Baptists Vote to Takeover Boards of Education
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Thu Jun 15, 2006 at 09:32:37 AM EST
Ethics Daily quotes a leader of the movement to get Southern Baptists to leave public schools as saying,

"This year has actually been a breakthrough year."

His resolution to devise an "exit strategy" from public schools was replaced by a resolution for Baptists to, in effect, takeover the boards of education at public schools.

Roger Moran, a leader in the Fundamentalist takeover of the SBC,  describes the Southern Baptist objective to promote Dominionist religious indoctrination under the name of "Kingdom Education":

"Just like it took years to turn that big ship around theologically, it is going to take a period of time for people to understand the significance of Kingdom Education," Moran said. "But it's starting to happen."

"It's going to require incredible patience on our part," Moran said.

The resolution passed by the convention "On Engaging the Direction of the Public School System" denounces the teaching of "dogmatic Darwinism," acceptance of homosexuality and a "humanistic and secular orientation" in most schools.

"Children are our most important mission field, and the overwhelming majority of Christians have made the government school system their children's teacher," it says.

The resolution urges Southern Baptists "to heed our Lord's admonition to be salt and light in our society" and encourages all Southern Baptist churches "to solicit individuals from their membership to engage the culture of our public school boards and exerting their godly influence upon these school systems."

Here's a link to the full text and a paragraph from the resolution that was adopted at the SBC meeting yesterday:
RESOLVED, That we encourage all Southern Baptist churches to solicit individuals from their membership to engage the culture of our public school systems nationwide by running for election to their local school boards and exerting their godly influence upon these school systems.

It would be hard to find more explicit notification that the Dominionists and Christian Nationalists within the Southern Baptist Convention are preparing to wage war on the public schools -- with the blessing of the entire SBC.

Either they will takeover school boards and turn public schools into indoctrination centers, or they will motivate Baptists to exit the public schools and deprive the schools of the resources needed to maintain them.

by Mainstream Baptist on Thu Jun 15, 2006 at 09:38:25 AM EST

I think they will attempt both of these things, without much real success.

The Dover, PA ID fiasco is a clear case of 'takeover' but it relied on apathy and stealth - once they revealed their nuttiness in actual policy moves, the 'silent majority' got invovled and tossed them out.  It's not unlike HOAs being goverened by the worst busybody retirees. Similar battles are going on in Kansass right now.  While nothing's ever certain, people who formerly took it as a given that the fundies would never take over now realize that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.  I'm sure we'll forget the threat again in another couple of decades, but for now, the inroads made by the Xianist right are being rolled back.

The 'exodus' approach was tried by the exact same people for the exact same reasons after Brown v. Board of Education.   The segregationist academies - often named using combinations of, "Heritage", "Christian" and Academy - blossomed during the decade following the integration of public schools and introduction of bussing.  But, for the most part, within 20 years, they'd all closed up shop.  Tuition is expensive, and that's a tough additional burden when you're paying property taxes no matter what and you're tithing.

The Catholic Parochial system - one historically successful church-funded system - is straining under the burden of non-tithing low income families.  Most other historically successful church affiliated schools are the more traditionally understood private schools - they fund themselve s through tuition, and parents demand quality for their money - quality meaning educations that will ultimately better prepare their students for the future.  Although the Episcopal Church has a network of schools, we don't really see them as much of a threat.  At the risk of sounding classist, I don't see the SBC as having the same kind of wealth correlation as the Episcopals do.  The bigot/dominionist element requires a certain amount of general ignorance (at the grassroots level) to thrive, and that doesn't generally correlate to high income levels.  

The objective of the voucher movement is to address this specific failing - to divert the resource/revenue stream out of public entities which have to play by certain constitutional rules into institutions that don't - institutions which are free to discriminate in the guise of religious liberty.

Of course, the 'charter' schools - funded with public revenues, but free of public regulations - aren't doing any better than public schools on the objective test measures, on average.

The real threat is economic migration out of the schools - if parents can afford to buy out of the system, then the resulting concentration of low-income students will lower performance, and the whole shebang becomes an ugly negative feedback loop.  This is a form of voting with your feet, and if the current Busing cases in front of the Supreme Court serve to elimnate racial composition as a basis for busing and district boundry drawing, well, the schools will become a pastiche.  The Baptists won't capture them all, but they will be able to concentrate and takeover some (see Kiryas Joel).

Although the rulings regarding Kiryas Joel are reason to hope, they also make clear your main point: vigilance is essential.

by montpellier on Thu Jun 15, 2006 at 02:27:10 PM EST

Suburban megachurches, however, are a world unto themselves.  SBC Fundamentalists know how to follow the money to the more affluent neighborhoods.  That's why most of the large downtown and uptown churches in the South have already closed up shop and moved to the suburbs.

SBC megachurches cater to the upper class, the upper middle class, the middle class and the upwardly mobile lower class.

All SBC megachurches have their own private academies, daycare centers, recreation centers, etc.

by Mainstream Baptist on Thu Jun 15, 2006 at 05:43:55 PM EST

I just question their ability to penetrate those markets effectively with an educational offering as opposed to a school offering.

It's pretty tricky to finesse a quality AP Biology class  and at the same time espouse a dominionist ID/Creationism view.  The same is true for American and European History, and other subjects which cover the 'controversial' - stuff fundies would like to re-write/revise - material.   I heard someplace that the real problem confronted by these mega-churches, etc., is that they have to recruit very aggressively since they can't, despite their espoused reproductive theology, maintain replacement within their own families (ie, the kids don't stay in the flock).

I went to an old mainline denomination school, and I well recall the uncomfortable moment in AP Bio dealing with just this issue - and my denomination doesn't really have a fundamentalist Creationism bent.

My point is this: in order to survive, without vouchers, they will need to cultivate a strong clientele made up of the better educated - they can follow them to the suburbs all they like, but in the end, they'll need to deliver an education that gets their graduates placed into good undergraduate schools.  I think it would be informative to look at post-graduate matriculation and placements, both for fundamentalist secondary schools and undergraduate schools (eg, Bob Jones, Oral Roberts and Liberty).  

I do not mean to underestimate the threat you mention - I just believe that this particular "abandon the Public Schools" threat is pretty hollow.  I mention the Parochial system mainly because I think it's a perfect example of a parallel education system that competes with the Public Schools - and one that manages real academic competency at the same time.  Nevertheless, it's failed to take over the country.

by montpellier on Fri Jun 16, 2006 at 09:04:21 AM EST

Many of the dominionists that are the most hardcore in correspondence-schooling their kids in fact are increasingly sending them to "Bible colleges" that also author dominionist "homeschool" material (like Pensacola Christian College or Bob Jones University), to dominionist universities like Patrick Henry College and Liberty University that explicitly cater to dominionist "homeschooled" kids, or even to correspondence-colleges like Whitefield College.  (It is of note here that nearly all of these are completely unaccredited, or are accredited mostly through accreditation-mills that themselves are not recognised or are at threat of states and the US Department of Education revoking their certification as accreditation bodies.)

Increasingly, the same groups promoting dominionist "homeschool" programs also encourage the parents to send their kids to dominionist colleges, claiming that public and even non-dominionist private school programs are run by "secular humanists" and the like and are "out to get your children".

Of course, part of it too is because the same public university systems increasingly condemned are increasingly realising--just as you pointed out--that many dominionist correspondence-school curricula have serious shortcomings.  I've written on the problems with the A Beka curriculum in particular (part 1 and part 2), the group Rethinking Schools has done an exhaustive report, and in particular Dr. Frances Patterson has done an entire book on the subject of how dominionist "homeschool" and correspondence-school curricula are used primarily for indoctrination rather than education; the University of California school system has already specifically ruled that the top three dominionist "homeschool" curricula packages are educationally insufficient for students entering its system and will not admit students who have been educated solely with those packages.

by dogemperor on Mon Jun 19, 2006 at 08:28:24 AM EST
Parent least this option will require them to become involved in their community which will include actually talking with and listening to others on the public school board.

Hey, they could end up educating themselves in the process.

by Tenoch on Thu Jun 15, 2006 at 12:02:46 PM EST

This assumes that they are teachable.

When these people organized to takeover the Southern Baptist Convention, they terminated everyone who disagreed with them.

by Mainstream Baptist on Thu Jun 15, 2006 at 12:56:52 PM EST

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