Sniffing, Stirring, Filling, Fanning

A colorful report carried recently by Ecumenical Press Service opens thus: “A concerted, well-financed campaign against sex education in the public schools is being pursued by ‘far right’ organizations in the United States. They are the same extremist groups that in other years have taken as their targets the United Nations, the National Council of Churches, the U. S. Supreme Court and the income tax” (is nothing sacred?).

Dr. Franklin Littell, chairman of the Institute for American Democracy, it continues, thinks the “right-wing extremists,” some of them baptized Christians, work conspiratorially like the early Nazis, misuse Christian terminology, and under the John Birch flag work “to destroy the ecumenical movement, to polarize opinion and to divert funds away from Christian causes.” All this, mark you, in the context of defending sex education. But EPS assures us all is not lost: “Here and there Protestant denominations and councils of churches are beginning to fight back.” (Other worms presumably are still not turning). NCC sympathizers are cited, one source saying that the extremists’ campaign “comes close to a religious heresy” (a word rarely heard in an ecumenical context).

The same source provides a stunner, for it has the extremists “sniffing out issues which will stir emotions and fill their coffers as they fan the fires.” And if that outrageous image doesn’t rouse the customers, “a number of steps are suggested to obtain community action” against extremists in their midst. Those menacing overtones of something-with-boiling-oil-in-it reminded me of the non-right-wing theologian who was convinced the Coming Great Church would be a persecuting one.

All this glib talk of “extremists” ...

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