Was the KGB in the WCC?

A recent Reader’s Digest article highly critical of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has raised questions over who directs WCC policies, particularly its attitudes toward Marxist regimes.

Recently touted by the Digest in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times, the article claims, among other things, that the WCC supported, or was silent on, Marxist regimes or movements because the organization was infiltrated and influenced by Soviet secret-service agents.

WCC general secretary Konrad Raiser says the article offers an “extremely distorted” view of the organization’s work. And a six-page WCC rebuttal addresses each of the article’s criticisms in detail, explaining that while some WCC statements resemble positions taken by socialist governments, the group formulated those positions “on the basis of Christian convictions and the experience of the church in Third World countries.”

U.S. church leaders supportive of the WCC also say the article unfairly exaggerates the influence of representatives from former communist countries.

Diane Knippers, vice-president of the conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy, cautions against underestimating the influence liberal Western church leaders have had on WCC theology and policies: “WCC leaders listened favorably to the Soviet line not because it was cleverly presented or slyly insinuated but because those [Western] WCC leaders were predisposed to believe it.”

Reader’s Digest ran articles similarly critical of the organization in 1971 and 1982.

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