Most pavilions at HemisFair—San Antonio’s 250th birthday celebration, which closes next week—spend at least a little space spelling out the influence of religion in charting the courses of the American continents.

Original plans had called for a major joint effort by Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. As blueprints materialized, however, participants decided the cost was too great and dropped the idea. The inter-religious committee toyed with thoughts of religious folk dance and art exhibits, but plans finally dwindled to a small chaplain’s office near the first-aid station for emergencies.

After collapse of these plans, officials approved the “Alive” pavilion, operated by an interdenominational group of evangelical businessmen, and “Man’s Search for Happiness,” run by the Mormons. By late summer both had surpassed projected attendance goals. In contrast, attendance at the miniature world’s fair as a whole is running some 600,000 short of the 7.2 million goal. The first months were dampened by spring rains and by civil strife following the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Across the ninety-two acres of the delightful HemisFair, religion slips into secular pavilions mainly through the people, big and small, who converged on these American continents.

The $10 million Institute of Texan Cultures uses priceless heirlooms to describe two dozen ethnic groups that converged on the Lone Star State and ushered it into the twentieth century. Religious aspects are integral to each. The Polish area singles out young Father Leopold Moczygemba, who brought over 100 families and established the first Polish Catholic Church and Polish settlement in America.

Belgium’s exhibit spotlights Volumes 1 and 2 of the “Plantyn” Polyglot Bible and Doctrina ...

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