The National Association of Evangelicals, which reportedly experienced an awakening of its social conscience last year in Philadelphia, indicated in Cincinnati that perhaps only twelve months are needed to suppress any such stirrings of the inner man.
Most of the 1,200 delegates to the Cincinnati convention were over forty. They focused their Christian wrath on “The Moral Crisis in America” (read sex) but never said a mumbling word about racism in the Church, poverty, or alienation of youth, except in small meetings or corridor groups.
The backdrop of the stage in the Pavilion Caprice room of the Netherland Hilton, where the public meetings were held, consisted of a replica of a stained-glass window with the theme of the twenty-seventh annual convention, “A Vital Church—Concerned, Committed, Conquering,” in huge white letters on a dark blue curtain.
The backdrop was appropriate. The speakers seldom penetrated past the stained-glass window, and the delegates didn’t seem to object.
The only threat to the status quo was voiced offstage by the Rev. George W. Perry, president of the National Negro Evangelical Association (NNEA). “The race issue is at the core of every other domestic issue, and to be silent is passive,” he told this reporter. Why hadn’t he said that in his speech on the last day of the convention? “I didn’t have the time,” he said.
The articulate Negro minister did tell the delegates that it is difficult to understand race relations in an evangelical context. “In fact, we find the blacks don’t understand the word ‘evangelical,’ and frankly we doubt that some of you understand it either.” In the interview he said the NAE “is not geared to the needs of the black community—socially or spiritually. It will take black men ...1
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