Should American taxpayers be required to support church-related schools?

More and more public money is being appropriated for sectarian education, but a legal test may finally be at hand.

Last October the U. S. Supreme Court agreed to rule on whether taxpayers have standing to bring suit against state agencies that subsidize church related schools. A decision is pending.

Now the high court has also agreed to decide on the constitutionality of a New York law requiring the state’s public-school systems to lend textbooks to parochial-school students.

“If it should permit taxpayers to challenge federal spending programs on church-state grounds, and if the justices should strike down the New York school book law, the entire federal program of aid to pupils in church-related schools would be placed in jeopardy,” said a report in the New York Times.

The latest action by the Supreme Court was to hear an appeal by the school board of East Greenbush, New York, a suburb of Albany, and other upstate school officials. New York is one of seven states that lend state-owned textbooks to parochial-school students. The New York law directs school districts to lend fifteen dollars in textbooks each year to each pupil in grades seven through twelve in private schools. About $25 million is spent annually.

The New York Supreme Court declared the textbook law unconstitutional. But the Appellate Division reversed that ruling, and the East Greenbush case was appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court.

The federal government now spends about $60 million a year to purchase textbooks and provide specialized instruction for pupils in church schools.

The money line separating church and state has deteriorated steadily in recent years. Government agencies on local, state, and national levels have grown increasingly open to the idea of budgeting money for hard-pressed religious institutions. This is a throwback to the old European system of state subsidy, under which the established churches have grown stagnant.

The champions of a continuation of the successful American experiment in church-state separation have watched its deterioration somewhat helplessly. Because taxpayers have not had a standing to sue, there has been no way to arrest the trend in the courts. A judicial-review bill sponsored by Senator Sam Ervin, which would give taxpayers such legal standing, has languished in committee.


Latest figures released by The Methodist Church show a loss of 21,405 members across the United States over a period of a year. The Methodist constituency now totals an official 10,289,214.

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Southern Baptists report gifts to world missions during 1967 amounted to a record $45 million. The Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board got $27.8 million. Twenty other agencies shared the rest and applied it to such things as home missions, theological education, and radio and television projects.

The American Lutheran Church is being urged to put stronger administrative authority at regional and national levels. A report issued by the ALC Long Range Study Committee also calls for a regrouping of program functions and a new method of electing general officers.


Ben Hartley, editor of Presbyterian Survey since 1959, turned in a letter of resignation last month in a policy dispute with directors. Hartley, 43, reportedly complained that he had not been given sufficient authority and editorial freedom to run the Survey, which is the official monthly magazine of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. Strong appeals to Hartley to reconsider were expected.

The widow of a Methodist chaplain killed in Viet Nam has joined the Army Nurse Corps and plans to serve in Viet Nam. Mrs. Ambrosio S. Grandea of Baltimore was sworn into the service by a chaplain who helped to conduct her husband’s funeral last year. She volunteered for duty with the provision that she be assured a Viet Nam assignment.

The Rev. Norman Shepherd was named dean of the faculty at Westminster Theological Seminary. He succeeds Dr. Paul Wooley, who resigned as dean for health reasons but will continue to teach.

Governor David F. Cargo of New Mexico disclosed that he has been baptized a Roman Catholic. Cargo, who grew up a Methodist in Michigan, says his decision was a gradual one following his marriage to Ida Jo Anaya, a Roman Catholic. He came under criticism last year for appointing a Catholic priest to head the state’s war on poverty. The priest has recently been reassigned.

The Rt. Rev. John Cyril Emerson Swaby, 62, was elected Anglican bishop of Jamaica. Swaby’s election after six ballots became secure when another candidate withdrew.

Harley Fite, president for twenty years of Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, plans to retire July 31. The Southern Baptist school has enjoyed steady progress under Fite and now has an enrollment of 1,727 regular students.

A German Lutheran pastor was wounded and hospitalized after he and his party were ambushed by tribal warriors in a wild region of West Irian. An American woman missionary was found safe in Malaysia after she and three children became lost during a hike.

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The United Christian Council in Israel elected Robert L. Lindsey as its chairman. The council, largest Protestant organization in Israel, is a cooperative agency in which some thirteen denominations participate.

Former Dean Arthur Foster will leave Berkeley Baptist Divinity School to become “professor of theology and personality” and director of a Center for Theology and the Study of Man as part of Chicago Theological Seminary’s doctoral program. Veteran BBDS teacher Maurice Jackson was named top aide to new President C. Adrian Heaton, who also heads California Baptist Theological Seminary. Leaders of a campaign against the previous BBDS administration have urged full support of Heaton.

A year-long mystery over a Byzantine Catholic bishop was climaxed with the announcement of a major reshuffle in the Ruthenian rite hierarchy. The Most Rev. Nicholas T. Elko was elevated to a titular archbishopric after a Vatican inquiry and an unexplained exile in Rome. Die Ruthenian rite recognizes the Pope but has its own Latin customs and liturgies.


“Herald of Truth,” a radio broadcast of the Churches of Christ, makes its debut February 4 on the NBC network. John Allen Chalk is the preacher.

A violent explosion wrecked the ancient Church of St. Vincent in the northern Italian town of St. Vincent. Most of the church’s crypt and its art treasures dating back 800 years were destroyed or badly damaged. Police said vandals had placed sticks of dynamite against a basement window.

Communist Albania officially abrogated all laws dealing with church-state relations. The action is apparently aimed at delivering the coup de grace to formal religious institutions in Albania, Religious News Service said.

The legislature of the central Indian state of Orissa approved a law imposing penalties of up to a year in prison or a $1,000 fine for missionaries convicted of coverting minors, women, or untouchables. The penalties can be doubled, according to the law, for attempts to win converts by “force, fraud, or exploitation of poverty.”

French President Charles de Gaulle reportedly has taken pains to correct a reference to Jews as domineering. The French word “dominateur,” which de Gaulle applied to Jews in a speech November 27, can be translated in either a neutral or pejorative sense. According to informed sources, de Gaulle has told a key rabbi in Paris that he had meant his remarks as praise for the accomplishments of the Jewish people.

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The Baptist Unity Movement went out of existence on December 31, 1967. Chairman Howard R. Stewart said the group’s charter was allowed to expire because of “the inability of the group to meet the financial responsibilities involved in the growth of the movement.” He said that about 1,000 persons have been associated with it during its five years of operation.


PIERRE VAN PAASSEN, 72, Unitarian clergyman who wrote Days of Our Years, a best-seller published in 1939 about the Jews in Palestine; in New York.

JOSEPH C.CLAPP, 51, president of the University of Corpus Christi (Southern Baptist); in Corpus Christi, Texas.

JOHN B.HIPPS, 83, retired professor of missions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

The Supreme Court of the state of Washington upheld the constitutionality of a college course dealing with the Bible as literature. Two Bible Presbyterian ministers had sued the University of Washington, charging that the course tended to have adverse religious effects upon students. They vowed an appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court.

The Japan Baptist Convention began a special prayer movement for peace in Viet Nam. Executive Secretary Yoshikazu Nakajima in Tokyo appealed to Baptists around the world to join the movement. A convention statement acknowledged Japan’s “responsibility for World War II” and asserted that “War is evil and contrary to the will of God.”

A Missouri Synod Lutheran congregation in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, was ordered to fire its pastor or face foreclosure of a mortgage. The Rev. C. Donald Pfotenhauer, 37, whose pastorate has been characterized by a charismatic emphasis, wonders whether “there is room in the Missouri Synod for the charismatic gifts of the Spirit.” The Rev. Martin Lieske, president of the synod’s Minnesota South District, which holds the mortgage, says he has failed to see the fruit of the Spirit manifested in the congregation.

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