Religious Right Launches “Exodus 2000”

By Barbara Miner

Leaders of the religious right are waging a campaign to withdraw all “Christian children” from the public schools by the year 2000. The campaign, known as “The Exodus 2000 Project,” is being spearheaded with the slogan, “Let My People Go.”

The campaign is being organized by some of the top leaders of the religious right, including Dr. D. James Kennedy, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida, and Robert Simonds of Citizens for Excellence in Education.

The idea of an exodus campaign surfaced publicly last February. At that time, Simonds announced “Rescue 2010.” Other religious right leaders wanted to move forward the date to the year 2000 – which, perhaps only coincidentally, overlaps with the presidential elections.

The flavor of the campaign is captured in a Sept. 11 press release from E. Ray Moore, director of Exodus 2000. Moore said: “Today some 12-15 million evangelical Christian children, or 90% of the kids from Christian families, are still attending government schools which are totally hostile to their principles and their faith. If these Christian families were to leave Pharaoh’s schools for the promised land of Christian schools or home-schooling, it could trigger the spiritual re-awakening we are all praying and longing for to renew our churches, our nation, and our debased culture. It would seriously cripple the power secularism now holds over our culture by holding our children as near-hostages in state schools.”

Moore underscores the importance the religious right attaches to attacking public schools and advocating religiously based instruction by noting, “This is the only battle that counts in the long run, and a battle that can be won, but only if Believers begin the exodus from atheistic public schools.”

Simonds says the main reason Christians should give up on public schools is that “almost all our curriculum bases the instruction unit on a humanist world view, with all its anti-Christian worldly values.” He also cites the teaching of evolution and refers to the “sin, homosexuality, the occult, sex and drugs in the public schools.” Simonds also opposes state and federal tests, which are deemed a form of government mind control.

The libertarian Separation of School and State Alliance, meanwhile, argues in its September newsletter that readers should “avoid trying to fix” public schools. Instead, with wording almost identical to press releases from the religious right, it calls upon its supporters to “help rescue children from government schools.” It specifically recommends financial contributions to the Children’s Scholarship Fund, set up by New York City financier Theodore Forstmann and John Walton of Wal-Mart fame. The Fund provides $1,000 scholarships for low-income families to help pay tuition at private and religious schools; it is designed in part to build popular support for publicly funded vouchers.

The alliance calls for an end to any government involvement in education, from funding of public schools to compulsory attendance laws. Despite the organization’s fringe nature, a number of prominent conservatives have endorsed its goals – such as Ed Crane, president of the Cato Institute, one of the most influential think tanks in Washington, D.C.; Thomas Moore of the equally influential Heritage Foundation; Howard Phillips, head of the U.S. Taxpayer’s Party; and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).