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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Roger Moran: Quack or Prophet???

This past June at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, Roger Moran & Co. sponsored a resolution urging the SBC to endorse a mass exodus from the "godless" public school system.

It failed....again.

After three failed attempts to pass his resolution, I assumed anti-public school activist Roger Moran would disappear for the time being.

Through his work as Research Director of the Missiouri Baptist Laymen's Association, Roger Moran has dedicated nearly ten years of his life to smearing, demonizing, and attacking both the Baptist Joint Committee and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Fundamentalists love to play the game of Guilt-By-Assocation. Roger Moran has years of experience demonizing moderate Baptist leaders. His Guilt-By-Association tactics have been used to portray these leaders and organizations as supporting certain viewpoints simply because those individuals have at times served on boards or committees of other orgaizations alongside non-Baptists who support more progressive positions.

Moran's research is like one convoluted game of Six-Degrees of Separation starring Kevin Bacon. Moran has even accused these same Baptist leaders and organizations of endorsing pornography. How utterly absurd! As a courageous journalist recently stated: "The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack."

Roger Moran is not a prophet.

For years Roger Moran has proven that he can not stand those unlike himself. Roger Moran's God is the God portrayed in Jonathan Edwards "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." And the saddest thing is that Roger Moran is convinced he always knows who's in and who's out and who is right and who is wrong. Hopefully, Roger Moran will one day come to the realization that mercy, gracy, and humility makes the Gospel go a wee-bit further than the vitrolic judgment and hate that spews from his pen and mouth.

With that said, I was just a tad surprised to see Roger Moran's name plastered today on articles in USA Today, Boston Herald, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

USA Today's article entitled "Evangelicals intensify calls for parents to pull kids from public schools" asserts that a "growing, loosely organized movement is now moving from harsh words to action - with parents taking their own children out of public schools and exhorting other families to do the same."

And from Roger Moran....

"The courts say no creationism, no prayer in public schools," said Roger Moran, a Winfield, Mo., businessman and member of the Southern Baptist Convention executive committee. "Humanism and evolution can be taught, but everything I believe is disallowed."

The father of nine homeschooled children, Moran co-sponsored a resolution at the Southern Baptists' annual meeting in June that urged the denomination to endorse a public school pullout. It failed, as did a similar proposal before the conservative Presbyterian Church in America for members to shift their children into homeschooling or private Christian schools.

Still, the movement is very much alive, led by such groups as Exodus Mandate and the Alliance for Separation of School and State. One new campaign aims to monitor public schools for what conservatives see as pro-gay curriculum and programs; another initiative seeks to draw an additional 1 million children into homeschooling by encouraging parents already experienced at it to mentor families wanting to try it.

Other leaders of this "loosely organized movement" include Religious Right figures such as Dr. Al Mohler and the Rev. D. James Kennedy. In a recent commentary, Kennedy declared....

"The infusion of an atheistic, amoral, evolutionary, socialistic, one-world, anti-American system of education in our public schools has indeed become such that if it had been done by an enemy, it would be considered an act of war."

Moran, Kennedy, and Mohler are leading a campaign to cripple our education system. The charge that public schools are anti-American is ludicrous. Public schools are American democracy's greatest gift to children. Sure, public schools are not perfect. Reform is needed in many of our schools. However, now is not the time for Christians (especially Baptists) to abandon public schools. We must continue to support our public schools and the educators who teach our children. As citizens of these United States, this is our duty.

The demonization of our public schools as being "the enemies of God" must stop. Baptists such as Roger Moran must realize that public schools promote civic responsibility, a common bond in society and provide for equal opportunity for a good life. Moran and other Baptists must heed the Baptist Center for Ethics call to recommit (commit?) themselves to our nation's founding principle of "E Pluribus Unum" because a "society based on unity of diversity will embrace every child and recognize the vital role public schools play in achieving national unity.

Click HERE to read "A Baptist Pastoral Letter Supporting Public Education" signed by over 200 ministers.

Also, the Baptist Center for Ethics has a free, 20-page resource for advocacy and action on behalf of public education and a worship resource for congregations that deserves your attention.

Note: Roger Moran currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.


Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Quack, quack, quack. This was a much better post on this topic than the straw figure one that Jim West gave on today's Mainstream Baptists.

We need someone today with the vision of Horace Mann and we need churches that will commit to a vision of common schools. I don't want to make private schools or homeschooling illegal. That's against my civil libertarian nature. And most Catholic schools are guite good AS schools. But we need a public school system that is excellent in quality, equally financed across the nation, and to which most citizens attend.

1:01 PM

Blogger D.R. said...


Why do we need a common school system in "which most citizens attend?" Regardless of what you feel about Moran and anyone who calls for an exit from the public schools, aren't smaller classes better for education. If more people homeschool and continue to pay taxes doesn't that make sense that better education could be given to students in the public schools?

Personally, I am planning on homseschooling. I don't think the schools do a good job of education and I think that often schools undermine parental authority and the ability of parents to prepare their children for future success. Additionally, the lack of discipline and a clear moral compass is not causing children to become exposed to sexual and moral dangers much sooner than they are prepared or equipped to deal with. My problem with a call for Christians to be involved in the public schools is that Christians are interested in morality, integrity, and ethics. These are three things that I have yet to be seen taught in the public schools and three things about which secularists refuse to take advice from Christians.

I am not trying to "demonize" public schools when I say this either. I speak as one who is in the public schools everyday as a substitute teacher and must at times close my eyes and ears as I walkdown the hallways of schools that are now either unable or unwilling to control the teenagers they claim to be educating.

1:39 PM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

I respect your decision to homeschool your future (I assume?) children.

One of my close friends was homeschooled until the 8th grade. He was an exceptional athlete and like many other homeschooled kids in my area - he left homeschooling for the opportunity to play organized sports. As a guy who played football and exceled in tennis - I can't imagine growing up (stuck at home) without those available opportunities.

Public schools worked well for my family. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to attend a school that wasn't white-washed (unlike most private schools in the South). My parents and Church instilled my soul with morality and integrity. Yes, public schools could do a better job teaching integrity and ethics. We live in a pluralistic world - whose morality would you have educators teach?

I don't think you are demonizing the public school system - unless you choose to use the language of Roger Moran and D. James Kennedy. Calling public schools "godless" and "atheistic" do not serve a greater purpose. How many Southern Baptist women and men are principals, teachers, and coaches in the public school system? Where I grew up, the Baptists literally ran the school system. Moran's call for SBCers to abandon public schools is completely unrealistic...

9:28 PM

Blogger PBill said...

Our kids were homeschooled (back when it was considered a lunatic fringe action), and attended private Christian and private secular schools, and finished in public schools. The homeschooling was the best experience and of the other three, the public school was the best. The Christian school was the worst.

I don't see much traction in the exodus movement, too many pastor's wives and solid church members are public school teachers. Folks may speak ill of public schooling in general but tend to like and support their own public school.

If moderates and liberals want to help education in America they might consider supporting parents in having expanded choices for their kid's education.

6:17 AM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Expanded choices? I assume you mean a voucher system of some sorts?

Moderates and liberals who respect the First Amendment have fought long and hard against "School Choice" for obvious reasons. So, no dice - assuming that is the "expanded choices" you were referring to...

8:46 AM

Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White said...

D.R., we can have smaller class sizes if we fully fund education rather than wars!

I think most citizens should attend the public schools (not by coercion) because (a) we need an educated electorate, (b) because we need the experience--during our formative years--of working and playing with people unlike us: from different races/ethnicities, language groups, cultures, religions, and classes. Our pluralistic democracy demands that we learn to cross all those boundaries, and it is easiest to start in childhood and adolescence.

(c) While we can and should learn our various faith traditions and practices at home (but we can study ABOUT religions in public schools), in the public schools, we are educated in the moral values and virtues required to be good citizens of this democratic republic. Those CAN be learned outside of the public schools, but not as easily.

12:02 PM

Blogger D.R. said...

A few thoughts about the discussion (which I greatly appreciate as it is very civilized and not at all what I read on the Mainstream Baptist site yesterday -- did you guys see the "homeschooling" article that was removed?):

1) I am not for vouchers and I really don't think many mainstream homeschoolers are -- the majority of those who are for them seem to be private/charter school supporters, which as "pbill" testified might be a worse option than the public schools for various reasons. I think that attacking homeschoolers on the voucher issue might be like shooting missles into the wrong country.

2) Having said that I do advocate for some sort of tax breaks for homeschoolers on texbooks and material (up to a certain dollar amount per year). I think this is prudent and would not jeapordize any funding for the public schools (given that the figure would likely be well below the cost ratio of educating one child in the public schools).

3) BDW made a great point and one that I think epitomizes why homeschooling is gaining ground. He said, "We live in a pluralistic world - whose morality would you have educators teach?" I have recently read several statements by early public school advocates and some early public school detractors and on one point they both seem to agree - you can't separate morality/ethics from education. The difference was that the public school detrators thought you couldn't do it in common schools and the advocates were assured that you could. Over a century later and now the presuppositions of those advocates who took that critique seriously are no longer able to function in the pluralistic world BDW spoke of. The early advocates of public education believed strongly that Judeo-Christian ethics would always be the norm, yet we see that is no longer the case. So now, we see schools choosing not to speak of morality and ethics rather than choosing some system to speak through.

4) Michael, your point about education spending would be legitimate if any study could be cited that maintained that more spending on education actually caused more learning to go on. But now, after millions and billions of dollars more every year are spent on education, the students wer produce are yet less educated than they were when less money was spent per child (even adjusted for inflation). If more spending were the answer, then why isn't that proving to be the case in districts where more and more money is being thrown at the system without any true results? One quick example - the worst "traditional" school I have been at in Louisville has given every student a laptop and internet access. You know what they do all day? That's right - they play games, download music (often illegal), watch horrificly immoral music videos and chat with their friends across the room. The best two schools I have been in have probably had the least technology and worst buildings (and when I checked the test scores - my hunch was correct).

5) As for your three points, let me address them - a) most students coming out of schools today don't vote and are highly uneducated, so that vision of an educated elecorate isn't working; b) I would like to see some evidence that being around different ethnicities/cultures is actually helping prepare students for the real world. I just don't believe it and here is why: 1) The kids I have encountered can't find simply geographic locations on a map, much less know what the Middle Eastern kid's culture is like, 2) The mixing of cultures more often leads to amalgamation and loss of a sense of one's cultural identity than it does to an appreciation of others' cultures, 3)some of the greatest missionaries of all time had never experienced any culture outside their own until they went to live among the people's to whom they wanted to share the Gospel. So I just don't buy that argument. One can learn about other cultures without being exposed to them for 8 hours a day (while they are also being exposed to pornography, rampant sexualism, drugs, alcoholic obsessionism, and consumerism and materialism of the highest degree - which they are more likely to be influenced by than the quiet Middle Eastern kid who is in cultural shock himself), c) I think BDW hit it on the head when he asked "whose morals" and what morals can we agree upon that make good citizens? Abstinence and sexual purity, moderation, humility before God, rejection of materialism, consumerism, and successism, and obedience to parents rank high on my list of morals. Do you honestly think those will fly in the current atmosphere of pluralism?

In the end I don't think the vision of the original advocates of public education is being realized and I think with the pluralistic and relativistic culture we live in, it never will be. Thus, I think supporting public schools actively through advocation is a dead cause. I think public education is headed the way of the dodo as homeschooling and private education becomes more attractive. Once more resources are pushed toward those endevours, I think you will find publically educated kids lagging far behind. Of course, then everyone will just blame homeschoolers and private educators, instead of those who actually have their kids in the schools.

12:57 PM

Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I hate to be an alarmist, but if your vision and arguments prevail, our pluralistic democracy is doomed. We will become balkanized segments of hostility and ignorance. We are already far down this road. Vigorous support of public education is not all that it will take to avoid this fate, but it is certainly one of the necessary links.

7:26 PM

Blogger D.R. said...


You said, "I hate to be an alarmist, but if your vision and arguments prevail, our pluralistic democracy is doomed."

How exactly do you arrive at such a conclusion?

Also, you said "We will become balkanized segments of hostility and ignorance."

Is that because you feel that homeschooling naturally and unswervingly produces people who are ignorant or who are hostile towards others? Or is it that you only see a public education being able to accomplish the goal of pluralistic cooperation?

Additionally, you said, "Vigorous support of public education is not all that it will take to avoid this fate, but it is certainly one of the necessary links."

I am not sure how public education will be able to actually do anything to curb the misunderstanding of different groups in our society. If anything, it seems the current atmosphere of the public schools trivializes our differences, never educating our students past simple knowledge to the ability to analyze complex problems or concepts. So, how exactly could public schools realistically be used to stop this apocalyptic prophecy that you seem to suggest is eminent? And why exactly does homeschooling speed such a process along?

Finally, how exactly did you arrive at this prophetic vision from what I wrote?

8:31 PM

Blogger PBill said...

Long comments and discussions are unweildy, seems to me, in this format but I would comfirm to BDW that I favor vouchers. Let the market sort it all out through competition. I have zero confidence in the educational industrial complex acting in any manner save for their own self-interest.

The church/state objection is not well founded IMO and can be handled but I do realize that my moderate and liberal baptists friends reflexively oppose such... so we let the less affluent students and families continue to fare poorly while choices are available only to more affluent families.

Seems to me the playing field is left wide open to the exodus crowd, which I do not support, in no small part because religious mod/libs have no solutions, only objections: to homeschooling ('you're destroying the principle of pluralism, common schooling' etc), private schools ('seg academies' as if this is 1966), vouchers ('Taliban schools') etc. Yawn...

I'm out of it all now, kids thankfully growing up and moving on, but were I a parent of a school-aged kid, I would certainly favor having more options.


6:18 AM

Blogger foxofbama said...

Big Daddy:
Check the 200 signatures and you will see Becky Kennedy or Rebecca as she now goes by in the list from Waco Texas. I think my bro in law's good friend bill O'Brien signed as well.
Will be a good entrance to begin a conversation with Ms. Kennedy of Collinsville.
2) pLEASE LIST MY BLOG in your list of Baptist blogs. While I cover many areas, Hankins should follow me as with you I am a veritable case study in how the Baptist mess has drifted down to the local church level.
3) Be sure the Baylor community goes out to see All the King's Men opening day Sept 22
Ask Becky is it no small matter her home church is drifting into the fundy camp
4Balmer's Thy Kingdom Come? Have you Read it yet. What is Ben Cole saying about the 2nd chapter.
Join the chorus to hold Frank Page, SBC President's feet to the fire on this issue of the Exodus Mandate. He was on the Resolutions Committee this year, and his church is chocked full of public school teachers. At same time his secretary, Renee Morton, if my info is correct, is a 6 day creationist.
I know pretty much for a fact a member of his choir has a son and daughter in law committed to the CBF. So what would Russ Moore make of all that????
Collinsville, Alabama

1:10 PM

Blogger foxofbama said...

About P bill:
For all of your lurkers unfamiliar with Baptistlife.com, I am 98% sure PBill is my good fundy friend and BBQ afficianado, William thornton of Statham Georgia, between Winder and Athens, your UGA fan.
Do you know Richard Kremer. He ran track at UGA in late 70's, married the daughter of the attorney for SC Baptists who took good measure or Ed Young; now Kremer is a novelist pastor at St. Johns BC in Charlotte.

1:13 PM


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