Liberals and the so-called "New Age" movement are converting children right in front of their parents, a Dallas activist and opponent of such philosophies told an audience of about 20 conservative Christians from Carroll County and Pennsylvania at a seminar Saturday in Hampstead.
Jobe Martin, a former dentist, used dozens of quotes, magazine articles and passages of Scripture to make his point during the all-day event, titled "Outcomes-based Education and the New Age Movement."
He said the New Age movement, a loose term that includes a variety of beliefs involving spirituality, personal growth and holistic medicine, is trying to spread an anti-Christian religion that is based on Eastern religions, paganism and Satanism.
"Deceptive things are going on, and we as parents have a right to know," said Mr. Martin, who stopped practicing and teaching dentistry in 1982 to pursue his anti-New Age advocacy full time.
In addition to such examples as self-esteem programs, sex education and evolution, Mr. Martin cited what he said was evidence of the New Age movement permeating schools and of liberals trying to shape the minds of young children and take over the world.
For example, he said, the immense popularity and promotion of dinosaurs will lead children to question creationism. If teachers tell children that dinosaurs roamed the earth millions of years ago, he said, that will conflict with creationist science that says the world is only 6,000 to 7,000 years old.
Lucifer's "telephone number," he said, is "om," a chant used in some forms of meditation. He said some schools in the nation encourage children to use that word to meditate.
But he claimed that the chant has entered children's vocabulary in sneakier ways, citing an organization called Odyssey of the Mind, which sponsors a nationwide Olympic-style academic competition for schoolchildren.
The competition was created by a professor at Glassboro State College in New Jersey in 1978 and now is sponsored by IBM. Local teams, including several in Carroll, participate in local, regional and state competitions that make them eligible for world finals held annually.
Mr. Martin noted that the group abbreviates its name as "OM," which he cited as evidence of a connection to the New Age movement.
"They say they have no connection with the New Age movement, but Lucifer has only one telephone number, and that's it," Mr. Martin said.
And in the movie "E.T.: The Extraterrestrial," Mr. Martin said, it is difficult to tell whether the phrase is "phone home" or "phone om."
Pastor Gary Buchman of Faith Community Bible Church in Silver Run had rented the North Carroll High School auditorium for Saturday's seminar, hoping for a larger turnout.
Mr. Buchman and at least three others who attended have been among the most vocal opponents of outcomes-based education, an approach Carroll County schools and others across the state and nation are pursuing.
Outcomes-based education means schools set clear goals for students, and teachers must see that all students learn essential skills. In addition to setting goals for each course and unit, school systems such as those in Carroll County set "exit outcomes," which set a broad philosophy for achieving more specific classroom goals.
Although educators say outcomes will lead to higher academic standards for children, opponents remain skeptical about an approach they believe is more concerned with values that may conflict with those taught by parents.
Quoting Scripture that says man is nothing apart from God, Mr. Martin said self-esteem programs in schools teach children that "I am me, and I'm enough."
"Then they say, 'I don't need God,' " Mr. Martin said. "It is hardening the young hearts of America against God."
Mr. Martin cited the language that educators use in writing outcomes, such as that children will be able to function and compete in a global society. That smacks of a one-world society in which everyone thinks the same, he said.
"Multicultural" books and curriculums promote Eastern religions over Christianity, he said. Under the guise of multiculturalism and sex education, he said, schools promote homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle.
Teaching children environmentalism, he said, fools them into thinking that "we as men can control our future."
"You know it's a problem, and you want to do something about it," Mr. Martin said to those who attended. "But the average parent and grandparent doesn't have the foggiest idea what's going on with their children."
Many who attended seemed already to support what Mr. Martin said, but wanted to hear his evidence. A row of books and a handout on recommended reading lined the auditorium stage. He urged the participants also to read the Bible more.
Bill Burris of Millers said he came because he teaches junior high school Sunday school at Grace Fellowship Chapel, which rents Westminster East Middle School for services. He also volunteers with church youth groups.
He said he doesn't like role-playing exercises that schools sometimes use, such as asking which of a group of people the student would save first from a sinking boat or burning building.
"It puts you in the position of judging people. It takes your kid's eyes off Christ and puts it on self-importance, and puts them in a position God should be in."