A classic game of buck-passing is being played by federal purveyors of education funds and state officials looking for the easy dollar to finance hard-hit school systems. While they play, “between them, the Constitution falls to the ground” and parochial schools pick up the forfeit.

This wry assessment of the fuss over church-state separation and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 came from attorney Leo Pfeffer of New York, the nation’s leading circuit fighter on church-state issues. Pfeffer represented one of more than a half-dozen litigants in the crucial Flast v. Gardner case argued before the U. S. Supreme Court this month.

If individual taxpayers are not allowed to initiate lawsuits contesting the spending of their tax dollars for religiously oriented purposes, “is there remedy elsewhere?” Pfeffer asked.

Practically speaking, the answer is an obvious no. As Pfeffer put it, the states have “a stake in maintaining the status quo,” and one will look out over the horizon a long time before he sees states initiating action that might eventually cut off federal dollars. State education officials can afford to look the other way in acceding to demands for funds from Catholic and other parochial interests so long as this keeps down the squeaks in the machinery that brings in federal money.

Democratic Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, a frequent critic of the nation’s highest judicial body, said this time that “the Supreme Court is our only hope.” His appearance before the justices was seen to be in keeping with a now dormant tradition of the nineteenth century, when congressional figures argued regularly in the Supreme Court chamber.

Ervin has, without so much as one vote of opposition, taken a judicial-review bill through the U. S. Senate three times in the past two years. His bill asks that the courts be authorized to review not only the education act but half a dozen other laws of recent vintage that have circumvented church-state issues. But the judicial-review measure has never made it to the House floor.

United States Solicitor General Erwin Griswold, former dean of Harvard Law School, sought to counter the arguments of the church-state separationists. He said there needs to be “play in the joints” in applying constitutional provision against the establishment of religion to the need for good education for all. Griswold asked the court to withhold its hand in making a decision in the Flast case.

The National Council of Churches, which had supported enactment of the education act, also presented a brief, contending that application of the law has been too permissive. Under Titles I and II of the act, the federal education commissioner, who determines how the funds shall be distributed, has not made it any harder for extended parochial hands to get what they came for.

Article continues below

The outcome of the case will be the most significant church-state ruling since the celebrated school prayer cases. It could give encouragement to the strong Catholic education lobby, or it could prove to be the vehicle for testing the constitutionality of public support of church-related agencies. Actually, the court is deciding only whether it should lift a 1923 ban against taxpayer suits. To remove the curb would seem to require also some kind of control ruling to forestall the welter of potential cases on a myriad of subjects.


Twenty-three churchmen exploring wider avenues of evangelical cooperation agreed to reinforce city-wide efforts for spiritual renewal in Newark, New Jersey, this summer. They urged and pledged support of the projected Newark crusade to be spearheaded by Negro evangelist Tom Skinner, and vowed to widen its potential impact with outside money and manpower.

Selection of Newark as an area for special attention was the first specific action of the churchmen’s group. It came during the third of the “Key Bridge Meetings,” which are aimed at bringing American theological conservatives in closer touch with one another.

The latest Key Bridge group, again meeting in Arlington, Virginia, March 9 and 10, also adopted a statement addressed to the earlier participants commenting on the possibility of a great national evangelistic thrust cresting in 1973.

The full text of the statement follows:

We have met to consider the possibility of a united evangelical outreach to the nation climaxing in the year 1973. We have listened to the voice of God, speaking to us through the Scriptures, illuminated by the urgency of the times in which we live. It is our conviction that the crisis of our times roots in a human problem, not confined to any one race, class, or culture; that if we seek the outpouring of God’s Spirit in our time, we must begin with full and open repentance within our own Christian communities.

1. We have not made clear the full implications of the love of God for all men.

2. We have been insensitive to the biblical concern for justice and mercy.

3. We have failed to present to many men the living reality of Jesus Christ, Saviour and Lord, as an alternative to the frustrations, despair, and spiritual death in which they exist.

Article continues below

4. The Church has not demonstrated before the world the oneness of the body of Christ across all boundaries of race and class.

5. Our personal contacts have often been limited to our own race and class, to the disregard of the body of Christ and the entire family of man.

We covenant ourselves to search our own hearts and lives to seek anew the meaning of the Lordship of Christ and what it means for us to be Christ’s servants to all men, and to take personal initiative in making friends across class and racial lines that we may more clearly discern the injustices of our time and the practical expression of the love of God for all men. We encourage all Christians everywhere to share in this initiative, and to seek to discover ways to give contemporary meaning to the full dimension of the Christian Gospel.

We will meet at a later time to seek to discern the leading of God’s Spirit.

Under The Southern Cross

This month and next, Australia hosts Billy Graham and his team in a series of evangelistic campaigns in major cities (see chart). The scope of the effort will be broadened by land-line relays from Brisbane and Sydney into outlying communities.

Graham was in Australia once before, in 1959, and attracted some of the largest crowds he has had anywhere. A great number of counselors for this year’s crusade are persons who were converted as a result of the 1959 meetings.

The latest campaign was to include services with Graham in Melbourne and in Auckland and Dunedin, New Zealand, but these were canceled when the evangelist was stricken with a lung ailment. He has recovered and is feeling fine.

Graham and his associates may arrange to go to Melbourne and New Zealand early in 1969.


Three religious groups will have exhibits at the Hemisfair, an international exposition that opens April 6 in San Antonio, Texas. Southern Baptists plan a pavilion—something of a first for America’s biggest denomination. Latter-day Saints will put on a show similar to their New York World’s Fair presentation. And an interdenominational group of evangelical laymen called Alive Inc. plans to show “Sermons from Science” movies. Also, Billy Graham will be speaking at Alamo Stadium June 13–16.

The Baptists will feature a ten-minute film presenting the viewpoint of an archeologist half a million years in the future trying to reconstruct twentieth-century civilization. It leads to man’s search for God, culminating in Jesus Christ and the biblical revelation. A “World Room” will picture Baptist ministries around the globe, and a third room will feature paintings of Baptist history. The exhibit will be located in the historic 101-year-old home of Sarah Eagar, first Anglo-American born in San Antonio.

Article continues below

The 5,000-square-foot Alive Inc. pavilion will seat 126 persons in the main auditorium. Two smaller theaters seating thirty-seven each will be used to show a second film for those interested in further discussion of the Christian message. As at Montreal’s Expo 67 (where the show will be repeated this summer), multilingual sound tracks will be used. Alive will also show seven Billy Graham films a day at the Little Church of La Villita near the downtown Hemisfair site.

A Mormon press release says the church exhibit will portray their belief in “the visit of the resurrected Christ to the Western Hemisphere, an act that ties South, Central, and North American Indians into the House of Israel.” Also shown are God’s “latter-day dealings” with Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. A short movie ends the presentation.


The model of Noah’s Ark now on display in Solomon’s Palace in Jerusalem, seat of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, is the culmination of fourteen years of work by Meir Ben Uri, 59, a leading Israeli religious artist and architect.

Ben Uri’s hobby is reconstructing Old Testament objects as they might have looked in fact—not fancy. He uses descriptions from the Bible, plus calculations from numerical values of the Hebrew words.

Earlier projects were the seven-branched candlestick and the Ark of the Covenant. Both holy objects, he scoffs, have been over-embellished by Byzantine influences.

Insisting that “every letter is correct and makes the Bible a holy source for research,” Ben Uri went to work on Genesis 6:14–16. He rid himself of current architectural ideas and projected his thoughts to an age along the Persian Gulf when bamboo and pitch served as construction materials.

“The ark couldn’t have been constructed as a tower, a house, or a temple,” he figured, but may have been similar in shape to the smaller ark used by Moses’ mother to conceal her son on the Nile.

In Ben Uri’s theory (see drawing) the ark rested on its side with “the door … set in the side thereof” during construction before the flood. Thus entering animals had to walk an incline of no more than thirty degrees. As the water rose, the ark righted itself and floated, raising the door well above the water. The entire top of the ark had continuous skylights for ventilation. Waste from the animals flowed down to the lowest point and provided ballast. With waste disposed of below, and light and air circulating to all levels, no sanitation problems developed.

Article continues below

He figures the ark weighed about 6,000 tons, with a load capacity of perhaps three times that weight—easily enough space for the animals, Noah’s family, and the food required.

Ben Uri uses a rhomboid design of two equal triangles joined along their bases. A rectangular shape would have required too many supports, allowing insufficient space for live cargo, he says, and would not have provided the buoyancy needed to float such a load.

The simple, functional design required little more than a number of equal-sized triangular templates fitted together, with the necessary internal wooden accommodations. He says that even if Noah was inexperienced he could easily have done such a building job.

Ben Uri, an energetic man who is one of the most respected members of his profession, is an Orthodox Jew living in the quiet religious suburb of Kiryat Samuel on Haifa Bay. His ideas crackle like sparks of electricity.

Qualified men could reconstruct Solomon’s Temple using his system of measurements, Ben Uri said, but he denies working on any such plans. He believes anything on the Temple must be done in relationship with the Tabernacle. “It is a matter of our destiny how our Temple will be built,” he adds. The rebuilt Temple will be reduced to “holy measurements,” he says, and will not be a Hollywood version or another Empire State Building. He dismisses Herod’s Temple as a sacrilege, built by a non-Jew and not according to divine specifications.

Ben Uri admits no more than that he is making a thorough study of the Tabernacle, for possible use if he someday undertakes a Temple design. He modestly claims he needs more study and preparation.

Asked to comment on rumors of an international movement to rebuild the Temple, Ben Uri agreed that some persons are interested but said they are not organized. He doubts whether many—if any—are qualified architects.

“It is not of the Lord. We have had no communication from the Lord and without this, all else is speculative.”



Britain’s new Immigration Act, passed March 1, is “a clear case of racial discrimination,” said a group of Anglican clergy headed by the Rev. R. Peter Johnston, chairman of the Islington Clerical Conference. A sign at a protest demonstration asked, “Is a British passport black or white?” But Home Secretary James Callaghan claimed the bill will help “achieve the ideal of a multiracial society” by limiting “colored” immigrants and thus limiting prejudice.

Article continues below

Presented as an economic necessity, the bill in effect severely restricts immigration of “colored” Asians who are British citizens living in Kenya. Britain has broken her promise to the descendants of the Indians and Pakistanis she brought to Kenya, charged Archbishop of Canterbury A. Michael Ramsey and Roman Catholic Cardinal John C. Heenan. When Kenya became independent in 1963, the Asians became citizens of Britain. Now they face job discrimination under Kenya’s Africanization policies.

The bill was “the last straw” for Bishop John (Honest to God) Robinson, who quit the Labor party and will join the Liberals.


With a Senate-passed national open-housing bill before the House, the question of compulsory vs. voluntary approaches looms large. Perhaps no city represents voluntarism better than Chicago, where Martin Luther King and other churchmen hammered out an agreement in 1966.

There is so much talk about open housing in Chicago that one might assume there was a Negro family waiting to move into every block. But Negroes have to pay a steep financial and psychological price to move into an all-white neighborhood. Few have left their lower-class or middle-class ghettos.

The city human-relations commission says thirty-seven Negro families moved into white neighborhoods last year, three more so far in 1968. In the suburbs, eighty-seven Negro families rented or bought in white neighborhoods last year, making a total of 416 Negro move-ins since 1963. In suburb as well as city, the move-ins are concentrated in a handful of communities.

Among agencies encouraging fair-housing practices is the Leadership Council which developed out of the 1966 summit meeting between King and Mayor Richard Daley. There is no unified drive. Agencies advise interested Negro buyers about available housing, try to encourage white sellers to consider Negro buyers, and in some cases provide legal aid. “It’s all pretty much in the talk stage,” says one agency spokesman.

Among church groups making official appeals for fair-housing practices are the Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and United Church of Christ. But the practicing must be done locally. Many clergymen and laymen work on community fair-practice committees, usually without specific church backing. Examples: Missouri Synod Lutherans helped bring a Negro family into Deerfield, northern suburb that was the scene of nationally publicized segregationist activity a few years ago. And in Highland Park, a joint clergy letter was the key to passage of an open-housing ordinance last December.

Article continues below

The Chicago Conference on Religion and Race—coordinating agency for Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish groups—has filed a federal suit over a real-estate agreement in Hinsdale. The village and multiple-listing realtors say that home-sellers who are willing to consider Negro buyers must make a written stipulation in their sales contract. The suit charges that Hinsdale authorities thus consider racial discrimination the norm.



Church members who rarely attend worship tend to be high in prejudice, while those who attend frequently are low in prejudice, reports Research Director Merton Strommen of the Religious Education Association. Prejudice is so high among the nominal church members (whose commitment sociologist Strommen calls “religious tokenism”) that, on the average, people listed on church rolls have a higher degree of prejudice than non-members.

Strommen’s study reorients the rule of thumb in the Glock-Stark book, Christian Beliefs and Anti-Semitism, that “the more conservative the beliefs, the less humanitarian the outlook.” Strommen says prejudice actually relates to other factors: “The more educated the person, the more likely he is to question myths and stereotypes and to seek information that is accurate.”

He added, “Those whose understanding of the Christian faith is always black and white, doctrinaire and absolutist, tend also to be this way in their relationships with other people.” The strongest anti-Semitism appears among those who have the least contact with Jews and have no Jewish friends.

Strommen, who is a Lutheran, told members of the Minneapolis Ministerial Association that their congregations need information that will “counteract falsehoods and sensitize them to prejudice. They need teaching ministries which go beyond indoctrinating them in cognitive beliefs to showing them what the life in Christ means in everyday relationships.”



In the Heat of the Night, a commercial film about small-town Southern prejudice, and the documentary The Battle of Algiers won the second annual joint movie awards from the Roman Catholic and National Council of Churches film offices.

Article continues below

More controversial was the Catholics’ additional prize to Bonnie and Clyde, a film about a likable young bank-robbing, murdering couple, with graphic scenes of violence that shocked many critics. It was cited as the year’s best film for mature audiences. Other Catholic awards went to The Whisperers (educational values) and Elvira Madigan (foreign-language film).

The NCC also gave special awards to The War Game (for showing that in today’s world “the alternative to love could be total destruction”) and Up the Down Staircase (for showing burdens of teachers and students in urban ghettos). Last year’s joint Catholic-Protestant film award went to A Man for All Seasons, the story of Sir Thomas More, Roman Catholic intellectual who refused to sanction Henry VIII’s divorce and was beheaded.


After surveying the evidence, Child and Family magazine, edited by physicians, concludes in its current issue that the birth-control pill is “the most dangerous drug ever introduced for use by the healthy in respect to lethality and major complications.”

Many of the six million American women on the Pill, the report says, suffer such side effects as strokes, liver disease, migraine, depression, embolisms, and failing eyesight. It has been implicated in cases of sterility. Deaths attributed to its use exceed the death rate for polio during the years when it was considered a major health hazard.

Dr. Herbert Ratner, public-health director in Oak Park, Illinois, who recently became the magazine’s editor, is no champion of the Roman Catholic view of contraception. In fact, he charges that the net effect of the Pill has been that “the middle and upper classes of the United States were seduced away from well-established and safe means of birth control.”

Despite such data published within the medical profession, the Pill remains popular with patients, physicians, and drug companies. The magazine attributes this to scientific myths that dominate our culture, such as: Health can be bought. Children should be spaced several years apart. Overpopulation is the cause of social breakdown.

Although Child and Family has no religious affiliation, its board promotes a holistic concept of health that it believes agrees with historic Judaism and Christianity. Part of this is naturalism—in such areas as childbirth techniques and breast-feeding. Ratner seeks to defend “the stubborn social reality of the traditional concepts of human life” that stem from “the nature of things” and recur in many different cultures and eras. He adds that his scientific articles could “provide a lot of sermon material.”


Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.