LOS ANGELES - As one group attempts to use California public schools as laboratories to assist children in "coming out" with their nontraditional sexual orientation, another is urging parents to come out from these schools and educate their children with their values at home or in private schools.
Last Sunday, a group called "Exodus Mandate" began placing literature in scores of Southern California church lobbies, urging parents to take charge of their children's education and oppose attempts by activists and politicians to shape the worldview of young people, a worldview that runs counter to what many taxpaying parents believe and teach in their homes and places of worship.
The final straw for some was the decision last fall by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign SB 777 - a bill opponents say will have a long and significant effect not only on California public schools, but also on public schools everywhere. That's because California is one of the largest purchasers of school textbooks and publishers tend to shape content to reflect the wishes of the state that buys the most books.
SB 777, or the California Student Civil Rights Act, requires "nondiscrimination" against sexual orientation, as well as other characteristics. Opponents take that to mean favorable teaching about homosexuality, bisexuality, gender identity and any and every other form of sexual expression for which there is an advocate.
Dr. Ron Gleason, pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Yorba Linda, Calif., is leading the exodus movement in Southern California. In a telephone interview, Gleason acknowledges it is difficult work because he says there is virtually no leadership at the pastoral level with the "big name Christian celebrity" pastors largely remaining silent. "They prefer to build their empires rather than step out and lead," he says. Gleason says 96 percent of his congregation have their children in private schools or educate them at home.
Gleason says SB 777 has resulted in California schools not being allowed to use the words "mommy" and "daddy" anymore. "Children will be taught that sexual orientation and gender are merely a matter of personal choice," says Gleason, "and they will be taught to find what is 'right' for them."
The Website for Gleason's group argues SB 777 essentially makes it lawful for public schools to "indoctrinate" children as young as pre-kindergarten to accept as normal and morally acceptable homosexuality and "other sexually deviant lifestyles." In addition, says the group, the legislation represents a "complete reversal of 2,000 years of Christian moral teaching on human sexuality, family, and marriage."
Gleason has a response to questions like, "What about the single mother who can't afford tuition for a private school or spare the time to home school her child?" He offers church families who home school their children as places where the single mother can put her child.
Gleason's rationale is simple. "If you're going to send your kids to Caesar, you're going to get Romans back."
He's right. It isn't just the sexual re-programming. That's symbolic of a larger problem. The government schools want to shape a child's mind in ways that reflect a mostly liberal, humanistic worldview. This has implications for a child's understanding of economics, foreign policy, American history and the size and purpose of government, in addition to what once were known as "traditional values." It is about reflecting the worldview of the teachers unions, who are in the pocket of the Democratic Party. In other words, the Left uses public schools to produce the next generation of Democrats.
The tragedy is that too many conservative Christian, Republican parents who want their children to have a different worldview - their own - willingly participate in the destruction of their children's minds by turning them over to a way of thinking that is antithetical to their beliefs. Parents who worship at conservative churches on Sunday willingly send their children to schools five days a week where what they are taught undermines what they learned in church and at home. They would never think of taking their kids to a church that teaches doctrines opposed to their beliefs, but they don't give a second thought to doing the same thing by sending them to government schools. It makes no sense.
Gleason has found it difficult to start a fire among conservative Christians because apathy is like wet underbrush, but he is undeterred. He thinks that like those other fires with which California is familiar, the best time to get out is while you still can.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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