Freeway Exit

Publication of a new youth Sunday-school paper in tabloid form has stirred up storm waves at Scripture Press headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois. The new take-home paper, Freeway, supplants Teen Power Life, Scripture Press’s traditional handout paper. According to the publishing house, some churches have dumped all Scripture Press materials as a result of the change while others expressed concern.

“Things have been uptight,” conceded Power Life and Freeway editor James R. Adair. “Some of the more conservative churches apparently think Freeway is a hippie paper.” The new paper was first distributed in early December after more than a year’s research. Scripture Press marketing officials say their material is distributed primarily through dealers, and so no accurate information on how many churches have dropped the company is available “except for the ten or twelve who have written us directly.”

The company calls the controversy a “transgenerational gap”—a gap between those who buy the paper and those who read it.”

Scripture Press denies the paper is an imitation “underground” publication. “Much of the content is the same as it always was,” said Adair. Most articles are personality sketches. Now that format and style have been updated, say company spokesmen, it’s “a paper kids can take to their peer group and not just use to keep awake during a weak 11 o’clock sermon.”



Few Jewish collegians have been converted in the Jesus revolution. And Protestant Sunday-school materials still show Judaism in a negative light.

These are the findings of separate Jewish studies of Christianity and Judaism. In the first, a B’nai B’rith survey of eight major colleges suggests that Jewish fears of Christian proselytism are unfounded. The survey finds five or fewer Jewish followers of Jesus on most campuses, while a few have as many as twenty-five or thirty. The appeal of such groups as Campus Crusade for Christ and other evangelical organizations remains a “limited phenomenon,” it contends. In all, there are 400,000 Jewish young people in college, and only a “negligible percentage” have responded to evangelistic appeals, it summarized.

The Sunday-school curriculum study, a joint project of the American Jewish Committee and the National Conference of Christians and Jews, states that texts and lesson plans “still tend to draw an unjustifiably negative picture of Jews and Judaism.” Certain key themes are still presented in ways likely to foster hostility against Jews and their religion, it charges.

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The materials of ten denominational and two independent publishers were studied. These included the Assemblies of God, National Baptist Convention of America, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, David C. Cook, and Scripture Press.

Perking For Judaism

Jewish leaders, concerned about the inroads of the Jews for Jesus movement among their young people, have organized a “Jews for Judaism” group. And in New York’s Greenwich Village, Bet Kafe, the first Jewish coffeehouse designed to reach “unaffiliated” Jewish youth, has been perking since February. It is staked by the American Jewish Congress.

A Fresh Interpretation

For years Seventh-day Adventists have insisted on strict separation of church and state. Their publications have editorialized against federal aid to religious bodies. But the denomination has now drawn up new guidelines whereby SDA schools can apply for government aid, provided that a church-drafted statement accompany the application. The statement makes it clear that the schools are “inextricably bound up with the total purpose of the church” and that the government must keep hands off SDA policy in granting funds. Limits are set on how much can be accepted. And there must be the “avoidance of anything that would smack of establishment of religion on the part of government.”

The guidelines represent not a change in traditional SDA philosophy but rather “a fresh interpretation of the church’s attitude toward acceptance of public aid” in line with changing views of the nation’s courts, said an SDA source.

Religion In Transit

Interest in all forms of religion is thriving on secular college campuses. Philadelphia-area universities report expanded religion departments to meet the demand. More than 1,000 University of Minnesota students petitioned for a department of Jewish studies. A University of Wisconsin professor who teaches an occult course cites increasing campus interest in witchcraft, spirit messages from the dead, astrology, and palm-reading.

Because of more than $6 million in mortgages and rising deficits, evangelist Rex Humbard’s Cathedral of Tomorrow organization was ordered to stop selling securities in several states. Reportedly, Humbard is far behind in payments to many of the hundreds of TV stations that air his weekly programs.

A federal court in Ohio declared unconstitutional an Ohio law providing tax credits to parents of non-public school students. Catholics say they will appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court.

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Sports Illustrated ranked the Oral Roberts University basketball team as the nation’s number-four team in pre-season ratings. SI’s tongue-in-cheek comment: “Oral Roberts has recruited everybody but Marjoe, is big, strong, fast, quick, and, of course, without sin.” Not quite. A series of losses knocked ORU right out of the ratings.

Quebec is the first province in Canada to make income tax payments compulsory for members of religious orders, but with the ruling—and deductions from pay checks—come health and pension benefits.

Even the Jesus people are active in Key 73. One of the big events planned is Jesus 73, a three-day East Coast happening set for a big farm near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in August and expected to attract up to 50,000. Many name speakers and musicians have confirmed.

The COCU draft Plan of Union was used for structuring the merger of Presbyterian and United Methodist churches in Kingston, Pennsylvania. From now on the 1,400-member parish will be known as Church of Christ Uniting.

The Pennsylvania legislature revised the state’s criminal code. Among the deletions: the law prohibiting adultery and fornication.

The First Baptist church of Philadelphia celebrated its 275th anniversary this month. It was founded in 1698; in 1707, the Philadelphia Baptist Association, the oldest Baptist administrative unit in the nation, was organized in the church.

Another inner-city church has thrown in the towel: Central Presbyterian in Washington, D.C., where President Woodrow Wilson worshiped. The church had only four pastors in its 104 years, reached a high of more than 600 members, but lost in the exodus to the suburbs. In its last days, attendance had dwindled to seventy-five.


Minneapolis Star religion writer Willmar L. Thorkelson says former World Council of Churches head Eugene Carson Blake has agreed to run for moderator of the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church. The first official candidate for that post is Carl G. Howie, 52, a mildly evangelical Detroit clergyman who back in 1960 arranged for Blake to preach the famous COCU sermon in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral.

Dean William H. Lazareth, 44, of the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia, is directing a committee to develop new “theological affirmations” for the Lutheran Church in America. He has been outspoken in his attacks against the theological guidelines laid down by Missouri Synod president J. A. O. Preus—a barometer, perhaps, of the future of the Lutheran unity cause.

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American Lutheran Church vice-president David Preus, 50, a Minneapolis pastor, has assumed interium duties of the ALC presidency in the absence of the seriously ill Kent S. Knutson. He is a cousin of Missouri’s J. A. O. Preus.

Medical missionaries Titus M. Johnson and L. Arden Almquist on the staff of the Paul Carlson Medical Center in Zaire were decorated by the government with Zaire’s highest medal of honor for their “distinguished service to the nation.”

Pastor Louis H. Evans, Jr., of the La Jolla, California, Presbyterian Church has been called as senior minister to the National Presbyterian Church in the nation’s capital, to succeed the retired Edward L. R. Elson, chaplain of the U. S. Senate.

In place of his New Year’s sermon on December 31, pastor Ernest T. Campbell of New York City’s Riverside Church read an open letter, calling on evangelist Billy Graham—a fellow alumnus of sorts of Bob Jones University—to speak out on “social righteousness.” He asked Graham to reply to a telegram in which Presbyterian minister Henry W. Anderson, chairman of the Chicago Key 73 campaign, called on the evangelist to urge President Nixon to stop the Indochina bombing.

Episcopal bishop Wilburn C. Campbell of West Virginia resigned from the committee that oversees funding of anti-poverty programs by the Episcopal Church. When the denomination’s Executive Council called for an investigation into his charges that the committee acts irresponsibly and that some members are hostile to the church, Presiding Bishop John E. Hines—who speaks favorably of the committee—insisted on handling the inquiry himself.

For the fourth year in a row, evangelist Billy Graham snagged second place behind President Richard Nixon in the Gallup poll of what man Americans admire most. Pope Paul VI landed in eighth place, as last year. Evangelist Oral Roberts and Catholic bishop Fulton J. Sheen made the honorable-mention list.

World Scene

The Portuguese government in Mozambique released thirty-seven Presbyterians who had been imprisoned six months. Two leaders were found hanged in their cells. They had been jailed on suspicion of support of a liberation movement.

White missionaries and clergymen in Rhodesia must obtain government permission in order to live or even travel in non-white areas, part of a new legislative package that apparently reinforces apartheid policies.

The Soviet Union failed in its efforts to prevent the United Nations from deciding to draft a statement later this year on the elimination of religious intolerance.

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Missionaries report outbreaks of revival in several cities in Chile, with the majority of churches in Santiago having services every night. It all started with a recent youth convention in Rancagua.

A parliamentary commission in Egypt investigating disturbances between Christians and Muslims has recommended that ways be found to implement constitutional guarantees of freedom of worship. Meanwhile, the 1,000-seat Cairo Evangelistic Center, an Assemblies of God church, is nearing completion in the capital.

Mexico’s Catholic bishops gave qualified support to a government birth control program.

That revival among Korean servicemen is still going strong. Sources say that there are an average of 3,500 baptisms monthly.

The Orissa High Court in India nullified a state law barring “involuntary” conversions to Christianity. The act’s definition of force and fraud was so broad it extended even to verbal references to spiritual reward and punishment.

Israel’s press chief Dinhas Lapid told a party of touring evangelical editors that Israeli young people today are the first generation in 1,900 years holding practically no prejudice toward Jesus of Nazareth. There has not been a corresponding change in attitude toward Jews by American church people, he chided.

Dwight L. Baker, a Southern Baptist missionary to Israel serving temporarily in Iran, reports that sixteen persons have organized a Baptist church in Teheran—Iran’s first Baptist church.

According to nuclear expert Daniel Yakir of Israel, Israeli scientists have developed a process for extracting uranium nuclear fuel from phosphate rocks in the Negev around Mount Sinai.

Anglican dean E. L. King of Capetown, South Africa, issued a strong denunciation of the Jesus movement, claiming converts were too sure about salvation and heaven while lacking in social concern.


OSCAR A. BENSON, 81, Lutheran clergyman who served as president of the Augustana Lutheran Church 1951 to 1959 and was active in the merger that led to the founding of the Lutheran Church in America; in Chicago.
PAUL NEFF GARBER, 73, retired bishop of the United Methodist Church and general secretary of the World Methodist Council.
ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL, 65, renowned Jewish theologian, author, and civil-rights spokesman; in New York City.
SAMUEL E. KIDD, 58, executive director of the Michigan Council of Churches and former president of the largest Lutheran Church in America synod, the Eastern Pennsylvania Synod; in Lansing, Michigan, of a heart attack.
JOHN A. PINCKNEY, 67, Episcopal bishop of Upper South Carolina diocease; in Columbia, South Carolina, of a heart attack.

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