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Last week, the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago issued a statement to the Southern Baptist Convention regarding the denomination's plans to bring 100,000 missionaries to the Windy City next summer. "While we are confident that your volunteers would come with entirely peaceful intentions, a campaign of the nature and scope you envision could contribute to a climate conducive to hate crimes," the letter said. According to the Chicago Tribune, the statement was "prompted by the concerns of local Jewish leaders" who are already upset about the Southern Baptists' September campaign to pray specifically for the conversion of Jews during the Jewish High Holy Days. And, though Southern Baptist leaders have been careful to promise the missionaries will not target specific religious groups, many of the negative comments about the plan focus on targeted evangelism.

Targeted evangelism, particularly targeting Jews, has always been controversial. The archives of Christianity Today are filled with discussions of the topic, but none is more quoted than Billy Graham's statement that he does not "single out the Jews as Jews nor to single out any other particular groups, cultural, ethnic, or religious." Though the statement is more often quoted from a 1977 meeting where Graham was given the first national interreligious award of the American Jewish Committee, he first made the claim in this Christianity Today article, from our March 16, 1973, issue. In this piece, Graham is addressing concerns over Key 73, an evangelism effort sparked by a 1967 CT editorial and sponsored by more than 130 denominations and parachurch organizations.

The reports about a growing misunderstanding in Christian-Jewish relationships over Key 73 ...

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Billy Graham: 'I Have Never Felt Called to Single Out the Jews'
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November 1999

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