Highlighting the semiannual meetings of the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches, held this month in Chicago, were the visit of twenty Soviet church leaders (see following story) and a debate on civil rights for homosexuals. If anti-Communist minister Carl McIntire and some ethnic groups had not shown up to hassle the Soviets, and if someone had omitted the word “pastors” from the gay resolution, reporters would have had to scratch to come up with something to write about.

There were few major actions. The delegates came out for the Equal Rights Amendments (a women’s issue) and asked member denominations to work for its passage. They asked that military aid to Cambodia and South Viet Nam be stopped. IBM was declared off-limits to church investors because its dealings in South Africa allegedly benefit whites and suppress blacks. It was suggested that when feasible a committee be sent to Cuba to look over the church-and-society scene. A task-force report on world hunger was affirmed.

Member churches were encouraged to join the NCC in seeking disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act “of any surveillance or other improper activities” carried out against them by the federal government. This move was motivated by unproven “indications and allegations” that federal agents had snooped around offices at 475 Riverside Drive (the NCC’s New York headquarters building) during 1971, 1972, and 1973, and had bugged staff telephones. Audits by the IRS were also carried out during this period.

In a bicentennial “message to the churches,” the delegates called for some rethinking of the American social order.

“When such institutions [as government] and their officials become self-serving and unresponsive to the people, they ...

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