The council still has a maddening brood of bureaucrats engaging in in-talk while the rest of the world goes by.

Some years ago, I covered a central committee meeting of the World Council of Churches. One staffer had taken my measure, and at its close, she said, “Well, have you found enough controversial material this time?”

Renewing acquaintance with WCC headquarters last summer, I found controversial material flaunting itself shamelessly in a series of posters adorning the wall outside the cafeteria. The theme was man’s inhumanity to man down the ages. In wording and in lack of religious content they suggested a Marxist textbook for 12-year-olds. One poster disapproved of English sixteenth-century buccaneering on the Spanish Main.

The two most recent posters concerned Iran and Zimbabwe. In one, the shah’s troops were still firing on innocent bystanders; in the other, the freedom fighters were still struggling for independence. Either the WCC staff was reluctant to let a couple of splendid grievances go, or they dismally lacked the imagination that would have appended, say, a joyful P.S. to the Zimbabwe poster: “Hallelujah, the battle’s won!” The posters were totally devoid of animus against the political left, which surprised me not at all.

I tried, but no one would identify precisely for me the source of those posters. They were evidently not unconnected with a continuing siege mentality over the Program to Combat Racism. The WCC reminds critics that this is only a small part of its work and witness, yet this topic keeps surfacing in reports and comments. We are defiantly told that even in times of fierce opposition, support for the PCR’s Special Fund has increased, that churches must combat apartheid, and white racism must ...

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