In the strife which followed the granting of independence to the old Belgian Congo in 1960, the Congo Protestant Relief Agency was born. One who answered the agency’s urgent plea for skilled professional help was Dr. Paul Carlson, then a practicing surgeon in suburban Los Angeles. Carlson spent four months in the Congo in 1961. Returning home, he applied for appointment to the Congo as a medical missionary under Covenant World Missions, an arm of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America. This time he was sent with his family to operate a one-doctor hospital. He was also destined to rally much of the Christian world to prayer for his safety.
As Chinese-Communist-inspired rebels began to initiate serious trouble this past summer, American Embassy officials told all missionaries and their families to leave the embattled Congo area, but said that doctors, because of the critical need, could stay if they so chose.
Carlson, his wife, Lois, and their two children, Wayne, 9, and Lynette, 7, left September 4. He settled his family in the neighboring Central African Republic, then returned to the mission station at Wasolo.
Mrs. Dwight Carlson, a sister-in-law, says that at the time the area was considered safe. She also says that the local Congolese had asked him to come back, and that his wife had indicated in a letter that Carlson would not have knowingly walked into a trap.
One of the first radio messages to his wife indicated he was back at work in the hospital and that the situation was “very peaceful.” But the rebel forces soon cut off the escape route the local Congolese had worked out for him.
The last communication Carlson got through to his wife before being captured by the rebels reportedly came on September 17, when he intimated that a trap had been set. He thought, however, that he could still get out.
The rebels took Carlson a few days later. He was apparently placed under house arrest in Wasolo, then taken to Yakoma to treat rebel prisoners.
About a month afterward, the rebel leader, Christophe Gbenye, said Carlson was in prison and would be tried. Another four weeks later came word over the rebel radio that he was thought to be a U. S. military agent. He was charged with spying and sentenced to death.
About sixty other Americans were caught behind rebel lines last month, including a five-man U. S. consul staff in Stanleyville. A diplomatic tug-of-war then began for the release of Carlson and the others, but the rebels repeatedly refused to allow the consul staff to contact U. S. State Department officials in Washington. Secretary of State Dean Rusk then asked Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta to intervene. Execution times for Carlson were announced over the rebel radio, then canceled. On November 19, the State Department reportedly relayed to Carlson’s relatives a rebel promise that he would be released within six to ten days.
Carlson’s mother, who lives in California, suffered a heart attack on November 14 and was not immediately told of the threat of execution against her son.
Carlson and his wife are members of the Rolling Hills (California) Covenant Church. According to church records, Carlson traces his personal conversion back to the age of twelve.
Carlson earned a degree in anthropology at Stanford University and was active in the local Inter-Varsity chapter. He studied for his medical degree at George Washington University, Washington, D. C., and served there as an officer of the local chapter of the Christian Medical Society.
He has also attended the University of California at Los Angeles and North Park College, the Covenant-related school in Chicago.
As Carlson’s fate hung in the balances for days, Christians throughout the globe joined in prayer that his life might be spared. The threat against him produced daily front-page stories in newspapers all over the free world. There was no direct contact with Carlson, however, and the rebel radio gave out no information on his whereabouts or well-being.
As Congolese forces and mercenaries began a drive against the rebels at Stanleyville last month, new fears were raised about Carlson’s fate. Rebel leaders considered the drive as American-inspired.
National Presbyterian Church, a Washington. D. C., landmark of architectural and historical distinction, will probably be torn down within two or three years.
Before the congregational meeting began last month which consummated a land trade transaction, a dozen pickets marched outside the church to register their displeasure over planned destruction of the 80-year-old Romanesque structure. A new church and Presbyterian center will be built near Washington Cathedral. A site chosen earlier proved impractical.
A protest against the planned destruction of the church was voiced by an official of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Battle On The Right
Billy James Hargis was given thirty days to show cause why the Internal Revenue-Service should not revoke the tax-exempt status of his anti-Communist Christian Crusade.
Tax officials in Washington said they had filed the usual “proposal of revocation” last month and that the notice had been presented to Hargis by the IRS office in Oklahoma City.
Reason for the revocation, they said, was “political activities.” The order affects Christian Echoes National Ministry, Inc., parent organization of the crusade.
According to IRS spokesmen. Hargis was given thirty days to present his case before the Oklahoma City branch. If his plea is rejected, he can then appeal to the Washington headquarters.
“If the administration can close down an opposing voice, doesn’t this set a precedent?” he asked at a press interview. “Couldn’t a conservative administration close down an opposing voice?”
Hargis denied that his crusade was guilty of abusing its tax-exempt status by engaging in political activity. He said that he supported Senator Goldwater in the 1964 presidential campaign but that the organization had not taken sides. He pointed out that one of the crusade’s six trustees actively supported Johnson.
Hargis countered that a number of liberal organizations had violated the Internal Revenue Code with published statements supporting Johnson. Among these, he said, were the Chicago Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, the Christian Century Foundation, and the Methodist Student Movement.
Hargis has also cited violations by the National Council of Churches and by a tax-exempt organization with which Dr. Martin Luther King is associated. Hargis said if his own organization loses tax exemption privileges he will file lawsuits against these two groups.
‘Down With Grace’
Students at a Fairfax County, Virginia, high school began saying grace at meals last month, and the practice was immediately challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The students won editorial support, however, from the Washington Star, one of three daily newspapers in the nation’s capital. The Star questioned how the practice, which it regards as initiated, sponsored, and administered by students, “impinges upon, or even remotely approaches” the First Amendment to the Constitution.
The issue arose when an ACLU chapter announced it would challenge the suburban county school board on its right to permit the practice, contending that the student council that initiated the practice is a quasi-administrative body.
The editorial, “Now—Down with Grace!” follows:
“It is good to read that the students in Fairfax County’s W. T. Woodson High School are continuing to say grace at meals despite a challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Grace at Woodson is said on an entirely voluntary basis by children who want to participate. The simple prayer was written by students. In short, the school authorities, except that the prayer is posted on a wall in the cafeteria and that the recitation is on school property, have nothing to do with the procedure.
“But these details may not be enough to save the situation. The grace which is recited alludes once to the Lord God’ and again to the ‘Lord.’ Conceivably these are fatal flaws. If the ACLU takes the issue to court the Supreme Court may hold that the Fairfax pupils are in violation of the First Amendment.
“All of which leads us to wonder how silly a nation can get. How can anyone possibly believe that the recital of grace by school children impinges upon, or even remotely approaches, the First Amendment’s pronouncement that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’?”
The Man, The Flame, And, The Oak
An eternal flame, lighted by Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy on November 25, 1963, is the central symbolic feature of the design selected for the grave of the late President John F. Kennedy.
The design was unveiled last month by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, whose recollections of the late President’s comments about the beauty of the area just below the Custis-Lee Mansion overlooking the Potomac River and the city of Washington led Mrs. Kennedy to select it as a gravesite for her husband. Designer John Carl Warnecke said the President’s grave in Arlington Cemetery is also a private grave and should express “the belief and faith in God of John F. Kennedy.”
Robert F. Kennedy expressed appreciation to Warnecke and told the press that the design had the approval of Mrs. Kennedy and the entire family.
The sculptured font from which the flame emerges is an abstract form of a triangle, symbol of the Trinity. The triangular font rests on a circular form with a square base. This combination of triangle, circle, and square symbolizes pure oppositions, suggesting “the universal antitheses of life versus death, body versus soul, mortality versus immortality, finite versus infinite.” The flame emerges from its sculptured, triangular font in constantly changing forms, as if in flight. It symbolizes the resurrection and eternal life.
The grave itself is a simple rectangular grass plot. In front of the eternal flame is a marker on which is etched only: “John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917–1963.” A small cross is incised above the name. Behind the flame is a long low marble wall, with a seal of the President of the United States. The truncated triangular form of the wall is a symbolic expression of the Trinity.
The circular twelve-foot-wide walk by which visitors will approach the gravesite is said to be representative “of unity, completion, entirety, universality—symbolizing the unity of man.”
The grave design blends into the surrounding hillside area. It is simple in its classic, clean lines, more a landscape construction than a sculpture of marble. It is intended to be a grave, not a monument.
Most of the estimated cost of $2,000,000 will be spent on approaches, landscaping, and facilities to handle the visitors. It is estimated that almost 8,000,000 persons have visited the Kennedy grave in the past year. During the summer the average was 50,000 a day. The Kennedy family has offered to pay the total cost but will probably pay only for the immediate grave area, an amount estimated to be between $200,000 and $400,000. Congress will be asked to follow its custom and appropriate the rest.
The young President lies and the eternal flame burns near a large oak with a ninety-foot spread, estimated to be 140 to 150 years old.
Bcc Under Fire
Intense indignation was aroused in South Africa by what was described there as a “sensational statement” issued by the British Council of Churches. A BCC unit had prepared a report on “The Future of South Africa,” and the offending statement came after discussion of this report in full council. The BCC thereafter requested the British government urgently to consider what measures were required to ensure that Britain no longer acted “in such a way as to encourage apartheid,” and asked for an early meeting with the Foreign Secretary for discussion on British policy toward South Africa. In addition, the council instructed its international department to express itself further following the report of the U. N. committee that is considering “the feasibility, effectiveness and implications of measures which could … be taken … under the United Nations’ Charter,” and following the judgment of the International Court of Justice concerning Southwest Africa.
A South African opposition newspaper, the Cape Times, forecasts that the BCC deputation to the Foreign Secretary will “urge cutting the flow of capital to the Republic, prohibiting all arms, ending sterling advantages, insisting that South African visitors to Britain have visas, and penalising all immigrants to South Africa.” The same paper asks what similar action the BCC proposed some years ago against “the bloody suppressors of Hungary or the bloodier subjugators of Tibet.”
The Moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church. Dr. A. J. van der Merwe, describing the strictures of the BCC (of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is chairman) as irresponsible, said it was no part of the Church’s task “to suggest measures that must necessarily lead to naked aggression.” The (evangelical) Church of England in South Africa publicly dissociated itself from the BCC’s “evil proposals.”
Dr. Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, finally issued a statement that expressed his “concern at the misrepresentation” of the council’s proceedings. He pointed out that the report had been composed by a group of Christians “having deep knowledge of South Africa and love for all her people,” contained “a careful analysis of the effects of apartheid,” and “examined what attitude the Churches in Britain should urge Her Majesty’s Government to adopt.”
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