“Southern Baptists have been playing the ‘ostrich with its head in the sand’ routine long enough,” Arnold said. “The time is way overdue that we acknowledge the devastating effects public school is having on the faith of our children.”
Arnold takes issue with Baptist leaders who argue that having their children in public schools is being “salt and light,” a Christian influence and witness.
But Arnold points to the denomination’s own data — the SBC Council on Family Life Report of 2002 — which says 88 percent of those Southern Baptist children after graduating from government high school are leaving the church.
I have long stated that the argument that children from Christian families should attend public school as Christian witnesses to other children is utter nonsense. In my opinion, children are not yet Christians, as they do not have the spiritual, mental or emotional maturity to make such decisions. I do not believe that a five year-old child’s profession of faith is any more meaningful than his declaration that he is going to be an astronaut.
Considering that the only non-anecdotal evidence we have strongly indicates that the anti-Christian public schools are winning converts far more effectively than these little missionaries being thrown to the spiritual lions, I don’t see how anyone should be permitted to make that argument – which, let’s face it, is almost surely made as an ex post facto rationalization than a factor in a decision – without being laughed at.
I can’t prove that the report’s statement with regards to “leaving the church” is synonymous with “leaving the faith”, but based on denominational growth statistics, one can state with assurance that these former Southern Baptists are not all becoming Methodists, Episcopalians or Lutherans.