A number of bills before the Eighty-ninth Congress drew particular interest and comments from churchmen. As Congress adjourned last month, here is how some of these matters stood:

• SCHOOL PRAYER. No legislation was passed, though three measures were introduced in the Senate. An attempt by Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen to initiate a constitutional amendment permitting voluntary participation by students in prayer failed by nine votes to get the necessary two-thirds majority. A “sense of Congress” resolution favoring voluntary school prayer was proposed by Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana. This, and an attempt by Vance Hartke of that state to attach similar measures to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, were defeated.

• WAR ON POVERTY. Despite pressures from the Inter-Religious Committee Against Poverty, the National Council of Churches, and other religious groups, Congress refused to increase the Office of Economic Opportunity’s appropriation for the current fiscal year. OEO was given only the $1.75 billion requested in the President’s budget—at least $250 million less than the NCC had advocated. The bill contained more restrictions on the administration of funds than last year’s act, but proposed restrictions on church-state cooperation were defeated.

Spike, Leading Educator, Slain

Dr. Robert W. Spike, 42, died October 17 in the most sensational murder of a prominent U. S. clergyman within memory.

World Council of Churches’ leader Eugene Carson Blake said in a eulogy that Spike “was one of the most important men in the life of American churches today.” Spike had just begun direction of the new professional doctorate program at the University of Chicago Divinity School this fall. He was formerly the first director of the National Council of Churches’ race commission, home mission secretary of the United Church of Christ, and minister of New York City’s avant-garde Judson Memorial Church.

The clergyman’s body—clad only in a raincoat, and with the skull crushed with tremendous force by a blunt instrument—was found in Ohio State University’s new United Christian Center, which he had helped dedicate the day before. Despite some bizarre evidence, police seemed baffled and had made no arrests by late last month.

• CHURCH TAXES. Two bills that would make businesses operated by churches or other non-profit organizations subject to taxes were held up in the finance committee of the House.

• AID TO EDUCATION. Congress voted a two-year extension of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, with an appropriation of $6 billion. Americans United for Separation of Church and State had opposed this extension because of the use of public funds by parochial schools. The appropriation for the first year is $600 million more than the President requested.

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• JUDICIAL REVIEW. A bill entitled “An Act to Enforce the First Amendment” has passed the Senate and awaits committee action in the House. The bill would enable citizens to bring to court test cases on the constitutionality of federal legislation that provides aid to church-related institutions.

• ‘TRUTH’ BILLS. Congress passed a “truth-in-packaging” bill that requires clear and standard labeling of contents and quantities of packaged foods and other consumer goods, but the standardized size requirements sought by the administration were softened to a voluntary regulation plan. A “truth-in-lending” bill to standardize publicity on interest rates remained in committee with no action by either house.

• UNION MEMBERSHIP. The House passed a bill to repeal Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act, which allows states to outlaw union closed shops, but the bill was killed in a Senate filibuster. Persons whose religious convictions prohibit union membership had fought the bill.

• HOME RULE. Bills to provide self-government in the District of Columbia have passed both houses but are so different that they were tied up in the joint conference committee. The Council of Churches of Greater Washington and many churchmen are backing “Home Rule.”

• CIVIL RIGHTS. A 1966 civil rights bill passed the House but was killed by Senate filibuster. Opposition centered not on jury reform or personal protection clauses, but on a controversial plan for federal open-housing regulation which had major church backing.


The National Sunday School Association has called a board meeting December 8 to discuss plans for a major Sunday school congress. This month’s Eternity, discussing a similar idea from its sister publication, the Sunday School Times, wonders “who will participate” and says that if the purpose is “to preserve the Sunday school, let’s forget it; but if its purpose is improved Christian education in a revolutionary society, we’re all for it.”

The Internal Revenue Service announced Billy James Hargis’s anti-Communist Christian Crusade is no longer tax-exempt because of lobbying and intervening for candidates in political campaigns. Hargis called the move a violation of his First Amendment rights.

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Upland (California) College, an accredited Brethren in Christ school that went out of business last year, auctioned off all its real and personal property and its “valuable corporate charter.”

President Johnson won this year’s “Family of Man” award, but because of his unprecedented Asian tour last month, Labor Secretary Willard Wirtz served as stand-in at the fund-raising dinner of New York City’s Protestant Council. Outside, a small group of Clergy Concerned About Viet Nam picketed. A few churchmen along Johnson’s Asian route also issued complaints.

The United Nations’ General Assembly strengthened previous years’ resolutions condemning religious and racial intolerance in member nations.

At a lively quadrennial conference of Korean Methodists, 111 ballots for a new bishop were taken without reaching the needed two-thirds majority. They’ll try again next March.

Both Protestant and Roman Catholic churches in Salisbury, capital of Southern Rhodesia, refused to hold special services this week marking the first anniversary of the white minority’s declaration of independence from Britain.

The Dutch Reformed Church of the Cape Province in South Africa voted to rejoin the World Presbyterian Alliance, which it quit, along with the World Council of Churches, in 1961. One apparent reason is to defend the church’s support of racial segregation.

Following Up

Dimitri Tsafendas (Sept. 16 issue, page 44), assassin of South Africa’s Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, was ruled insane and committed to prison indefinitely without trial.

A Chicago panel of psychiatrists ruled Richard Speck, accused of murdering eight student nurses (August 19 issue, page 49), mentally fit to stand trial.

A San Francisco coroner’s jury ruled the police shooting of Matthew Johnson, which touched off race rioting (previous issue, pages 53, 54), was “excusable homicide.”

The Rev. Ian Paisley, anti-Roman Catholic preacher in Northern Ireland (Aug. 19 issue, page 50), was released October 18 after spending three months in prison because he wouldn’t vow to keep the peace.

“The Singing Nun” is now just singing. Sister Luc-Gabrielle, 31—who hit the hit parade in 1963 (Jan. 3, 1964, issue, page 32) and won more fame in a current movie—did not take final vows and recently left her Belgian convent. Instead of becoming a foreign missionary, she will continue her singing career under her former name, Jeanine Deckers, and remain a lay member of the Dominicans.


Hans Schwaighofer, director of Germany’s famous Oberammergau Passion Play, next scheduled for 1970, quit because townspeople opposed substitution of a 1750 script to eliminate anti-Semitic overtones.

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Professor Josef Souček this fall succeeded Professor Josef Hromodka as dean of the Reformed-oriented Comenius Theological Faculty in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The school has twelve lecturers and fifty students. Hromodka, who once taught at Princeton Theological Seminary, is now active in Prague’s Christian Peace Conference, which has offices in the same building as the seminary.

The Hungarian Baptist Seminary in Budapest began its sixty-first school year with fourteen students.

Francis B. Sayre, Jr., outspoken dean of Washington Cathedral (Episcopal), was hospitalized in Bangkok, Thailand, with tuberculosis, during an Asian tour.

Ray Lentsch, an American evangelist in “Operation Mobilization,” was sentenced to forty days in jail and a $100 fine for distributing tracts on the Greek island of Rhodes. The Greek constitution forbids “any form of proselytizing against the [Orthodox] State Church.”

Earnest A. Smith, president of Rust College in Mississippi, which was enmeshed in the state’s anti-poverty controversy (see previous issue, pages 59, 60), will become director of the Methodist religion and race department next week.

The Rev. Thomas J. Holmes, fired as pastor of Tattnall Square Baptist Church, Macon, Georgia, because he urged seating of Negroes at worship, was named public-relations chief at Mercer University next door. In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the Wake Forest Baptist Church voted to accept as a member Julius Imosun, former executive of the Ghana Baptist Convention.

A Chicago jury quickly found Vernon Lyons, independent Baptist pastor, guilty of littering for passing out Scripture portions in a park. Lyons will appeal the decision.

Gaylord M. Couchman, leader in United Presbyterian affairs, resigned as president of the University of Dubuque, Iowa, effective next June, because “the institution must be served with an even greater total effectiveness than I find it possible to contribute.…”

Thomas B. McDormand will retire as president of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and College at the end of 1967.


HEWLETT JOHNSON, 92, for thirty-two years the Communist-loving “Red Dean” of England’s Canterbury Cathedral, who caused red faces because people confused him with the Archbishop of Canterbury, primate of Anglicanism; tolerated by fellow churchmen despite strange, sometimes silly social views; in Canterbury, after a severe fall.

R. J. G. MCKNIGHT, 88, for thirty-seven years a professor and president of Reformed Presbyterian Seminary, Pittsburgh.

RAIMER MAGER, 60, anti-Hitler Christian union leader in Saxony, later lay president of his Lutheran synod in what became East Germany; in Dresden, of a heart attack.

ROBERT W. SPIKE, 42, in the most sensational murder of a noted U. S. clergyman within memory (see page 57).

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