Follow-up of the International Congress on World Evangelization moved into a new phase last month when the committee charged with continuation responsibilities met for the second time.

After five days of meetings in Atlanta, the panel had new officers, wide agreement on aims and functions, and an anti-persecution resolution. The 1976 gathering was described by a spokesman as one that put flesh on the 1975 decision in Mexico City to promote regional activity instead of large global programs (see February 14, 1975, issue, page 58).

The chairman for the next two years will be Leighton Ford, Canadian-born member of the Billy Graham team and chairman of the committee that planned the program of the 1974 Lausanne congress. He succeeds A. Jack Dain, Anglican bishop from Sydney, Australia, who accepted the chairmanship in Mexico City last year with the provision that he be replaced in 1976. Dain had served as executive chairman of the committee that sponsored the Lausanne event.

During the Atlanta meeting Ford was chairman of a group that worked out details of a statement on the committee’s aims and functions. The statement stresses the roles of catalyst and stimulator rather than administrator. At the world level the committee kept open for itself the options of working in the areas of communication, research and strategy, theological interpretation, and prayer.

A number of committee actions backed up the determination to encourage regional cooperation. Members were asked to take the lead in forming regional groups, and the future schedule of meetings for the world-wide committee leaves them more time to do this. Henceforth the committee as a whole will meet every second year. Some of the money saved by not meeting annually will be made available for start-up costs to Third World regions. Keeping its own staff small, the global group encouraged the appointment of regional coordinators by the committees on each continent.

Giving his first report as executive secretary, Gottfried Osei-Mensah said he is giving priority to invitations that hold the possibility of advancing regional cooperation. While following the directive given by the committee when it appointed him (to concentrate on a role of teaching and preaching to promote evangelization), Osei-Mensah said he is turning down many invitations that would not involve bringing evangelicals together across denominational or national boundaries. The committee reviewed his 1976 itinerary and encouraged him to continue the type of ministry he has followed since assuming office last September.

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The executive secretary was slated to tour evangelical centers in the United States after the Atlanta meetings. Other highlights on his itinerary this year are conferences in Southern Africa, in Europe, and in Australasia. He also has major responsibilities in the Pan-African Christian Leadership Assembly scheduled in Nairobi next December.

So far, the Nairobi headquarters has only two staff members, Osei-Mensah and a secretary, although he has been authorized to hire another executive.

The anti-persecution document that the committee passed on a voice vote was seen as the extension of the Lausanne Covenant’s section on that subject. It was framed as a “call for intercession” and specifically mentioned the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China as areas “which are closed to or which severely restrict an open proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Georgi Vins, the Baptist leader imprisoned in the Soviet Union last year (see February 28, 1975, issue, page 41), was described in the resolution “as one representative of many unnamed other Christians.”

All over the globe new cooperative ventures are growing out of the Lausanne congress, and the committee decided to seek a name that will adequately describe the worldwide movement. It will be known, meanwhile, as the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (“continuation,” a part of the interim name approved in Mexico City last year was dropped).

Challenges For Coaches

Head football coach Frank Broyles, who doubles as athletic director at the University of Arkansas, is upset by the “dishonesty and hypocrisy” that have crept into the coaching profession under “the pressures of winning.” At a Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast during an NCAA college football coaches convention in Dallas, he posed the question: “Have we grown up spiritually?” Religion, he said, “must be like our skin. It’s got to cover all of life all the time.”

He challenged the coaches to be witnesses for Christ when rubbing shoulders with associates and players. Five of his athletes in the past five years have gone into full-time Christian vocations, he disclosed, and “all three of my quarterbacks are going to be preachers.”

But, declared Broyles, a veteran of twenty-eight years in coaching, “wouldn’t it be great if one of the coaches on our staff or one of our coaching friends would say, ‘Coach, I have taken Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and I, too, want to grow in the Christian faith … I’m with you in taking a stand for Christ.’ ”

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Africa: A Call To Arms

An international consultation on Namibia (South-West Africa) was held in Senegal last month, and after five days the 300 participants concluded that South Africa will never willingly end its “illegal occupation” of the territory. The participants in a statement declared that so long as “the international community” is doing nothing to change the situation (South Africa’s mandate officially ended in 1966), “all means, including armed struggle, are justified to liberate the country.”

The conferees included representatives of the World Council of Churches, the Catholic Church, the Lutheran World Federation, the Anglican Communion, and Quaker groups, according to a Religious News Service story. These religious participants went on to issue an additional document that in some ways was even more critical and pessimistic than the main statement.

Outlawing The Church

For years President Francisco Macias Nguema of tiny Equatorial Guinea on Africa’s west coast has been carrying out a reign of terror (see December 20, 1974, issue, page 29). The majority of the population is nominally Christian, and a number of the government’s oppressive measures have been directed against churches and church leaders. According to authoritative sources in Switzerland, Nguema has recently outlawed a number of practices directly affecting church life. Prohibited are:

• the holding of local, regional, and national church meetings;

• giving financial support to churches and pastors;

• maintaining friendly relations with pastors;

• conducting Christian funeral ceremonies;

• administering baptism without formal government approval.

Also, pastors are forbidden to travel without government permission, say the sources.

Misinformation In Church

There’s a lot of misinformation being spread around in church circles about pending bills in Congress. Perhaps the worst example is a circular warning that the federal government is plotting to take away one’s children if they are made to take out the garbage against their will. It cites two nearly identical bills, H. R. 2966 and S. 626. They are known as the Child and Family Services Act, sponsored by Senator Walter F. Mondale of Minnesota and Representative John Brademas of Indiana, both Democrats.

Those bills are indeed pending in Congress, but the things attributed to them in the circular are false. The circular, anonymously written, bears the title “Raising Children—Government’s or Parent’s Right?” or some variation of it. It purports to describe the bill by quoting from the Congressional Record. Actually, the quotes are from bits and snatches of what opponents of the measure said during a debate on a similar bill in 1971. The circular also quotes from the Charter of Children’s Rights, developed by a British group, and gives the impression that the document is part of the current proposed legislation. It is not.

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Nevertheless, thousands of church people have inundated Congress with letters objecting to these provisions that do not exist in the Mondale-Brademas bill. Sermons have been preached against it. Even newspapers and radio stations have used the erroneous information in the circular as the basis for editorials against the bill. Some have since been retracted.

Organized opponents of the Mondale-Brademas bill disavow the circular and say it hurts their cause. The bill is aimed primarily at caring for children of working mothers, especially those who live under adverse economic conditions. Participation in the child care program would be voluntary. The proposal prohibits any practice that would “infringe upon or usurp the moral and legal rights and responsibilities of parents or guardians with respect to the moral, mental, emotional, physical, or other development of their children.”


Prayer may have been banned in the nation’s public-school classrooms, thanks to professional atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, but not in the Detroit courtroom of county judge Frederick Byrd. He’s been holding noon Bible-study sessions and rosary devotions in his courtroom for twenty years, and he says he won’t stop now, despite a written warning from Mrs. O’Hair. She told the judge his noonday practices were “wholly illegal and unconstitutional, being an impermissible admixture of state and church.”

Mrs. O’Hair will have to sue, declares Byrd. “I’m calling her bluff. These services have been going on since long before I became a judge, and I see no reason to end them.”

Uncle Sam: Big Man On Campus

The ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program at Wheaton College, mandatory for freshman males since the program’s inception at the school in 1954, will become voluntary this fall. Reasons: opposition from some faculty and many students, and the administration’s opposition to making the program mandatory for women. This would be required, says President Hudson T. Armerding, under recently enacted federal regulations forbidding sex discrimination in college programs.

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The regulations to which Armerding refers were hammered out by the U. S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) in connection with the anti-discriminatory Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. To make Title IX applicable to private colleges that have steered clear of federal aid in an attempt to keep the government off campus, HEW specified that institutions enrolling students who receive federal assistance (whether grants or loans) will be considered “recipient institutions”—subject to government rules.

Some private colleges are making a stand against government encroachment on their campuses. Officials of Hillsdale College, a small liberal-arts school in Michigan, say they will refuse to comply with Title IX. They see the recipient-institution clause as the doorway for possible “federal take-over of our campus.” Brigham Young University, the Mormon school in Utah, announced that it will not comply with any rules that violate its religious freedom. The BYU leaders also said in effect that they would judge which government regulations are legally applicable.

Presumably, the government can withhold aid from students who attend non-compliance schools and can revoke the tax-exempt status of the schools. So far, authorities have not announced such steps against Hillsdale and BYU. But Bob Jones University, the fundamentalist school in South Carolina, has been involved for a long time in costly court battles with the Internal Revenue Service over race issues and loss of tax exemption.

Actually, the federal government has had a strong foothold for years on private-school campuses. As business entities, colleges are subject to many federal programs and regulations (Social Security, job safety, minimum wage, equal employment opportunity, even environmental guidelines).

The federal presence in the business office is a source of increasing concern to budget-wary administrators, says education writer Judith Cummings of the New York Times. She cites a recent landmark study showing that “federally mandated social programs have contributed substantially to the instability of costs at colleges and universities from year to year and thus increase their difficulties of financial management and budget balancing.”

Over at the admissions office, there’s a different problem. As part of its nondiscrimination policy, the IRS requires colleges to keep a file for three years on each person rejected for admission, a job, or a scholarship—complete with reasons for the rejection, or risk losing tax-exempt status. But HEW wants student files free of judgmental entries and limited to such factual items as transcripts.

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As the paper work, hassles, and costs pile up in satisfying Uncle Sam’s whims and ways on campus, it will be a wonder if more schools do not join Hillsdale, BYU, and Bob Jones in elbowing the old gentleman toward the gate.

Rap 76

Separation of church and state has never meant, in either theory or practice, separation of religion and government. Hence Religion and the Presidency, 1976—RAP 76 for short—was formed with backing from a wide spectrum of religious notables as a non-confessional, non-partisan organization.

The first proposed activity was to invite the major presidential candidates to appear over a three-day span, one after another for two hours each, before a panel of religious leaders who would ask probing questions. The focus was to be upon the explicit and implicit religious and ethical views of the candidates and how these could influence their decisions on issues confronting a president. Out in the audience would be “more than five hundred other religious leaders from all over the United States,” according to the registration form.

It didn’t work out that way. The meetings were held (January 19–21, using the facilities of Washington’s New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, three blocks from the White House), and true to its intention RAP 76 endorsed no candidates or positions. But there were three big problems: (1) only five candidates, plus one symbolic campaigner, bothered to appear; (2) fewer than a hundred persons, often far fewer, were in the audience to hear and question the candidates; (3) the questions from the panel and from the audience, as often as not, were the kind asked at any secular political gathering.

RAP was spawned at Washington’s Wesley Seminary (United Methodist), and former United Methodist missionary Fred Morris (who was expelled in 1974 from Brazil as a political undesirable) was named the national coordinator and only full-time staffer. Operating out of his apartment in a Washington suburb, Morris enlisted a high-powered cadre of co-sponsors from across the religious spectrum, including the editors of CHRISTIANITY TODAY and Christian Century, former heads of the National Association of Evangelicals and the National Council of Churches, present heads of the Evangelical Free Church, United Presbyterian Church, and Unitarian Universalist Association, and leaders from Roman Catholicism and Judaism.

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Apparently the presidential contenders were not impressed. A dozen major ones were invited, beginning last October, but only Lloyd Bentsen, Eugene McCarthy, Milton Shapp, Sargent Shriver, and Morris Udall showed up. McCarthy is trying to be listed as an independent candidate on the ballots of as many states as possible for November’s general elections. The others number fewer than half of the active contenders for the Democratic nomination.

Also appearing, by his own initiative and as a late addition, was evangelist Arthur Blessitt, best known for dragging a cross on foot across America and subsequently trekking around Europe and Africa. He is on the Democratic primary ballot in New Hampshire and expects to be on in Florida and other states also. Blessitt unapologetically calls for a “born-again, Spirit-filled, actively witnessing Christian” in the White House and warns that God’s judgment will soon fall upon the nation unless its people repent. If elected, Blessitt would replace the inaugural ball with a week of fasting and prayer. The reactions of the panel and audience to his fervid, revivalistic oratory and to his extreme political views (e.g., guaranteed annual income, complete amnesty for all war resisters, no borrowing by the government, no tax deductions, front-line combat duty for congressmen as a means of ending U.S. war participation, reduction of the President’s salary to about $25,000) indicated that fasting and prayer might indeed prevail, but with rather different petitions from Blessitt’s own.

The other candidates, all considered to be very dark horses in the race, have considerable political experience. Generally speaking, their speeches in the RAP sessions were much the same as they make elsewhere, despite the carefully prepared RAP request that they approach such topics as moral leadership, citizen rights, welfare, the economy, foreign policy, and national security with more analysis of their underlying personal religious and ethical views than audiences are accustomed to hearing. However, some of the questions did call for, and receive, responses in line with the sponsor’s intentions.

Besides the candidates, two panels of religious leaders gave brief presentations, and Martin Marty, Carl Henry, and James Wall, editor of the Christian Century, were among them.

RAP sponsors and panelists felt that often Presidents have used religion as window-dressing. The role of religious perceptions in undergirding political decisions has been wrongly decried as inappropriate in a pluralistic state. In fact, Jewish and Christian Americans are not true to their religious traditions when they act as if decisions on abortion, health care, taxation, unemployment, armaments, education, and a thousand other items are merely technical matters that have no more relation to the revelation of God than do the mechanics of bridge building.

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RAP sponsors are as divided on specific policies as they are on theology, but they share a conviction that religion does in fact matter, even if this opening convocation tended to demonstrate otherwise.


Religion In Transit

“Rise Up, O Men of God” has been left out of a proposed inter-Lutheran hymnal. President Robert J. Marshall of the Lutheran Church in America notes why: its “sexist wording,” singability problems (“it’s too high for most men to sing”), and objectionable theology (“the church is not ‘unequal to its task,’ as the hymn says, and we people are not the ones who ‘make it great’ ”).

Death:The Christian Observer, at 162, the nation’s oldest religious weekly, an independent conservative journal with some 35,000 circulation serving the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. constituency; in Louisville, Kentucky, of high costs and complications (see editorial, page 37).

One of the last official acts of outgoing Central Intelligence Agency director William Colby was a church-related one. In response to a request from officers of the National Council of Churches, he declined to order a halt to the CIA’s use of American missionaries and foreign clergy in its information-gathering operations. Colby said that there are “very few such contacts” and that they are “purely voluntary.” The record has been distorted by sensational publicity, he complained. Further, said he, the CIA has helped to protect America’s free society “in which religion can flourish.”

An official bilateral dialogue group of Catholic and United Methodist scholars and theologians last month released a seventeen-page consensus statement on holiness and spirituality of the ordained ministry. It asks members of the two church bodies to recognize that holiness is required of all Christians, not just ordained ministers and priests. It also calls upon the churches to work toward “full utilization” of women in “all forms of the ministry.” Catholic-Methodist talks have been going on for ten years. This was the first joint statement.

United Methodist churches in central Connecticut are spearheading a drive to repeal legalized gambling in the state. Targets include jai alai, Las Vegas Night charity gambling, dog-track parimutuel betting, and off-track-betting parlors for horse races. Organizers concede that the state lottery is here to stay, but they are crusading against the use of “advertising gimmicks” to promote lottery sales.

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The Minnesota Civil Liberties Union, Americans United, and other groups are challenging as unconstitutional the state’s 1975 Non-Public School Aid act in federal court. Among other things, the Minnesota measure would provide about $4 million worth of textbooks and other instructional material for the state’s 90,000 private and parochial school pupils (most are Catholics and Lutherans).

President Robert B. Moss of the United Church of Christ says the UCC will take new legal steps to keep Ben Chavis out of jail. Chavis heads a UCC racial-justice field office in Washington, D. C. In 1972 he was convicted with nine others on arson and assault-conspiracy charges during racial violence in Wilmington, North Carolina. As the alleged ringleader of fire bombing and sniper attacks, he faces up to thirty-four years in prison. The North Carolina Supreme Court dismissed an appeal of the conviction, and the U. S. Supreme Court refused to hear it. Chavis and the others have been free on $400,000, pending appeals.

World Vision’s 1976 program budget totals more than $20 million, a 35 per cent increase over 1975. Three-fourths will be spent on child care involving nearly 100,000 children in thirty-six countries, and $4 million will be spent on relief and development projects, say agency officials.

Catholic priest John S. Duryea, 58, a chapel pastor and for fifteen years chaplain to Catholic students at Stanford University, was suspended from the priesthood after announcing from the pulpit his intention to marry a 34-year-old divorced mother of two. Duryea says his sermons and counseling have been better in the year that he has been close to Eve DeBona. Affirming that he plans to remain a Catholic, he insists that he has no less faith in Christianity than before, although “there is a lot of stuff in the church that isn’t Christianity.”

Minors may receive birth control infomation and contraceptives from Planned Parenthood if their parents do not object, a Minnesota judge ruled. But, he specified, the agency cannot give such information and devices to minors if their parents have so notified the organization.

Controversial “death with dignity” bills have been introduced in thirteen state legislatures, but none has passed. Most of the bills call for some sort of consideration of the patient’s wishes (or those of his family) in using extraordinary means to sustain life.

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The Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board appointed 265 missionaries in 1975—a record. Current total: 2,600.


Administrator Leo M. Thornton of Western Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Oregon, was elected president of the school, succeeding the late Paul P. Petticord. He is an ordained Free Methodist minister and a former member of Oregon’s legislature.

Robert McAfee Brown, the controversial United Presbyterian theologian who delivered the keynote address at the recent assembly of the World Council of Churches in Nairobi, resigned from the faculty of Stanford University. He says he wants to return to seminary teaching (he formerly taught at Union Seminary in New York). He is also angry about the university’s failure to grant tenure last year to a religion professor who reportedly “had not published enough.”

World Scene

A four-year-old “spontaneous charismatic youth movement” is thriving in East Germany, according to a church historian writing in the Lutheran World, the journal of the Lutheran World Federation. Leipzig seminary professor Christoph Michael Haufe says the movement “did not originate in the churches and has little to do with them,” yet the young people “show an astonishingly broad biblical knowledge” and a “commitment to bear witness.” (Estimated church membership among the country’s 17 million population includes 4.6 million Lutherans, 3.4 million in Union [Lutheran-Reformed] churches, and 1.3 million Catholics.)

Most of Britain’s denominations are represented on the fifteen-month-old Churches’ Unity Commission. Last month the commission issued ten propositions on unity and asked the churches for comment. Among the propositions: affirm that visible unity is the will of God; join in seeking that visible unity; recognize each other’s membership and ordained ministries; conduct baptism and ordination by mutually acceptable rites; develop methods of common decision making. The responses will determine what recommendations the commission will make.

Archbishop Donald Coggan of Canterbury says he received 25,000 letters in response to his recent “Call to the Nation” for a display of moral and spiritual values in British life. Many churches are responding with prayer, study, and action.

When the 340,000-member United Evangelical Lutheran Church of South-West Africa (Namibia), a black body, asked the American Lutheran Church to send someone to teach in a seminary, the ALC chose Montana pastor John V. Gronli. However, the South African government, which controls Namibia, refused to issue the necessary visa. No reasons were given, but the Namibian church opposes South African rule and apartheid policies, and there has been growing political unrest. Gronli, born in South Africa of missionary parents, would have been the ALC’s first missionary to Namibia.

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What may be the world’s first sterilization law is shaping up in Punjab state in northern India. The state government wants legislation passed making sterilization compulsory after a family has had a certain number of children, probably two or three.

Last-minute legal action by a group of Anglican laymen blocked the inauguration of the Church of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), a union of Anglican and Methodist churches. A court reportedly ruled that the merger is unconstitutional because it conflicts with the right of every citizen to go on worshiping as accustomed. Passing the merger measure in parliament would mean overriding the constitution, which requires a two-thirds vote—an unlikely prospect, according to observers.

Two dozen Islamic organizations are cooperating in plans to construct a powerful radio station in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. To be known as “The Voice of Islam,” the station will seek to counterbalance Christian broadcasting in Africa, according to a Protestant news agency in Germany.

Since 1961 more than 1.1 million Protestants and 500,000 Catholics have left the church in West Germany, according to press reports. In many cases, theorize observers, the exodus may represent not loss of faith but a desire to escape paying the church tax, which amounts to between 8 and 9 per cent of one’s income.

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