Only a few days before President Johnson paid a surprise visit to Pope Paul VI, the weekly Washington Examiner reported that the chief executive “is showing a growing affinity for Catholicism.”

The report suggested that the President’s interest in the Roman Catholic faith goes beyond the mere intention of reflecting an ecumenical image before the pluralistic American society. This seemed to be supported somewhat when on the day before Christmas he turned up for a 7 A.M. mass at St. Dominic’s Roman Catholic Church in southwest Washington. That was just three hours after he had returned from his exhaustive 27,000-mile trip around the world.

The Examiner said that Johnson also has made private visits to St. Dominic’s and that “he draws great strength from ‘the little monks’ ” there.

The President visits an assortment of Protestant churches and is a member of the Disciples of Christ (Christian Churches). “Recent reports have President Johnson drawing closer and closer to the Catholic Church, however,” the Examiner said. “Some speculate this is a result of the intense moral and political pressures of the Viet Nam war.”

The newspaper declared that “the actual conversion of the President to Catholicism is seen by reporters as possible, but not probable. In any event, such an unprecedented step would certainly not come during 1968, reporters agree.”

Johnson conferred with the Pope for seventy-five minutes on Saturday night, December 23, during a stopover in Rome. Viet Nam was reportedly a key topic of discussion. The President was on his way home from a visit to Viet Nam and Australia, where he attended memorial services for Prime Minister Harold Holt. During the Vatican visit, Johnson gave Pope Paul a bronze bust of himself as a gift from his daughter Luci, who was converted to Catholicism in 1965. The Pope gave the President paintings and medallions for members of his family.

The meeting was the fifth between a reigning pontiff and an American president in office, and the second between Johnson and Pope Paul since they were elected to their present posts. Only generalized summaries of the talks have been made public.

Prior to the meeting, the Pope had asked that the United States suspend its bombings in North Viet Nam and that forces opposing the United States “give a sign of a serious will for peace.” After the meeting there were reports that the Vatican would send a peace mission to Hanoi.

Newsweek subsequently reported that the meeting between Johnson and the pontiff was something less than cordial. “The Pontiff was visibly disturbed that the twenty-four-hour Christmas truce could not be lengthened and the bombing stopped permanently,” the magazine said in its issue dated January 8. This month, Vatican Radio denied reports of “dissension” at the meeting. In deference to another papal plea, the Allies in Viet Nam extended their New Year’s truce for twelve hours.

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The day before New Year’s, the President attended mass at a small frame Roman Catholic Church near his Texas ranch. There he brought greetings from Pope Paul to the local parish priest, the Rev. Wunibald Schneider, who is an old friend of Johnson.


“I can’t understand it,” says retired Navy Captain Kenneth L. Butler, whose years at sea accustomed him to getting things done effectively. “This is the only spiritual ministry I’ve ever been connected with that hasn’t prospered.”

The ministry to which Butler refers seeks to supply voluntary civilian assistants for military chaplains. Right now it is a foundering enterprise, and Butler, its executive-board chairman, is deeply concerned.

“We get all the money we need,’ he says, “and many chaplains are friendly to the idea. We could place dozens of workers almost immediately, but we just can’t find them.”

The 14-year-old ministry goes by the stuffy name of Protestant Religious Education Services, Inc. But it has a simple, clear-cut purpose: a spiritual outreach to the more than 5,000,000 dependents of American servicemen, many of whom live on military bases in considerable isolation from religious influences found in the typical civilian community. When the total number of U. S. servicemen and their wives and children is compared to the number of chaplains available, the ratio is about 2,700 to one. The needs of dependents are intensified when the husbands go off to Viet Nam or to some other place where families can’t accompany them.

Butler is looking for mature women trained in Christian education to conduct Bible classes, visitation, children’s churches, teacher training, teen clubs, and release-time classes. The commitment is full time, and the women raise their own support, as they would in any faith mission. Their goal is ultimately to turn over direction of the activities to Christian base residents.

The idea, a remarkable bit of evanglical initiative, began with Mrs. Georgia V. Rushton, who developed such a ministry in California at Castle Air Force Base and Fort Ord. The idea spread, and eventually it developed into an organization affiliated with the National Association of Evangelicals. At one time there were reportedly as many as fifteen staff workers. Now the number is down to two.

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From Havana, Ecumenical Press Service reported that the Cuban Council of Churches would hold a national institute for leadership training on social issues in January. The institute was being sponsored by the council’s Department on Church and Society, EPS said. No other details were given.

The press service also told of a December meeting of the department in Havana, where “it was decided to emphasize work on the local and denominational level during the coming year.” Speakers included Mauricio Lopez, associate secretary of the WCC Department on Church and Society in Geneva, who was said to have “outlined efforts being made to follow up on the 1966 World Conference on Church and Society and the challenge posed by revolutionaries and technocrats in various parts of the world.”


Colgate Rochester Divinity School, which has the richest history of all American Baptist seminaries, will take on new ecumenical dimensions this year. Beginning this fall, the seminary will share its Rochester, New York, campus with Bexley Hall, a small Episcopal seminary in Ohio that, like Colgate Rochester, dates back about a century and a half. Trustees of the two schools voted last month to affiliate by bringing Bexley Hall’s students, faculty, and books to Colgate Rochester. Colgate Rochester has about 150 students, Bexley Hall about 50.

The move is said to be the first legal step toward establishment of a proposed Rochester Center for Theological Studies, which may also include St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Seminary in Rochester and several other divinity Schools outside the area. All the seminaries are to retain their identities and denominational affiliations while sharing facilities.

Colgate Rochester’s proud past, recalled in 1967 during the school’s 150th anniversary, is chiefly remembered in connection with two people: Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918) and Augustus Hopkins Strong (1836–1921). Rauschenbusch, primary mover behind the social gospel, held the chair of history. Strong was theology professor and president of what was then Rochester Theological Seminary.

Rauschenbusch did not share the emphasis on radical divine immanence, and the neglect of personal salvation, characteristic of later social gospel advocates, but his social Christianity nonetheless pointed clearly in the direction of socialism. Strong, on the other hand, viewed nature as a part of God, yet gave more stress to the traditional view of personal salvation and social change.

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Although Rauschenbusch is better known, Strong’s work has been in a sense more enduring. Among American Baptists no theological treatise has been more influential than Strong’s Systematic Theology. He won lasting respect despite the continuing swirl of criticism he aroused during his lifetime by espousing ethical monism. Strong alienated many theological conservatives by appropriating premises of the personalistic idealists. To the end of his life, however, he maintained that they could be reconciled with an authoritative Scripture.

The new Rochester plan may be the strongest among a group of seminary federations now taking shape in a number of large American communities, notably Washington, D. C., Boston, Massachusetts, and Berkeley, California. The trend is toward mutual recognition and sharing of libraries and specialists. It also reflects a de-emphasis on theological and ecclesiastical distinctives.


Church leaders in South Africa seem mildly surprised at the positive effects of an evangelistic effort among the predominantly non-Christian Chatsworth Indians.

“It is most encouraging to see how churches of highly different traditions can work together,” said the guest preacher of the campaign, the Rev. Ross Main, rector of Christ Church, Addington.

The campaign, sponsored by the Natal Christian Council, was initiated by Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches and supported by the Roman Catholic Church. Each night a large tent was packed to capacity. Preparation and follow-up methods were borrowed from the Billy Graham crusades.


Los Angeles police arrested a devout churchman last month on the basis of an information filed by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison naming him as a conspirator in a plot to assassinate President Kennedy.

Edgar Eugene Bradley, West Coast representative of radio preacher Carl McIntire, surrendered to the sheriff’s office upon learning of the charges and was released on his own recognizance. Bradley says the accusation is absurd and plans to fight extradition to Louisiana. A hearing has been set for January 29.

McIntire released a statement declaring that “the whole development is preposterous.” He called for “a full investigation of Mr. Garrison’s conduct and particularly his sources of information by the responsible state officials.”

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“We appeal to the American people to recognize that this type of abuse which we are now suffering is typical of what is being done all across the land to discredit the anti-Communists,” McIntire said.


Negro college students at the Inter-Varsity Missionary Convention (story on page 35)—inspired in part by missionaries’ comments on the harm American church bias does to foreign missions—called a spur-of-the-moment meeting that was attended by 250 persons. Some voiced interest in a special movement to prod evangelicals on the race question.

Then the Negro leaders met again and, after praying and discussing into the wee hours of the morning, scrapped ideas for a new organization. Instead, they vowed to work within existing evangelical groups, speaking and buttonholing leaders to bring the Church to grips with its internal segregation and social irrelevance.

At stake is not only foreign missions, they feel, but also any chance for a turn to evangelical preaching in Negro churches. Paul Gibson, a Harvard senior in biology, will coordinate the informal efforts of the Negro evangelical students and keep them posted through a newsletter. A follow-up meeting during spring vacation is hoped for.

Elward Ellis, a sophomore at Shaw University in North Carolina, said Negro evangelicals have been “so content to have white evangelicals pat us on the back” that missionary zeal has been lost. Negro churches must be reached, he said, because the ravages of slavery, bad education, and separation from white evangelicals have cut theological content and soundness in Negro preaching to the bone.

The Negroes appreciate gains made by the civil-rights movement but, in the words of Chicago high-school senior Ronald Potter, “the basic problem is the human heart. Why spend forty years on the symptom when you can deal with the cause?” The students generally see some value in a non-violent form of “black power.” Isom Herron, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins, said “black power is a necessity for people who have not experienced the freedom and deep meaning for their lives that is found in Christ.”

Gibson thinks the current movement will result in either “blood in the streets or bread on the table.” Speakers from Newark, New Jersey, and Philadelphia said slum frustrations are so potent that black Christians who take a stand against violence may be martyred.

In another development, forty African students met and wrote a joint resolution read on the convention floor. It expressed concern for evangelizing other “black students” and deplored the fact that Inter-Varsity has not been able to hire Negroes for any leadership positions.

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Seven Die In Boat Mishap

An American missionary couple lost their four children in the sinking of a motor launch off the coast of Hiroshima last month. Three other persons also drowned.

The Rev. and Mrs. Donald Bowman were on their way to Atada Island to hold a Bible class when their twenty-two-foot boat sprang a leak. All on board had life preservers, and all set out to paddle ashore. But only the Bowman couple and a 22-year-old American Marine, Herbert Christiansen, survived.

The victims included an American Navy lieutenant, Robert A. Hatcher, 26, of Dallas, who like Christiansen had gone along for the ride, and two Japanese.

The Bowmans are natives of Home-dale, Idaho.


For several years, U. S. Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr., has led a crusade to enable courts to rule on the constitutionality of public financial support for church-related institutions. He has been trying to get enabling legislation through Congress, but always it has been stalled in the House Judiciary Committee. The latest hope, in the form of a judicial-review rider on the Elementary and Secondary Education Amendments Act of 1967, was killed by a Senate-House conference committee in closing days of the first session of the Ninetieth Congress.

“The death of the judicial-review rider was the result of a number of factors, including a reported direct personal intervention by President Lyndon B. Johnson,” Baptist Press said.

Other factors were said to be opposition by the Roman Catholic hierarchy because they feared a cutoff of certain aid that goes to pupils in parochial schools; opposition by the Justice Department on grounds that authorization for judicial review of federal spending by individual taxpayers is unconstitutional; fear that such constitutional lawsuits would disrupt much of the current education program of the federal government and that old feuds between religious groups would break out anew; and opposition by an unidentified AFL-CIO lobbyist who joined others in trying to reduce the threat to the education program.

Baptist Press attributed to Senate sources a report that Johnson had called Ervin and one or two other senators promising early hearings in the House Judiciary Committee next session if the senators dropped the judicial-review rider from the education bill.

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Subsequently, Ervin took his case to the U. S. Supreme Court indirectly by filing a friend-of-the-court brief for the Baptist General Association of Virginia and a group known as Americans for Public Schools. The brief was filed in connection with a case that the court will hear next spring. Appellants in that case seek a standing to file suit contesting government aid to church-related institutions.


President Johnson called for help this month on the pornography problem. Under authority of a bill passed by Congress this past fall, he named an eighteen-member panel “to investigate the relationship of obscene or pornographic materials to antisocial behavior, particularly by minors, and to determine whether there is a need for and a constitutional method to control the distribution of such materials.”

The panel consists of clergymen, judges, social-research experts, and prominent citizens. It includes the Rev. Morton A. Hill, a Jesuit who is executive secretary of the smut-battling New York organization known as Operation Yorkville; Dr. G. William Jones, assistant professor of broadcast film art at Southern Methodist University; Rabbi Irving Lehrman of Miami Beach; and the Rev. Winfrey C. Link, executive director of the Four-Fold Challenge Campaign in Nashville.


Keith A. Price, general manager of the Sermons from Science Pavilion at Expo 67, says Montreal authorities have asked that the program be resumed next summer. But a debt of $80,000 still remains from the original project.

“As long as there is outstanding need,” Price says, “the board cannot seriously consider repeating the program. If only the balance of our requirements were met within the next month, I feel sure that there would still be time for them to act on the suggestion.”


Student demonstrators led by East German refugee Rudi Dutschke interrupted Christmas and New Year services in West Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church to protest the American presence in Viet Nam, touching off heated debate among Church leaders. Dutschke’s quasianarchist views drew world attention when his student protests led to the downfall of the city regime last fall.

Religious News Service reported that Dutschke was pushed from the church on Christmas Day after he had attempted to enter the pulpit to read a statement opposing U.S. policy. At the New Year’s service, demonstrators chanted: “We want freedom of speech in church,” a claim supported by Berlin’s Lutheran Bishop Kurt Scharf.

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Among defenders of Dutschke—whose wife, the former Gretchen Klotz, is a philosophy graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois—were thirty young pastors of the Evangelical Church of Bremen in West Germany. They argued that the students were right about the war, and that their intrusion was justified by Christ’s disturbance of the Temple when he removed the moneychangers.

Pastor Gerhard Pohl of the Wilhelm church replied that nothing excused the demonstrations and argued that, as far as he knew, “no Bremen pastor ever protested against the border guards killing human beings who try to escape over the Communist Wall into West Berlin.”

The West German newspaper Die Welt noted that Christ had disturbed “not the order but the disorder of the Temple” and that he did so with the words, “My house shall be a house of worship.”

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