Twelve months ago, the Mississippi-based National Federation for Decency (NFD) called for a nationwide boycott of 7-Eleven stores. As a result, more than 5,000 convenience stores nationwide have stopped selling pornographic magazines, according to NFD president Donald Wildmon.

With nearly 7,400 stores, 7-Eleven is the largest retailer of pornography in the country, said Steve Hallman, NFD associate director. “We thought we could have some leverage in … dealing with pornography by attacking it in the family market place,” he said.

In suburban Chicago, a church is waging its own battle against pornography. Steven French, associate pastor of youth at First Baptist Church in Wheaton, Illinois, said his congregation got involved after a parishioner alerted him to the magazines being sold at a nearby 7-Eleven store. In September, French and the church’s senior pastor, David Murdock, asked store manager Frank Hudock, Jr., to remove the offensive magazines. When negotiations failed, the church organized a picket and a boycott of the store. Three other churches joined the effort.

The store manager said sales immediately dropped “dangerously low,” costing him $300 a day in lost business. By December, Hudock had removed all 30 porn magazines from his store. Business had been poor for several months, he said, because of the boycott and competition from a nearby mini-mart that opened in October.

“Everywhere I went it seemed like this community was downright upset about those magazines,” he said. Hudock said his store had earned $6,000 a month from the magazines.

The church’s victory over pornography was short-lived, however. Hudock resigned as store manager in December because of financial complications he said were unrelated to the boycott. Southland Corporation, which owns and operates most of the 7-Eleven stores across the country, took control of the business. Despite the earlier boycott, Southland said it intended to sell three pornographic magazines in the store. Bob Davis, acting zone manager for Southland, said his company has a policy of selling Playboy, Penthouse, and Forum.

After Hudock removed the magazines, some critics told French the boycott violated the former store manager’s First Amendment rights. Alan Johnson, a member of one of the churches that joined the boycott and professor of New Testament at Wheaton (Ill.) College, voiced a different reason for opposing the effort. “It is inappropriate for the church to become involved in the use of coercive force [such as a boycott],” he said. “When it [the church] gets into the business of coercion it detracts and can even undermine its main mission … which is the proclamation of Christ’s gospel.”

First Baptist, however, is undeterred. If Southland insists on selling the three magazines at the 7-Eleven, the church might organize another boycott. “It would be the last thing we would want to do,” Murdock said. “I would much rather handle it on a one-to-one level.”

Two other convenience stores in the area have agreed to stop selling offensive magazines. The owner of the stores denied that pressure from the church led to his decision. Murdock said First Baptist might organize a boycott of other stores if negotiations fail to rid the town of pornography.

World Scene

The Vatican will dismiss 26 members of religious orders unless they publicly reject their support of a statement affirming that Roman Catholics can disagree on abortion. Twenty-four nuns, a Franciscan priest, and a Roman Catholic brother signed the statement, published as an advertisement in the New York Times. Sponsored by an unofficial group called Catholics for a Free Choice, the ad contended that a significant number of Catholic theologians believe abortion “can sometimes be a moral choice.”

A children’s author in England has been jailed for nine months for helping a friend commit suicide. Annetta Harding, 84, had asked Helen Hough to suffocate her if a drug overdose failed to kill her. Two hours after Harding took the drug overdose, Hough put a plastic bag over her friend’s head. Hough pleaded guilty to attempted murder.

The Jesuit order has expelled a Nicaraguan priest for refusing to give up his post as education minister in the Sandinista government. Fernando Cardenal, the only Jesuit among four priests who hold high-ranking positions in the Nicaraguan government, violated a church ban on priests in politics. While Cardenal has not been defrocked, he cannot perform priestly functions without the permission of a bishop.

The head of a center that studies religion in Communist lands told the World Council of Churches (WCC) that it has failed in its policy toward the Soviet Union. Michael Bourdeaux said the WCC—by trying to appease Soviet churches—has misled its membership on the actual condition of persecuted believers in the USSR. He said the Soviet Union’s policy on religious liberty and human rights has hardened since 1979.

The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has finalized guidelines for the reception of married Anglican clergymen as Catholic priests. Factors to be considered will include the candidate’s theological training, his family situation, and his relationship with the church he is leaving. Some of the applicants are believed to be Anglo-Catholic priests who oppose a move to ordain women in the Church of England.

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