This report is by Wallace Henley, religion editor of the “Birmingham News,” Alabama’s largest newspaper:
“Should we reelect the gang that takes Christ out of Christmas, prayer out of the public schools and may yet tax the tabernacles or temples of the Living God? Everything this outfit does is wrong and nothing is right!? Mt. 7:20. Time for a change to the Wallace Ticket. Pr. 14:34; Mt. 6:33; Acts 5:38–9.”
Despite omissions (Wallace has hinted he’d want to tax church property, though aides deny he would) and selective proof-texting (how about Galatians 3:28 or 6:10?), this mimeoed mailing last month from the anti-fluoridation American Press in La Crosse, Wisconsin, expresses the mood of an untold number of conservative Protestants in this election.
The fact that George Corley Wallace’s third party could roll up the same 25 per cent chunk of the vote November 5 that the Know-Nothings got in 1856 has vast implications for the effect of the Church on social attitudes. For when was the last time a candidate so symbolized opposition to the consensus of most U. S. church leaders on a matter so important as race?
The latter-day Crusade of avowed segregationist Wallace has taken on the tinge of a religion—a civil religion, to be sure. A young Birmingham minister who has watched the numerous Wallace drives in Alabama describes the White House bid as “a campaign with messianic ring.” Wallace, he explains, seeks to present himself as the saviour of the United States, a prince of hope, swinging his broad sword in a holy war against evil.
Wallace has a list of inevitable “fed-ups” punctuating every speech. There is an aura of electricity about him, an elocutionary style so laced with pepper and verbal spice that his sayings ...1
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