Meanwhile, the Bible student who is doing 40 years for murder becomes the prison “preacher.”

Three years ago, Steven Linscott, a 26-year-old student at Emmaus Bible School in Oak Park, Illinois, said he had an unusually vivid dream of a woman being beaten to death. On the night of his dream, just a few blocks away, a young woman was murdered in her apartment.

A few days later, Linscott learned that some of the facts matched his dream. He had never considered himself a psychic, but he visited the police anyway. Instead of contributing to the solution, Linscott became the solution. Because of the similarities, the police charged Linscott with the murder, and in June 1982, he was convicted. He is now serving a 40-year sentence at Centralia Correctional Institute in Centralia, Illinois (CT, Feb. 4, 1983).

His friends and relatives were incredulous at the verdict. Hundreds who have rallied behind him believe the first trial was mishandled and they refuse to rest in their quest for a new one. More than a year after Linscott’s imprisonment, Illinois Governor James Thompson still receives a steady flow of letters on Linscott’s behalf. The Linscotts’ lawyer, Thomas Decker, has filed for an appeal, but the wheels are turning slowly. The state’s attorney’s office, which was due to respond to Decker’s brief in August, has been requesting, and getting, delays. A spokesman said more time is necessary because the case is important.

A lot has happened since the first trial. A large part of the prosecution’s original case was based on physical evidence against Linscott, namely, tests on his hair, blood, and other bodily fluids that did not prove his guilt, but failed to eliminate him as a suspect. Decker, who was not the original defense lawyer, charges that prosecuting attorneys knowingly misled the jury on the relevance of the tests. Today some of the nation’s top serologists and hair specialists are prepared to testify that the tests on the samples were far from conclusive. One of the prosecution’s scientific experts in the original trial now says his testimony was misapplied.

Meanwhile, Linscott supporters, in an effort to establish further reasonable doubt, are trying to come up with other suspects. Gordon Haresign, director of Bible correspondence at Emmaus when Linscott was arrested, has resigned and is writing a book about the case in consultation with Lynn Buzzard of the Christian Legal Society. Haresign argues that at least six people, all of whom had a motive and/or a record of violent behavior, were in the vicinity and had ample time and opportunity to have killed the victim.

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Linscott himself has swung into the routine of prison life in Centralia. He is known as “the preacher” because of his outgoing expressions of faith. He leads a Bible study and frequently talks with other inmates about Christianity.

Linscott has a full-time job as associate editor of the prison newspaper, and when he can, he plays tennis and lifts weights. In the evenings he takes classes from professors from a local junior college. Once a week, for four hours, he sees his wife and three children.

Those who want to see Linscott free appeal not to his Christianity or to his pleasant nature in prison. They appeal to the facts of the case, facts they hope will see another day in court.

In the meantime, Linscott waits. “It’s been extremely difficult. I think about my children and I know they think of me. But we’ve always been optimistic. We’ve always believed the end is just around the corner, that God will not allow this to go on much longer.”

In this Year of the Bible, the Committee for International Goodwill has named Kenneth Taylor “Man of the Year.” Taylor’s Bible paraphrase, The Living Bible, has sold 28 million copies. The committee that honored Taylor is described as an “international organization of men dedicated to promoting peace on earth through the transforming power of Jesus Christ.” Each year it names an outstanding Christian leader “Man of the Year.”

Linda Doll, former editor of His magazine, is now director of InterVarsity Press, the publishing division of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.

David Neff, an assistant editor under Doll, is now editor of His, which last year was named “Periodical of the Year” by the Evangelical Press Association.

Evangelicals Support Reagan’S Re-Election, But Only Narrowly

Political diversity among evangelicals is evident in new survey results showing narrow margins of support for President Reagan over two Democratic contenders for the presidency. In a match-up with John Glenn, 41.3 percent prefer Reagan while 37.2 percent would support Glenn. Against Walter Mondale, the President attracts 47 percent and Mondale, 33.8 percent. (Numbers don’t add up to 100 percent because some respondents were undecided.)

The poll, conducted in June, surveyed by telephone 1,000 voters who said they “personally believed that Jesus Christ was a real person who … was the unique Son of God” and “believed that a person needs to accept Christ as Savior to attain salvation” or say they are “born again.” It was conducted by V. Lance Tarrance and Associates of Houston, Texas, and commissioned by the Free Congress Foundation, the hub of the New Right in Washington, D.C., led by Paul M. Weyrich.

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The projected margins for the 1984 election are very similar to these voters’ preferences in the 1980 election, when 44.1 percent supported Reagan and 32.7 voted for Jimmy Carter. Some conservative groups believe it was the “born-again” bloc that gave Reagan his victory. In announcing these survey results, Stuart Rothenberg of the Free Congress Foundation’s Institute for Government and Politics said, “This sizeable constituency cannot be taken for granted by any candidate next year.”

Whether Christians form a “natural constituency” for anyone, as the right wing insists, is questionable, however. This survey corroborates Gallup findings that more than half of all evangelicals are registered Democrats, and their actual voting habits tilt even more heavily toward the Democrats.

Differences on issues were also apparent in the survey results. Abortion on demand is opposed by 53.8 percent, while 68.2 percent believe abortion should be legal under some circumstances. Questions on tuition tax credits and defense spending revealed split opinions, while 91.7 percent favor voluntary prayer in public schools.

By a slight margin, more evangelicals say their religious convictions will influence their vote in 1984 (56.9 percent) than in 1980 (50.92 percent). Fundamentalists, representing about 2 percent of the sample, may rely more heavily on their religious convictions, with 66.5 percent saying their beliefs will be an important determinant of their vote. People identified as fundamentalists in the poll said they generally describe themselves with that label when discussing their religious beliefs.

Senators Honor A New Translation Of The Bible

President Reagan, three U.S. senators, and the ambassador of Ghana paid tribute to the work of Bible translators at a ceremony marking Bible Translation Day in Washington on September 30.

Reagan did not make a personal appearance, but he sent a letter of congratulations to Elaine Townsend, widow of Cameron Townsend who founded Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1934. The letter, delivered by Sen. Mark O. Hatfield (R-Oreg.), noted that the work of translation “serves as a powerful force for literacy” in the world.

Hatfield, along with Senators William L. Armstrong (R-Colo.) and Jennings Randolph (D-W.Va.), hosted the occasion in a Senate caucus room. Brandishing a Bible, Armstrong said the purpose of translation is to “lift up this book.” Bible Translation Day has been observed annually since 1969 when a congressional joint resolution proposed by Hatfield, among others, was approved.

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The newest Wycliffe translation, published last May, is a Hanga New Testament, bringing to 200 the total languages to which they have contributed Bibles. Geoffrey and Rosemary Hunt completed the Hanga translation after 12 years in Ghana, where this tribal language had never before been written.

At the Capitol Hill ceremony, the Hunts presented a copy of the New Testament in Hanga to Ambassador Eric K. Otoo of Ghana. Although he does not speak Hanga, Otoo thanked the Hunts and noted that his country’s campaign for literacy has been greatly accelerated by the work of Bible translators.

Townsend observed that 3,000 language groups around the world still lack Bibles and said, “We are here to rededicate ourselves to this unfinished task.” Wycliffe has projects under way among 780 language groups in 40 countries.

Pastors, Others Dismissed Over Nazarene Policy Against Tongues

The Church of the Nazarene dropped the word “Pentecostal” from its name in 1919 because the denomination opposed the practice of speaking in tongues. Sixty-four years later the church again is embroiled in the issue.

The Nazarene General Court of Appeals is reviewing the case of Danny Brady, an Ohio minister who was defrocked and expelled from the denomination after he told his congregation he spoke in tongues. Brady isn’t the first Nazarene pastor to be dismissed over the tongues issue. But his is the first such case to be appealed to the church’s highest judicial body.

Last July a district board of discipline found Brady guilty of teaching doctrine that is “out of harmony” with Nazarene beliefs. He says the ruling has no basis since the denomination’s official manual doesn’t address the issue of tongues.

Nazarene General Secretary B. Edgar Johnson agrees that the denominational manual includes no policy on tongues. But he says a 1971 statement against tongues, formulated by the church’s Board of General Superintendents, is binding on the membership.

That statement holds that the gift of tongues was valid only in the early church. “… People practicing ‘tongues speaking’ or promoting it in any way should be encouraged and advised to seek membership elsewhere unless they are willing to discontinue their practice …,” the statement says.

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Johnson says “two or three” Nazarene ministers who indicated support for speaking in tongues have been “removed from assignments of leadership” this year. Earlier this year four instructors at Mid-America Nazarene College in Olathe, Kansas, were asked to resign over the tongues issue.

Brady says God directed him to try to remain in the Church of the Nazarene. As a result, he says he is appealing his case out of obedience to God.

Based on a review of the documents from the earlier trial, the church’s appeals court could order a retrial or sustain Brady’s dismissal. If the court upholds the ruling of the board of discipline, Brady says he will consider filing a class action suit.

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