Is It Sinful to Send Christian Children to State Schools?

Is It Sinful to Send Christian Children to State Schools?

by Craig Smith
Something is really going to hit the fan in the USA
soon. It promises to be so big, it will very likely splatter
all the way over to New Zealand, Australia and the
The Southern Baptist (SB) denomination in the USA
has 16.3 million members. A couple of SB gentlemen,
totally pro-home education, are also totally convinced
that for Christian parents simply to be consistent in
their profession of the Christian religion, they must
ensure their children receive a thoroughly Christian
education. They say this against a backdrop not too
different from the rest of the Western World: the public
schools are now so openly and totally anti-Christian in
official attitudes, pedagogical practise, educational philosophy
and hidden curriculum, that they are positively
dangerous and certainly no place for Christian children.
These two gentlemen have drafted a resolution
for the SB national convention 15-16 June 2004, calling
on all these 16.3 million members to pull their children
out of these godless public schools and either
home educate them or find a decent Christian school.
The resolution measure is sponsored by T.C. Pinckney,
a retired US Air Force Brigadier General whose three
adult children all educate their children at home, and
Bruce N. Shortt, a homeschooing dad and attorney who
holds advanced degrees from both Harvard and Stanford
These men understand that a person’s worldview is
important and that it is developed as part of one’s education.
The resolution itself says, “Many Christian children
in government schools are converted to an anti-
Christian worldview rather than evangelizing their
schoolmates.” This at once answers a major objection
Christians raise as to why their children should be in
the state schools… evangelise. It would appear it is
the nonChristians who are evangelising the Christians.
What else would one expect? Throw a young and immature
Christian into a sea of secularism and he or she
is bound to wash up on the beach secularised. If you
throw a glove into the mud, you never expect to see the
mud become glovey. Instead you know the glove will
become muddy….every time.
Mr Shortt uses harsh words – more than justifiable
given that it is the very eternal lives of children at stake
here. He says Christian parents who do not see the
problem are in denial; that since government schools
are killing our children morally, spiritually and academically,
we need to ask how dead do we want our
children to be; that the fondly remembered little red
schoolhouse of “the good old days” has really become
the little white sepulchre, a seething cauldron of spiritual,
moral and academic pathologies; that it is nothing
less than “spiritual blindness” that causes Christian
parents to balk at the perceived “inconvenience” or
“financial challenge” of kicking the public-school
habit; that sending Christian children to these temples
of secular humanist philosophy is “the grossest kind of
sin.” Preach it, brother!
Shortt also predicts that if 10-15% of children are
pulled from government schools, the “US$500 billion
behemoth” which is the US public school system will
be de-legitimized and will collapse financially. He welcomes
both results! Here indeed is a man who understands
that the state has no Biblical authority for running
compulsory schools and is not afraid to spell out
how Christians should respond and to embrace the inevitable
fallout: many of his friends, and probably
some relations, would lose their teaching jobs and
could henceforward bad-mouth and cold-shoulder Mr
Shortt. To live consistently with the Scriptures has always
and will always exact a price: under the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Indeed
all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will
be persecuted” (II Timothy 3:12).
Here following are listed the points made in the resolution.
These points simply spell out where the SBs are
coming from, that is, their worldview. Take careful
note, dear brothers and sisters:
1. The Bible commands that fathers (and by implication
all parents) are to bring up their children
in the training and admonition of the
Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
2. Having all authority in heaven and on earth,
Jesus has commanded us to make disciples of
our children and teach them to observe everything
He has commanded (Matthew 28:19-
3. This means our children must learn to think
Biblically about all the spheres of human
thought, activity and life (Deuteronomy. 6:4-
9) so as to take every thought captive to obey
Christ (II Corinthians 10:5).
4. Our thinking is not to be conformed to this
world’s way of thinking but is to be renewed
and sanctified by the truth of God’s word
(Romans 12:2; John 17:17).
5. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of
knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). In Christ are hidden
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge
(Colossians 2:3). Therefore, any instruction
that does not begin with the fear of the
Lord, teaching the centrality of Jesus Christ
for understanding all of life – such as that offered
in state schools – cannot properly be
said to impart wisdom or knowledge.
6. Since Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is
against Me, and he who does not gather with
Me scatters” (Luke 11:23), then it logically
follows that any state school system that
claims to be “neutral” with regard to Christ is
actually anti-Christian. Consequently, children
taught in state schools are receiving an
anti-Christian education.
7. Since the state schools are by their own confession
humanistic and secular in their instruction,
the education offered is officially Godless
and totally unacceptable to Christians.
8. State schools are adopting curricula and policies
teaching that the homosexual lifestyle is
acceptable. (NZ schools are obliged in addition
to recognise divorce for any reason, de
facto setups, serial partners and prostitution as
9. Homosexual organizations are approved student
“clubs” in state schools.
10. Since children are like arrows in the hand of a
warrior (Psalm 127:3-5) to be aimed for the
greatest impact in the kingdom of God, it is
foolish for Christians to give their children to
be trained in schools run by the enemies of
God, just as it would be foolish for a warrior to
give his arrows to his enemy.
11. Training to be a faithful witness should be a
vital part of a Christian child’s education.
12. Since thousands of Christian parents send their
children to state schools where they receive a
Godless, anti-Christian education seven hours
a day, 180 days a year, being taught that God
is irrelevant to every area of life, many of
these children are converted to an anti-
Christian worldview rather than evangelizing
their schoolmates.
13. Research by the Nehemiah Institute has discovered
that acceptance of a secular humanist
worldview by Christian children attending
state schools has increased dramatically over
the last fifteen years.
14. The Southern Baptist Council on Family Life
reported in 2002 that 88% of the children
raised in evangelical homes leave church at the
age of 18, never to return.
15. Since the Bible teaches that the companion of
fools will be destroyed (Proverbs 13:20), and
that people are prone to be deceived into thinking
that evil company will not corrupt them (1
Corinthians 15:33), it is incumbent upon ministers
of the gospel to warn God’s people that
their children are being corrupted by spending
half of their waking hours instructed by teachers
who are required by law to inculcate a
Godless education.
16. Since many adult Christians teach in state
schools, they should not be discouraged from
labouring as missionaries to unbelieving colleagues
and students; rather, they should be
commended and encouraged to be salt and
light in a dark and decaying state school system.
With these points as givens or starting points in their
thinking, the Resolution authors then proceed with a big
therefore, because of all these things, we strongly urge
the SB Convention to:”
1. encourage all officers and members of the SB
Convention and the churches associated with it
to remove their children from the government
schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly
Christian education, for the glory of God, the good
of Christ’s Church and the strength of their own
commitment to Jesus, and
2. encourage all churches associated with the SB
Convention to work aggressively to counsel
parents regarding their obligation to provide
their children with a Christian education, and
3. encourage all churches associated with the SB
Convention to provide all of their children
with Christian alternatives to government
school education, either through home schooling
or thoroughly Christian private schools.
There are some fairly heavy implications emanating
from this document for all Christian home educators as
well as for all Christians. First, it would appear, from
the way the SBs have presented their understanding of
the Scriptures, that for Christian parents to send a child
to a state school is by definition disobedience to the
Lord. That means it is a sin. Second, if it is a sin, it appears
that our involvement in home education is a lot
more than a mere preference of some kind, but is in
fact a vital step of obedience to the Lord. Third, if our
home education is a matter of obedience to Christ, it
seems to immediately impart to our home education
enterprise a more holy or a more serious tone: we have
to do this right, for we really have no choice. That is,
the option some of us have in the backs of our minds,
that we can always send the children off to school if
this home education doesn’t work out….that this is not
an option. Fourth, if it is a sin then we now have an
obligation to warn our fellow believers, those who are
sending their children to state schools, of their disobedience.
Of course there are all kinds of downstream
implications of doing this: coming across as some kind
of self-appointed judge going around condemning everyone,
upsetting many very comfortable lifestyles,
alienating good friends and family, putting church
leadership in the position of either having to side with
you or side line you. None of this is at all attractive.
I must say, I have been thinking along the lines of this
resolution for a couple of years already. I see a need to
warn others that state schools are thoroughly unacceptable
places to send children from Christian families.
(Now, there may be the odd exception: I know a small
school near here where the principal is a Christian, all
the staff are Christians and they basically filter out a lot
of the garbage. However they are not free to deal with
anything from an overtly Christian perspective, for if
any unbelieving child should report it to an unbelieving
parent and that parent were to complain to the MoE,
that school staff could get into a world of trouble.) Yet
the impact of such a warning is such that it seems to
me we need to formulate a strategy in how to go about
it. Publicising this SB Resolution is a good start: for us
outside of the SB denomination, we can let the issue be
raised by these total “outsiders”. The international media
is already picking it up, and we can each help
spread the awareness of this move. That in itself will
spark off debates about the issue in many places or
simply raise awareness of the issue. I can see myself
re-working the SB Resolution into a form I could then
present to my own church denomination, either a discussion
document for the congregation or just for the elders.
In any case we see the truth of the simple saying,
“Ideas have consequences.” That’s why it is so important
that we understand our own world view and as
Christians seek to ensure that the world view we are
carrying in our minds is as thoroughly Biblical, by
God’s grace, as we can make it. For it is inescapable:
we do behave according to our world view….in fact,
our world view is exposed for everyone else to see in
our behaviour patterns, should anyone care to observe
them closely. And when it comes to obedience, that is
not an optional thing: we must follow His commands
wherever they lead us, even into inconvenience, economic
hardship and persecution. As James 1:25 says,
such a doer (as opposed to a mere hearer) of the Word
will be blessed in his doing.
(I have modified the SB Resolution a wee bit in this
article for readability. The Resolution in its original
form may be seen at: . This is
the Exodus Mandate website, people who have been
warning of the dangers of state schooling for years.
Another site which gives a lot of background and possible
avenues of action is at: .
Both are well worth a look.)

From Keystone Magazine

May 2004 , Vol. X No. 3
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