With fresh reinforcements now due on the scene, church-state separationists feel they are well on the road to victory in what has been called the last unresolved issue of the American Revolution. A good look at where things now stand was provided by the twenty-sixth annual National Conference on Church and State, held last month in Orlando, Florida.

Many relatively minor controversies still dot the church-state landscape. But unless constitutional amendments are passed, something that seems highly unlikely at least for a few years, recent Supreme Court decisions will go a long way toward ensuring that not very much public money flows into the treasuries of religious organizations. Much of the credit for the prohibition belongs to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which sponsored the three-day conference. The Americans United organization has been instrumental in most of the litigation involving church-state separation during the last generation.

Where do we go from here? That was the big question underlying the meeting, held beside a lush tropical garden that decorates the Orlando Hilton. Next year’s meeting will feature new leaders. Glenn Archer, the highly effective executive director of Americans United since its founding in 1947, is retiring this year, as is his very able right-hand man, C. Stanley Lowell. Both are likely to remain somewhat active with the organization, but the responsibility for staff initiative will be in other hands.

The Orlando meeting was in effect a reunion of veterans of the church-state struggle and an unofficial farewell party. Key speakers included America’s most famous thorn in Catholic flesh, Paul Blanshard, now 81, Senate Watergate committee chairman Sam Ervin, 77, and former congressman and Southern Baptist Convention president Brooks Hays, 75. All are still very robust for their years and capable of ringing rhetoric.

Blanshard, author of the best-selling American Freedom and Catholic Power in 1949, concedes he has mellowed a bit (“but Pope John mellowed first”) since the days when he toured the country warning thousands of Rome’s bid for social supremacy. He says that ten big publishers turned down his manuscript and that the New York Times refused for several years to carry ads for the book.

Blanshard maintains that there is still a large Catholic conservative constituency, and he is yet suspicious of its intentions. Moreover, he chides Protestants, including the Christian Century magazine and church historian Sydney Ahlstrom, who fail to recognize such anxieties. Blanshard’s criticism of the Century, whose commentary on church-state issues he characterizes as “mush with molasses,” is particularly ironic in view of the fact that a late editor of the magazine, Charles Clayton Morrison, was a founder of Americans United. Speaking about Ahlstrom, Blanshard lamented having not even made the index of the Yale professor’s award-winning A Religious History of the American People.

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Blanshard’s anti-Catholic posture had a lot of support from fundamentalists in the early lecture-tour days. The issues have shifted, however, as a result primarily of the Supreme Court’s ban on public school devotions and the deterioration of public education in some areas. Fundamentalists are not now nearly as worried about Catholic power as they are about the intrusion of secular and anti-Christian value systems into public education, an issue toward which the Americans United camp has not shown significant sensitivity.

The Orlando conference drew about 100 registrants from among people who have figured prominently in church-state hassles around the country. The Ervin speech, however, packed out the hotel ballroom with more than 1,000 persons. Ervin was closely associated with Americans United long before his name became a household word in connection with the televised Watergate hearings, and in past years he has received a merit award given annually by Americans United in recognition of outstanding service in the cause of religious liberty.This year’s award went to Jack Eppes of Jacksonville, Florida, executive secretary of United Christian Action. In his address and in remarks at a news conference he steered away from any discussion of Watergate. Instead, he warned against the increasing power of the federal government, the watering down of the right of privacy, deficit spending, no-knock and preventive detention laws, compulsory unionism, and school busing aimed at racial balance.

Hays was more entertaining than educational, a role not unappreciated by delegates from the north who were also thankful for the pleasure of soaking up some Florida sunshine amidst the conduct of vital business.

Americans United recently helped to launch a new National Coalition for Public Education and Religious Liberty (PEARL) aimed at combatting government aid to private schools. Episcopal suffragan bishop John Walker of the Washington Cathedral is president. An assortment of religious agencies is allied with the organization, and it was not immediately made clear whether the group would register as a political lobby. The Supreme Court is now deciding a case rising out of an Americans United appeal of Internal Revenue Service’s revocation of its tax-exempt status for lobbying. The ruling in that case, along with one in which Bob Jones University is appealing a similar revocation for racial segregation, is expected to set an important precedent.

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Parochaid: More Battles

Court battles are still being waged over parochaid, and advocates of government aid to private schools are still trying to find ways to circumvent adverse decisions. Among the latest developments:

• The Supreme Court has heard arguments involving refusal by Missouri school officials to send public school teachers into parochial schools to assist in federally funded remedial reading programs. A court ruling is expected before June.

• An arrangement involving public school teachers in parochial classrooms in Kentucky was seen as “excessive entanglement” between church and state and ruled unconstitutional by a federal court. (The practice of sending public school teachers to parochial schools, known as “reverse shared time,” has continued elsewhere in Kentucky, Michigan, and Rhode Island. Americans United [see preceding story], which prosecuted the Kentucky case, won a similar suit in New Hampshire last year.)

• Parochial and private schools in Maryland are lobbying for a $7.5 million state appropriation to provide textbooks and bus service for their schools. A similar $12 million plan, approved by the state assembly in 1971, was rejected by voters in 1972. Under the plan, parochial school books would remain public school property and would be screened to prevent purchase of religious books with taxpayers’ money.

• In another Americans United suit, a federal court in San Francisco struck down a California law providing $125 per student income tax credit for parents who pay tuition to parochial schools. The parents were seen as conduits of state aid to sectarian schools.

• An experimental trial “voucher” plan involving as many as 8,000 New Hampshire students won an $88,227 planning grant from the federal Health, Education, and Welfare agency (HEW). Under the plan parents will cash federal vouchers at the schools of their choice. Opponents, including the National Education Association, declare it is a “thinly veiled” device to support non-public schools to the detriment of the public system, and there were reports of considerable controversy within HEW over the grant. (The test alone will cost some $3 million altogether and won’t get under way before the fall of 1975, if at all.)

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• New York State’s Select Committee on Higher Education announced an interim plan to allow up to $1,700 in tuition grants covering the first two years for each student attending a public or private (including church-related) college in the state. The plan affects mostly those students whose families are in the $7,000–$15,000 income bracket, many of whom leave the state to enroll elsewhere. Total cost: $28.2 million the first year, $71.5 million when fully implemented.

• In his recent State of the Union message, President Nixon restated his election-campaign commitment to public aid for parochial schools. Vice-President Gerald Ford has also spoken out publicly in support of parochaid.

Missouri Impasse

Opposing forces in the strife-torn Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod appeared to be at an impasse midway through last month. Concordia Seminary in St. Louis remained virtually closed as students boycotted classes in protest against the firing of seminary president John Tietjen in January (see February 15 issue, page 45). The majority of students and faculty were discussing the possibility of setting up a “seminary in exile” at an unused Catholic facility in Chicago. Various denominational boards and officials were huddled in talks aimed at restoring peace—or at gaining a more advantageous position in the confrontation. Synod president J. A. O. Preus appointed a fourteen-member Committee on Doctrine and Conciliation to define the issues “point by point” and to draw up proposals that can be voted on by the denomination in 1975. But there’ll be a lot more fighting in the interim.

Religion In Transit

The figures are in. Again last year Jonathan Livingston Seagull and The Living Bibleled in fiction and non-fiction hardback sales respectively, according to Publishers Weekly. Seagull sold 540,000 copies; the paraphrased Bible had sales of about 2.7 million hardcover editions. Paperback figures were not available.

The Arizona Billy Graham Crusade will go on as scheduled May 5–12 in the 50,000-seat Sun Devil stadium on the Arizona State University campus at Tempe. At first the university regents denied use of the stadium on grounds it would violate church-state separation rules. A statewide uproar ensued, with even the Arizona Civil Liberties Union backing the Graham cause. Ten days later the regents reversed themselves.

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The Cost of Living Council announced that religious and other non-profit organizations are exempt from wage and price controls. The wages of many workers in tax-exempt groups were already exempt, said the CLC, because their wages were less than $3.50 per hour.

For the third year in a row, 40 per cent of all American adults attended a church or synagogue during a typical week in 1973, according to the Gallup Poll, with Catholics registering 55 per cent, Protestants 37 per cent, and Jews 19 per cent.

A federal judge ruled that the U. S. Constitution does not require an employer to accommodate a work schedule to a worker’s religious beliefs. Seventh-day Adventist Albert Leland Fisher had brought suit after the public works department of Ashland, Oregon, refused to let him leave work half an hour early on Fridays. Fisher said he needed the time in winter months in order to arrive home before sundown and onset of the sabbath.

The World Home Bible League has completed two years of a program to stock motel rooms throughout the country with take-home paperback copies of The Living Bible. Of the 1.2 million motel rooms in America, 200,000 have the Bible available, says WHBL director John DeVries. More than 100,000 copies were taken by tourists in one month alone last summer, he says.


Dr. Ira Gallaway, appointed in 1972 as the top evangelism executive of the United Methodist Church, has resigned to become pastor of the 4,000-member First United Methodist Church of Peoria, Illinois.

Sudan Interior Mission executive Ian M. Hay was elected president of Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association, a group of forty-seven independent North American missions.

Louis W. Schneider, 58, is the new national executive director of the American Friends Service Committee, one of the highest posts in the Quaker realm.

Baptist clergyman Ralph D. Abernathy told a San Francisco audience that politics will head this year’s agenda of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. And, he added, the top political priority will be the removal of President Nixon from office.

World Scene

A special synod of the 24,000-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile has been called for later this month as part of an attempt to oust Bishop Helmut Frenz as president of the denomination. He has been under fire for chairing an ecumenical project that helped nearly 5,000 refugees, many of them allegedly “leftist,” leave the country after the military takeover. The World Council of Churches committed $600,000 to the project.

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Protestant and Catholic leaders in Israel issued an appeal for funds for the rehabilitation of soldiers wounded in the recent Mideast war. Anglican archbishop George Appleton of Jerusalem went to Cairo and suggested that Christian leaders there issue a similar appeal for the Arab wounded. He planned to visit Amman and Damascus also.

The huge Collins publishing firm of London and Glasgow has bought for an undisclosed price the $10-million-a-year Bible and dictionary business of World Publishing Company, a subsidiary of the Los Angeles Times-Mirror company and publisher of Webster’s New World Dictionary. World has reputedly been the world’s largest publisher of Bibles.

Evangelicals in Australia began a year of intensified activity with a nine-day event named Nowtime ’74. Organized by Christian Endeavor, it culminated in a march of several thousand in Sydney to proclaim Christ and knock pornography. Next will be a national Festival of Light, patterned after the British Christian morality campaign with the same title. After that a Key 73-type evangelistic outreach will be launched.

European youth-work leaders met in Amsterdam with representatives of the Billy Graham organization to plan Eurofest ’75, a continental version of Britain’s SPREE ’73 youth evangelism conference. It will probably be held in southern France. Planners hope to get 30,000 to attend.

Of the world’s 3.6 billion population, 669 million (18.3 per cent) are Catholics, according to latest Catholic statistics.

Bishop Richard K. Wimbush, 64, was chosen by his fellow bishops as primus of the Episcopal Church in Scotland.

Reform and Conservative Jews are reacting sharply to demands upon Prime Minister Golda Meir by Israel’s (Orthodox) National Religious Party that the Law of Return be amended to recognize only conversions performed by Orthodox rabbis as valid. The party has threatened to withdraw support of the coalition government if the demands are not met.

The governing body of the 250,000-member Lutheran Church of Alsace and Lorraine ruled that French Lutherans now “may welcome to communion the faithful of another church, including the Catholic church.”

Birthday: the weekly journal Life of Faith, 100, published in London, the organ of the Keswick “deeper life” movement.

British Mission Aviation Fellowship has more than one way of getting around. It has developed an economical hovercraft to transport medical missionaries and others along the shores and among the islands of West Africa’s Lake Chad, an inland sea the size of Massachusetts. The 22-foot-long boat skims along on a cushion of air, driven by two Volkswagen engines and an overhead propeller.

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