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 Christiana en Lengua Mexicana by Belgian-born Fray Pedro de Gante—the first book printed in the New World.

The exhibit on Mexico begins with pre-Columbian and colonial-era gods, then moves to art from the early Christian period. The Frito/Pepsi exhibit features Mexico’s well-known Flying Indians performing a 400-year-old religious ritual. The Totonacs believed climbing a pole brought them nearer to the God of the heavens. The reproduction of the pole ascent, the rain dance on top, and the descent, is authentic—down to the bare-breasted maiden who is “sacrificed” five times daily.

Alexander H. Girard’s “El Encanto de un Pueblo” (The Magic of a People), a HemisFair highlight, collects folk art and toys to depict life in Southwest and South America. Religious pageants, parades, and churches are featured aspects.

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A kind of religious comment is provided by Francis Thompson’s controversial film US in the $6.5 million United States pavilion. It displays the grandeur of wilderness areas, then graphically portrays prejudice, poverty, pollution, and over-population, commenting: “We have pinned our hopes on our machines.… The marvelous machines we have made obey us, and couldn’t care less for the consequences. Nothing good or evil can happen to them. If we want it that way, they will lay waste the earth.… On each of us depends what sort of judgment waits for you, for me, our friends, and these United States.”

Evangelist Billy Graham, who held a brief fair crusade in June, said the film “speaks to our consciences, and I think it meets its objectives. It’s worth coming to HemisFair just to see this film.” He said that if he were doing the film, he would add more about needed spiritual strength.

“Alive” and the Mormon pavilion, the most frequented of the religious exhibits, are near the Flying Indians, next door to the adults-only “Les Poupees de Paris,” and across from the Lone Star Brewing Company.

Extra chairs were installed to enlarge Alive’s 126-seat auditorium and two 37-seat rooms where a follow-up film is shown to those interested in hearing more about the Christian message. By next week’s closing, 475,000 persons are expected to have seen the Moody “Sermons from Science” films, also shown at Montreal, New York, and Seattle. By mid-August, 2,500 Christian decisions had been registered, with 100 persons a day signing up for Bible correspondence courses. A Navigators team and volunteers from all over Texas act as counselors and staff.

One of the first converts at Alive was from the Flying Indian troupe. He found he could get closer to God by accepting Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour than by climbing a 114-foot pole.

Next door, the Mormons show a film in both English and Spanish. The native-stone structure features a nine-foot gold statue of Moroni, the angel Mormons believe brought Christ’s Gospel to America. As at New York, the Mormons emphasize their belief that Jesus actually visited the Western Hemisphere. No responses have been recorded from the half-million-plus visitors. “We are merely whetting the appetite,” explains publicist Hank Jacobson.

Off HemisFair’s beaten path, A1 Kidwell’s sculpture “Man’s Search for God” introduces visitors to the Baptist pavilion. The work, using discarded portions of old churches, features a torso formed from English stained-glass windows. It depicts a lion in the bowels, an angel in the heart. The outdoor courtyard, with songs and witness by young Southern Baptists from around the nation, probably has attracted more visitors than the main pavilion, which is housed nearby in the renovated Eager House, built in 1866 as a wedding gift to the first Anglo-American born in San Antonio.

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More than 200,000 persons, 90 per cent church people (as expected), have visited the house and seen a movie that presents today’s man as seen by an archaeologist several centuries hence. From such idols as junk yards, Coke machines, and distorted sculptures, the archaeologist decides man has examined himself and found himself lacking: “He searched for truth where it is never found.… Primitive man found truth, not meaning.” It concludes that man does not find God; God reveals himself to man through Jesus Christ.

No records of decisions are kept here, either. After the film, visitors are encouraged to talk over any questions with counselors. Numerous young people have discussed purpose in life, and their elders, rededication. Director Charles Stewart thinks the exhibit is well worth the $105,000 paid by national, state, and city Baptists.


For the third time this year a Billy Graham crusade will be televised across the United States and into several foreign countries. Color videotapes made this month of three meetings at Graham’s Pittsburgh crusade probably will be broadcast just before the U. S. elections.

Normally Graham plans two television series a year—one at the beginning of summer, the other at the close. Shown in dozens of cities in prime evening time, the series cost more than a million dollars each. Graham’s crusades in Portland, Oregon, and San Antonio, Texas, have already been shown in 1968.

Pittsburgh was added “primarily because of the urgency of the hour,” said George M. Wilson, Graham association treasurer. But because of the problems of fitting in a special series at mid-season, not as many stations will be lined up.

The ten-day Pittsburgh crusadeA significant corollary was the latest and biggest in a series of schools of evangelism. Some 1,200 persons from forty denominations were enrolled. The effort, underwritten by a California industrialist, brought seminarians and young pastors from all over the country. was held in the 57,000-seat Pitt Stadium. Total attendance was 280,000. More than 12,000 persons made public new commitments to Christ by stepping down to the turf where many of pro football’s great heroes have performed.

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The crusade touched the steel capital as probably no religious event ever had. From the opening prayer by Cliff Barrows to the closing benediction by new Methodist Bishop Roy Nichols, the spirit of Christian renewal lay over the once-sooty metropolis now known as the Renaissance City. Graham was in great form, preaching vigorously despite a kidney infection held down by doses of streptomycin.

Pittsburgh has been a predominantly Roman Catholic city for at least four decades. Hard-working European immigrants manned the furnaces during the week and filled the pews on Sundays. Their diversion was trying to strike it rich through the illegal daily numbers games (a penny would get you $5 to $7 on a “hit”). A succession of local administrations condoned the flourishing rackets.

Though greatly outnumbered by the Catholics, evangelical Protestants also have been something of a force in the city, thanks primarily to vigorous Presbyterians. The best known was the late Clarence Edward Macartney, whose reputation as one of America’s great preachers was built on soundly biblical sermons that always ended with an appeal for Christian commitment. The Rev. Robert J. Lamont, Macartney’s able successor at the historic, immaculately maintained First Presbyterian Church in the heart of the Golden Triangle, was a vice-chairman of the Graham crusade. The United Presbyterian school formerly known as Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary was long a fountainhead of evangelical scholarship.

Pittsburgh’s rise from the smoke has been remarkable. Zealous publicists understandably overlook the scores of grime-laden structures that still make up much of the downtown area, but the rebuilding continues. Fifth Avenue, the city’s main shopping thoroughfare, is still a narrow, cobblestoned street.

This kind of environment may be the price Pittsburghers are obliged to pay for serving as a focal point of American technological output. Black and gold have been the traditional colors of the city.

Graham was in Pittsburgh for six weeks in 1952, and most meetings were held in an old armory that held 10,000. This year crusade planners took their chances with the weather to gain the space benefits of the outdoors.

The stadium is perched on a steep hill overlooking the University of Pittsburgh and its medical cluster, where polio was conquered by development of the Salk vaccine. The slope is sometimes referred to as “Cardiac Hill” by those who must puff their way up, and there were happy allusions to that term during the crusade: Pittsburgh evangelicals rejoiced at the number of “hearts” won to Christ among those who responded to the evangelist’s invitation; and during the week of the crusade the world’s thirty-seventh recorded heart transplant took place at the nearby University-Presbyterian Hospital.

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The crusade was favored by an unusually large assortment of musical talent led by George Beverly Shea, easily the world’s most popular gospel soloist. Shea is in his twenty-first year with the Graham team. Graham said in Pittsburgh, “I don’t think I could preach unless Bev Shea sang first. He’s been with me almost from the very beginning of my ministry.” Shea recounts his career in Then Sings My Soul, a warm autobiography just published by Revell.

Adding to the music of the crusade was the World Vision Korean Children’s Choir, currently on a concert tour of the United States. The tots have a repertoire of 150 songs memorized in English. Unscheduled “music” was provided by the stadium’s chirping crickets.

The most memorable of the meetings was held in a driving rain with 16,000 persons huddled under umbrellas and plastic raincoats. A visitor that night was Democratic Mayor Joseph M. Barr of Pittsburgh, a Roman Catholic and an influential figure in national party politics. Another prominent Roman Catholic who attended crusade meetings was State Supreme Court Judge Michael A. Musmanno, who presided at the Nuremberg war-crimes trials.

Among guests at the closing service were Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon and his wife. Nixon, who is an old friend of Graham, got a generous tribute from the evangelist. The meeting was attended by 47,500, largest crowd of the crusade.


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