Seminar leader Bill Gothard was back at the helm last month of his troubled Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts (IBYC). Gothard had stepped down temporarily as corporation president and from the five-member IBYC board of directors during an organizational crisis in July. But after three weeks, the board restored the IBYC founder to both former positions.

Gothard remained on a temporary leave of absence from administrative duties, according to board chairman Gustav Hemwall, an Oak Park, Illinois, medical doctor. Gothard was spending time in study and prayer, as well as developing new teaching material that would incorporate “lessons that have been learned” through the recent problems, said Hemwall. The seminars would continue by videotape, he said, while adding his belief that the IBYC “is now on the long road to recovery.”

For a number of veteran institute staff members and volunteer workers, however, Gothard’s restoration came prematurely. Several IBYC area committees had canceled upcoming seminars. A number of staff members had resigned: still unresolved, they said, are many alleged inconsistencies between Gothard’s teachings in his popular 32-hour, six-day seminars, and his own actions.

Additional staff members left the institute last month. Hemwall acknowledged that “some key people” had left, but said replacements had been found. Bill Wood, recently departed administrative director of the IBYC’s Oak Brook, Illinois, headquarters, listed in a telephone interview the names of 28 full-time workers who had left since the crisis began.

Aside from 10 persons involved in immorality, Wood said, at least 20 others had been dismissed or, like himself, had resigned in dissatisfaction over developments at the IBYC. These, he said, included the head of the nearly 50 area IBYC offices, the head of seminar registrations, several persons who administered the seminars, and others in management positions. As headquarters administrative director, Wood said he had been personally responsible for about 40 of 80 IBYC employees.

Going over the list of departed staff members, Wood commented that “most of the people leaving were ones who had to meet the public and represent Bill.” Because they believed Bill’s practices did not match his teachings, they felt they could not in good conscience do so, he asserted.

The institute’s problems began this summer, when it was disclosed that Steve Gothard—Bill’s brother and administrator of most daily IBYC operations—had been involved sexually with a number of IBYC staff secretaries (Aug. 8 issue, p. 46). While Bill Gothard himself was not involved, the four former IBYC executives who informed the board of the immorality in April complained that Bill had known about Steve’s sexual involvements since 1975 but had not informed the board as he had promised, and that he had not taken sufficient disciplinary action against Steve.

Article continues below

Citing his “closeness to the situation,” Gothard temporarily relinquished control of the IBYC in July. Steve and the women were dismissed, and William Gothard, Sr., who had administered IBYC finances, resigned from the board along with son Bill. Board chairman Hemwall stepped down temporarily so that Milwaukee attorney John McLario could be brought in to fill the administrative gap left by Gothard and—as Hemwall had stated in an earlier interview—because the IBYC “needed some legal help.”

McLario stayed three weeks before leaving. His brief tenure was “part of our original arrangement” and was intended to “tide over the emergency,” said Hemwall. Legal and staffing problems have “leveled off,” so that McLario could leave, he said, noting his own return as board chairman.

Staff members who left after or during McLario’s stint add another view. With Bill Gothard’s support, asserted Wood, who resigned, McLario had been brought in expressly to fire or encourage the resignations of staff members critical of Gothard.

What Kind of Confrontation?

The institute’s situation posed difficult questions for staff members and volunteer workers, many of whom had worked with Gothard for years: Should criticisms be aired only privately to Gothard, and not publicly, in order to protect and prolong a ministry reported to have benefited thousands of Christians?

Former institute associates told CHRISTIANITY TODAY they had confronted Gothard privately, but that in their eyes he showed insufficient inclination to change; they decided to discuss the institute’s problems publicly. In addition, they explained, the estimated 1.5 million (mostly young men and women, and as many as 40,000 pastors) who have attended the seminars since 1965 would never have the chance to confront Gothard privately.

The crucial issue to the former staff members relates to Gothard’s own teachings. For instance, Gothard teaches how to resolve conflicts scripturally, but “he resolves his by firing them,” asserted a departed executive.

One of the main planks in Gothard’s teaching is the necessity of obedience to persons and structures of authority, because these have been established by God. This created tensions for IBYC staff members: Should they be obedient to Gothard, their employer and authority figure, even when (as they said) he interfered in an unwarranted way in their personal affairs, such as in their choice of spouse? Former executive Wood fears that Gothard’s teachings are interpreted so that some staff and alumni become loyal to the extreme.

Article continues below

Two area committees—in San Diego and Los Angeles—had withdrawn their invitations to host scheduled Gothard seminars. The Los Angeles committee’s intent was to postpone the seminar until it felt Gothard’s “credibility was reestablished,” said coordinator Jim Keasling.

The board had told the Los Angeles committee that it was bringing its seminar anyway, and would appoint a new committee if necessary, Keasling said. The institute has a policy of holding seminars only in cities where it has been invited, he added.

Keasling, a landscape contractor who has worked with the Los Angeles committee since its formation in 1969, said he and his eight subcommittee chairmen had voted unanimously to cancel the scheduled October 6–11 seminar. Their regional director, Len Nair, who oversees IBYC area offices in several western states, told CHRISTIANITY TODAY the committee had his full support.

Since the committee’s decision, “my phone has been ringing off the hook with other area coordinators saying we are wrong,” Keasling said. Most of those had little information about the scope of the alleged problems involving Gothard, he asserted.

Keasling said he and several other area coordinators had spent five days with Gothard last month at the Oak Brook headquarters. The coordinators (who are volunteer workers) had concurred “that we all loved Bill Gothard,” he said. However, Keasling stated he still came away with questions regarding Gothard’s credibility and authority. Of Gothard’s treatment of staff members, Keasling expressed a primary concern that, “I don’t think that he sees the hurts or the heartfelt needs.…”

More than 200 active committee volunteers put on the Los Angeles seminars, and coordinator Keasling said a majority of them had stated they would not work if the seminar is held at the scheduled time.

Keasling’s committee leaders still voted to continue meeting as a group for fellowship. They recognized their action would be criticized: Los Angeles, with about 200,000 alumni in the area, is a center of institute support, he said. “I told them to be ready to face some angry people.”

Article continues below

In a letter, the board gave five reasons for holding the seminar even though the committee opposed it, said Keasling. These included the spiritual blessings of recent seminars, “clear direction from God,” and encouragement from Los Angeles pastors and other Christian leaders. “In effect,” he said, “They [the board] feel there is a mandate around the country that they should follow through.”

The Phoenix area committee canceled its scheduled September 15–20 seminar. The San Diego seminar, scheduled for September 29 to October 4, remained in doubt since the area committee had withdrawn its invitation. The more than 15 remaining seminars in 1980 were going on as planned.

Church-and-State in the Courts
Campus Access Upheld for Christian Student Groups

Christian student groups at public universities were affirmed last month in their right to use campus facilities for religious purposes. Specifically, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Kansas City, Missouri, reversed a lower court decision that had sustained a University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) policy barring recognized student groups from using university facilities and grounds for religious purposes.

The school had argued that the campus religious meetings would violate constitutional prohibitions against establishment of religion. But in writing the opinion of the three-judge panel, Circuit Court Judge Gerald W. Heaney concluded that the school’s denial placed an impermissible burden on students’ constitutional rights and “is not justified by a compelling state interest in avoiding an establishment of religion.”

Christian student groups applauded the ruling, and called the Missouri decision (Vincent v. Widmar) an affirmation of crucial freedoms. The UMKC case had generated considerable interest nationwide, since many believed it would set a legal precedent for similar cases (June 6 issue, p.44).

In 1977 a Christian student group at UMKC, Cornerstone (one of 90 recognized student groups at the school), had requested the continued use of a particular lecture hall for its Saturday night meetings. Responding to a school request for more information, the group had explained its weekly meetings included informal sharing, prayer, Bible study, and hymn singing. The meetings would be open to the public, and there would be no offerings or solicitation of funds. While Cornerstone meetings would differ from a traditional worship service, the group had acknowledged: “There is also no doubt that the undecided and uncommitted are encouraged and challenged to make a personal decision in favor of trusting in Jesus Christ both for salvation and for the power to live an abundant Christian life on earth.”

Article continues below

Following are excerpts from the August 4, 1980 decision, Vincent v. Widmar, filed in the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Kansas City, Missouri.

• “We cannot agree, however, that such a policy (allowing religious meetings) would have the primary effect of advancing religion. Rather, it would have the primary effect of advancing the University’s admittedly secular purpose—to develop students’ ‘social and cultural awareness as well as their intellectual curiousity.’ It would simply permit students to put their religious ideals and practices in competition with the ideas and practices of other groups, religious or secular. It would no more commit the University, its administration or its faculty to religious goals than they are now committed to the goals of the Students for a Democratic Society the Young Socialist Alliance, the Young Democrats or the Women’s Union.”

• “In contrast with a neutral policy, UMKC’s current regulation has the primary effect of inhibiting religion, an effect which violates the Establishment Clause just as does governmental advancement of religion.… The University’s policy singles out and stigmatizes certain religious activity and, in consequence, discredits religious groups.

“The University’s prohibition on worship and religious teaching also hopelessly entangles it in the delicate tasks of defining religion, determining whether a proposed event involves religious worship or teaching, and then monitoring events to ensure that no prohibited activity takes place.”

As a result, the university had concluded that Cornerstone’s meetings would violate its regulations prohibiting the use of university buildings or grounds for purposes of religious worship or religious teaching. The group was forced to meet in a building off campus; its later request to hold small group Bible studies on the university lawn also was denied.

Eleven Cornerstone members then had appealed the university’s decision—alleging violation of their rights to free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and equal protection of law. However, in December 1979, U.S. District Court Judge William R. Collinson upheld the school’s policy. He said a policy allowing student religious meetings on campus would constitute an establishment of religion. He also refused to invoke on the students’ behalf the free exercise of religion clause, saying for that to happen the infringed practice must be one “of deep religious conviction.” Holding religious services in a university-owned building does not establish itself as a “matter of deep religious conviction,” he ruled.

Article continues below

Some observers blamed Collinson’s decision for establishing a precedent that led to a subsequent U.S. District Court decision, Dittman v. Western Washington, involving the rights of Christian student groups at Western Washington University in Bellingham. That decision in March upheld a school policy that restricts and regulates student groups’ use of campus facilities for religious meetings. Affected groups included Campus Crusade and Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, which are allowed no more than two religious meetings in campus facilities per academic quarter; they have challenged the ruling in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle, and a decision is not expected for at least several months.

Lynn Buzzard, executive director of the Christian Legal Society (CLS)—the Oak Park, Illinois-based agency involved heavily in both the Missouri and Washington cases—hailed the Missouri decision. However, he noted it did not speak to all the issues involved.

Construed narrowly, he said, the Missouri case states only that the university cannot prohibit campus religious groups from organizing and meeting. “The Washington decision agreed with that, but it also said we may regulate them (religious groups) in ways that we do not regulate other groups.”

Buzzard did believe the recent decision would “certainly help” in the Washington case. If Christian student groups won this second victory, he said, “I think the full panoply of rights that we [CLS] wanted to defend … will have been secured in at least those two judicial districts.” In that event, Buzzard said CLS might next focus its efforts in the same two jurisdictions on securing for high school students the same rights to use school facilities for religious purposes.

In its 25-page decision, the Eighth Circuit Court indicated the UMKC situation differed from one involving a high school group’s request for use of classrooms for prayer and Bible study—a hot issue in some parts of the country.

High school students require more supervision than college-age young adults, and “this supervision necessarily poses a greater risk of entangling governmental authority in religious issues,” the court ruled. Also, the court recognized that college students rely more on their campus as their total community: “They can expect from it a greater accommodation of their religious needs than high school students can from their schools.”

Article continues below
North American Scene
About 15,000 followers of Victor Paul Wierwille and his The Way International gathered last month for their “Rock of Ages ’80” in a field outside tiny New Knoxville, Ohio (near The Way’s headquarters). A visiting Chicago Sun-Times reporter described attenders’ intense devotion to Wierwille, 63, a self-described apostle of God whose scriptural interpretations form the group’s teachings: denial of the Trinity; tongues speaking and healings; and crucifixion of Christ on a Wednesday and his resurrection on a Saturday. The group has overseas missionaries and about 40,000 followers who tithe. Followers pay $200 each to take The Way’s 45-hour videotaped Power for Abundant Living course, and thousands more a year if they take training at the group’s campuses in Emporia, Kansas, and Rome City, Indiana, the Sun-Times reported. Critics accuse the group of mind control of recruits—often young, white, and with Christian backgrounds.

A suggestion that the United Methodist Church divide into two denominations livened up the recent annual meeting of the UMC’s evangelical caucus group, Good News. University of North Carolina professor Fred Brooks, a layman and former Good News board member, said in an address the UMC’s pluralistic system wasn’t working, and that a church must have theological unity to survive. He proposed a “loving division” into two bodies, “each unified by its own theological integrity.” Noting that Brooks spoke only for himself, Good News leaders indicated his idea caught them by surprise and that, practically speaking, it probably wouldn’t work. The movement has sought to bring renewal from within the UMC.

Planners are following through on the “Washington for Jesus” prayer rally, which drew more than 200,000 persons to the nation’s capital last April 29. Prior to a first meeting August 30 of the national planning committee, Campus Crusade president Bill Bright (a Washington program cochairman) described a consensus among rally sponsors for continuing evangelistic efforts. He said plans for 1981 and 1982 involve: an outreach in major U.S. cities, each of which will be preceded and followed by widespread prayer campaigns, and capped by a two-day activity involving one day of prayer and fasting and a mass rally and evangelistic outreach on the following day. Bright indicated the plan is to return to Washington, D.C., in 1982 for another national gathering.

Article continues below

Today’s convert to Roman Catholicism most often is a young woman influenced by her Catholic spouse, according to a recent study (based on 200 interviews with dropouts, returnees, and converts) by respected Catholic University sociologist Dean Hoge. Converts joined most often because their children were being raised as Catholics, and dropouts most often said loss of motivation to attend Mass was their reason for leaving. Hoge addressed the “Second Annual National Catholic Lay Celebration of Evangelization” last month in Washington, D.C. Headed by Alvin lllig of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Committee on Evangelization, the congress had a purpose of developing in all 18,600 U.S. parishes a core group of lay people to reach out to inactive Catholics and to those without a church.


Vincent Brushwyler, 77, a founder and first general director of the Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society (1944–64), and a former president of the Evangelical Foreign Mission Association; Aug. 16 in San Jose, California, after a long illness.

‘Common Identity’ Retained
Catholic Church Accepts Former Episcopal Clergy

The Vatican’s recent decision to admit certain U.S. Anglicans, or Episcopalians, into the Roman Catholic church startled members in both church bodies. Many particularly speculated about the part of the decision admitting married Episcopal priests, considering Pope John Paul II’s repeated stands in support of the Vatican’s position against marriage for priests.

However, insiders had inklings of the Vatican action long before the August 20 announcement by Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco, who is president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB).

“High church” Episcopalians were disturbed by their denomination’s approval in 1976 of women priests and in 1979 of a modernized liturgy. A number of them left their church, Some formed the Anglican Catholic Church, which, despite its own splits and disagreements, claims up to 20,000 members nationwide and now is making plans to establish its own seminary in Liberty, New York. A smaller, more traditionalist group formed the Los Angeles—based Pro-Diocese of Saint Augustine of Canterbury. This group, representing about 1,000 breakaways and more than 60 priests, wanted to reestablish Roman Catholic ties, severed since 1534 when King Henry VIII formed the Anglican church after the pope refused his request for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon.

Article continues below

Mainly, it was their appeal that prompted serious Vatican consideration of admitting U.S. Anglicans. During executive sessions of their general meetings in May 1978 and May 1980, the U.S. Catholic bishops had discussed the question. On both occasions, the bishops accepted the idea in principle, and said as much to Vatican officials. The final decision was made by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and got the Pope’s and then the NCCB’s approval.

The terms under which Episcopalians and their clergymen would be admitted to the Catholic church are still to be established, and would require the doctrinal congregation’s approval. However, the essential features of the plan are:

• Episcopalians would be admitted to Catholicism with a “common identity” under which they would retain some elements of their Anglican liturgy (meaning, perhaps, limited use of their Book of Common Prayer). The decision applies only to persons who fully accept and profess Roman Catholic doctrine, and who accept the authority of the pope and bishops.

• Although they can be received into Roman Catholic dioceses, some form of “common identity” also is possible. The use of elements of the Anglican liturgical tradition will be restricted to liturgical celebrations involving those persons.

• The ex-Episcopal priests will be evaluated on an individual basis by the doctrinal congregation: unmarried and widowed priests will not be allowed to marry, although those presently married will be allowed to remain wed. Married priests will not be eligible to become Roman Catholic bishops.

The decision provoked criticisms, plaudits, and confusion. Some Episcopal churchmen criticized the decision as “sheep-stealing” of dissidents. Certain ecumenists felt the decision would further polarize the two church bodies, but Quinn denied that was the intent.

Some conservative Roman Catholics wondered if allowing married Episcopalian priests was a first step toward reversing the Vatican’s stand on priestly celibacy—a move requested by some because of the shortage of priests. (Some Eastern Rite Catholic churches have married priests, but married U.S. priests are virtually unknown.) However, the Vatican said the decision in no way changed the church’s no-marriage stand for priests.

The World Council of Churches
The Russians Encounter a Feisty Central Committee

An attempt to endorse a document issued by its executive committee last February encountered stout resistance when the World Council of Churches Central Committee met this summer in Geneva, Switzerland. Among its statements, the document had called the Russian intervention in Afghanistan a threat to peace—a view subscribed to by the Russian Orthodox church member of the committee. The statement had been resented by the Soviet secular authorities, and in March the Russian Orthodox church had duly changed its mind.

Article continues below

Then, when the document came before the Central Committee, the two ranking Russian churchmen, Metropolitans Kirill and Juvenaly, wanted no endorsement of it. They blamed Western news media for distorting the issue. Based on past performance, one would have expected the Central Committee to back off, remembering its tacit policy of “let’s not be beastly to the Orthodox.” But feeling over Afghanistan ran so deep that a variety of speakers pressed the point. From the platform William Thompson, study unit moderator and stated clerk of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., shifted from saying it was not necessary to endorse the earlier document to saying it was necessary not to endorse it.

But after what he acknowledged to be a “spirited and unfettered debate.” the Central Committee voted for a minor change of wording, but, in what some saw as a significant triumph for freedom of speech, retained the substance of the statement.

The 140-strong committee was more of one mind in opposing “the Israeli unilateral action of annexing East Jerusalem and uniting the city as its ‘eternal capital’ under its exclusive sovereignty.” The committee’s statement declared that “just as the future status of Jerusalem has been considered part of the destiny of the Jewish people, so it cannot be considered in isolation from the destiny of the Palestinian people, and should thus be determined within the general context of the settlement of the Middle East conflict in its totality.”

The committee renewed the mandate of the Program to Combat Racism (PCR) and heard that nearly $3.5 million had been dispensed by the special fund since 1970. During the controversy PCR provoked by the grant to guerrilla groups in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), it was claimed that support actually had increased, with some $650,000 currently available. The committee acknowledged that racism was not restricted to white racism.

During discussion of a statement on South Africa, there was a moving appeal from Donald Cragg, a South African Methodist observer: “Violence is violence whoever commits it. My church would like to see the withdrawal of grants from those who kill innocent people. We ask you to help the churches in South Africa to be the church. Help us become a community of health and hope in an area of mounting violence.” (His plea fell on deaf ears. Late last month the PCR announced a sharp increase in assistance to guerrilla groups in southern Africa to nearly half its total outlay of $750,000. The African National Congress in South Africa will receive $150,000—up from $25,000 last year—and the Southwest African People’s Organization in Namibia wll receive $200,000—up from $125,000 last year).

Article continues below

On the threat of nuclear war, a wrangle initiated by the Russians concerned whether the peace efforts of the USA measured up to those of the USSR, especially in view of the Americans’ August statement on limited nuclear war and President Carter’s unwillingness to ratify SALT II. One speaker pointed out that “the USA has not been involved in any expansionism, the Soviet Union has.” But the Russian assertion won approval after an exhaustive discussion.

It was decided that “Jesus Christ the Life of the World” should be the theme for the Sixth Assembly of the WCC, scheduled for Vancouver in 1983. Said the paper, “The assembly is to be seen as a gathering of Christians bringing their gifts and sharing their experiences as members of the body of Christ.”

There was a special reception to celebrate the eightieth birthday of W. A. Visser ’t Hooft, the WCC’s first general secretary; his career spanned three generations of ecumenists, beginning with John R. Mott. Said Potter of his Dutch predecessor, “He taught us to act within the church as loyal opposition, to keep our faith resilient, and to guard our prophetic task as watchmen.” In response, Visser ’t Hooft reminded the 400 people who gathered to honor him, “The future of the ecumenical movement depends on the rediscovery by every new generation that the movement does not belong to us, but to the Lord of the Church.”


The Edmonton Crusade
Graham Preaches Where West Is Still a Bit Wild

For Edmonton Christians the northern Alberta Billy Graham crusade was a long-awaited opportunity to penetrate their oil-rich western Canadian provinces significantly with the gospel.

The eight-day August crusade drew crowds of some 13,000 to 22,000 to the Northlands Coliseum in Alberta’s capital city of nearly 700,000. More than 4,500 inquirers registered their commitments to Jesus Christ.

While the crusade itself was important to the 20,000 Edmontonians who had volunteered for various roles, the Graham organization was looking at the wider ripple effect of the three crusade services televised for release in early September.

Article continues below

That crusade planners had switched the meeting location from the 42,000-seat Commonwealth Stadium to the 16,000-seat indoor Northlands Coliseum was a plus for television. The smaller enclosed site made for easier lighting and camera logistics. The change had been made, however, because surveys indicated that Edmonton lacks the backup surrounding population—usual to cities of its size—that would have overflowed an indoor facility.

For their part, Edmonton Christians plan to make full use of the telecasts. Crusade chairman John Hopkinson said 4,000 people would be available for telephone counseling when the series was aired there.

The Edmonton crusade—and its Calgary counterpart set for next August 23 to 30—fulfilled the long-time hope of Senator Ernest Manning, who was premier of Alberta for 25 years, beginning during the 1940s. The Edmonton event coincided with the seventy-fifth anniversary of Alberta becoming a Canadian province. Manning, well-known for his long-time radio ministry and keen evangelical faith, has played a key role in Alberta’s “Bible belt” reputation.

That reputation has become somewhat tarnished in recent years, however, with the effects of rapid growth spurred on by the fact that Alberta is Canada’s largest oil and natural gas producer. Edmonton’s population—currently 680,000—has increased by 10 times since 1940, and little letup is expected.

All is not well, however. Alberta Reports, a regional news magazine, notes Edmonton’s murder rate is twice that of Toronto, a city four times as large. Albertans consume five times as much alcohol as they did in 1947. They have racked up the second highest divorce rate in Canada, and their suicide incidence is alarmingly high.

In strongly endorsing the crusade, Edmonton Mayor Cec Purvis, a devout Mormon and former bishop of his church, noted that his city has one of the busiest prostitution strips in Canada. “The oil sands, with their megaprojects, are drawing thousands of young men. They come into the city for their fun—and that often involves prostitution or drugs. To say anything else would be to hide our heads in the sand. We put a lot of money into policing … but that is not enough.”

While allowing that he disagrees theologically with Billy Graham, Purvis likes the evangelist’s emphasis on the family and his call to personal commitment. On opening day, he went beyond the usual welcoming remarks expected of the mayor, affirming “the divinity of Jesus Christ as the Son of God” and adding, “I know Jesus lives and is the Christ.”

Article continues below

For his part, Billy Graham was careful to steer clear of situations that would convey any impression that he was taking a political stand. He told Edmonton Journal reporters that his political friendships in the past had caused people to believe he was endorsing candidates.

In an interview, Graham said he had a private lunch with Alberta Premier Lougheed and had been briefed on Alberta’s stances on energy and Canadian constitutional matters.

But Lougheed and Graham kept to their own corners during crusade week. While Lougheed had been a signer of the original invitation letter, he missed a precrusade civic luncheon and made no appearance at the crusade.

It is too early to tell whether the crusade changed the prostitution situation. But one male attender said he had made no commitment the first night because he was living with two women. He returned the next night to report he had severed the relationships—and then made his commitment to Jesus Christ the following evening. A number of oil field workers did find their way into the crusade inquiry area.

Crusade director Charles Riggs noted that the northern Alberta crusade had drawn a comparatively high number of volunteers. Counselor training drew twice as many as usual, he said. Riggs noted that Edmonton, as a fast-growth city with a “frontier” spirit, had all the ingredients for such volunteer activity. He said that while there are not a great many large churches, there are dozens of young, vigorous congregations. The crusade may be the beginning of significant growth for many such churches, he said.

During the interview, Graham indicated his messages in Canada are similar to those preached in other countries “because man’s heart is still the same.” The evangelist has preached in Toronto and Halifax, as well as in Edmonton, in recent months. He allowed that crusade support is not as high among mainstream Protestants in Canada as it is in England, Australia, or even in the United States.

The Edmonton crusade cost $360,000. By the time the last offering was taken, some $400,000 had been raised. The surplus was allocated to help with the Calgary crusade expenses and the telecast costs.


Article continues below
World Scene
Evangelical radio programs in Mexico have been totally banned. In a late July directive issued to all broadcasters, the federal government’s Department of the Interior demanded immediate termination of “all programs or messages that directly or indirectly imply propaganda of a religious nature.” In recent years the government has increasingly opposed evangelical programs while permitting regular coverage of the Pope’s discourses and other programs promoting Roman Catholicism. A few evangelical programs—often paying premium rates for time—were still being aired from isolated stations throughout Mexico, but these have now been silenced. A. CHRISTIANITY TODAY correspondent in Mexico noted that this unequal treatment does not accord with that nation’s constitutional provision for total separation of church and state.

Brazil may severely curtail missionary residence there now that a controversial “foreigner’s law,” sponsored by the military government, is in effect. The law, which came into force last month despite resistance from opposition parties, empowers the government to expel anyone in an “irregular position,” including expatriates married to Brazilians. It also authorizes officials to decide arbitrarily who will be given permanent visas, to limit permanent visas to five years, and to confine expatriates to specific geographical areas. The legislation is thought to have been created as a regime weapon against political activists among the Roman Catholic clergy, more than half of whom are from abroad. But the law also could reduce the Protestant missionary force in Brazil—currently the largest in any country, with more than 2,000 North Americans serving there.

Hungarian teen-agers will soon be able to study the Bible in school. Some 80,000 secondary school students will be exposed to the Bible as a “profound” cultural work next semester. More students are to be added as the innovation is worked into the curriculum. The course—a unique development in Communist Eastern Europe—is the outcome of a delicate compromise worked out between party leaders and the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist churches. Under terms reported in the Education Ministry’s weekly journal, the church accepts that the Bible will be taught as literature rather than as the Christian “source of faith,” and the state refrains from mixing teaching of an atheistic outlook with literary presentation.

A Soviet court has sentenced Gleb Yakunin to five years of “strict regime” detention in a labor camp to be followed by five years of internal exile. Yakunin, a priest, was for 15 years the leading Orthodox religious rights activist in the Soviet Union (Dec. 21, 1979, issue, p. 44). Arrested last November, he was charged with anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda, and sentenced in Moscow on August 28.

Article continues below

The vice-president of the unregistered Baptists in the Soviet Union was arrested last month. Pyotr Rumachik, 49, was apprehended in Dnepropetrovsk. In hiding since 1977, when he was released from his most recent prison term of four years—of a total time served of 11½ years—he had been performing his leadership role in the Council of Evangelical Baptist Churches.

Evangelicals are prospering in the Central African Republic under the successor to the despotic Jean-Bedel Bokassa, according to Paul S. White, the dean of the Bangui Evangelical School of Theology (BEST). He reports that President David Dacko, who ousted the self-styled Emperor Bokassa in a coup a year ago, is very open and helpful to Protestant Christians. A Roman Catholic himself, he hosts a Bible study and prayer meeting in his home each week. He has also given BEST additional property, granted it duty-free status to import building materials, and offered a $300,000 interest-free loan to accelerate the school’s building program, putting it a step ahead of inflation.

South African Prime Minister Pieter Botha and other officials met with a South Africa Council of Churches delegation last month for the first time. The SACC, led by black Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu, has been a constant thorn in the side of the government because of its strident criticism of official apartheid (racial separation) policies. The government withdrew Tutu’s passport in March, and in May accused SACC of financing unrest in the country—a charge the body angrily denied. In the meeting, Tutu warned that there would never be peace while discriminatory laws remained in place. Botha said he was prepared to accept positive proposals to improve the lot of all South Africans, but reaffirmed government rejection of majority rule and warned that it was “well prepared to deal with confrontation.”

The patriarch of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church has denounced the American Coptic Association. In a statement issued last month, Pope Shenouda III declared the ACA viewpoint “completely contradictory” to that of his church, including its “loyalty towards its rulers.” The ACA, in pursuing its objective of exposing “the religious suppression and discrimination … against the Copts in Egypt,” has frequently criticized President Anwar Sadat for failing to protect the Christian community from Muslim extremists. In a May speech, Sadat accused the Coptic leadership of conspiring to blacken his name and that of Egyptian Muslims by appealing to American Christians. ACA president Shawky F. Karas maintains that Pope Shenouda is under virtual house arrest and was pressured to make the statement “for the safety of the church.” Shenouda’s health deteriorated recently. But when he arranged last spring to fly to London for medical tests, his passport was cancelled.

Article continues below

A crackdown on established missions in Iran appears to be under way. Last month the last six United Presbyterian Church missionaries in Iran returned to the U.S. after official warnings that their safety could no longer be guaranteed. British Anglican missionary Jean Waddell was arrested on August 6 and charged with spying and, at mid-month, medical missionary John Coleman and his wife—also Anglicans—were missing from their clinic in Yezd. All Catholic missioners have been summoned for interviews with government officials regarding residence permits, and Archbishop William Barden, an Irish-born Dominican, has been expelled.

The worst Hindu-Muslim conflict in eleven years raged in India last month. It began in the city of Moradabad when a crowd of Muslim worshipers attacked police for failing to drive away a pig—considered an unclean animal—from their prayer ground. The police retaliated, and at least 119 were killed before rioting subsided. By then, however, violence had spread to other cities in the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Kashmir.

Tibet’s Drepung Buddhist Monastery has been authorized to accept its first monk novices since the anti-Chinese rebellion of 1959; 20 young men have been selected. The home monastery of the exiled Dalai Lama, Drepung at one time housed 10,000 monks, but now has only 170. Last month a five-man fact-finding team from the Dalai Lama was abruptly expelled from the region after a speech that touched off an impromptu demonstration, interpreted by local officials as “surreptitiously advocating Tibetan independence.”

Evangelical relief agencies have resumed distribution of rice and other supplies along the Thailand border with Cambodia (Kampuchea), disrupted by the Vietnamese military incursion in late June. But that distribution is tangled in politics. The incursion was clearly intended to put a stop to what the Vietnamese saw as the resupplying of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge forces by the agencies and the Thai authorities. The agencies responded with a decision to enforce more strictly their rule against feeding armed groups. This upset the Thai government, which threatened to withdraw the agencies’ right to use Thailand as a base for lifting food to Pnom Penh or Kompong Som. It suspects that food shipped there has often gone directly into Vietnamese-controlled warehouses for distribution to Heng Samrin forces, rather than to starving mothers and children. To make matters worse, United Nations officials are investigating allegations—belittled by evangelical relief spokesmen—that significant quantities of rice distributed in the Thai border camps were being smuggled out and resold.

Article continues below

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.