The racial crisis in South Africa spilled over onto the ecclesiastical front this month.
The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town demanded a curtailment of ecumenical ties with South Africa’s Dutch Reformed communion unless it repudiates apartheid (racial segregation). Also:
—Two Anglican missionaries were jailed after police broke up a mass demonstration in Johannesburg.
—The Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg fled the country to avoid arrest for his active opposition to the government’s apartheid policy.
Chief targets of criticism from antiapartheid clergy leaders were the Dutch Reformed churches, in the membership of which are many government officials including Prime Minister Hendrik F. Verwoerd.
Dr. Joost de Blank, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, charged that many Africans are turning against the Christian church on the grounds it is associated with white oppression.
De Blank singled out the Dutch Reformed churches as chief offenders and called on them to “repudiate the policy of apartheid and its tragic outworkings in the disturbances of March and April.” Otherwise, he said, “it is essential that other churches should no longer be associated with them in any council or federation.”
The archbishop has long been critical of the Dutch Reformed race policies. During a trip to the United States in 1958, he ruffled tempers when, in the course of denouncing the segregationist stand of the Dutch Reformed church in South Africa, he attributed to it “a warped and inaccurate Calvinistic outlook.”
De Blank was to have paid a return visit to the United States this month, but cancelled plans when disorders broke out.
Instead, he sent Archdeacon Cecil T. Wood on a tour of several countries. Wood’s first stop was the World Council of Churches headquarters in Geneva. There, in behalf of South African Anglicans, he asked WCC officials to reaffirm a stand against racial discrimination and to dispatch fact-finders to Africa.
World Council leaders were at first cool toward any direct intervention in the Anglican-Reformed dispute. Their counter-suggestion was that WCC member churches in South Africa set up a panel among themselves to iron out differences. Later, WCC General Secretary W. A. Visser ’t Hooft announced that a high-ranking council official would be sent to South Africa to consult with the panel.
The Religions Of South Africa
The Dutch Reformed church has been the backbone of Christian witness in South Africa ever since whites first settled at Cape Town more than 300 years ago.
When the British arrived in 1795, the Dutch Reformed church composed the only Christian element in South Africa, save for a few Lutherans, Moravians, and French Huguenots.
By the early nineteenth century, Anglican chaplains were ministering to the British garrison. Methodism also came with the British garrison, and Scotch settlers introduced Presbyterianism. Baptists and Congregationalists likewise trace South African origins back to the nineteenth century, as do Salvationists, Seventh-day Adventists, and Roman Catholics.
Most widely known of South African ministers was Andrew Murray (1828–1917), Scotch Presbyterian who preached in Dutch Reformed churches.
Sixty-five per cent of South Africa’s 15,000,000 inhabitants are now said to be Christians of one sort or another. The Dutch Reformed church claims some 15 per cent of the population, the Methodists 11 per cent, the Anglicans 10 per cent, and Roman Catholics five per cent.
Virtually all of the remainder of the population is either Hindu, Moslem, Buddhist or Pagan.
De Blank’s accusations prompted a statement from one Dutch Reformed synod which said that cooperation with the Anglican archbishop had “become impossible.”
The synod declared: “At a time when cooperation between churches is more necessary than ever before and when there is a need for mutual trust, we are compelled—no matter how much against our will—to reply to the challenge of Archbishop de Blank.”
An agreement had been signed last year, the statement recalled, under which the Anglican and Dutch Reformed communions undertook to enlighten each other on policy and action and to make every possible effort “to obviate unfounded conclusions which may be injurious to the interest of the churches.”
This agreement “was broken on various occasions” by the Anglicans, the synod charged.
Dutch Reformed spokesmen also reportedly countered with a charge that Anglicans, while ostensibly decrying apartheid, were themselves practicing segregation in church schools.
The race violence in Johannesburg and other cities, along with the church rift, spelled the gravest crisis in the history of the Union of South Africa, which is observing its 50th Golden Jubilee Year.
Meanwhile, Dr. Richard Ambrose Reeves, Anglican Archbishop of Johannesburg, was reported staying in Rhodesia. An aide predicted Reeves would return upon assurance that he would not be arrested.
Among missionaries arrested by Johannesburg police seeking to quell an uprising were Miss Hannah Stanton, an official of the Tumelong Anglican mission near Pretoria, and the Rev. Mark Nye, head of the Pretoria Anglican mission.
In churches throughout South Africa, many prayers were offered for the recovery of Prime Minister Verwoerd, victim of an assassination attempt.
“It was noticeable that no Anglican spokesman expressed concern over the shooting of Dr. Verwoerd,” said a Religious News Service dispatch from Cape Town.
Verwoerd is a regular Sunday worshipper at the Dutch Reformed church in Rondebosch, a suburb of Cape Town.
There are nine major Dutch Reformed church groups in South Africa. Three of them are members of the WCC, along with several South African Methodist, Congregational, and Presbyterian communions.
Consistent support of the government’s apartheid policy is not the first firm politico-social stand by the Dutch Reformed church of South Africa. Its clergymen were ardent supporters of the Boer cause in the South African war of 1899–1902.
“Boer nationalism,” observes missionary historian K. S. Latourette, “led to an added devotion to that church.”
The U. S. government began exposing so-called “degree mills” this month. Many of those initially cited operate with a religious front.
The Health-Education-Welfare Department in Washington made public a list of some 30 institutions which “award degrees without requiring its students to meet educational standards for such degrees established and traditionally followed by reputable national institutions.” The list will be kept current, according to HEW Secretary Arthur S. Flemming, as a warning to gullible persons. Here is the first compilation:
Institute of Metaphysics, Birmingham, Alabama; Church of Light, Los Angeles, California; Burton College and Seminary, Manitou Springs, Colorado; Divine Science Church and College, Denver, Colorado; American Bible School, Chicago, Illinois, and American Divinity School, Pineland, Florida (same school, incorporated as tax exempt in Florida and Illinois); College of Universal Truth, Chicago, Illinois; Kondora Theosophical Seminary, Chicago, Illinois; McKinley-Roosevelt Incorporated, Chicago, Illinois; Pioneer Theological Seminary, Rockford, Illinois; University Extension Conservatory, Chicago, Illinois; Washington National University, Chicago, Illinois; Central School of Religion, Indianapolis, Indiana; College of Divine Metaphysics, Indianapolis, Indiana; Trinity College, Indianapolis, Indiana; Mid-Western University, Incorporated, Arcadia, Missouri; Neotarian Fellowship, Kansas City, Missouri; Four States Cooperative University, Jefferson, Texas; Texas Theological University, Chicago, Illinois; Belin Memorial University, Manassas, Virginia.
Listed as chartered in the United States but active abroad were American International Academy, New York, New York; Chartered University of Huron; Chartered University of Delaware; International University of Delaware; National University of Colorado; International Corporation of Engineers, Delaware; Milton University, Baltimore, Maryland; National University and National Research Institute; and Western University, San Diego, California.
Listed as inactive were Cramwell Institute and Cramwell Research Institute, Adams, Massachusetts; Golden State University, Hollywood, California and Denver, Colorado; Metropolitan University, Glendale, California; and Webster University, Atlanta, Georgia.
Flemming says he will ask the help of religious leaders, in a proposed meeting, to help combat degree mills.
• Protestant ministers in Southern California are raising a storm of protest over plans for a $ 15 million “Bible Storyland” amusement park in Cucamonga. An Episcopal group charged that the prospectus “seriously distorts the sacred history of both Christians and Jews.”
• Southern Baptist Sunday School enrollment has increased nearly 50 per cent in the past six years, according to a report released at the denomination’s first nationwide Sunday School convention, held last month in Fort Worth, Texas, with more than 20,000 delegates on hand.
• The Board of World Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. is dispatching an emergency appropriation of $10,000 to provide food and financial help for 30,000 refugees of tribal warfare in the Belgian Congo.
• The Vanderbilt University Divinity School dedicated last month a $1,300,000 edifice which houses a chapel, classrooms, and offices.
• Dr. Philip E. Howard, Jr., 62, long-time editor of The Sunday School Times underwent surgery for a brain tumor March 30. Relatives reported his condition “very good.”
• A statue of John Amos Comenius was dedicated on the campus of Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, March 28, the 368th anniversary of the birth of Comenius, a Moravian bishop and noted educator.
• Salvationists in Paris laid the cornerstone last month for a home to care for unmarried mothers and their children. The site was donated by the Paris municipality.
• A group of students at Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia, have formed a “jazz combo,” calling themselves the “Holy Cats.”
• Jewish evangelist Hyman Appelman says meetings he conducted during 1959 netted 47 converts from Judaism to Christianity. Profession of faith and transfers of membership totalled 5,483, he reported.
• A major new translation of the Holy Scriptures, now being prepared in England, will be known as The New English Bible. Virtually every major Protestant denomination in England is represented on the translation committee. Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press will publish the new Bible jointly next spring.
• A luncheon in New York City March 28 honored two Presbyterian moderators, Dr. Ernest Trice Thompson of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S., and Dr. Arthur L. Miller of the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. United Presbyterians sponsored the luncheon.
• Harry Saulnier marks his 20th year as superintendent of the world-renowned Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago this month. An anniversary service was held in his honor.
• Complete Bibles are now available in 219 languages, entire New Testaments in 271 others and at least one book of the Bible in an additional 661 tongues, according to the American Bible Society.
• Methodist church membership in Costa Rica and Panama is expected to increase about 50 per cent as a result of an evangelistic mission conducted in the two countries, says mission director Leslie J. Ross.
• Ninety-one per cent of Unitarian churches and 79 per cent of Universalist societies have approved merger plans in a plebiscite which ended March 31, according to Dr. William B. Rice, chairman of the Joint Merger Commission.
• Methodist Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam says he and his wife will make their home in Scarsdale, New York, following his retirement June 19. The Oxnams have been living in the Methodist Building in Washington, across the street from the U. S. Capitol.
• April 19 marked the 400th anniversary of the death of German reformer Philip Melanchthon, closest co-worker of Martin Luther and a professor at Wittenberg University.
A new, interdenominational seminary will open in Philadelphia this fall.
It will be known as the Conwell School of Theology after the late Dr. Russell H. Conwell, noted Baptist pastor and lecturer and founder of Temple University, but will be incorporated independently of the university.
The new seminary will replace one operated by Temple and closed down last June. At its closing the old seminary had dropped from a peak enrollment of 200 to about 30 as the result of losing accreditation in the American Association of Theological Schools.
Like the former school, the Conwell School of Theology will be for commuters. Centrally located, the seminary will provide diverse opportunities for part-time work in the religious field.
Officials indicated they will seek accreditation standards immediately.
A 30-member board of trustees includes eight Temple University officials. Board officials include Dr. Alexander Mackie, president of the Presbyterian Ministers’ Fund, chairman; Dr. Daniel A. Poling, editor of the Christian Herald, vice chairman; the Rev. Robert W. Bringhurst, Presbyterian minister, secretary; and the Rev. John Craig Roak, an Episcopalian rector, treasurer.
The Religious Issue
“The religious issue” emerged this month as a major factor in the 1960 presidential election campaign.
Examining closely the results of the Wisconsin primary, those who sought to keep religion out of the debate might well ask: Had they preached to the wrong crowd?
Press reports shaped a growing impression that the religious issue had been injected by overwhelming Catholic support for the Catholic candidate more pointedly than by Protestant opposition to him.
As a result, some observers felt, Democratic Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts was as close to White House occupancy as any Roman Catholic has ever been since the nomination of Alfred E. Smith in 1928.
In reviewing the role of the candidates’ religion in the Wisconsin primary, The New York Times said: “Evidently it did figure in the voting. Kennedy made his best showing in the three most strongly Catholic districts.”
The Milwaukee Journal’s observations pointed up the religious issue even more conclusively: “Kennedy rolled up almost all of his margin over Humphrey in three congressional districts which are heavily Catholic, two of which are also strongly Republican.”
Both newspapers also stressed that Humphrey carried some strongly Protestant areas. But Kennedy supporters, seeking to minimize the influence of their candidate’s religion, pointed to his vote-pulling power among non-Catholics.
“In Sheboygan,” said an Associated Press dispatch, “where Catholic voters constitute 22 per cent of the total, he had 55.5 per cent of the vote. He took 44.3 per cent in Madison which has 22 per cent Catholics, and 48.3 per cent of the vote in LaCrosse where the Catholic vote is 23 per cent.” It was obvious that many Protestant were voting for Kennedy.
There was no comparable Catholic enthusisam for Humphrey. On the contrary, the Romanist vote appeared in some areas as a bloc in support of Kennedy. The Massachusetts senator carried every one of 17 Wisconsin counties which voted in 1946 to permit public school buses to carry parochial students.
Whereas some prominent Roman Catholic spokesmen freely applied the term “bigotry” to Protestants who had reservations about a Catholic candidate and supported a Protestant, a spokesman for National Catholic Welfare Conference confirmed that no official statement was issued at the hierarchical level urging Catholic voters not to vote along religious lines.
The candidates’ eyes are now fixed on predominantly Protestant West Virginia, where a primary is scheduled May 10. If Senator Kennedy sweeps that state, observers think, his prospects of nomination will be multiplied. Says Washington correspondent Richard L. Strout of The Christian Science Monitor: “Observers suppose that if Mr. Kennedy has an important victory here he will be very difficult to stop in Los Angeles” (site of the Democratic National Convention in July).
What’s Fair in Politics?
A candidate’s religion is relevant to a voter’s decision insofar as it bears on political issues, according to principles laid down this month by a committee of Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish leaders.
The Fair Campaign Practices Committee issued a 271-word statement following a two-day consultation held in Washington.
“Intelligent, honest, and temperate public discussion of the relation of religious faith to the public issues will, as it has already done, raise the whole level of the campaign,” the statement said.
“No candidate for public office should be opposed or supported because of his particular religious affiliations,” it added, noting, however, that “a candidate may be properly questioned about issues relevant to the office he seeks and about the bearing of his religious faith and conscience on them. A candidate’s religion is relevant to a voter’s decision, but only so far as it bears on such relevant political issues.
“Stirring up, fostering, or tolerating religious animosity, or injecting elements of a candidate’s faith not relevant to the duties of the office he seeks are unfair campaign practices.”
The committee, set up in 1954 at the suggestion of Congress, is headed by Charles P. Taft, former president of the Federal Council of Churches. Participants in this year’s consultation included Msgr. George Higgins of the National Catholic Welfare Conference; Rabbi Bernard Bamberger, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis; Dr. Lewis Webster Jones, president, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, which co-sponsored the consultations; Dr. C. Arild Olsen, Executive Secretary of the Department of Christian Life and Work, National Council of Churches; Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, Editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY; Dr. C. Emanuel Carlson, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs; Rabbi Uri Miller, vice president of the Synagogue Council of America; Msgr. Francis J. Lally, editor of The Pilot, official weekly of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Boston; and the Rev. Gustave Weigel, S. J., professor at Woodstock (Maryland) College.
West Virginia: The Big Test?
The results of the West Virginia primary May 10 will indicate strongly, say political observers, the extent to which the religious issue has permeated the 1960 election campaign.
Here are significant facts about the state’s make-up:
Voter registration: Latest available figures show 664,000 registered Democrats and 413,000 registered Republicans.
Key cities’ population: Huntington, 86,000; Charleston, 74,000; Wheeling, 59,000; Clarksburg, 32,000; and Parkersburg, 30,000.
Number of counties: 55.
Number of U. S. Congressional districts: Six.
Religious affiliations: More than 94 per cent of West Virginians are nominally Protestants; about half of these are members of churches. Some five per cent of the population is Roman Catholic. Less than one per cent is Jewish.
Two ballots will be issued in the primary. On one the voter lists his preference among presidential candidates, the choice not binding on party convention delegates. The second ballot is for selection of the delegates, who go to the convention free to nominate whomever they wish.
Nixon at the Roosevelt
A visit from Vice President Nixon highlighted a Washington convention this month of 110 leading Protestant editors whose publications are linked to Associated Church Press.
Their traditional call at the White House cancelled in deference to visiting President Lleras of Colombia, the editors were treated instead to an impromptu, hour-long press conference with Nixon at the Roosevelt Hotel.
The Vice President’s appearance was convincing (“Almost thou persuadest me to be a Republican,” quipped one editor privately) and productive of a page-one story in The New York Times:
NIXON WOULD AID NATIONS
ASKING BIRTH-CONTROL DATA
ACP, which meets annually, is a fellowship of some 163 Protestant and Orthodox publications in North America ranging from The Woman’s Pulpit (circulation: 500) to The Upper Room (circulation: 3,235,000). Their current trend is toward less frequent publication and classier format, exemplified by Presbyterian Life, which under Managing Editor Henry L. McCorkle became in 1958 the first Protestant magazine to top 1,000,000 circulation. A close second is the Methodists’ Together, edited by Leland D. Case and noted for lavish use of color.
McCorkle, a life-long Episcopalian, recently came back to his own fold to begin a new family monthly which made its debut this month: The Episcopalian.
Projected for publication next January is a new magazine representative of The American Lutheran Church constituted in a three-way merger April 22–24 and edited by Edward W. Schramm. It will perpetuate the name Lutheran Standard, which dates back to 1842.
President Ben Browne presided over the ACP conclave with assists from Dr. William B. Lipphard, retiring executive secretary of ACP and editor emeritus of the Baptist magazine Missions.
At special ceremonies in Philadelphia this month, Dr. Harry G. Bristow, president of the National Evangelical Film Foundation, presented awards for outstanding film and record production during 1959. The list of awards:
Best film of the year: “The Power of the Resurrection,” Family Films, Inc.
Best missionary film of the year: “Something to Die For,” Gospel Films, Inc.
Best youth film of the year: “Teen Age Witness,” Family Films, Inc.
Christian faith and life film of the year: “The George Muller Story,” Religious Films, Ltd.
Best children’s film of the year: “The Fish Story,” Moody Institute of Science.
Best sermon film of the year: “Teleo,” Bible Institute of Los Angeles.
Best documentary of the year: “Journey to Understanding,” Iversen Ford Associates.
Best set of filmstrips for the year: “How We Got Our Bible,” Society for Visual Education.
Best single filmstrip of the year: “Geography of the Holy Land,” Family Films, Inc.
Best actor of the year: Richard Kiley in “The Power of the Resurrection.”
Best actress of the year: Cheryl Lee Oppenhuizen in “Teen Age Rock.”
Best director of the year: Harold Schuster for “The Power of the Resurrection.”
Best male vocalist of the year: Dick Goodwin in “I Heard God Today,” Cornerstone Records, Inc.
Best female vocalist of the year: Beth Farnam for Sacred Records, Inc.
Best choral record of the year: Ralph Carmichael Singers in “Garden of My Heart,” Sacred Records, Inc.
Best instrumental record of the year: Paul Mickelson’s “Glory! Glory! Hallelujah,” Word Records, Inc.
Unusual record of the year: “Yesterday’s Voices,” by Paul Harvey, Word Records, Inc.
Best quartet record of the year: “Old Fashioned Revival Hour Quartet,” Christian Faith, Inc.
Best single record of the year: George Beverly Shea’s “How Long Has It Been,” RCA Victor.
‘Church of Tomorrow’
The death of a noted Oklahoma City minister will bring his congregation $400,000 closer to an ultra-modern youth center he had envisioned for his “Church of Tomorrow.”
The Rev. William H. Alexander, 45, was killed in the crash of a light plane near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, this month. Alexander’s wife and the pilot of the plane also died.
He had been insured by his congregation, the First Christian Church of Oklahoma City, for $400,000, with the proceeds dedicated to help erect a million-dollar youth center. Construction on the building had already been slated to begin this summer.
The Disciples of Christ minister came to Oklahoma City in 1942.
Under his leadership the First Christian Church doubled in size to 3,500 persons. In 1946 he dedicated a futuristic house of worship which he called the “Church of Tomorrow.”
The handsome, red-haired minister served as chaplain of the Republican National Committee in 1952 when General Dwight D. Eisenhower ran for president. Two years before that, he was Republican candidate for U. S. Senator from Oklahoma, running against the Democratic incumbent, A. S. “Mike” Monroney. Alexander was defeated, although he did capture Monroney’s own precinct and ward and secured a majority in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas.
During World War II, Alexander for a time was a correspondent for the Daily Oklahoman in Europe.
Dr. Russell V. DeLong, president of Pasadena (California) College, resigned last month.
DeLong said he had been advised by physicians to relieve himself from pressures incumbent upon his work.
Pasadena College is operated by the Church of the Nazarene.
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