Are We in
the Public Schools?
by Lee Duigon
The Chalcedon Foundation
February 18, 2005
Why do so many Christian parents still send their
children to anti-Christian public schools?
"I know you're telling the truth. I just can't
believe it," my wife used to say every day when I came home from
teaching at a public school and told her what I saw and heard.
Telling people what's happening in the schools is
one thing. Getting them to believe it is another.
"Many people don't believe me," said Jen Shroder of
Blessed Cause, an organization in California. Ms. Shroder, a single
mother of two children, has been battling the California schools for
years, as a parent and through her ministry, BlessedCause.
Why don't people believe her?
"It's hard to believe," she said. "It's hard to
believe that many schools in California actually asked children to get
down on their knees and pray to Allah or that the 9th Circuit Court of
Appeals [San Francisco] ruled it is appropriate to have children
pretend they are witches and sorcerers, creating spells and chanting
them, and participating in [pagan or New Age] religious practices when
regulations say they cannot."
Bruce Shortt, a Houston attorney who made news last
summer when he asked the Southern Baptist Convention to call on
Baptist parents to remove their children from the public schools, has
also come up against the "denial factor."
"Yes, I have a hard time getting people to believe
me," he said. "They may finally concede it happens somewhere, but it
couldn't possibly happen in their school district."
Why Won't They Believe?
"Most parents are working full-time," Ms. Shroder said. "Moms have
precious little time for their children. We work, cook dinner, have
loads of laundry that need to be done in the evening, help our
children with homework—and when we finally get to have a normal
conversation with our kids, they do not want to waste it talking about
school or how the teacher asked them to
For parents whose lives are not quite so hectic,
disbelief arises from another source, Shortt said.
"If they admitted to what's happening in the
schools, they'd have to act," he said. "But they don't want to have to
change what they're doing. They don't want to take responsibility."
For some, it's harder than that.
"There are no private schools in this area," Ms.
Shroder said, "and I couldn't afford private schools if I tried. I
could homeschool my kids, but Child Protective Services would probably
be happy to accuse me of neglecting them when I was at work. So my
kids are in public school, and I represent millions of single moms in
the same situation."
Shortt has recommended that more churches set up
children's daytime care to help hard-pressed parents make the
transition to homeschooling.
"Christians who deny that government schools are aggressively
anti-Christian are deluding themselves," Shortt said.
As a "comic opera" example of the schools at work,
he pointed to an incident in Plano, Texas, just before this past
Christmas. There, school authorities went so far as to ban red and
green napkins from the children's "holiday parties," lest the colors
be construed as a tacit endorsement of Christmas. A judge overturned
their decision after Christian parents sued the school district (see
Shortt pointed out that Plano is the home of the
Prestonwood Baptist Church ("perhaps the largest and most powerful SBC
church in Texas"), pastored by the immediate past president of the
Southern Baptist Convention. "The schools in question are in exactly
the sort of 'red state' community that we were repeatedly told had
schools that were 'different' and 'Christian-friendly,'" he said.
"Our pastors and parents obviously have no idea
about what is really going on in these schools," Shortt said. "Maybe
now the Southern Baptist leadership will do what should have been done
last summer—recommend to our brothers and sisters in Christ that we
take our children out of Pharaoh's schools.
"Christians talk about their children being 'salt
and light' in these schools. But what happened in Plano proves that
Christian parents and teachers have absolutely no influence in these
"We warn children not to accept everything the
teacher tells them—which furthers disrespect—but parents have no
choice," Ms. Shroder said. "If a parent does approach a teacher with a
concern, we have to deal with the fear that our children will suffer
retribution. And they often do."
Lee Duigon is a Christian free-lance writer and
contributing editor for the Chalcedon Report. He has been a newspaper
editor and reporter and a published novelist.
copyright © 2005 The
Chalcedon Foundation • www.chalcedon.edu • All Rights Reserved Worldwide
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