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Monday, July 30, 2007

School Prayer? Tom Ascol's War Against Islam

Tom Ascol is perhaps the most well known Calvinist in the Southern Baptist Convention. He serves as the Executive Director of Founders Ministries - an organization that desires the return of the SBC to her Reformed roots.

Over at the Founder's Ministries blog, Tom Ascol is complaining that a public school in San Diego has adopted a policy that sets aside 15 minutes from classroom instruction each afternoon to accommodate all students who wish to pray.

Shocked that a Southern Baptist leader would oppose a policy that allows for school prayer? You should be. After all, Southern Baptist "conservatives" like Richard Land, Jimmy Draper, Albert Smith and Sam Currin (to name a few) have been backing School Prayer amendments and bills since the Reagan years.

Well, here's the rub....

The San Diego school that Ascol is griping about has a large Somali Muslim population.

Ascol concludes:
Our government elementary and secondary school system is irreparably broken. There are obvious exceptions from classroom to classroom and even from school to school, but the system is beyond repair. We no longer have a Christian worldview underpinning the efforts to educate the populace. McGuffey's Readers (in their original form) would never be allowed in most modern government classrooms. Though I realize that this issue is laden with difficulties and often addressed unhelpfully shrill voices, I am more convinced than ever that Christians need to start developing exit strategies for our children to leave government schools. By all means, let's keep sending Christian teachers to the classrooms. They should go as missionaries who recognize that they are invading territory that is hostile to the claims of our Savior.

Education cannot be morally neutral. All teaching has an unavoidable perspective. The widespread perspective of our government schools has moved from a basically Christian worldview, to a secular worldview into rapidly developing anti-Christian worldviews that play right into the hands of radical Islamists who are unhesitant to work pluralism to their advantage as they plot to move from tolerance to equality to supremacy. If you doubt their goals you have not listened to their proclamations.

The battle against Islam will not be fought primarily on foreign fields and will certainly not be won by guns and smart bombs. It is an ideological fight. It is a battle for the minds and souls of men and women and boys and girls. Only a muscular, vigorous, radically biblical Christianity can prevail. The insipid versions that dominate the American landscape--including the evangelical landscape--cannot stand against militant Islam. Only the true Gospel of Jesus Christ will do. And it is that Gospel that, I believe, has been largely lost or forgotten by many in our day who name the Name of Christ and assume that they understand and believe what He taught.
Yes, folks, by extending the right to religious expression to Muslims, we are playing into the hands of "radical Islamists." Apparently giving 2nd graders the right to voluntary prayer is the first step in a Muslim machination to achieve Islamic supremacy!!! Horse hockey!!

Further, it's quite curious that Ascol decides to play the "separation" card when it's non-Christians that are attempting to pray. Does Ascol not recognize that this is the type of accommodationism that Southern Baptist "conservatives" spent years pleading for? Heck, Southern Baptists demonstrated that they were willing to abandon their separationist Heritage when they terminated a 50-year long relationship with the Baptist Joint Committee in order to promote the accommodationism of Dick Land & Company.

Does Ascol realize that his position has put him at odds with official SBC church-state guru, Richard Land (aka I Heart Freddy T.)?

Land and his Cooperative Program-funded Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission would most certainly approve of a policy that provides extensive religious accommodation in public schools. In his book, The Divided States of America, Land argues that religious and nonreligious minorities would not have the right to equal time, only the right to equal access. Thus, schools like the one in San Diego with a very large Muslim population would be accommodated with more time than fellow Evangelical students to express their religious beliefs voluntarily in a public setting. That's Ascol's Cooperative Program dollars at work....

While I argue that many of Land's church-state views such as above are contrary to the historic Baptist principles of religious liberty and an unfettered conscience, I wholeheartedly agree that public schools should accommodate the religious rights of students. But this accommodation must be made without disrupting the learning process or interfering with the rights of others. Our government must protect the religious expression of Muslims and Christians alike provided that the right to engage in voluntary prayer "does not include the right to have a captive audience to listen."

Finally, it's unfortunate that another well-known SBCer has decided that it's in the best interest of Christians to abandon the public school system. Fellow Calvinist and Ascol compadre Voodie Bauchum recently declared: "I want to bankrupt the American educational establishment one student at a time." This rhetoric is not helpful. But I digress....

I'll close with a quote that I encountered while studying religion at the University of Georgia...
"The process of pluralism is never complete but is the ongoing work of each generation. In America, we might go further to say that part of the engagement of pluralism is participating in the 'idea of America.'"

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Blogger healtheland said...

And you want Christians to continue to attend public schools why? To evangelize perhaps?

8:52 PM


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