Thunder on the Right: The Protestant Fundamentalists
by Gary K. Clabaugh
About the author
Gary K. Clabaugh is Chairman of the Department of Education at La Salle College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is also Center Advisor for Temple University's General Education Program for Teachers at La Salle. Born and reared in Pennsylvania, he attended Altoona High School and Indiana State University of Pennsylvania, where he received his B.S. degree in 1962.
In 1968 he received his M.S. from Temple University. He won the Ralph D. Owen Prize for achieving the highest graduate average in the College of Education. In 1969 he was appointed a Fellow of Temple University. He received his Doctorate in 1972.
A member of many civic and professional organizations, he is also a Fellow of the Philosophy of Education Society, and a member of the national honorary education fraternity, Phi Delta Kappa.
This book, Dr. Clabaugh's first, is the culmination of nine years' study of both the national and international Radical Right. He has lectured extensively on this subject.
Carl McIntire's Twentieth Century Reformation
If we use the criteria of length of involvement and degree of exposure to public knowledge, Carl McIntire ranks first in the Fundradist order of things. From its very beginning as a distinguishable entity in American Protestantism, the Fundradist movement has borne his signature. He nurtured it, shaped it, set its ideological tone, established its major leaders, and set the direction if its thrust.
Because of McIntire's position of leadership and central importance in the history of the movement, we will devote a greater amount of attention to his history and current activities than to those of any other, This emphasis serves several purposes. First, it concentrates our attention on that portion of the movement that has the greatest potential for giving us broad understanding. Second, it is the most logical way of introducing those movements, second only to McIntire's in importance, which resulted from the efforts of men that he introduced to the business. Finally, because many of the important details involve the early part of this century it helps to complete the historical information detailed in Chapter 12, which concludes with the end of the nineteenth century.
For more than forty of his sixty-four years "Dr." Carl McIntire has been deeply involved in a peculiar mixture of creation, contention and schism. It began in 1929 when McIntire was a twenty-three-year-old ministerial student at Princeton Theological Seminary. Long a stronghold of the conservative wing of Presbyterianism, the school was being convulsed by the same bitter struggle between Fundamentalists and Modernists that had gripped much of American Protestantism for better than a quarter of a century. But by this time the Fundamentalists were in general retreat and the Princeton conflict took on the air of desperation characteristic of a last stand.
Dr. J. Gresham Machen, a well-known Fundamentalist teacher and author at Princeton, had taken the lead in challenging the presence of modernism at the seminary. Simply stated, it was Machen's contention that the Modernists did not accept the divine authority of the Bible. He took this to be evidence that they rejected the very foundation of Christian faith. He further argued that the Bible was either the word of God or no more than a book of Jewish mythology and that there was no way around this simple fact. Consequently, it followed that a true believer could make no accommodation with Modernism.
Following the dictates of his reasoning, Machen organized sympathetic members of the faculty and student body to banish Modernism from the premises. McIntire was one of his most active student partisans.
Polarization and angry controversy followed Machen's move. In fact, it led to such a disruption of the educative process at the seminary that the Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A. felt compelled to investigate. When the inquiry was completed, the school was reorganized under a more liberal governing board and the right of Modernists to teach or learn at the seminary was firmly established. Machen and his followers were defeated.
Rather than accommodate this reversal, Machen and his sympathizers including Carl McIntire, left Princeton and established their own seminary in Philadelphia. They called it Westminster. Naturally, it operated on the "no accommodation" principle formulated by Machen. Gritting their teeth, the Presbyterians U.S.A. sanctioned the move.
McIntire -graduated from the newly formed school in 1931, a product of traditional Presbyterianism's angry reaction to change. Much like the newly commissioned Captain of a refitted but obsolete ship, McIntire slid proudly, but backward, down the ordinational ways-launching a curious career of bailing frantically against the times.
Defrocking and the subsequent creation of the Presbyterian Church of America
Not long after McIntire's ordination, Machen became involved in another struggle-this one designed to expunge Modernism from Presbyterian foreign mission work. When this failed be organized an Independent Board of Foreign Missions. This paralleled the official board and sought to take over its function. The now "Reverend" McIntire was a charter member.
In 1934 the Presbyterian Church ordered the rival board to cease operation. When they refused, churchly judicial action was started. It culminated in 1936 with the defrocking of Machen, McIntire, and five others for "defaming the character of fellow Christians, breaking certain of the Ten Commandments, causing 'dissension and strife' and 'engendering suspicions and ill will."" Machen and his followers countered by forming a new denomination-the Presbyterian Church of America.
Meanwhile, the large and strongly Fundamentalist Collingswood, New Jersey, Presbyterian Church had appointed the youthful but already controversial Carl McIntire as its pastor. When the defocking came, the church chose to remain loyal to McIntire and withdrew from the Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A.
A dispute arose over ownership of the church. After a bitter struggle the matter went to civil court where McIntire and his church members lost. Undaunted, they rented a circus tent and, under the watchful eye of the news media, they solemnly paraded from the old church into the canvas edifice while singing "Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us."
Oscar Wilde is reputed to have said that "The only bad publicity you can get is your own obituary." Over the years McIntire has exhibited a penchant for publicity that betrays a likely appreciation of Wilde's view. Certainly, since this event, which paid off handsomely so far as advertising his cause was concerned, McIntire has perfected the technique of turning reversals to advantage by gaining publicity that has the potential of portraying him as one who is enduring persecution for the sake of his beliefs. Actually, in this respect, McIntire has gone Wilde one better. In January 1970 he obtained a copy of an advance obituary written about him by the Associated Press. Since the obituary was not particularly flattering, McIntire seized the opportunity to bemoan its "bias" and declare it to be a prime example of the smear tactics of the "liberal press." He declared that God had "placed the document in his hands" in order- to prove how the press was "manipulating" the public. He also conjured up images of his wife reading it while preparing for his burial and of himself rising from the casket to confront his wrongdoers. He broadcast this around the world .
Today, thirty-eight years after his appointment as pastor, McIntire is still in that pulpit; though his circus tent now stands replaced by a modem church and Sunday School complex valued at close to one million dollars' and claiming a membership of 1,800.
Architecturally this complex reveals the Fundradists' ideological mixing of religion and nationalism which will be detailed in Chapter 10. It bears a deliberate resemblance to Independence Hall.
Though his operations are large and diverse, Carl McIntire's Collingswood Church is still a nucleus of his activities. It is from here that he has expanded and it has been in this direction that he has retreated when the going has gotten tough. However, his present popularity, coupled with the number of alternative organizational nuclei that he now has available, makes McIntire less dependent on this church than he has been in the past.
"Christian liberty" and the birth of the Bible Presbyterians
Not long after the defrocking, McIntire and his followers affiliated with Machen's Presbyterian Church of America. But this union was no sooner joined that it was ripped apart again-a consequence of internal disagreement.
It will be recalled that Machen advocated total separation from those who did not accept the Bible entirely as the word of God. He did, however, readily accept those who disagreed with him regarding matters of interpretation. He also maintained that those', within the faith should have sufficient "Christian liberty" to decide for themselves if they were going to smoke, drink, gamble, participate in modern dancing, go to motion pictures, and the like."
Significantly, McIntire disagreed with his teacher on both these counts. First, his line of separation was far more restrictive. He felt that accepting the Bible as the literal word of God was not enough and pushed for the adoption of eschatologically based distinctions, such as premillennialism as opposed to postmillennialism. (Premillennialists maintain that Christ will actually return to earth after the Last Judgment and reign over the millennium-a thousand years of sinless bliss. Postmillennialists maintain that the. preaching of the Gospel will bring about the millennium and that Christ will physically come bringing the Last Judgment at its end.) Second, McIntire was against allowing believers the freedom to choose between drinking and not drinking, smoking and not smoking, and so forth. Instead, he demanded pledges of abstinence from seminary faculty, students, candidates for the mission fields, and practicing clergy. This ran counter to Machen's desire for "Christian liberty" within the denomination and simultaneously antagonized many potential allies-including a goodly number who did none of these things but resented the idea of an oath or pledge.
These differences between McIntire and Machen tore the Presbyterian Church of America in two. Predictably, the most dogmatic faction lined up with McIntire and formed the Bible Presbyterian denomination. Machen died of pneumonia in 1937 while touring the nation, desperately trying to restore the unity that McIntire had destroyed. His followers formed the Orthodox Presbyterians shortly after his death.
McIntire and his small band of Bible Presbyterians were left very much alone in 1938-isolated not only from the mainstream of American Protestantism, but from the vast majority of Fundamentalists as well. What is more, Westminster Seminary, the only facility of the now-fragmented denomination that offered any real organizational leverage, had gone to the Orthodox half of the split." All that remained for the Bible Presbyterians to build from was the Collingswood Church, a newborn, tabloid style religious newspaper, a small band of dogmatic dedicated followers, and the charismatic leadership of Carl McIntire. But that was to prove sufficient to furnish the beginnings of his "Twentieth Century Reformation"-the chief spawning ground for the Fundradist movement.
The Christian Beacon
In 1936, a year before the Presbyterian Church of America split, McIntire founded the Christian Beacon-a weekly, eight-page, tabloid style religious newspaper. During the power struggle that preceded the split the paper became McIntire's principal means of partisan persuasion and disputation.
Born in the hostile world of ideologically based schism, the paper alternately assumed the defensive posture of the prey or the aggressive pose of the predator. But whatever the pose, the basic thrust was always highly partisan and reflective of McIntire's thinking.
Building a movement requires an efficient means of mass communication, and the Christian Beacon provided McIntire with that too]. With it he spread the word of his exclusivist doctrine, winning new converts, and while gaining the resources required to win still more, it set an important precedent. For when McIntire moved from pulpit to print shop and found what he needed, it convinced him that a Twentieth Century Reformation would require its leader to utilize modern means of mass communication. And this conviction eventually led him to the radio studio and the real beginning of his mass popularity.
Although supplanted in importance by McIntire's radio broadcasts, the Christian Beacon is still very much alive. McIntire is Editor-in-Chief; and with a claimed circulation of 123,000, it remains his principal means of communication via the printed word."
Characteristically, the paper makes heavy use of the "documented appraisal" technique. This involves reprinting articles from various sources, frequently without permission, and then subjecting them to comment or rebuke. But even the casual reader would not interpret this style as an attempt at objectivity. For the unmistakable thrust of the tabloid is the dissemination of ideologically derived conclusions and these conclusions are clearly those of Carl McIntire.
A surprising amount of material critical of Carl McIntire or his movement is reprinted in the Christian Beacon. However, close examination reveals that particularly telling blows are either ignored or reproduced in an incomplete fashion (e.g., only the first and often least damaging page).
The Christian Beacon also served as the organizational base for the formation of the Twentieth Century Reformation's own publishing company. Known as the Christian Beacon Press, this company provides a means of publication for material produced by organizations that are part of McIntire's movement. It has also been the means of publishing all of Carl McIntire's many books and tracts.
Achievement of control
McIntire was hurt by his split with Machen. The most serious damage resulted from the loss of Westminster Seminary and the profound alienation of many previous allies who now tended to regard him as an ungrateful opportunist who had stabbed his mentor in the back. In fact, of the 128 ministers who had affiliated themselves with the Presbyterian Church of America, only 31 withdrew to go McIntire's way."
But despite the cost, McIntire had achieved the creation of a denominationally based movement whose ideological and organizational thrust was not blunted by internal divisiveness. What is more, there was no longer any question of sharing power. So far as the "ultra" faction of Presbyterianism's revolt against modernity was concerned, that power was now in the hands of Carl McIntire.
Faith Theological Seminary
The first order of business was the creation of a seminary to replace Westminster. And this was done with surprising speed. Utilizing the Christian Beacon, the Collingswood Church, and the churches that had come away with him when the Presbyterian Church of America split, McIntire had a seminary operating in Wilmington, Delaware, before the year was out. They called it Faith Theological Seminary. And although it began with only twenty-four students, new ministers could now be trained for Bible Presbyterian pulpits and the ideology had a safe place to grow.
In 1952 the seminary moved from Wilmington to its present location in a mansion in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. This property includes some choice suburban acreage that could be worth as much as ten million dollars.
As president of its board, McIntire exercised considerable influence over the seminary, though until recently his control was incomplete. For example, McIntire's 1969 ouster from the Board of Directors of Christian Churches revealed he bad some bitter enemies within the seminary. McIntire's alienated colleague, Dr. John Millheim, general secretary of the ACCC, quotes one anonymous member of the faculty as saying to him, "You either have to look at what he [McIntire] is doing as [the actions of] a man who has visions of grandeur to the point where he feels that he is an incarnate prophet, or [decide] that is is an evil man. After evaluating that situation for more than twenty years, I would say that he is a very evil man."
This dissension within the seminary broke into the open in 1971. At this time Dr. Allan MacRae, president of the seminary for thirty-seven years, all but two faculty members, and more than half of the students quit. This walkout was a direct result of a struggle between Dr. MacRae and the pro-McIntire Board of Directors. The struggle had its immediate origins in Dr, McIntire's "dictatorial" style, his efforts to organize political rallies demanding "total victory" in Indochina, and the "crude and disagreeable methods" of ". . a small group of students" who made themselves utterly obnoxious. . ." by carrying on a campaign for every single word Dr. McIntire might utter on any subject . . . ."
The walkout left McIntire with little more than the building. But he quickly regrouped, hired new faculty of more personal loyalties, and had himself installed as president. Then he pronounced that the seminary bad been ". . indeed delivered to be a greater part of the Twentieth Century Reformation Movement over the whole world."
The "deliverance" may be of short duration. The seminary went into debt to buy radio station WXUR in order that Dr. McIntire might air his views. In a landmark decision upheld by the courts, this station was denied license renewal on the ground that it violated the Fairness Doctrine and attempted to deceive a Federal regulatory body. This placed the seminary in financial jeopardy. (Details concerning this denial of license renewal appear later in this chapter.)
The Bible Presbyterians oust McIntire
After establishing Faith Theological Seminary, McIntire set the organizational sights of the Bible Presbyterians higher, Soon they had gone on to establish a home for the aged, a summer Bible conference and two small colleges--Shelton in Cape May, New Jersey, and Highland in Pasadena, California. (The latter has since closed after a struggle for its control.) Meanwhile, the number of congregations affiliating with the denomination rose steadily.
Eventually the Bible Presbyterians claimed over one hundred member churches. But in 1956 a dispute that had been smoldering for some time burst into flame. A large group of dissatisfied member churches angrily charged that McIntire was "undemocratic" in his style of leadership. Further, they claimed that he was too involved in other activities to give the job the attention it deserved. Finally, they charged that he was guilty of grossly inflating Bible Presbyterian membership figures .21 These grievances, coupled with McIntire's subsequent refusal to accommodate the dissidents, led to open revolt.
The anti-McIntire faction constituted a majority of the members of the denomination and they had little difficulty gaining control of its organizational apparatus. When this was accomplished McIntire was unceremoniously dumped. For good measure the denomination also voted themselves out of the American and International Councils of Christian Churches-two organizations founded by McIntire. No more than twenty percent of the churches remained loyal to McIntire . The rest joined in his ouster. There could be little question that he and his cause were badly hurt.
But McIntire still controlled the Collingswood Church-the largest in the denomination. What was more, those loyal to him continued to control Faith Seminary and the Christian Beacon. Using this base McIntire reorganized his remaining followers and declared that they were the real representatives of Bible Presbyterianism.
For several confusing years there were two Bible Presbyterian denominations-the original and McIntire's second creation. McIntire's endurance eventually proved the greater. In 1961 the original organization finally changed its name to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
But winning the battle of the names did not mean that McIntire had won the war. As a matter of fact, the denomination has been anemic ever since the revolt. Current membership hovers around the 8,000-mark, making the Bible Presbyterians a minuscule part of American Protestantism.
Founding of the American Council of Christian Churches
Had McIntire been content to rest on his laurels after founding the Bible Presbyterian denomination this revolt could well have smashed his "Twentieth Century Reformation" movement. But, far from relaxing after his first major success, McIntire had been very busy developing other bases of support. Consequently, he and his cause survived with surprisingly little damage.
One of the most important of these "other bases of support" was the American Council of Christian Churches, established under McIntire's leadership in 1941. Representing the broadest national base of ecclesiastical support that McIntire's "Reformation" has ever secured, this council eventually attracted fifteen denominations with a combined membership of 200,000 to 250,000.
One of the primary motivations for founding the ACCC was to counter the growing power of the newly created Federal (now National) Council of Churches. The formation of the Federal Council represented the first time that American Protestantism had been able to effect any meaningful measure of interdenominational cooperation. Such an accomplishment, however roughhewn at the start, represented a. very real change in the various member denominations' devotion to their own dogma and, more importantly, the feeble beginnings of ecumenism.
Naturally, such a course of events was viewed with profound alarm by those elements of American Protestantism whose belief structures were rigidly doctrinaire. And nowhere was the alarm greater than among those denominations representing the "ultra" fringe of Fundamentalism; for they were the most rigid and doctrinaire of them all.
Carl McIntire took the alarm of these "ultras" and gave it organizational structure by creating the American Council of Christian Churches. He was considerably aided in this endeavor by the national notoriety that be had gained while championing the cause of "total separation" and by his ability to use the Christian Beacon as an instrument of persuasion.
Soon he had gathered a small band of zealots who believed that they alone represented the posture of defenders of the faith and denouncers of apostasy, and they waxed continuously indignant over the fact that the ACCC was not treated with the same interest and deference as the giant Federal Council. This attitude persisted despite the fact that the Federal Council outnumbered them by about 168 to 1; and despite the even more devastating fact that American Fundamentalism was more accurately represented by the National Association of Evangelists, which McIntire had refused to join and which enjoyed membership odds of 8 to 1. But mere members mean little or nothing to those who see themselves as the only representatives of good in a world divided between good and evil.
To be sure, those that joined the ACCC were similar to the general run of Fundamentalists in that they insisted on the verbal inspiration of the Bible, Jesus' virgin birth and the other major doctrines of traditional Protestant Orthodoxy. But they were also committed to McIntire's powerful brand of "total separation" and to his stand against "Christian liberty." These commitments, plus the degree of their zeal in the other areas, put them on the "ultra" fringe.
"True believers" tend to dichotomize and to categorize people as belonging to in-groups and out-groups. And this tendency has been quite strong in American Fundamentalism. But McIntire's doctrine of "total separation" was so severe in its dichotomization that even the majority of Fundamentalists were put off by it.
Similarly, Fundamentalism is built on the notion that faith and salvation can be defined in terms of a one-hundred-percent commitment to certain "absolute truths." Such a belief suggests that it is both possible and permissible to coerce men into accepting such a commitment as was done in the Inquisition. However, such coercion has never set well with most American Protestants, probably due to the nation's philosophical commitment to individual freedom and the necessities imposed by pluralism." Ironically, considering his devotion to "patriotic" causes, McIntire apparently suffered no such discomfort when contemplating coercion. By demanding that Machen's commitment to "Christian liberty" be abandoned he adopted a position that ignored the tension between commitment to exclusive "absolute truths" and devotion to individual freedom and mutual tolerance. Instead, he defined the problem away by claiming that freedom could only reside within these truths. 12 Here again, even though Fundamentalism's commitment to dogmatic truths predisposed it to be antilibertarian and undemocratic, McIntire simply went too far for most Fundamentalists.
Thus we see that from its very inception the ACCC was not just an anti-Modernist movement. It also embodied a largely unacknowledged, but supremely important, split between McIntire's partisans and the rest of Fundamentalism that has its origin in the essentially undemocratic and antilibertarian nature of McIntire's emerging ideology. He was clearly moving in the direction of demanding that individuals conform to his particular interpretation of a supreme imperative even though this required a disregard for American political ideals.- The average Fundamentalist was simply not ready to buy this.
This divergence became official in 1942 when informal negotiations were begun in St. Louis, Missouri, to explore the possibility of organizing all of the nation's conservative Protestants in opposition to the Federal Council. As the President of the ACCC, McIntire made it clear that he would cooperate in this endeavor only if the principle of "total separation" were adhered to. No member would be permitted to have anything to do with the Federal Council.
Although the delegates shared McIntire's antipathy to the Federal Council, they believed that individuals should have the freedom to choose between resisting apostasy within the Federal Council and totally withdrawing from it." But, true to form, McIntire would not compromise the "total separation" principle in deference to individual liberty. Consequently, he withdrew from the discussions. The majority that remained went on to establish the National Association of Evangelicals, the organization that has come to represent the mainstream of America's Fundamentalist Protestantism.
Founding of the International Council of Christian Churches
In 1948, McIntire established still another base of support when he organized the International Council of Christian Churches. Like the American Council, this organization was based on angry backlash to the growing ecumenism of Protestant Christianity in this case on an international scale.
When the World Council of Churches scheduled its first meeting for Amsterdam in 1948, McIntire arranged a simultaneous convocation in the same city and set up the International Council. McIntire's meeting was a miniscule affair that Donald Barnhouse, editor and founder of the Fundamentalist-oriented Eternity magazine, described at the time as "a side show that finished in fiasco." But the tactic employed produced reams of publicity and McIntire has since adopted a standard policy of organizing rival meetings every time an important Protestant ecumenical style meeting is convened.
McIntire was president of the ACCC for only one year. But he has been the president of the International Council since its founding. Additionally, its headquarters were established in McIntire's own Twentieth Century Reformation building. Perhaps McIntire set up his own control in this firm fashion because he was already experiencing difficulties in controlling the ACCC. But whatever the motivation, it was to prove to be a wise policy for be would eventually be forced to retreat to this position.
McIntire claims that the ICCC has grown to represent eightynine sects with over one million members. But members of his own organization alleged that be inflated ACCC membership figures, so this figure may be inaccurate. It will suffice to say that compared to the mammoth World Council of Churches, the International Council is and always has been minuscule.
Extension of McIntire's ideology and the advent of the Cold War
By the end of the Second World War it looked as if the Federal Council and the National Association of Evangelists were going to be able to accommodate the pressures of the times without provoking their followers to join McIntire's movement. His "Twentieth Century Reformation" was making little headway.
But a shift in McIntire's ideology and a related change in international politics were destined to reverse the trend. The shift in ideology involved the extension of McIntire's theology into the political and economic realms .4 0 The change in international politics involved the advent of the Cold War.
The birth of modern Fundamentalism coincided with the advent of the First World War, when religious nationalism was near the peak of its popularity. It bad consolidated its position during the "Great Red Scare" of the early 1920s. Both of these times left their marks on the movement and Fundamentalism came to include a measure of "ChristianAmericanism" and ill-defined "AntiCommunism" as an integral part of its ideology.
These influences came to their first fruition during the 1930s, when men such as the Rev. Gerald B. Winrod, the Rev. Gerald L. K. Smith, and William Dudley "Chief" Pelley blended Fundamentalism with ultra rightwing or quasi-fascist political activities .42 But these men had built their movements on the frustrations, anxieties, and alienation of the depression era-using the New Deal as their chief symbol of all that was evil. Consequently, when Roosevelt and the New Deal were overwhelmingly endorsed in the election of 1936, there was little for these predecessors of the Fundradists to do but retire to the hinterlands, lick their wounds, and grow increasingly hysterical as the changing times pressed in on them. Eventually, some of them began to play on anti-Semitic feeling instead of opposition to the New Deal. But this was a fatal mistake. Soon the entire movement came to be identified in the public mind with Nazism and its attendant antiSemitism, and with the beginning of World War 11 this movement's power and popularity declined severely." It remained for Carl McIntire to seize the unparalleled opportunity presented by the Cold War in order to really unite the "fundamentalism of the cross" with the "fundamentalism of the flag."
Although he had been moving in this direction for some time, it was not until 1946, with the publication of Author of Liberty, that McIntire finally took the step that indicated he had become a full-fledged resident of the Radical Right." Leaning heavily on the shock, disillusion, and confusion that arose when the winning of World War 11 brought the Cold War instead of peace, McIntire maintained that the Nation's socioeconomic and political systems, in their original, unadulterated forms, were instruments of God's purpose and that it was primarily because the nation had lost sight of this fact that things were going badly. He then proposed that "Communism" was relentlessly exploiting this loss of purpose for Satan-primarily through the cooperation of stupidity of native Americans. 16 And in this fashion the ideology with which we will become more familiar took its shape.
McIntire's ultra-Fundamentalism had derived from his desire to totally subordinate the individual to certain "absolute truths" even though this was at odds with the Nation's political ideals. Now we find him joining the ranks of the political extremists by attacking the very logic of American democracy. He did this by proclaiming that democracy's right to exist was solely derived from its usefulness as a means of serving Jesus Christ. Man and society were to be brought to conform to McIntire's vision of the higher goal, a goal that was above the law. America was simply God's tool.
Impact of McCarthyism
At first, this extension of the ideology made little difference in the popularity of McIntire or his organizations. But as the Cold War grew more and more ominous the national climate of opinion began to change. McIntire pounded away with ever-increasing vigor on conspiracy, the "Communist" menace, and the necessity of reembracing God, the family, and the mythic America of the theocratic "Golden Age." And when this type of approach began to be skillfully used in Congress and the rnass media by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, it became increasingly respectable and popular. Suddenly, McIntire and his followers were on their way to unprecedented public esteem and influence-riding atop a wave of Cold War-engendered, antiCommunistic, one-hundred-percent Americanism.
McIntire had always charged that Modernism and the apostate clergy who had served or coexisted with it were an enormous threat to Christianity and that its "Social Gospel" element slashed at the heart of the American way of life. Now, although he had hinted at "commie" influence before, with the extension of his ideology he really began to push the charge that the nation's churches were riddled with unAmerican, pro-Communist traitors and their witless dupes.
This fit the thrust of McCarthyism so perfectly that it wasn't long before McIntire and his followers were cooperating directly with Senator McCarthy's staff and that of the House Un-American Activities Committee, by identifying "suspects" within the clergy, a delicate task best left to insiders, and by providing "documentation" on their activities." Being men of the cloth, their presence also provided the proceedings with a very useful touch of divinity. In return, McIntire and his subordinates in the ACCC-ICCC achieved more respectability than they bad ever had, while simultaneously gaining a nation-wide forum for their charges. Now the media listened when they charged that the Revised Standard Version of the Bible was the product of a "Red" plot or that the World Council of Churches was a front for "the conspiracy." And most of them reported these allegations in front-page fashion without comment, even when they were obviously and outrageously unfair.
The future Fundradist leaders begin to gather
We have seen bow McIntire and his movement were likely rescued from oblivion by the combination of a politicized ideology, the Cold War and, most of all, McCarthyism. During this same time the religio-political extremists who would later provide the Fundradist movement with its major organizations and leadership began to gather around his changing movement.
The first to arrive was Major (Rev.) Edgar C. Bundy. Born in Connecticut in 1915, but reared in Florida, Bundy was graduated from Wheaton College in 1938. In 1941 he joined the Army and was commissioned the following year. In that same year he was ordained a Southern Baptist minister. In 1948 the then Captain Bundy resigned from active duty to become City Editor of the Wheaton, Illinois, Daily Journal. (His promotion to Major came in the reserves.)
Bundy soon associated himself with the ACCC and in 1949 he published an article in the Christian Beacon which contained the standard components of the emerging Fundradist ideology. Shortly thereafter he joined McIntire's staff as a part-time public relations man and researcher.
A month after joining McIntire, Bundy was invited by Senator Kenneth McKellar to appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee. He testified that if China were allowed to go Communist then Japan, the Philippines, India, Burma, Malaya, and the Dutch East Indies would fall and predicted that North Korea would invade South Korea. When that last piece of birdshot bit the mark, Bundy found himself much in demand as an "expert" lecturer on Communism.
Bundy soon expanded his activities from public relations and research to become McIntire's resident intelligence expert, his (limited) military experience in this area adding luster to the role. As one might expect, he found conspiracy and subversion in a whole host of places, including the Girl Scouts of America. He also headed the ACCC-ICCC delegation to the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee on Methodist Bishop Oxnam.
When the McCarthy era ended, Bundy continued to serve on McIntire's staff. But in 1956 the board of directors of the Church League of America, a curious quasi-religious, private, right-wing, intelligence service, appointed Bundy its new executive director. In this capacity he was to become a major Fundradist leader in his own right.
The twenty-five-year-old Billy James Hargis, an obscure Fundamentalist preacher of the Christian Church, was the next on the scene. Hargis was born in Texarkana, Texas, in 1925, and after graduating from high school he enrolled in Ozark Bible College in Bentonville, Arkansas." He was ordained before completing his first year of study and left Ozark permanently after only eighteen months. A series of pastorates in small towns in Missouri and Oklahoma followed.
According to his own account, Hargis had been harboring a growing concern over "the twin threats-Communism within the nation and religious apostasy within the churcbes." This led him to resign his pastorate in 1950 in order to begin a full-time campaign against these threats.
Shortly thereafter he appeared in Washington, D.C., where he somehow got access to Senator McCarthy. Apparently McCarthy was impressed, for he later commented that his investigations had been helped by "a great preacher, Dr. Billy James Hargis of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is pastor of a church there and doing outstanding work. [Hargis received an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Defender Seminary in Puerto Rico in 1954. The seminary was founded by the late Rev. Gerald Winrod, who was so pro-German in World War II that be became known as the "Jayhawk Nazi." Precisely why McCarthy would call him "Dr." three years earlier is not clear. ] 62 Within the year Hargis also incorporated Christian Echoes National Ministry as a "religious, nonprofit body." It was this organization that was to be his vehicle in the crusade "for Christ and against Communism."
Things went slowly for Hargis until 1953. In that year Carl McIntire hired him as a member of his staff. Shortly thereafter Hargis supervised an ACCC-ICCC project: to fly portions of the King James Version of the Bible into Iron Curtain countries on helium-filled balloons .64 While the impact of this Bible barrage on its recipients never became clear, Hargis did hit the front pages for the first time. He later described this as "My biggest break so far as promotion is concerned . . . ."
Hargis flew the ACCC-ICCC Bible balloons for another five years, and, because he had broadcast successfully on radio in his last pastorate, he was also placed on the Radio and Audio Film Commission of the International Council. At the same time he was working for his own Christian Echoes National Ministry, broadcasting on his own fourstation network. Hargis' use of this media is quite significant for radio broadcasting has since become the Fundradists' primary means of communication, organization, and fund-raising.
In the late 1950s as his own "Christian Crusade" blossomed, Hargis slowly grew away from McIntire. Eventually, he would head a movement which rivaled that of his old employer in terms of income and holdings.
In 1950 Carl McIntire and Dr. T. T. Shields, a Baptist pastor from Toronto, visited Australia. During their stay they became acquainted with Dr. Frederick Charles Schwarz, a man who had gained a reputation as an unusually erudite anti-Communist speaker in his homeland.
Schwarz was born in Brisbane, Australia, in 1913, the son of a successful Jewish businessman who had converted to Christianity. He attended college and obtained degrees in both science and the liberal arts. Then, while lecturing at Oueensland Teachers College, he studied medicine; Schwarz graduated from the University of Oueensland Medical School in 1944. He set up a practice in medicine and psychiatry in Sydney while serving as a lay preacher in a local Baptist church.
By his own account, Schwarz's anti-Communist activities date from 1940 when be was badly beaten in a debate with a wellknown Australian Communist. Shamed by his defeat, Schwarz launched a vigorous selfeducation program and soon obtained a sufficient level of proficiency to be in demand as a speaker.
McIntire heard him speak while in Australia and was so impressed by his combination of scholarly acumen and old style evangelistic fervor that he invited him on a two-month lecture tour of America under the sponsorship of the ACCC. The tour enjoyed considerable success.
Schwarz returned to the U.S. in 1952.11 This time he stayed, setting up his tax-exempt Christian Anti-Communism Crusade in Waterloo, Iowa, with the help of a local radio evangelist and "a group of local Christian men .1172 His stated objectives were:
"To combat Communism by means of lectures in schools, colleges, civic clubs, servicemen's organizations and other similar organizations and through radio and television broadcasts and by providing courses for missionaries and others to be used in Bible schools and seminaries and the holding of religious and evangelistic services in churches, and through publication of books, pamphlets and literature and by all other appropriate means."
Schwarz's most successful activity was to prove to be his series of traveling "schools" on anti-Communism which have been held all over the nation.
What was to become the central core of Fundradist leadership and activities had now begun to coalesce-all with considerable assistance from Carl McIntire and his Twentieth Century Reformation movement. Edgar Bundy of the Church League of America, Billy James Hargis of the Christian Crusade and Dr. Frederick Schwarz of the Christian AntiCommunist Crusade; all of them grew and prospered in the right-wing hatchery of McCarthyism while finding comfort and assistance under Carl McIntire's organizational wing.
Price of the ideological extension and McIntire's style of leadership
Even though McIntire's cause generally profited from the extension of his ideology into the political and economic realms, the transition was not without cost. Elements within both the ACCC and ICCC were discomfited by the change and by the new activities that it engendered. Additionally, McIntire's egotistical style of leadership rankled many. 15 In 1952 the Evangelical Methodist Church quit the ACCC and the Orthodox Presbyterians withdrew from the ICCC. In 1953 the Independent Fundamental Churches of America severed their relations with the American Council.
The extension of the ideology and McIntire's manner of leadership also bad something to do with McIntire's previously described ouster as head of the Bible Presbyterians and their subsequent withdrawal from both councils. Additionally, though the ideological change was gradual and blended nicely with national and international events, it must have alienated many individual followers.
But the highest, though most subtle price, incurred in making the ideological change was that McIntire finished the process of cutting himself off from the main body of American thought and practice. Now he and the movements he headed were not only on the "ultra" fringe of American Protestantism; they were also on the extremist fringe of the nation. In effect, they had finished the process of becoming strangers in their own land.
Hargis points the way
McCarthyism had given an invaluable boost to the emerging Fundradist movement But it would be a mistake to think that by the time of McCarthy's fall from grace they had become wellestablished. What they had become was noticed and to some degree, legitimized. But the maximization of these advantages lay ahead.
At this juncture it was Hargis rather than McIntire who showed the way. In order to make maximum use of the publicity gained in the Bible balloon project, Hargis employed L. E. (Pete) White, the same Tulsa promoter who had helped launch Oral Roberts on his phenomenally successful faith healing campaigns. White's interest was the standard fifteen percent of the gross .71 Hargis also began making extensive use of his expanding radio ministry and pushing his political and social views even harder.
Of all the major Fundradist leaders, Hargis, possibly because of his Southern background, made the most direct appeal to antiNegro prejudice .711 In the 1950s this emphasis coincided perfectly with the backlash that followed the monumental Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the subsequent social upheaval regarding integration and civil rights which blossomed during the latter half of the 1950s.
The combination of White's skillful promotion, the increased use of radio, and Hargis' concentration on racial turmoil as a product of a Communist plot produced major results. In 1955 the Christian Crusade's annual income was approximately $48,400. The Crusade's income in 1956 jumped to approximately $124,000, and by 1957 it was nearing the $171,000 mark.
The "Twentieth Century Reformation Hour" goes on the air
Although his sermons had been broadcast over WCAM in Camden, New Jersey, since 1940, McIntire did not launch his thirty-minute "Twentieth Century Reformation Hour" until 1955. For the first three years of its existence the program was carried on only one station and most of it was devoted to McIntire's blasts against Modernism, the Social Gospel, ecumenism, and other forms of "religious apostasy."
But a change, already reflected in his extended ideology and anticipated by the activities of Billy James Hargis, slowly overtook the program. Increasingly, McIntire began to speak out on national issues rather than the intra-Christian differences, which had once been his primary cause. And as he did, the income and distribution of his program increased dramatically."
In 1958 McIntire began a major expansion of his "new improved" version of the "Twentieth Century Reformation Hour." The Annual Income of the program catapulted from an estimated $62,000 in 1958 to an estimated $1,718,000 in 1963-a nearly 2,700-percent increase in just five years. Additionally, what had started as a one-station daily broadcast in 1955 had expanded to a daily network of a claimed 600 stations, with a mostly rural and suburban audience estimated at near the 20-million mark.
By adopting the twin techniques of emphasizing popular issues and making massive use of radio, Carl McIntire had, after nearly thirty years of trying, finally obtained a medium and a message that enabled him to consistently touch the quick of millions of Americans.
But this success required a very basic alteration in the nature of the movement itself and, ultimately, the consignment of McIntire's original "total separation" principle to oblivion.
Emergence of the contemporary American Radical Right
The sudden success of the "Twentieth Century Reformation Hour" was remarkable. But this was only part of a more general phenomenon: a major surge in Radical Rightist activity that pulsed through the entire nation in the late fifties and throughout the sixties.
McCarthyism never really had a full-fledged ideology, organization, or program that went beyond "anti-Communist" witch hunting.", But this new surge soon had all three. Its ideology was the conspiracy-based, reactionary, "anti-Communist," anti-Democratic one described in detail in Chapter 11 -the overt Fundamentalist touch being optional. Its organizations were loosely grouped around Carl McIntire and his activities if the Fundamentalist Protestant element was overtly present; around the rapidly growing John Birch Society if it was not. Of course, the program was to work for the implementation of their Radical Rightist ideology.
In extending his ideology in the postwar 1940s McIntire anticipated the formation of the secular American Radical Right by more than a decade. Yet even when it became obvious that, according to Erling Jorstad, he and the secular groups were "moving in the same direction along parallel tracks," McIntire did not jump into a union with them.
This wariness had at least some of its origin in the "total separation" principle. Cooperation with the John Birch-dominated secular wing of the Radical Right would require either giving up or drastically modifying this concept. McIntire's past activities indicate a reluctance on his part to join anything that he cannot ultimately control. His reluctance to join with the secular Radical Right, and even his "total separation" principle itself, could be interpreted as having their ultimate origin here. If so, "total separation" becomes a function of total egotism.
But Hargis, who had never been associated with the total separation principle historically, was eager to establish liaison with the secular Radical Right and was doing very well indeed. Moreover, a spontaneous- trend towards cooperation was creeping in, despite the "total separation" principle, as the state of the nation grew, in Radical Rightist eyes, increasingly desperate.
Finally, when the possibility of electing Senator Barry Goldwater to the Presidency of the United States presented itself in 1964, even the doctrine of "total separation" could not prevent McIntire from joining forces with the secular wing. The opportunity was simply too great to be missed. And so it was that an interlocking, convoluted complex of cooperation between the secular and the religious Radical Right finally formed. The passion of the union suggested that they had been meant for one another all along.
Cape May complex
The success of McIntire's "Twentieth Century Reformation Hour" broadcast brought his movement its first substantial income. Some of this money was put to use in 1962 when the nonprofit Christian Beacon Press, Inc., bought the unused 333-room Admiral Hotel plus adjoining acreage in Cape May, New Jersey, for an estimated $300,000. 92 The hotel was dilapidated, but an extensive renovation, estimated at $250,000, restored it. Today it functions as the heart of a growing "Bible Conference and Freedom Center," where speakers such as the Rev. Ian Paisley, Major Edgar Bundy, and Senator Strom Thurmond may be heard during the summer months.
In 1967 McIntire used the radio to solicit $150,000 as a down payment on the famous 100-roorn Congress Hall Hotel, an adjacent restaurant, and five surrounding acres at the Cape. Six presidents of the United States had used the Congress Hall during its prime and it was in good repair. The price was $550,000.
In January 1971 McIntire announced the purchase of Cape May's historic Windsor Hotel, which had been featured in Life as one of the "Grand Old Resort Hotels. The purchase price was $230,000.
Cape May was also the site of the "Reformation's" Shelton College until the institution's degree granting rights were revoked by New Jersey as a result of twelve different violations of State standards. It has since moved to McIntire's recently acquired "Freedom Center" in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the college's new one-million-dollar building in Cape May now stands temporarily idle. 97 But even considering this particular difficulty, Carl McIntire has gone a long way toward turning Cape May into a Radical Rightist's version of Chautauqua.
ACCC's ouster of McIntire and other difficulties
Shelton College's loss of accreditation has not been the only difficulty to beset McIntire's "Reformation." The Federal Communications Commission recently found radio station WXUR in Media, Pennsylvaniaowned by Faith Theological Seminary-in violation of the Fairness Doctrine and rejected its application for license renewal. McIntire appealed through the courts; his appeal was resoundingly denied. The United States Court of Appeals found that "During the entire license period Brandywine (WXUR) willfully chose to disregard commission mandate. With more brazen bravado than brains, Brandywine went on an independent frolic broadcasting what it chose, in any terms it chose, abusing those who dared differ with its viewpoints. The record is replete with example after example of one-sided presentation on issues of controversial importance to the public." Significantly, the court also noted that WXUR had practiced "deception" from the moment of its initial license application. In fact, with regard to ". . candor and honesty in representations to the Commission," the Court observed, "Their dismal failure in this regard is evidenced in this 8,000page record. These men, with their hearts bent toward deliberate and premeditated deception, cannot be said to have dealt fairly with the Commission or the people in the Philadelphia area. Their statements constitute a series of heinous misrepresentations which, even without the other factors in this case, would be ample justification for the Commission to refuse to renew the broadcast license."
When the Supreme Court refused to hear McIntire's appeal, he announced his intention to launch a "pirate" radio station that would operate in international -waters. At this writing, the ship Columbia is standing three and one-half miles off Cape May, New Jersey, preparing to broadcast McIntire's "Radio Free America" message to the Eastern seaboard. The FCC has announced that it will seek a court injunction to halt the broadcasts; the injunction will be based on a broad provision of the Communication Act of 1934.
McIntire has said that he will go to jail, if necessary, in the battle to get his station on the air. Thus the man who has roundly condemned civil disobedience in the most vituperative terms stands ready to use it when his own ox is gored.
Since Faith Seminary mortgaged its property for the purpose of purchasing WXUR, the financial blow to the seminary may be fatal. Further, there is every indication that his radio network is debt-ridden and shrinking. McIntire alleges that this shrinkage is due to fear of FCC censure on the part of the station owners. There is considerable evidence that this is at least partially true."'
But his biggest setback to date came when he was repudiated and ousted by his own American Council of Christian Churches. The history of this ouster is entirely too long and involved to cover here. Suffice it to say that the fight broke into the open in 1967 when ACCC leaders alleged that McIntire was using ACCC funds for ICCC purposes.
In 1968 he walked out of the ACCC's Annual Convention in a disagreement over who could attend an executive committee session. In 1969 the ACCC voted to drop McIntire from its executive council. And in 1970, after McIntire attempted to take over that convention during a scheduled recess, creating a huge uproar, the ACCC dropped out of the ICCC and denounced McIntire's actions as "despicable piracy.
It seems likely that much of the ACCC's discontent with McIntire stemmed from anger over his undemocratic style of leadership and his ever-increasing association with political rallies such as the twin "Marches for Victory" held in Washington, D.C., on October 3 and May 8, 1971. John Millheim, general secretary of the ACCC, gave voice to these feelings when he maintained that the "conglomerate crowds" at the rallies violated "the clear and positive commands of God that His people be separate from all unbelief and corruption." McIntire's "total separation" principle had come full circle. Now he was being accused of violating it by associating with nonbelievers. Thus, as he moved to the political right, McIntire started the process of inadvertently chopping off his religious principles with his political axe.
Cape Canaveral complex
McIntire's ouster from the ACCC did not produce the disastrous results one might have expected. He now had his own church, the radio network, the ICCC, and the Cape May complex to fall back on. But hardly one to rest easy, McIntire launched his most ambitious project to date before the ouster ACCC dust had even cleared: the Cape Canaveral "Freedom Center and Christian Conference.""' This center included the 200-room, 5-year-old Hilton Hotel, a 2000-seat convention center, the 260-unit Palm East apartments, the IBM Building, the Brown Engineering Building, the Chrysler Building, and 218 acres of undeveloped real estate. The assessed value of the entire complex totals $3,706,070.
The actual price of the total package has not been released, but estimates range from $4 to $25 million. All that Carl McIntire will say is that these properties were "turned over to him" by Shyford Mills and Cevesco, Inc., two corporations represented by businessman H. H. Simms, Jr., "who will remain with Dr. McIntire in an advisory capacity."
Shelton College has relocated in one of the buildings, and plans call for using the remainder of the complex as a "year-round Christian Conference and Freedom Center," as well as a "retirement complex. In short, it is to become a second, and much grander, Cape May.
A last word
We now know something of the way that the Fundradist movement was nurtured, shaped, and toned by Carl McIntire. We also have seen how he helped establish its major leaders and set the general direction of its ideological thrust. Further, by examining the history of his activities we have learned something of the history of the American Radical Right in this century. We have also seen the metamorphosis of Fundamentalism into a Radical Rightist political movement; and we have been brought up to date on McIntire's current activities. All that remains is a generalization concerning McIntire's immediate future.
Notwithstanding his current difficulties, Carl McIntire's immediate prospects seem to be reasonably bright. Even if his radio network is in some trouble, he was able to raise a 1970 and 1971 Christian offering of $1 million using this medium."' These were the greatest amounts he has ever collected; they exceed his 1959 offering by more than 1,000 percent. Moreover, since this offering is made up almost exclusively of small gifts, it can be interpreted as an indication that his following is either growing or stable. The total gross income of the "Reformation" movement in 1970 was, according to McIntire, $3 million, "more or less. " If this is correct, the organization's total income stayed at about the same level from 1964-71.113 Reverses brought on by the FCC decision may have cut into this rather severely in subsequent years. But since McIntire's figures are his own and are unsubstantiated by any other source, the public Christmas offering is one of the best indicators of his power and general popularity.
McIntire's Cape Canaveral acquisition must be counted as his biggest coup to date, even though be may have overextended his organization. Generally, the trend of our times produces prodigious quantities of the kind of backlash and anxiety that McIntire has been able to tap in the past; and there is little reason to believe that the times or McIntire's skill will alter drastically in the near future.