When the Friendship 7 space capsule landed with a splash and a sizzle and Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn, Jr., clambered out, American Christians had special reason to take heart. Not only had their prayers for Glenn been answered, but the nation had a new space hero. And for once at least the hero was not a smart-alecky ham with a long record of marital strife.

Throughout the world the word had gone out that Glenn and his family are devout Presbyterians and faithful churchgoers. They represent an American Christian home in the best tradition. Theirs is clearly not a head-in-the-sand Christianity, but a very practical faith.

“But are they born again Christians?” some evangelicals were asking. “Have they actually experienced regeneration?”

The Glenns come from a community where churchgoing was the rule. When they were youngsters in New Concord, Ohio, “everyone went to church.” As a junior high school student, John once collected his savings from small jobs and save them to an evangelist who was preaching at his church.

After high school, John and Annie both enrolled at Muskingum College, which was affiliated with the former United Presbyterian Church of North America now merged into the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

Glenn’s fellow students remember him as a clean-living, devoted individual, although he did not “wear his religion on his sleeve.” They did not consider him particularly pious. However, as one classmate puts it, “John wasn’t around when there was anything happening that he didn’t agree with.”

Glenn, to be sure, did not abandon his faith upon entry in the Marine Corps. Even in the jet pilot set, which is not especially distinguished for high moral standards, Glenn stood his ground as a clean-living individual. ...

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