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A CORRECTION 

In a recent article in this column I commented on the vote being presently taken in various presbyteries of the Southern Presbyterian Church to decide whether women should or should not be ordained as officebearers in the Churches. In this article I spoke of the presbyteries as if they were “congregations.” 

In connection with this I received a letter from G. Aiken Taylor, editor of the Presbyterian Journal, from which I quote the relevant parts.

This is by no means a complaint, but a word of explanation, called to mind by your column in The Standard Bearer for December 1, 1963. Referring to “Women Officebearers” you several times mention that the congregations of the Presbyterian Church U.S. are voting on the question of ordination for women. It is not our congregations that are voting but our presbyteries (classes). 

Corrected, your item would have mentioned that twenty-seven presbyteries (classes) have voted on the matter. One of the largest presbyteries, that of Atlanta (in which there are over a hundred congregations) voted against the amendment by a vote of 84 to 63.

Our sincerest apologies to the editor and to the Southern Presbyterian Church for this obvious error. 

By the way, the last count on this vote of the presbyteries is 25 voting for the change; 15 voting against it. Half the presbyteries have now voted. 41 favorable votes are needed to approve the change, and bring the amendment before the next General Assembly. The General Assembly need not necessarily approve of the amendment even though a majority of the presbyteries do; although only rarely does this broadest gathering go contrary to the majority wishes of the denomination.

1963 CHURCH MEMBERSHIP STATISTICS 

The statistics of church membership in this country are in, as compiled in the Yearbook of American Churches. The following items are of interest: 

—Membership in all the churches increased 1.6%, almost equal with the rate of population increase. 

—There are now 117,946,002 Americans who claim some church affiliation. This is 63.4% of the entire population and .2% less than 1960 which1 set an all time record since statistics have been compiled. 

—Protestant Churches gained .77% in membership. This means there are a total of 64,929,941 Protestants in 222 denominations. Protestants gained 494,975 new members last year. 

—The Roman Catholic Church scored the biggest gains of any denomination. They gained 2.3% so that now their denomination includes 43,847,938 members. They constitute 23.6% of the population and are the fastest growing denomination in the country. (It must be remembered, however, that Catholics count all as members, including baptized children; while most Protestant churches count only those who are full members.) 

—The largest Protestant denomination is now the Southern Baptist Convention, numbering 10,191,303 members. They have recently passed the Methodist Church, which was formerly the largest and whichnumbers 10,153,003 members. 

—There are 5.5 million people affiliated with Jewish congregations and 3 million affiliated with Eastern Orthodox Churches. 

All this means that the American people are very religious on the whole—at least externally. Increases in church membership mean nothing when sin continues to increase and when false doctrine continues to run rampant through the ecclesiastical world. 

A CHRISTMAS PRAYER

Although Christmas is pretty much destroyed in this country, there always are retained overtones of some spiritual meaning to this Christian holiday. The trouble is that these spiritual overtones are often worse than the crass commercialization of the day: for they speak of a false Christ without His divinity, His sovereignty, His work of atonement. 

An illustration of this appeared as an advertisement by a national concern in a weekly news magazine. We quote “a Christmas Prayer” in full.

Let us pray that strength and courage abundant be given to all who work for a world of reason and understanding; that the good that lies in every man’s heart may day by day be magnified; that men will come to see more clearly not that which divides them, but that which unites them; that each hour may bring us closer to a final victory, not of nation over nation, but of man over his own evils and weaknesses; that the true spirit of this Christmas season—its joy, its beauty, its hope, and above all its abiding faith—may live among us; that the blessings of peace be ours . . . the peace to build and grow, to live in harmony and sympathy with others, and to plan for the future with confidence.

CHURCH AND STATE 

The controversy raging in this country over the question of the relation between church and state goes on. This controversy is particularly unsettling in the application of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to ban Bible reading and prayers in the public schools. But there are other areas also where this problem touches. Below are some instances of this continuing argument, some of which are news items appearing in thePresbyterian Journal

—A local school board in North Brookfield, Massachusetts has voted 5 to 2 to continue Bible reading and prayers in its school. The Attorney General of Massachusetts has asked the State Supreme Judicial Court to force this school board to “stop its defiance of the U. S. Supreme Court decision.” The final outcome is still pending. 

—In Providence, Rhode Island each new teacher that comes into the public school system is given a pamphlet outlining the teacher’s responsibilities and containing a brief “philosophy of education.” This pamphlet states in one part, “In substance, the goal of education is an educated person, one who is aware of his duties to God and his kinship with his fellow man.” This document is being attacked as outside of its constitutional rights in the light of the Supreme Court’s decision. 

—In Arlington, Virginia a school system has discontinued its “Hi-Y” programs because the purpose of these programs as stated in their oath is “to create, maintain and extend high ideals of Christian character throughout the home, school and community”. This too was obviously contrary to the decisions of the highest judicial tribunal of this country. 

—In Idaho school devotions continued by permission of the state. But a group of Protestant ministers (including a Presbyterian, a Lutheran, an Episcopalian, a Methodist and a Disciple) have filed suit in a U.S. District Court to stop the practice on the ground that these devotions constitute harmful religious indoctrination. 

—The Attorney General of West Virginia has ruled that any pupil who uses the moment of silence at the opening of the school day for meditation has stayed within the requirements of the law. But if a pupil uses this moment of silence for prayer, he is violating the law. Some have asked how it is possible for the teacher to tell what the pupils are thinking silently without asking. And if they ask, can the pupil plead the Fifth Amendment? 

—The “aid to education” bill was finally passed by Congress. The dispute over this bill hinged on the question of whether federal aid should be given to private and church operated schools. The Roman Catholics especially argued loudly and at length for their share of aid funds. But many thought that this too would violate the principle of the separation between church and state as maintained in this country. The final bill that passed was a compromise. It provided funds for education in both public and private colleges and universities to be used in the building of classrooms, laboratories and libraries. But the funds could only be used for science facilities. The argument is that science instruction does not include religious instruction. (This means, of course, that the money can be used only to teach atheism and evolutionism.) 

—Another field in which this controversy has touched is the field of medicine. We reported some time ago in these columns that a judge ordered that a woman who refused blood transfusions on the ground of religious conviction should nevertheless have them because they were needed to save her life. She was a Jehovah’s Witness and had religious scruples against receiving blood from a donor. But the transfusion was given by court order. A Unitarian minister has recently protested this decision of the judge in a sermon he preached in his church. He said that the entire decision was a threat to religious liberty. His argument was that the claim of a person to have superior intelligence and wiser judgment gives him the right to impose his will upon others contrary to their convictions. The result of this is that no man is left with any right to private decision, that a doctor becomes a sort of dictator over his patient, to do what he pleases without the consent of the patient, that this can lead to making the country a state of slaves rather than free citizens. They are kept by law from having done to them what they wish. This minister concluded his sermon with the remarks: “I would not want to be kept alive artificially. I want the right to decide not to run unnecessary medical bills, but to take out all the needles and to go home and die in peace and dignity.”

DRAMA IN CHURCH 

A certain Rev. William Bell Glenesk, minister of the Spencer Memorial Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn Heights thinks that the greatest enemy of worship of God is habit and routine. He proposed to change all this so that people would enjoy coming to Church and enjoy worshipping. 

In order to accomplish this the minister has begun to incorporate in the services everything from jazz bands to barefoot modem dancing. Sometimes he hires metropolitan opera singers; sometimes he imports ballet companies; once he himself danced his own ballet version of the vision of Jacob at Bethel. And, if he decides to have some speaking once in a while, then he brings men like Paul Tillich and an agnostic Krishna Menon from India to his pulpit. He is not at all particular about who preaches and what they have to say. 

In defense of this strange conduct in the church he maintains that every type of creative art is divinely inspired; that therefore God is present whenever art is introduced into the service. 

Reportedly, although some of the older members of the church have left in disgust, he is drawing huge crowds of other people who otherwise have never been in Church. 

And, of course, in this day that is the criterion of success. That entertainment takes the place of preaching, philosophy the place of Scripture and godless art the place of liturgy and worship—that makes no difference. The church has to grow—at all costs. 

—H. Hanko

A CORRECTION 

In a recent article in this column I commented on the vote being presently taken in various presbyteries of the Southern Presbyterian Church to decide whether women should or should not be ordained as officebearers in the Churches. In this article I spoke of the presbyteries as if they were “congregations.” 

In connection with this I received a letter from G. Aiken Taylor, editor of the Presbyterian Journal, from which I quote the relevant parts.

This is by no means a complaint, but a word of explanation, called to mind by your column in The Standard Bearer for December 1, 1963. Referring to “Women Officebearers” you several times mention that the congregations of the Presbyterian Church U.S. are voting on the question of ordination for women. It is not our congregations that are voting but our presbyteries (classes). 

Corrected, your item would have mentioned that twenty-seven presbyteries (classes) have voted on the matter. One of the largest presbyteries, that of Atlanta (in which there are over a hundred congregations) voted against the amendment by a vote of 84 to 63.

Our sincerest apologies to the editor and to the Southern Presbyterian Church for this obvious error. 

By the way, the last count on this vote of the presbyteries is 25 voting for the change; 15 voting against it. Half the presbyteries have now voted. 41 favorable votes are needed to approve the change, and bring the amendment before the next General Assembly. The General Assembly need not necessarily approve of the amendment even though a majority of the presbyteries do; although only rarely does this broadest gathering go contrary to the majority wishes of the denomination. 

1963 CHURCH MEMBERSHIP STATISTICS 

The statistics of church membership in this country are in, as compiled in the Yearbook of American Churches. The following items are of interest: 

—Membership in all the churches increased 1.6%, almost equal with the rate of population increase. 

—There are now 117,946,002 Americans who claim some church affiliation. This is 63.4% of the entire population and .2% less than 1960 which1 set an all time record since statistics have been compiled. 

—Protestant Churches gained .77% in membership. This means there are a total of 64,929,941 Protestants in 222 denominations. Protestants gained 494,975 new members last year. 

—The Roman Catholic Church scored the biggest gains of any denomination. They gained 2.3% so that now their denomination includes 43,847,938 members. They constitute 23.6% of the population and are the fastest growing denomination in the country. (It must be remembered, however, that Catholics count all as members, including baptized children; while most Protestant churches count only those who are full members.) 

—The largest Protestant denomination is now the Southern Baptist Convention, numbering 10,191,303 members. They have recently passed the Methodist Church, which was formerly the largest and whichnumbers 10,153,003 members. 

—There are 5.5 million people affiliated with Jewish congregations and 3 million affiliated with Eastern Orthodox Churches. 

All this means that the American people are very religious on the whole—at least externally. Increases in church membership mean nothing when sin continues to increase and when false doctrine continues to run rampant through the ecclesiastical world. 

A CHRISTMAS PRAYER 

Although Christmas is pretty much destroyed in this country, there always are retained overtones of some spiritual meaning to this Christian holiday. The trouble is that these spiritual overtones are often worse than the crass commercialization of the day: for they speak of a false Christ without His divinity, His sovereignty, His work of atonement. 

An illustration of this appeared as an advertisement by a national concern in a weekly news magazine. We quote “a Christmas Prayer” in full.

Let us pray that strength and courage abundant be given to all who work for a world of reason and understanding; that the good that lies in every man’s heart may day by day be magnified; that men will come to see more clearly not that which divides them, but that which unites them; that each hour may bring us closer to a final victory, not of nation over nation, but of man over his own evils and weaknesses; that the true spirit of this Christmas season—its joy, its beauty, its hope, and above all its abiding faith—may live among us; that the blessings of peace be ours . . . the peace to build and grow, to live in harmony and sympathy with others, and to plan for the future with confidence.

CHURCH AND STATE 

The controversy raging in this country over the question of the relation between church and state goes on. This controversy is particularly unsettling in the application of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to ban Bible reading and prayers in the public schools. But there are other areas also where this problem touches. Below are some instances of this continuing argument, some of which are news items appearing in thePresbyterian Journal

—A local school board in North Brookfield, Massachusetts has voted 5 to 2 to continue Bible reading and prayers in its school. The Attorney General of Massachusetts has asked the State Supreme Judicial Court to force this school board to “stop its defiance of the U. S. Supreme Court decision.” The final outcome is still pending. 

—In Providence, Rhode Island each new teacher that comes into the public school system is given a pamphlet outlining the teacher’s responsibilities and containing a brief “philosophy of education.” This pamphlet states in one part, “In substance, the goal of education is an educated person, one who is aware of his duties to God and his kinship with his fellow man.” This document is being attacked as outside of its constitutional rights in the light of the Supreme Court’s decision. 

—In Arlington, Virginia a school system has discontinued its “Hi-Y” programs because the purpose of these programs as stated in their oath is “to create, maintain and extend high ideals of Christian character throughout the home, school and community”. This too was obviously contrary to the decisions of the highest judicial tribunal of this country. 

—In Idaho school devotions continued by permission of the state. But a group of Protestant ministers (including a Presbyterian, a Lutheran, an Episcopalian, a Methodist and a Disciple) have filed suit in a U.S. District Court to stop the practice on the ground that these devotions constitute harmful religious indoctrination. 

—The Attorney General of West Virginia has ruled that any pupil who uses the moment of silence at the opening of the school day for meditation has stayed within the requirements of the law. But if a pupil uses this moment of silence for prayer, he is violating the law. Some have asked how it is possible for the teacher to tell what the pupils are thinking silently without asking. And if they ask, can the pupil plead the Fifth Amendment? 

—The “aid to education” bill was finally passed by Congress. The dispute over this bill hinged on the question of whether federal aid should be given to private and church operated schools. The Roman Catholics especially argued loudly and at length for their share of aid funds. But many thought that this too would violate the principle of the separation between church and state as maintained in this country. The final bill that passed was a compromise. It provided funds for education in both public and private colleges and universities to be used in the building of classrooms, laboratories and libraries. But the funds could only be used for science facilities. The argument is that science instruction does not include religious instruction. (This means, of course, that the money can be used only to teach atheism and evolutionism.) 

—Another field in which this controversy has touched is the field of medicine. We reported some time ago in these columns that a judge ordered that a woman who refused blood transfusions on the ground of religious conviction should nevertheless have them because they were needed to save her life. She was a Jehovah’s Witness and had religious scruples against receiving blood from a donor. But the transfusion was given by court order. A Unitarian minister has recently protested this decision of the judge in a sermon he preached in his church. He said that the entire decision was a threat to religious liberty. His argument was that the claim of a person to have superior intelligence and wiser judgment gives him the right to impose his will upon others contrary to their convictions. The result of this is that no man is left with any right to private decision, that a doctor becomes a sort of dictator over his patient, to do what he pleases without the consent of the patient, that this can lead to making the country a state of slaves rather than free citizens. They are kept by law from having done to them what they wish. This minister concluded his sermon with the remarks: “I would not want to be kept alive artificially. I want the right to decide not to run unnecessary medical bills, but to take out all the needles and to go home and die in peace and dignity.”

DRAMA IN CHURCH 

A certain Rev. William Bell Glenesk, minister of the Spencer Memorial Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn Heights thinks that the greatest enemy of worship of God is habit and routine. He proposed to change all this so that people would enjoy coming to Church and enjoy worshipping. 

In order to accomplish this the minister has begun to incorporate in the services everything from jazz bands to barefoot modem dancing. Sometimes he hires metropolitan opera singers; sometimes he imports ballet companies; once he himself danced his own ballet version of the vision of Jacob at Bethel. And, if he decides to have some speaking once in a while, then he brings men like Paul Tillich and an agnostic Krishna Menon from India to his pulpit. He is not at all particular about who preaches and what they have to say. 

In defense of this strange conduct in the church he maintains that every type of creative art is divinely inspired; that therefore God is present whenever art is introduced into the service. 

Reportedly, although some of the older members of the church have left in disgust, he is drawing huge crowds of other people who otherwise have never been in Church. 

And, of course, in this day that is the criterion of success. That entertainment takes the place of preaching, philosophy the place of Scripture and godless art the place of liturgy and worship—that makes no difference. The church has to grow—at all costs. 

—H. Hanko