A Baptist Pastoral Letter Supporting Public Education

Baptist Center for Ethics
Nashville, TN
April 21, 2006

Dear Fellow Baptists:

The time has come for Baptists to speak positively about public education and to take proactive initiatives that advance a constructive future for America's public school system.

We recognize the need for reforms in public schools, as all organizations need reformation, including churches and corporations. Reforms to improve all facets of public education should be a constant goal of our nation.

While every family is free to decide the course of their children's education, we believe it is wrong for Baptist leaders to urge Baptists to exit the nation's public school system for homeschools and Christian academies and to equip that cause.

We decry the anti-public school statements that identify public schools as "the enemies of God," that label the nation's school system as "a dark and decaying government school system" and that claim public schools are converting Christian children "to an anti-Christian worldview." We urge a halt to the demonization of public schools.

We believe Baptists should recommit themselves to public education, not as a means toward converting school children, but because it is the right thing to do. We believe public school children are God's children who deserve the nurture of a good society, the prospect for a good education and the equal opportunity for a good life.

We call on Baptists to recommit themselves to the separation of church and state, which will keep public schools free from coercive pressure to promote sectarian faith, such as state-written school prayers and the teaching of neo-creationism (intelligent design).

We call on Baptists to recommit themselves to a just society. A just society will ensure that every American child has an opportunity for a good education and that public schools have the resources necessary to provide such an opportunity, achieving the highest standards possible.

We call on Baptists to recommit themselves to the nation's founding principle of "E Pluribus Unum." A society based on unity out of diversity will embrace every child and recognize the vital role public schools play in achieving national unity.

We, the undersigned, pledge therefore to

  • pray for public schools;
  • show our support for public schools through worship services that affirm all school-related personnel;
  • advocate for a high wall of separation between church and state that is critical to good public education;
  • pursue a just society that benefits every child;
  • speak up for the role public education plays in democracy, especially the unity it creates in the midst of diversity so necessary in our society;
  • challenge religious voices who demonize public education; and
  • share this letter with others.


Robert Parham
Baptist Center for Ethics, Nashville, TN

Pastors and Church Staff Ministers:

Steve Abbott
First Baptist Church, Siloam Springs, AR

James Abernathy
Westwood Baptist Church, Springfield, VA

John B. Adams
Union Baptist Church, West Point, GA

Doug Adkins
Madison Baptist Church, Madison, GA

Bob Albritton
Millbrook Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC

Jay R. Allen
First Baptist Church Oklahoma City, OK

Mark Ashworth
Union Cross Baptist Church, Kernersville, NC

Fred Andrea
First Baptist Church, Aiken, SC

Raymond Bailey
Seventh & James Baptist Church, Waco, TX

John Baker
First Baptist Church, Columbia, MO

Bob Ballance
Heritage Baptist Church, Cartersville, GA

Brent Beasley
Second Baptist Church, Memphis, TN

David M. Becker
First Baptist Church, Granbury, TX

James Bennett
First Baptist Church, Aiken, SC

Larry Bethune
University Baptist Church, Austin, TX

Kerry Layne Bond,
Rutledge Baptist Church, Rutledge, TN

Bob Browning
Smoke Rise Baptist Church, Stone Mountain, GA

John Burns
University Baptist Church, College Park, MD

Gary Burton
Pintlala Baptist Church, Hope Hull, AL

James K. Byrd
Third Baptist Church, Owensboro, KY

Chris Caldwell
Broadway Baptist Church, Louisville, KY

Bruce A. Calhoun
Towaliga Baptist Church, Jackson, GA

Kendell Cameron
First Baptist Church, Whiteville, NC

Nancy Campbell
Viewmont Baptist Church, Hickory NC

Melissa Cargile
Central Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, FL

Grant Carter
Winterville Baptist Church, Winterville, NC

Gary Carver
First Baptist Church, Chattanooga, TN

Michael R. Chancellor
Crescent Heights Baptist Church, Abilene, TX

Tom Clifton
First Baptist Church, Kansas City, MO

Greg Cochran
Woodbrook Baptist Church, Baltimore, MD

Lawrence B. Coleman
Churchland Baptist Church, Chesapeake, VA

Brenda Collins
Wingate Baptist Church, Wingate, NC

Stacy Conner
First Baptist Church, Muleshoe, TX

Matt Cook
Second Baptist Church, Little Rock, AR

Ken Corr
First Baptist Church, Memphis, TN

J. Edward Culpepper
Retired, First Baptist Church, Huntsville, AL

Carolyn Dipboye
Grace Covenant Church, Oak Ridge, TN

Larry Dipboye
Grace Covenant Church, Oak Ridge, TN

Brian Dixon
Dolores Street Baptist Church, San Francisco, CA

Lou Drew
First Baptist Church, Plaistow, NH

Larry Earhart
First Baptist Church, Toccoa, GA

Hal Eaton
Pastor Emeritus, Young's Chapel Baptist Church, Wilson, VA

Stanley R. Elliott
First Baptist Church, Clinton, TN

Eric Evans
Southside Baptist Church, Brownwood, TX

James Evans
First Baptist Church, Auburn, AL

Leonard R. Ezell
First Baptist Church, Union Point, GA

Keith Felton
First Baptist Church, Hamilton, TX

Robert C. Ferguson
Retired, First Baptist Church, Mandeville, LA

David Flick
Indian Baptist Church, Watonga, OK

Don Flowers, Jr.
Providence Baptist Church, Charleston, SC

Bob Fox
Faith Baptist Church, Georgetown, KY

James R. Fuller
Calder Baptist Church, Beaumont, TX

David George
Immanuel Baptist Church, Nashville, TN

Jimmy Gentry
Tabernacle Baptist Church, Carrollton, GA

Roger Gilbert
First Baptist Church, Mount Airy, NC

Jack Glasgow
Zebulon Baptist Church, Zebulon, NC

Ronald D. Glover
First Baptist Church, Monroe, NC

Cory Goode
Signal Mountain Baptist Church, Signal Mountain, TN

Brent Greene
First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC

Byron Greene
Royston Baptist Church, Royston, GA

Wayne Hager
Calvary Baptist Church, Mount Airy, NC

Dell Hagwood
First Baptist Church, Plymouth, NC

Jimmy Hagwood
First Baptist Church, Plymouth, NC

William L. Hardee
Vineville Baptist Church, Macon, GA

Larry Harper
Forest Hills Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC

Melissa Hatfield
First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, MO

Kevin Head
First Baptist Church, Lumberton, NC

Karl Heilman
Sandston Baptist Church, Sandston, VA

Michael Helms
Trinity Baptist Church, Moultrie, GA

John Henson
Highland Community Church, Trophy Club, TX

Keith Herron
Holmeswood Baptist, Kansas City, MO

James Hill, Jr.
Southwest Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO

Allison Hinson
First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, AR

David Hinson
First Baptist Church, Frankfort, KY

Ron Hinson
College Avenue Baptist Church, Lenoir, NC

Warren Hoffman
Third Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO

Ed Hogan
Jersey Village Baptist Church, Houston, TX

Jim Holladay
Lyndon Baptist Church, Louisville, KY

David Hughes
First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC

Bruce W. Hunter
Beaver Dam Baptist Church, Troy, VA

Jacqueline Hutchinson
First Baptist Church, Long Beach, MS

Bill Ireland
Ardmore Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC

Darrell James
Culbertson Baptist Church, New Albany, IN

Mike Jamison
Shamrock Drive Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC

Jerry Jarrell
Mars Hill Baptist Church, Mars Hill, NC

David W. Johnson
Overland Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO

Mark Johnson
Central Baptist Church, Lexington, KY

David Jordan
Providence Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC

James M. King
Parkway Baptist Church, Duluth, GA

Tom Leland
University Baptist Church, Charlottesville, VA

Brenda Lynn Kneece,
New Hope Christian Fellowship, West Columbia, SC

Calvin James (C. J. ) Langton
Maplewood Park Baptist Church, Cahokia IL

Frank Lewis
First Baptist Church, Nashville, TN

Joe Lewis
Second Baptist Church, Petersburg, VA

Larry Link
First Baptist Church, Arlington, TX

Charlie Long
Barcelona Road Baptist Church, Hot Springs Village, AR

Ron Mackey
Windsor Baptist Church, Imperial, MO

Dean Majette
Ox Hill Baptist Church, Chantilly, VA

Don Mantooth
First Baptist Church, Morehead, KY

Mike Massar
First Baptist Church, Tyler, TX

Rebecca Horstman May
Elizaville Baptist Church, Lebanon, IN

Don McClung
First Baptist Church, Hawkinsville, GA

Marcus W. McFaul
First Baptist Church (American Baptist), Lawrence, KS

Wallace C. McGill
Retired Minister, member, First Baptist Church, Chattanooga, TN

Steve McGlamery
First Baptist Church, Hawkinsville, GA

Jeanie McGowan
First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, MO

Thomas R. McKibbens
First Baptist Church, Worcester, MA

Johnny F. McKinney
Boulevard Baptist Church, Anderson, SC

Elizabeth Milazzotto
FBC Eastwood, Louisville KY

John Miller
Alum Spring Baptist Church, Culpeper, VA

Michael Mitchell
Gault Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Payne, AL

Kendal Mobley
Enon Baptist Church, Salisbury, NC

Mark Moeller
First Baptist Church, San Angelo, TX

Bert Montgomery
Campbellsburg Baptist Church, Campbellsburg, KY

Marcy Mynatt
Boulevard Baptist Church, Anderson, SC

Jim Nelson
First Baptist Church, Toccoa, GA

Mark Newton
First Baptist Church, San Marcos, TX

Robert Norman III
North Brunswick Fellowship Church, Leland, NC

Peg Nowling
First Baptist Church, Lafayette, IN

Howard G. Olive
Retired, Monte Vista Baptist Maryville, TN

Bill Owen
Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Cross Plains, TN

Kenneth Park
Jerusalem Baptist Church, Warsaw VA

Susan Parker
Wake Forest Baptist Church, Winston Salem, NC

Jon Parks
Kenbridge Baptist Church, Kenbridge, VA

Roger A. Paynter
First Baptist Church, Austin, TX

David Phelps
First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, MO

Joseph Phelps
Highland Baptist Church, Louisville, KY

Robert Prince
First Baptist Church, Waynesville, NC

Tim Rayborn
Believers Baptist Fellowship, Hendersonville, TN

Carol McCall Richardson
First Baptist Church, Memphis, TN

Thomas R. McKibbens
First Baptist Church, Worcester, MA

Kyle Reese
Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL

Burdette Robinson
Bon Air Baptist Church, Richmond, VA

David E. Roberts
Main Street Baptist Church, Emporia, VA

John Roberts
Pastor Emeritus, Woodbrook Baptist Church, Baltimore, MD

Jeffrey Rogers
First Baptist Church, Greenville, SC

Jimmy Rogers
Mt Olive Baptist Church, Talco, TX

Sandi Evans Rogers
Columbia Baptist Church, Falls Church, VA

Todd Rouse
First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, AR

Michael L. Ruffin
The Hill Baptist Church, Augusta, GA

Mary Runyon
First Baptist Church, Middlesboro, KY

Doyle Sager
First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, MO

Paula Settle
Central Baptist Church of Bearden, Knoxville, TN

Bill Shiell
First Baptist Church, Knoxville, TN

Michael Shook
Grove Park Baptist Church, Clinton, NC

Bill Shoulta
Melbourne Heights Baptist Church, Louisville, KY

Bob Shrum
Oakland Baptist Church, Rock Hill, SC

Mike Shupert
First Baptist Church, Cape Girardeau, MO

Kimbrough Simmons
Masonville Baptist Church, Utica, KY

Fred R. Skaggs
County Line Baptist Church, Ruther Glen, VA

Derrill Smith
Wingate Baptist Church, Wingate, NC

Everette J. Smith, Sr.
Lystra Baptist Church, Chapel Hill, N. C.

Greg Smith
Northeast Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA

Layne Smith
Viewmont Baptist Church, Hickory, NC

Mike Smith
First Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, TN

Gary Snowden
First Baptist Church, Lee's Summit, MO

Jonathan Spencer
Druid Hills Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA

Carolyn Yeldell Staley
Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, Little Rock, AR

Scott L. Stearman
Kirkwood Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO

Larry Stevens
Noble Avenue Baptist Church, Guthrie, OK

Chuck Summers
First Baptist Church, Middlesboro, KY

Dianne Swaim
Second Baptist Church, Little Rock, AR

Cheryl R. Thomas
Calvary Baptist Church ABC-USA, Des Moines IA

Gerald Thomas,
Ocilla Baptist Church, Ocilla, GA

Roger W. Thomas
First Baptist Church, Albemarle, NC

Charles J. Tomlin
Fellowship Baptist Church, Lenoir, NC

Jeffrey Vickery
Cullowhee Baptist Church, Cullowhee, NC

Tonya Vickery
Cullowhee Baptist Church, Cullowhee, NC

Jack N. Watson
Woodhaven Baptist Church, Apex, NC

Steve Wells
South Main Baptist Church, Houston, TX

Jim West
Petros Baptist Church, Petros TN

Gene Wilder,
First Baptist Church, Jefferson City, TN

Don Wilkey
First Baptist Church, Onalaska, TX

Bradley Williamson,
South Main Baptist Church, Pasadena, TX

Bill Wilson
First Baptist Church, Dalton, GA

Ed Sunday-Winters
Ball Camp Baptist Church, Knoxville, TN

Paul Wrenn
Retired pastor, Deermeadows Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL

David B. Wright
Chapel Creek Church, Tulsa, OK

Kevin Wood
New Life Baptist Church, Burlingame, CA.

Richard E. Wynne
St. John's Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC

Bert Young
First Baptist Church, Bladenboro, NC

Gerald Young
The United Baptist Church, Annandale, VA

Convention and Fellowship Leaders

Isam E. Ballenger
Professor Emeritus, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, Richmond, VA

Ben J. Connell
Retired, South Carolina Baptist Convention, Columbia, SC

Ron Cook
Truett Seminary, Waco, TX

Lorin L. Cranford
Gardner-Webb University, Boiling Springs, NC

Greg Day
Mount Olive College, Mount Olive, NC

Tyanna Yonkers Day
Mount Olive College, Mount Olive, NC

Charles W. Deweese
Baptist History and Heritage Society, Brentwood, TN

Greg C. Earwood
Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

Wilmer C. Fields
Retired VP Public Relations, SBC Executive Committee, Nashville, TN

Grace Powell Freeman
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Atlanta, GA

Tommy Goode
Baptist General Convention of Texas, Dallas, TX

David Grebel
Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX

Beverly Greer
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of South Carolina, Belton, SC

Ircel Harrison
Tennessee Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Murfreesboro, TN

Ray Higgins
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas, Little Rock, AR

Larry Hovis
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina, Winston-Salem, NC

Lynne Robinson Huff
Moderator, Kentucky Baptist Fellowship, Corbin, KY

John Humphreys
Dallas Baptist University, Dallas, TX

Rebecca A. Kennedy
Baylor University, Waco, TX

David W. Key
Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Rick Lane
Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, TN

John Lepper
Kentucky Baptist Fellowship, Louisville, KY

Jeff Langford
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri, Liberty, MO

Emmanuel McCall
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Atlanta, GA

Rick McClatchey
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Texas, San Antonio, TX

Mark McEntire
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

Constance McNeill
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Atlanta, GA

Larry McSwain
McAfee School of Theology, Atlanta, GA

Gary Percesepe
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, Charlotte, NC

Harold Phillips
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri, Liberty, MO

Bruce Prescott
Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, Norman, OK

Mark Ray
Past president, Mainstream Alabama Baptists

Tarris Rosell
Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, KS

Jim Russell
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Arkansas, Bentonville, AR.

Walter B. Shurden
Mercer University, Macon, GA

Greg Smith
Virginia Baptist Mission Board, Fredericksburg, VA

Stephen V. Sprinkle
Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX

Bud Strawn
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida, St. Petersburg, FL

T. Thomas
Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Bill Tillman
Logsdon School of Theology, Abilene, TX

Joe E. Trull
Christian Ethics Today

Daniel Vestal
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Atlanta, GA

Wayne Ward
Retired, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

Andrew Watts
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

John A. Wood
Emeritus Professor of Religion, Baylor University, Waco, TX

Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins, III
National Secretary, American Baptist Churches in the USA, Valley Forge, PA

Jim Young
Baptist General Convention of Texas, Dallas, TX

Other ministers

John B. Adams
The Pastoral Institute, Columbus, GA

Phillip Allen
Western North Carolina chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Monroe "Monk" Ashley
Retired Campus Minister

Ginger Barfield
Baptist Studies Program, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, SC

Bob Barker
Chaplain, Integris Baptist Regional Health Center, Miami, OK

Jerry L. Barnes
Retired, Acadia Divinity College, Grove, OK

Roland W. Byrd
Campus Minister, Blacksburg, VA

Caby Byrne
Retired Campus Minister/Army Chaplain, Memphis, TN

Rodney L. Craggs
Staff Chaplain, Community Hospital South, Indianapolis, IN

W. Prentice Fox
Retired USAF Chaplain, Fayetteville, NC

James A. Garrison
Staff Chaplain, Mission Hospitals, Inc., Asheville, NC

Bart Grooms
Samaritan Counseling Center, Birmingham, AL

David Huebner
Spring Hill, TN

Bert M. Langdon
Retired Director of Missions, Pacific Southern Baptist Association, Lompoc, CA

Angela Lowe
Chaplain, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Lawrence, KS

G. Keith Parker
Pastoral Counselor, Connestee Counseling, Inc., Brevard, NC

Anita Roper
United Crescent Hill Ministries, Louisville, KY

DeLane M. Ryals
Retired, Metro New York Baptist Association

David M. Smith
The Summit Counseling Center, Alpharetta, GA

James Stillwell
Center for Divorce Recovery, Lexington, KY

Ryan Valentine
Texas Freedom Network, Austin, TX

David L. Wheeler
Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Los Angeles, CA

Tony O. Woodell
Little Rock, AR

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