Oklahoman Article: "Caution Urged With Schools"

Carla Hinton, Religion Editor
The Oklahoman, 06/23/2005

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Southern Baptist Convention messengers expressed concerns about public education Wednesday, but stopped short of urging parents to remove their children from public schools.

Instead, messengers at the annual meeting in Nashville approved a resolution focusing on parental responsibility in determining negative influences — such as those promoting homosexuality as a "morally legitimate lifestyle."

"We broadened it," the Rev. Jeff Moore of Altus said of the resolution. "Homosexuality is not the only threat to our children. The real focus is to make education the parents’ primary responsibility. We didn’t feel it was healthy to make a blanket statement that all Southern Baptists take their children out of public schools."

Texans Voddie Baucham and Bruce Shortt had submitted a proposal targeting homosexuality, calling for parents to remove their children from schools that had any programs touting homosexuality as acceptable.

Moore, a member of the convention’s Resolutions Committee, said Southern Baptists continue to stand by their "biblically accurate" belief that homosexuality is morally wrong.

Though the resolution did not force the issue of a mass exodus from public schools, it had its detractors.

Jaime McDaniel, a spokesman for Soul Force, passed out pamphlets about his group’s biblical interpretation of homosexuality in front of the Gaylord Entertainment Center where the Baptists met.

McDaniel said members of Soul Force — an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals — think the convention is going back to its roots of bigotry.

Many Southern Baptists, including Tom and Kimberly Woodson of Tulsa, agree with the denomination’s stance.

"School is not a place to teach things like that," Tom Woodson said of sexual orientation issues.

"It’s a place for teaching basic learning skills and reading, writing and arithmetic, not a place to indoctrinate children with social agendas."

Woodson, pastor of Tulsa’s Sheridan Road Baptist Church, said he and his wife homeschool their three children.

The resolution reflected the concern Southern Baptists have expressed for several years about public schools. The issue was brought up at last year’s meeting with a proposal — ultimately rejected — urging Southern Baptist parents to pull their children from public schools.

Moore said one issue the resolution committee discussed was that many people cannot afford to remove their children from public schools.