A Concrete Proposal

In 1976 the United States will celebrate 200 years of independence. No American wants to let that anniversary pass without fitting commemoration, especially as no one can be sure how many more chances we will get. But so far Americans have been unable to agree on a suitably momentous project. The mythical but ubiquitous “Johnny Horizon” (possibly a nom de plume for Sam Ervin?) urges “Let’s Clean Up America,” but somehow that does not seem like the answer. Since the political and business communities are puzzled, it is incumbent upon America’s religious community to make a suggestion.

On the one hand, it might seem difficult for so pluralistic a group to unite on a single suggestion. Actually, that very pluralism suggests the answer. China has its Great Wall and Jerusalem its Wailing Wall, the one built to keep the Mongol barbarians out of China, the other left over after the civilized Romans had knocked down everything breakable in Jerusalem. America too has a wall, but it is an invisible one. Apparently built into the U. S. Constitution by late eighteenth-century Freemasons, the Wall of Separation (Between Church and State) was all too frequently overlooked, even by tourists, until it was rediscovered and excavated by Glenn Archer, Madalyn Murray (now O’Hair), and several Supreme Court justices.

This Wall of Separation results from the pluralism of America’s religious community. And now that pluralistic community can unite on a very concrete proposal: build a real wall between church and state. Since churches are so numerous and scattered all over the country, it would be more efficient to build the walls around all existing government buildings and around new ones as fast as they spring up.

No better way could be found to solidify the wonderful democratic ideal of separation of church and state. At the same time, all over the country there would be monuments to mark the two-hundredth anniversary. Although the walls might not fully satisfy Johnny Horizon, they would at least help to tidy up America. And this country, which has declined somewhat in international stature of late, would again become the wonder of the civilized world, for what might once again be called the American Dream. If successful, these Walls of Separation would prove the superiority of Occidental civilization inasmuch as China’s Great Wall never succeeded in confining the barbarians. And if unsuccessful, they might at least be useful for wailing.


Article continues below
Potential Punch

The news story “Missionary Radio at the Crossroads” (Nov. 23), stirred a number of sympathetic feelings in me. Having been associated with a foreign-based missionary radio broadcasting station (short-wave) for two years, I found very much the same situation as is referred to.… It is heartwarming to hear of the life-transforming impact that MR (missions radio) is making. In some stations this impact is gauged by the size of the mailbag. This, however, needs more careful analysis. It is my experience and observation that only from 15 to 20 per cent of the mail received relates to inquiries about the way of salvation, Scripture interpretation, or testimonies of God’s grace.…

Surveying and analyzing the broadcast target area is of prime importance. Most programming today is done by what I call the “shotgun method.” There is little attention given to preparing transmissions with a definite age group in mind, or, for that matter, with a given spiritual condition in mind. A notable exception to this is “Studio 70,” originating in Quito, Ecuador, in the studios of HCJB. Such exceptions are extremely rare. Time, money, and effort could be much better applied if a specified target area were kept in mind when preparing the programs.

Relevancy in the program content cannot be emphasized too much. It has been my viewpoint that the personnel employed at a given broadcasting station are probably least aware of what the most pertinent issues in a target area are, if the transmission is beamed out of the country of the station’s location. Wherever possible, strong efforts should be made by the broadcasting stations for reciprocity with Christian pastors in the target areas, whereby these pastors (or qualified Christian laymen) should submit a series of taped messages to the broadcasting station for use in their regular transmissions. This would require more field organization, but would, in my opinion, pay off in the long run.

The blessings/benefits of MR are untold. But there is a lot of slack that could be tightened up which would increase efficiency and utilize a modern medium with a contemporary program format providing a bigger punch in our modern world.


Parkview Mennonite Brethren Church

Hillsboro, Kan.

[The news story] presents a true picture of Christian broadcasting overseas. We have been producing programs in Chinese for listening in Asia for twenty years, and our most relevant programs are aired on secular stations. The Christian outlets are limited by rigid policies set by out-of-culture administrators that follow the traditional “tried” format in music and message.

Article continues below


Executive Director

Overseas Radio and Television Inc.

Taipei, Taiwan

Taken by and large, broadcasters seem to be more concerned with sending out the Gospel over the radio than reaching people for Christ by radio. And this applies to program suppliers as well as the transmitters which are so dependent on them for finance and material.… One can be broadcasting to China, Russia, Timbuctoo, or Tooting without necessarily reaching anyone unconverted. This word “unconverted” is important, because Christians will normally support an evangelistic opportunity far more than a teaching ministry. But I have yet to meet the evangelist who will disclose a breakdown of his mail response in order to indicate a proportion of inquiries from unsaved people. On the other hand, I have heard a well-known transmitter’s representative say, “Any evangelist using our station is doing a good public relations job—but he is not evangelizing.” That is the kind of realism and truth which I feel God blesses.



Radio Worldwide

London, England

Pleasing Scope

I have been particularly pleased with the quality of articles being printed in your publication recently. I refer specifically to the December 21 issue, and the article by David Haddon, “New Plant Thrives in a Spiritual Desert.” I thought this article was extremely well done. For the pastor or youth and education minister, this article was especially helpful because of its scope and its objective treatment of Transcendental Meditation. Mr. Haddon was a bit weak, perhaps, in bringing out the Christian attitude and response, though this was obviously not his intention in the article.


Minister of Education

West Side Baptist Church

Rochester, N. Y.

Off Target?

Thank you for giving prominent space to my C. S. Lewis books in your December 7 issue. [However, I did] … all my research at home in California. [I] wrote [my] master’s thesis at [Long Beach State College].… I was accused of mistakenly taking the Narnian series for allegory. Actually, there is no such blunder in The Lion of Judah in Never-Never Land. Both Walter Hooper and C. S. Lewis, whom your reviewer cites as her authorities, read this book in manuscript form and failed to find that error.… C. S. Lewis himself read my work on Narnia and responded, “I read it at once. You are in the centre of the target everywhere.… If you understand me so well you will understand other authors too.…” The author I am trying hard to understand now is your reviewer, Cheryl Forbes. When she accuses me of dullness, ambivalence, or irrelevance, I cannot object at all. It may be true. But when she inaccurately accuses me of inaccuracies or sloppily accuses me of sloppiness, that is a kind of careless slander. I must object. Orange, Calif.

Article continues below


Not To Mislead

I am writing in regard to your November 23 news item entitled “Mission to the Strip.” That article carried some misleading statements which, for the sake of many others involved in the same sort of ministry as the Reverend Mr. Reid, dare not go unanswered.

1. Reid is not the first pastor to minister “strictly to the show people” of Las Vegas. Through the dreaming and planning of an interdenominational group of Las Vegas pastors in the early sixties, a ministry to the Las Vegas Strip was developed with assistance and support from the National Council of Churches. While controversial, this ministry proved to be very effective in meeting human need.…

2. Throughout the United States, there are a large number of resort and strip area ministries—some denominational and many interdenominational. Intentionally they do not broadcast their ministry, because in doing so they feel they will undercut the very roots of their ministry.…

3. I also call into question the statement that the seminary classes taught by the Reverend Mr. Wells are “believed to be the first offered on the subject in a major seminary.” I have known of courses in the area of leisure and resort ministry for several years, and have lectured myself on occasion on that subject in seminaries for over three years.

One of my major concerns with this article is in the strong denominational claims that are made because I believe that the most significant form of resort ministry is cooperative, seeking to help and assist persons to discover a sense of wholeness.


Director of Leisure Ministries

United Methodist Church

Nashville, Tenn.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.