Godless public schools produced Columbine violence, groups assert

Tuesday, April 27, 1999

In the wake of the violence at Columbine High School in Littelton, Colo., groups and individuals opposed to public education are heightening their call for families to remove their children from the nation's public schools.

Exodus 2000, a nonprofit project founded by Ray Moore in 1997, seeks to “trump the insidious, pro-social control” of public schools by a “rapid withdrawal” of Christian children from “a corrupt public school system.” Moore has been working for years from his South Carolina headquarters to encourage Christian families to remove their children from public schools and either home-school them or send them to private religious schools.

Moore said that he agreed with a California Baptist preacher who this Sunday blamed secular public schools for the Columbine shootings. The Los Angeles Times quoted Pastor Bill Davenport, of a Baptist church in San Clemente, as saying: “We've taken God and prayer out of the schools, and now you have satanic worship operating behind the scenes, unobstructed. Those kids had no value for life because they haven't been taught about God.”

Moore said that “these things in the public schools are inevitable and I predict they will continue and likely increase.” He said he regretted that such violence as occurred at Columbine only supported his group's argument that Christian students should leave the public schools.

“What is happening is that the culture realizes we have a desperate problem, but we seem unwilling to turn to the God solution,” Moore said. “How many more of these situations do we have to have?”

Marshall Fritz, founder of the California nonprofit group Separation of School and State Alliance, agrees with Moore that secular education is absolutely harming children.

“Children learn that eternity must not be important, because it is not being taught,” Fritz said. “If you send children to schools where they are under the care of people who believe in no eternity, then why should we be surprised when children embrace death?”

According to Fritz, the millions of children who attend public schools are deprived of the teachings of God, to the detriment of society. Thus, he says, the public schools are producing children who do not believe there is purpose to life. Fritz said children do learn about eternity and God in religious schools and home schooling.

“When you teach children they are animals, why are you surprised they act like animals?” Fritz asked. “When you give children quarters to practice simulated killing of people in video games, why are you surprised when they put that practice in action? When you teach children that the earth is overpopulated, why are you surprised when they kill people?”

Rob Boston, assistant communications director of the Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Moore's and Fritz's arguments were “so simplistic” as to make them difficult to respond to.

“It is discouraging to see groups and individuals exploiting the Columbine tragedy for political gain at a time like this when Americans need to come together for the problems of teen violence and not to point fingers or place blame where it clearly does not belong,” Boston said. “This is a vexing issue for many Americans and many are likely to be seduced by the notion of quick fixes, such as banning violent movies, video games or trench coats.”

Asked whether government-sponsored prayer in the public schools would reduce the alleged rash of violence committed by young people, Boston said it would only “drive more wedges” between Christian and non-Christian students.