His critics call him a flaccid-faced fundamentalist, a sower of dissension in the churches, and a religious bigot. Time magazine once said that everything he touches “turns to schism.”
But even his sharpest accusers seldom underestimate his prowess. The Reverend Carl McIntire can stir up a controversy with a twitch of an eyebrow; he draws flak like a lightning rod draws zaps. And though he probably would deny it, he thrives on turbulence. His lightning on the right sparks his vast radio empire and his pulpit ministry.
None dare call him stupid. The onetime United Presbyterian clergyman knows how to milk dollars and disciples out of an issue. And he knows how to use the press he constantly berates for “misinterpreting, maligning, and slandering” him.
Once again the Collingswood warrior demonstrated his formidable mettle this month as he led the highly publicized Viet Nam Victory March in Washington, D. C. Never mind that the attendance was but a fraction of what he predicted; the redoubtable Mr. McIntire told reporters the rally was everything he had hoped for, and more.
Who would have thought a 64-year-old fundamentalist preacher would come within a star and a stripe of coaxing the hawkish vice-president of South Viet Nam to address a victory rally in the capital of the United States? When McIntire announced a month before the rally that Nguyen Cao Ky would speak, he sent usually unflappable political Washington reeling.
And Ky’s cold feet only confirmed what McIntire already suspected: Nixon didn’t want to win in Viet Nam. “Nixon is responsible himself … for keeping Ky from speaking to us,” McIntire told the audience massed at the Washington Monument October 3. Accusing the administration of violating free speech by preventing Ky’s appearance, McIntire scolded President Nixon for being out of the country on the rally day, saying it was to sidestep political embarrassment.
Ky, remaining in Paris, said only that he had decided not to attend because “my presence may lead to unrest and violence.…”
When publicity slackened two days before the rally (it had become obvious that McIntire had lost his Ky), the radio preacher grabbed the headlines again by doubling his already inflated boast that half a million marchers would come to Washington. Then, at the eleventh hour, McIntire played his trump: With Madame Ky, wife of the vice-president, safely tucked aboard Air France flight 5017 from Paris to New York (so McIntire thought), he crowed to a gathering at the Pentagon that she would give Ky’s speech the next day. The afternoon papers strained to get the New Fact into headlines.
When her plane turned back, McIntire declared he saw the hand of God in all things. And the hands of saboteurs. Half an hour out, Air France reported, the plane developed engine trouble and had to return to Orly Airport. Mrs. Ky then decided against reboarding, accounts said. But Edgar C. Bundy, executive director of the Church League of America and McIntire’s press officer for the rally, disclosed that an anonymous phone caller from Paris said the “engine trouble” was actually an order from the French government recalling the plane.
Moments before the turn-around report, the third secretary of the South Vietnamese embassy in Washington mysteriously told a Washington Post reporter: “Maybe the plane cannot come. It could develop engine trouble and go back to Paris at the last minute.”
Ky’s speech, finally read to the applauding crowd by a Vietnamese embassy under-secretary, was mild; it failed to attack the Nixon administration or the present course of the war. It was a contrast to the impassioned speeches of McIntire, who was flanked by Tulsa’s Billy James Hargis, and other conservative speakers on the platform. McIntire told the rally Ky’s brief text was not the full one he had seen earlier when he visited Ky in Paris.
Who were the estimated 15,000 to 20,000 McIntire partisansMcIntire kept insisting the following week that attendance had been at least 200,000, and that the rally marked the beginning of a spiritual revival in the United States. who marched and rallied to demand immediate U. S. victory in Viet Nam?
The marble and macadam of the nation’s capital often echo with the noise of demonstrations (there had already been 193 this year). Once again they reverberated with the tramping soles of Americans, but these marched to the tune of a different drummer.
No anti-war protesters, these. But neither were they pro-war. They wanted peace—through an immediate military win. And they clamored for it in the context of their religious faith:
“We are presenting the Lord … because this is a Christian nation and we want to keep it that way,” said one over-45 woman. “I want to stand up for my God and my country,” said a young hard-hat. “I’m a five-star mother,” noted a matron calmly. “I’d like to see the boys come home in victory.”
There were busloads from Michigan, Ohio, and Nebraska. Many marchers waved small American flags and carried Bibles. College students came from Fordham, Bowling Green, and Ohio University, as well as from Shelton College, which McIntire heads. “The majority of kids are against this war because we’re not going to win,” summed up a Fordham student. “Nobody wants to go over and get killed for nothing.”
Little marred the generally peaceful day. The three-hour rally was punctuated by a series of minor clashes between stick-carrying victoryites and small bands of hippie-type youths, some of whom carried Viet Cong flags. Once, a hard-hat made a dash for a youth near the platform holding a Cong flag and wrested it away. There were no serious injuries, and although hippies and Yippies smashed windows in a melee in nearby Georgetown the night before (340 were arrested), there were but fifty arrests in the Monument area on the rally day.
When a light mist hastened the departure of the crowd about 5 P.M., an observer was left to ponder the net effect of the sound and the fury, the seemingly endless speeches, and the singing of hymns and clutching of Bibles.
Perhaps, he thought, it shows that Americans still love their country, right or wrong. That not a few equate anti-Communism and Christianity. And that many, no longer content to remain silent, speak out their beliefs.
It seemed a trifle sad, a little ironic. How wide the gap—it seems to be extending rather than narrowing—between those who differ on how to achieve what all say they want: an end to war.
Most of all, that a Carl McIntire could, twice in seven months, be the rallying figure, the man to focus this divergence and take it to the nerve center of the land, appeared to be of no mean significance.
Good/Bad Vibes At Glide
The picketers’ posters read: “AFTER JESUS, EVERYTHING ELSE IS TOOTHPASTE”; “BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER: JESUS”; “JOIN THE REVOLUTION, GET WITH JESUS”; THIS PLACE MOCKS THE BIBLE”; “THIS CONGREGATION USES JESUS BUT DOESN’T HONOR HIM AS LORD.”
Twenty-five long-haired Christian youths converted from the ranks of Bay-area street people recently paraded outside San Francisco’s Glide Memorial United Methodist Church. They had come to present their Christian witness to 1,500 hippies and others who “get it all together” each Sunday and celebrate life with the assistance of a jazz folk band, a pulsating light show, and hortatory, humanistic fluff from the Reverend A. Cecil Williams.
Led by the Reverend Martin Rosen of the American Board of Missions to the Jews and Golden Gate seminarian Paul Bryant of the United Youth Ministries, the “Jesus freaks,” as the radicals call them, fervently sang (“You Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love”), chanted (“We’re Out for Jesus: We Love the Lord”), pushed tracts (“Glide Into Hell”), and buttonholed individuals to tell them how faith in Christ had rescued them from despair, drugs, and false mystical pursuits.
Rosen stated: “The Christian Church today has lost its militancy.” Then nodding to his militant followers he said: “This is the way Christians functioned in the first century.” A week before, other “Jesus freaks,” part of a movement made up of members of the Christian World Liberation Front, the Jesus Mobilization Committee of Marin County, and loosely organized evangelical groups living in fourteen Bay-area communes, sought to present the Gospel at the West Coast SDS conference until they were removed bodily.
Response from the hippies “heavy on Cecil” was frigid. A Glide minister, the Reverend Edward Peep, admired the crusading evangelicals’ commitment but thought they were mistaken in their actions. A black opponent threatened a black evangelical, saying he would call out the Black Panthers against them.
Inside the church, the high-intensity music aroused the crowd, but the Reverend Mr. Williams, upstaged by a three-year-old toddler on the crowded platform, failed to generate the usual emotional vibrations. Outside on the sidewalk, personal evangelism resulted in decisions for Christ as the marchers boldly testified of their newfound faith. Said Mary Kay Herb: “I used to have a $250-a-day heroin habit. Then I trusted Christ and he changed my life. I didn’t even go through the usual withdrawal symptoms. Now I get my high from Jesus.”
ROBERT L. CLEATH
Colportage In The U.S.S.R.
The Russian Orthodox Church in the Soviet Union has turned out a complete new edition of the Bible in the Russian language, according to a government press spokesman.
In a survey of religious publications in the Soviet Union, Fyodor Savin, Novosti Press Agency correspondent, says the Bible appeared this past spring. He gave no details about it.
Savin said the Russian Orthodox Church, through its Ukrainian exarchate, has also published a prayer book in the Ukrainian language.
He noted that two years ago the main Protestant communion in the Soviet Union, the so-called All-Union Council of Evangelical Baptist Christians, had also published a Bible, as well as a hymnal. His report did not say how many copies were produced.
Religious literature is extremely scarce in the Soviet Union because printing of it within the country is very limited, and custom agents frown on importing material printed in other countries. Savin’s dispatch contends that Soviet law “ensures the freedom of the press by granting the religious citizens the state stocks of paper, printing shops and other necessary equipment and materials for putting out printed matter.”
He adds, however, that all expenses must be met by the church and that religious literature is not sold in state bookstores. He doesn’t point out that such a procedure means both limited means and limited distribution, and therefore virtually guarantees scarcity. Neither does he say that manuscripts are subject to government approval.
According to Savin, the Koran has been published in Arabic twice in the Soviet Union—in 1968 and 1969.
A long-standing need exists among many thousands of Ukrainian Christians in the Soviet Union for a Bible in their own language, but there is no indication when one might be published. Authorities seem intent on continuing to ban imports.
Ripples To Groundswell
Ripples of reaction to the World Council of Churches’ decision to sink $200,000 into anti-racism programs last month continued to rock the ship of church and state in Europe and Africa. Church and government leaders were in an even bigger dither this month. Among recent developments:
• The United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany voted to reject the principle of giving aid to “political groups” (the grant included sums to black guerrilla fighters; see October 9 issue, page 39).
• Although South Africa prime minister John Vorster somewhat softened his earlier hard-line demand that member churches there withdraw from the WCC, he warned he would do everything possible to keep WCC funds out of South Africa, and South African funds from reaching the WCC.
• Vorster deported two Anglican priests for issuing a pamphlet commenting on the WCC anti-racism grant. The ouster touched off perhaps an even greater rift between the churches and the government than his call for WCC-member churches to withdraw.
Art-Gallery ‘Revival’ Has Drawing Power
The normally subdued atmosphere of the prestigious Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D. C., is being shattered this month by the sight and stereophonic sounds of Appalachian revival meetings. The sounds come from a six-hour tape, recorded during revival meetings in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. The sight is provided by Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson’s excellent line drawings, made at the same meetings.
The whole project, simply titled “Revival,” was conceived by Mrs. Dickinson as a way of preserving a record of phenomena that “may become extinct, as they are now becoming remote.”
To house the display, Corcoran officials furnished a gallery room like a tent meeting, complete with flat-bottom, wooden folding chairs, paperback hymnals, funeral-home fans, and a pulpit (with its King James Bible fixed open to the Song of Solomon, for some obscure reason).
Visitors to the sight-and-sound display are given a glossary to help them understand the pictures. The glossary may itself be a commentary not only on the “remoteness” of Appalachian revival meetings but also on the remoteness of the New Testament to modern Americans. Someone felt it necessary to define such terms as “repentance,” “speaking in tongues,” and “foot-washing.”
Mrs. Dickinson, an Appalachia native, shows consummate draftsmanship in depicting the solid citizens of that region. Her bony-faced women, paunchy men, and barefoot children are the same ones every traveler through the area has seen a hundred times.
The drawings and recordings come to the museum with both the approval and the prayers of the participants. Some of the congregations prayed over the tapes that they might be used in bringing about the salvation of many gallery-goers.
“ ‘Revival’ is straight,” says the artist in her bulletin note, “—no satire, no propaganda.” The art’s very objectivity is its greatest problem. A little exaggeration or caricature might have rendered the drawings somewhat less static and helped them communicate more of the fervor heard in the recordings. As it is, the scenes are largely of mountain folk who might just as well be sitting on their porches listening to neighborhood gossip.
The music comes across surprisingly well. Perhaps today’s wide variety of musical styles creates an openness for this folk style of hymnastic. A fairly high degree of sophistication is apparent in the choice of instruments—ranging from oboes to guitars.
All in all, the exhibition is an arresting attempt to capture the spirit of Southern mountain American Christianity. It reminds the viewer how culturally conditioned Christian worship is. For those of Southern extraction, it may evoke more nostalgia than repentance.
JOHN V. LAWING, JR.
Management Savvy For Black Evangelicals
A strong sense of black identity prevailed as fifty black leaders gathered in Tarrytown, New York, late last month to learn modern management principles, despite the fact that their teachers were three white men: Ted W. Engstrom and Edward R. Dayton of World Vision, and R. Alec Mackenzie of the Institute for Leadership. They presented a successful governmental and industrial program: PERT (Program Evaluation Review Techniques), and the delegates—most professing an ignorance of the subject—loved it.
PERT stresses goals, planning, gathering of resources, execution of plans, and utilization of results. Conference participants were enthusiastic.
Dayton, who has presented PERT to many secular businesses, called these blacks “the most open and responsive audience I have had” because they “recognize willingly their need.”
Throughout the three days, speakers repeatedly stressed the distinctive blackness of black evangelicals. Dr. Roderic Loney, associate executive director of Youth Development, drew amens and whistles when he said: “Within our evangelical community there is a tremendous amount of preservation of the status quo.… We must be aware that we are black men first, even in the church, where we are supposed to be judged by something else.”
Bill Pannell, vice-president of Tom Skinner Associates, made it clear that black evangelicals will have to be accepted on their own terms: “Anything coming from the white religious and cultural milieu must be questioned or assumed to be irrelevant to black culture.… If it cannot be demonstrated that Jesus Christ identifies with oppressed peoples, he is of no contemporary significance.” And he added: “Stay away from those white evangelical bookstores.”
World Vision and Tom Skinner Associates are planning similar conferences for the West and Midwest.
ROBERT E. FRIEDRICH, JR.
No Unity On Mission
Should the mission of the Church be the primary motivation for the ecumenical movement? Ecumenical leaders seem unsure.
Mission versus unity was the pivotal issue in a major power play that started last month at the General Board meeting of the National Council of Churches in Phoenix, Arizona (see October 9 issue, page 38). A special task-force report there indicated that “at the very least mission is first among equals and therefore must be given the primary position.”
But a revised task-force report ten days later, released for study by denominational units and “other interested groups,” replaced the paragraph on “The Primacy of Mission” with one called “The Claim of Mission.” The substitute text follows:
“Our Lord prayed that his disciples be one in order that the world might believe. We are obligated to seek unity as a furtherance of Christian mission. In a national ecumenical agency, structure must be subordinate always to mission in at least two ways: (1) the structure must be shaped for the purpose of engaging wherever possible the whole agency in mission; (2) where unanimous action is not possible, it must facilitate action by those churches who intend at that point to act together. This two-fold claim of unity and mission on the life and purpose of an ecumenical agency must be responded to in a way which will set mission free while seeking for the manifestation of our oneness in Christ.”
Several groups have recently attracted wide news attention by linking Billy Graham’s name to their causes. The evangelist won’t be speaking, however, at two essentially non-religious rallies, one in Toronto, Canada, the other at Lake Tahoe, California.
Hundreds of Toronto-area Jews and a group of Protestant ministers and laymen invited the evangelist to hold a pro-Israel rally in Maple Leaf Gardens at an early but unannounced date. Evangelicals who signed the invitation included Dr. William Fitch of Knox Presbyterian Church, the Reverend Joseph Muchan of Wychwood Presbyterian Church, the Reverend Gordon Hauser of the Latin American Mission, and the Reverend Isaac Thiessen of the Mennonite Brethren Church.
The Jewish sponsors categorically asserted there would be no evangelistic thrust to the proposed rally.
The other invitation came from the Lake Tahoe Land Reserve, fighting commercial interests that threaten to pollute the beautiful mile-high lake. A “save the lake” crusade rally is planned.
Graham told CHRISTIANITY TODAY that even if he were disposed to attend such functions, his present schedule would not permit it.
Tuller: Paris Pastorate
Dr. Edwin H. Tuller will become an American Baptist in Paris come January 1. The chief administrative officer of the 1.5-million-member American Baptist Convention since 1959 announced this month that he is resigning as the denomination’s general secretary to become minister of the American Church in Paris, France.
Tuller, 57, whose term of office with the ABC would have expired in May, 1971, said of the move: “Paris is an international city where a Christian ministry has the possibility of being … a world ministry.”
The American Church is interdenominational and ministers to some 350 families representing students, artists, the diplomatic corps, and tourists. It is the first and oldest American church to be established on foreign soil.
In 1966 Tuller, who has held administrative posts in the ABC for twenty-six years, was elected a vice-president of the National Council of Churches for three years. He currently serves on its General Board and the Central Committee of the World Council.
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