Public Schools Opposed

T.C. Pinckney of Alexandria, a former vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, has asked the denomination to consider a resolution at its annual meeting next month that would encourage Southern Baptists to remove their children from public schools.

The proposed resolution states that public school education is "officially godless" and that public schools teach the acceptability of homosexuality. It "encourages all churches associated with the Southern Baptist Convention to work aggressively to counsel parents regarding their obligation to provide their children with a Christian education."

Pinckney, editor of the independent Baptist Banner, wrote the resolution with Bruce Shortt, a Texas lawyer. Shortt is the Texas coordinator of Exodus Mandate, an organization that wishes to replace public schools with "private, Christian and home-school education."

Pinckney said he proposed the resolution to express his personal convictions about education. "In the Bible, God assigns the responsibility for educating children to the parents, not to government," he said.

A resolutions committee has to approve the resolution before it can be considered at the convention June 15-16 in Indianapolis. If rejected by the committee, the resolution can be considered if two-thirds of the delegates, called messengers, vote to bring it to the floor, a denomination spokesman said.

-- Religion News Service

Merger of Methodists

The 1 million-member Protestant Methodist Church of Ivory Coast has joined the U.S.-based United Methodist Church after a vote last week at the Methodists' national policy meeting in Pittsburgh.

The decision increases the American denomination's worldwide membership to about 11 million. About 8.3 million Methodists live in the United States, making their church the third largest in the nation.

The Ivory Coast church was formed in 1924 and left the British Methodist Church in 1985 to become autonomous. The West African denomination sought a new affiliation because it "wanted to be part of a more global environment, which is the United Methodist Church," said the Rev. Benjamin Boni, head of the Ivory Coast denomination.

-- Associated Press

Religious Radio Grows

The number of religious radio stations is on the increase, growing by more than 100 from 2002 to 2003, a recent Arbitron report shows.

The number of religious stations grew by 122, or more than 6 percent, from 1,843 to 1,965. The 2003 total constituted 14 percent of the 13,898 radio stations in the country.

In "Radio Today: How America Listens to Radio," Arbitron defines religious stations as those featuring gospel and "contemporary Christian" music as well as nonmusical stations that focus on "teaching programs."

There were 1,803 religious radio stations in 2001, said Jess Benbow, spokeswoman for the New York-based media and marketing research firm.

Glenn Plummer, chairman of National Religious Broadcasters, said in a statement that he thinks the interest in religious radio reflects a "spiritual hunger."

"Programming on Christian radio is very relevant and is generally done with outstanding excellence," he said. "I think people in general are spreading, via word of mouth, how beneficial Christian radio really is. It would not surprise me that the numbers continue to grow."

-- Religion News Service

Presbyterians Cut Back

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has laid off 28 people and cut nine vacant positions in an effort to trim its two-year budget by $4.6 million.

The church's General Assembly Council, which acts as a board of directors, made the cuts May 7 as part of an effort to streamline management and respond to shifts in giving from local congregations.

In the past two years, the church has eliminated at least 122 positions at its headquarters in Louisville. Similar cuts have been made by other mainline Protestant churches.

The revised budget is $114.4 million after cuts, which were spread among various departments.

-- Religion News Service