Christians found themselves in the crossfire of the war between India and Pakistan. Those in India seemed hardest hit. There were no immediate reports of injuries to missionaries, but a 100-year-old Anglican cathedral was bombed out and Christian-operated hospitals were obliged to care for wounded troops. A Roman Catholic cardinal was tapped for service with an emergency Indian defense committee.

Both India and Pakistan deny that their dispute over Kashmir is religious per se. India, however, invariably reflects the priorities of its predominantly Hindu population, while Pakistan champions the cause of Islam. India has the largest Hindu population in the world (some 85 per cent of its 450,000,000 inhabitants), and Pakistan is the biggest Muslim country (some 86 per cent of 99,000,000). The nations’ commitments to their respective religions can hardly be extricated from the basic conflict.

A measure of insight into the contrasting religious views could be found in a pair of ambassadorial luncheons at the National Press Club in Washington, D. C., last month. B. K. Nehru, Indian ambassador to the United States, asserted that Kashmir was not the cause of the trouble but “the effect and in a sense, the symbol. The conflict between India and Pakistan is a basic conflict of ideology as well as a conflict of power.” Nehru stated, “In the view of Pakistan, religion and religion alone can form the bond between peoples. Consequently the title of Pakistan is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and citizenship rights belong in fact, if not also sometimes in law, only to people professing the religion of Islam.” He charged that refugees have poured into India because of religious persecution in Pakistan.

The Pakistani Ambassador to the United States, G. Ahmed, told his Press Club audience that India’s charge of a theocracy in Pakistan is a myth. He said that in Pakistan, as in India, men of differing religious persuasions occupy high governmental office. He cited as examples the Pakistani chief judge, who is a Roman Catholic, and the Pakistani ambassador to Thailand, who is a Hindu.

Ahmed’s chief appeal was to allow a plebescite in Kashmir to determine religious as well as political preferences and to let these determine destiny.

There were no complaints from the Christian constituency in either country. From Dr. Kenneth Scott, director of the Christian Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana, India, came a cable: “Everyone fine. All remaining in Ludhiana. Psalm 68:19.” The Scripture cited reads, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.”

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No missionary evacuations were reported. Korula Jacobs, secretary of the National Christian Council in India, said that more than sixty American missionaries were staying put on the plain of Punjab, where the fighting was concentrated.

The Ludhiana hospital was requisitioned by the government to care for the wounded. Said Methodist Bishop Mangal Singh of Delhi: “Our people are staying on to take care of them.” Clara Swain Hospital at Bareilly and Creighton-Freeman Hospital at Vrindaban also were treating the wounded.

In Pakistan, a Christian hospital at Lahore was turned into a casualty center at the request of government authorities.

Methodists had the biggest stake in the countries involved, with 195 missionaries in India and 46 in Pakistan. The Methodist Church in India claims 591,686 members. In Pakistan, 38,586 Methodists are reported.

The most extensive damage to church property appeared to be suffered by the Anglican cathedral at Ambala, India. It was struck by bombs from a Pakistani B-57 (American-made) jet. Observers indicated the building was a victim of its geographical location—a quarter-mile from an air force base. The cathedral has served as the Episcopal see for India, Pakistan, Burma, and Ceylon.

Valerian Cardinal Gracias, Roman Catholic archbishop of Bombay, was named a member of a “Citizens’ Defense Committee” formed by the Maharashtra state government to mobilize voluntary efforts in the fighting. The committee was a reconstituted version of a similar group set up at the time of the Chinese Communist invasion of 1962.

Aid For Viet Nam

Christian relief work, spiritual as well as material, is taking a definite upturn in embattled South Viet Nam.

World Vision is stepping up its aid program to Viet Nam on a scale that may surpass its memorable efforts in Korea. Plans include construction of refugee centers at Danang, Qui Niton, and Quang Ngai, two orphanages, and a hospital for blind university students. Also in the works is the establishment of a vocational training school for the mountain people and a half-way house for disabled war veterans. Special help for amputees and support for evangelistic efforts such as literature distribution round out the program.

Pocket Testament League says it is beginning a campaign to distribute one million Scripture portions among Americans as well as Vietnamese, military and civilian. Some 200,000 Vietnamese Gospels were to be in print, and 10,000 were already available.

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The Vietnamese government gave formal recognition to a special lay leadership aid project under the sponsorship of the United States’ National Association of Evangelicals World Relief Commission. The aim is to train Vietnamese laymen in an assortment of technical skills and develop their Christian character and witness. The project, primarily industrial and agricultural, is headquartered on twenty-five acres of land near the city of Hue. Two Americans and a Canadian will act as advisors.

Refugees in both North and South Viet Nam are receiving help from the East Asia Christian Conference and the World Council of Churches. The aid includes medical supplies sent to Hanoi. In the south, the relief includes supplementary food rations provided three times a week to some 30,000 persons, according to a WCC report.

Christian Democrats In Asia?

The Philippine elections November 9 will test the mettle of a new move for political power by Catholic laymen. A drive for involvement among the church faithful in Asia’s only predominantly Catholic country coincides with the campaigning of the Philippines’ third party, the Progressives, under guidance of two well-known Catholic laymen.

The talk of Catholic bloc voting stems from a proposal on formation of a Catholic party and a subsequent poll in early 1964. This, in turn, was a response to new political zeal among the Church of Christ (Iglesia Ni Cristo), a strange mixture of nationalism and Protestantism (see “The Manalistas,” News, January 1, 1965).

Voters will choose one-third of the Senate (the upper house of the legislature) and a president and vice-president. The Progressives’ national candidates are its two present senators. Since the present Senate is delicately balanced between the island nation’s two major parties, the Liberals and the Nacionalistas, the Progressives could win important leverage.

Despite a silent campaign among Catholics to vote as one, it is unclear whether the vast numbers of the faithful will support the drive. The poll by Catholic leaders produced only spotty returns, although those who replied are reported to have represented the business and professional elite in the Philippines.

Two-thirds of the respondents said members of Catholic organizations should participate in campaigns, and 70 per cent expressed willingness to join a “lay Catholic organization patterned after the Christian Democratic movement in European countries.”

The results revealed two broad types of Catholic laymen. The majority was very partisan, dogmatic, argumentative, conscious of its Catholic rights. The minority, which has since provided much of the leadership, tends to be younger, more educated, and more tolerant of religious differences.

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If the mass of Catholics were mobilized, the results would depend on the style of leadership. But despite talk of a “Catholic vote,” there are countless ways in which people align themselves in the Philippines, and monolithic unity would be extremely difficult to attain.

For the minute Protestant camp, the appearance of a Catholic third force in the nation’s politics is a haunting counterbalance to the Senate’s postponement of any action on a religious instruction bill that would authorize public schools to teach religion courses.


Birth Control And Public Policy

In Massachusetts, the only state with a birth control law still on its books, the stage was being set last month for a court test of the constitutionality of the 86-year-old statute.

State Health Commissioner Alfred L. Frechette began organizing legal studies to examine the law in the light of last June’s U. S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a somewhat similar law in Connecticut forbidding the sale and prescription of contraceptive materials.

Frechette, who says his concern is “solely the health aspects of the matter,” had two alternatives open. He could ask Attorney General Edward Brooke whether the court decision in the Connecticut case nullified the old law in Massachusetts. Or he could stand by while someone deliberately violated the law and created a test case.

This past summer, the Massachusetts House of Representatives on a 119–97 vote killed a bill that would have legalized distribution of birth control information and devices to adults. The action caught most proponents of the measure by surprise. An advisory commission had recommended passage, the bill had the 12–3 approval of a joint legislative committee, and Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, offered no opposition. The leading opponent of the bill was Representative Lawrence P. Smith, a Democrat and the father of fifteen children.

The Massachusetts legislature in 1948 also defeated a bill that would have liberalized the birth control statute. A year later the question was put on the state ballot as a referendum and was defeated by nearly 100,000 votes.

On the national level, the debate over the government’s role in birth control programs has been spotlighted in a series of Senate subcommittee hearings. The specific issue is a bill to establish federal agencies for promoting birth control in the United States and abroad. The bill has virtually no chance of passage during the current session of Congress, but it has nevertheless stimulated considerable controversy.

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Official Roman Catholic spokesmen testified against the bill. But a Jesuit professor from Georgetown University allowed that “while I may deplore the private choice of citizens and feel that a particular choice may not be morally legitimate, the government may still permit and aid in this choice without approving it.”

On the international side, Roman Catholics are changing their attitudes toward birth control, according to claims presented last month in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, at the second United Nations World Population Conference. One report declared that one-third of all Roman Catholics surveyed used forms of contraception condemned by Catholic teaching. Another report noted that the birth rates in such largely Catholic countries as France, Austria, Luxembourg, Hungary, and Ireland have declined greatly.

This fall, the Vatican seemed to be faced with a hung jury on the question of the morality of various birth control methods. A new pronouncement had been rumored months ago, but the special papal advisory committee on birth control apparently found itself rather hopelessly split. Some observers felt that the issue could end up on the floor of the Vatican Council this fall.

Faubus On Evolution

In 1929, the Arkansas legislature decreed that evolution could not be taught in public schools. This sequel to Scopes is still on the books, and the executive secretary of the Arkansas Education Association, Forrest Rozzell, said recently it should be repealed. Teachers chimed in, saying they teach evolution anyway, since it is in the textbooks.

But the governor, Baptist Orval Faubus, says that “the Bible says man was created by God and put on earth. That is good enough for me.” He interprets the anti-evolution law as a ban on teaching evolutionary theory as a conclusion, not on discussion of the matter.

The latest of many legislative attempts to repeal the law was introduced in the House this year but never got out of committee.

The ‘Fair Bus Bills’

Those big yellow school buses are getting to be a national cause célèbre, replacing classroom devotions as the chief church-state issue.

State legislatures across the country found themselves bombarded this year with demands for “fair bus bills,” which require local communities to bring parochial school pupils under the umbrella of public transportation subsidies.

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Largely responsible for the bussing drive is an organization known as Citizens for Educational Freedom. It is made up primarily of Roman Catholics, with a few Protestants holding high office. CEF boasts that twenty-three states now underwrite a measure of the cost of transporting parochial school students.

Americans United, leading proponent of church-state separation, points to Iowa, Indiana, and Missouri as states in which bus bills have been defeated.

Ohio is the latest state to enact a bus bill, but Americans United says its sponsors may have celebrated too soon. The bill requires school boards to provide bus transportation on an equal basis for children attending schools “for which the state board of education prescribes minimum standards.” One feature of the bill is to exclude any school that practices racial or religious discrimination in regard to “pupils, teachers, or employees.” Opponents of the bill have vowed to pursue litigation.

Legal tests are also in the offing for a bus bill enacted in Pennsylvania in June.

In Minnesota, a state-wide bus bill was defeated. Enacted instead was a measure deliberately framed to result in court action to determine its constitutionality. It applies to only two school districts, both heavily Roman Catholic.

As students returned to classes last month, a number of local bus disputes developed. In the Philadelphia suburb of Jarrettown, 125 parochial school children arrived unexpectedly to enroll in a public school on opening day as a protest against the local school board’s refusal to change a bus route. Pennsylvania Attorney General Walter E. Allessandroni had advised school administrators that they might take a liberal attitude in revising public school bus routes to accommodate parochial school students. Roman Catholic pupils in Jarrettown wanted the route changed to avoid a half-mile walk along heavily traveled Limekiln Pike, which has no sidewalk.

New Jersey may soon see its own showdown on parochial school bus transportation. The school board in beachfront Brigantine, where there is no high school, voted recently to authorize a partial payment for the cost of school transportation to Roman Catholic students attending a high school in neighboring Absecon.

The Pope At The U.N.

Was Pope Paul VI planning to unveil some dramatic new proposal for peace this week? Or was he relying upon the very fact of his unprecedented, historic visit to the U. N. to hitch up a sagging world?

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In his own words, the Pope was traveling to New York on October 4 simply “in order to take, with respectful homage to the representatives of the nations there assembled, a message of peace.”

There was speculation, however, that he would use the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the U. N. to offer a new scheme for breaking the ideological impasse. The fact that President Johnson was also to be in New York that day added to the prospects. The White House confirmed that the President and the Pope would meet.

Bishop Fred Pierce Corson, president of the World Methodist Council, suggested a summit meeting of U. S. religious leaders with the Pope as “a gesture of unity of the church for peace.” The immediate reaction from the Vatican seemed favorable.

Dr. Fredrik A. Schiotz, president of the American Lutheran Church, took a dim view of such a summit meeting. He said it would be “open to misinterpretation—as though the churches were seeking to coerce the governments of the world to act in conformity with ecclesiastically conceived plans for obtaining peace.”

The Pope planned a full day in New York. Following a morning arrival, he was to have lunch with Francis Cardinal Spellman before going to the U. N. for the address. A mass rally at Yankee Stadium was scheduled, plus a brief visit to the Vatican Pavilion at the World’s Fair.

Appropriate to the purpose of his U. N. speech, Pope Paul chose to travel on the day on which Roman Catholics commemorate the Feast of St. Francis of Assissi (1181–1228), the “Saint of Peace.”

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