and celebrate perversions; and prosperity seems to be drying up alarmingly fast.
How different would this picture be if tens of millions of Christian children did not receive a secular, Christ-denying education, but a Christian one instead?
We already know that education really works. The confused shambles of our national life today is eloquent testimony to the power of a secular education.
The only way to undo it is by Christian education. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” asks the eleventh Psalm (v. 3).
Build New Foundations!
This, put so simply, is the message of the Exodus Mandate. But building new foundations is not what the big ministries and pro-family organizations have been doing. They’ve been trying to build on the old foundations, long since made rotten by humanism. The results of this misdirected effort speak for themselves.
We do not condemn these ministries; but we do ask them to show courage. The American people do not want to be told that they have been doing wrong by sending their children to the public schools, and the ministries seem reluctant to tell them so. Are they afraid the funding will dry up if they deliver a message that the people don’t want to hear?
We also urge them to put their sweat and their money—a lot more of it than they do now—where it has a chance of actually achieving something in the long term. We urge them to do more for Christian education—much more.
Education has worked for the ungodly. With God’s blessing, it will accomplish even more for Christians.
1. Lee Duigon, “PCA Rejects Proposal to Pull Kids from Public Schools,” The Chalcedon Foundation, June 30, 2005, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=95.
2. Dr. Joe Morecraft, III, “Election Day Sermon 2008, The Future of Politicians Who Give Bad Advice,” Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, October 31, 2008, http://www.chalcedon.org/articles?id=18.
- Lee Duigon
Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.
Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.