A Right To Know

I love television newsmen. They’re loving. Courteous. Kind. Most of them are real Boy Scouts. I think they were particularly impressive on the night President Ford won the Republican nomination. The three major TV networks were furiously trying to out-hustle and out-story the others, and finally one reporter scored. He stuck a microphone in front of Howard Baker as he and his family were leaving their hotel for the arena. After a couple of general questions, the media star asked Baker in front of his wife and kids to comment on his wife’s drinking problem.

If I’d been he, I might have lost my cool, stuffed the microphone down the reporter’s throat, and given him a serious drinking problem. But Baker remained calm. The newsman then concluded this sensitive piece of reporting by asking Mrs. Baker to comment on her problem. I turned to another channel.

On the late news, Dr. Renee Richards, the eye doctor who had undergone “sexual reassignment” from a man to a woman, was being interviewed. Reporters had discovered her secret and felt they had a right to know because Dr. Richards had become a public figure. They decided she had become a public figure when she won a local tennis tournament for women. Renee explained that she had begged a newsman not to divulge the information for the sake of her family. But the newsman had, and now Renee wanted to clarify a few things. Her two big points were: She was now a woman, and she had not undergone the change to become a woman’s tennis champ at the age of forty-one. But that wasn’t enough. An ace reporter asked, “Did you ever father a child when you were a man?”

That did it. I shut off the set.

What right does a reporter have to ask a woman about her former drinking problem before millions of people? And what right does some journalist have to ask a woman who had undergone a radical change about her former sex life?

But I’m sure this is just the beginning. Soon standard questions for presidential candidates will be: “How often do you have sexual relations with your wife?” “Have you ever suffered from hemorrhoids?” “Was Preparation H effective?”

And we’ll listen eagerly. Because after all, they are public figures, and we do have a right to know.


Postscripts On Hunger

Thank you for your magazine’s excellent presentation of the world’s greatest social problem today: hunger (July 16). I especially appreciated Stanley C. Baldwin’s article, “A Case Against Waste and Other Excesses.” I have only one disagreement with this issue. I feel the writers approached the problem with a cavalier “Robin Hood” attitude that nearly totally disregarded the consequence of sin in our poor, cursed world. Economic factors prevent taking food from U.S. producers and giving it to underdeveloped countries because someone has to pay the producer. The only answer would be the nationalization of our food industries so that the government would take the loss of unsold produce. I, for one, would be directly opposed to any more government extension into private industry; therefore it seems to me the problem is unsolvable by human means.

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Associate Pastor

Washington Assembly of God Church

Washington, N.J.

I am pleased that you presented the articles on hunger and sharing. The writers, however, did not face reality when they chose to skirt the facts of our present hoard of grain. For instance, as of June 1, 1976, more than 650 million bushels of wheat were held over from the 1974 and 1975 harvests.… These commodities are trapped in storage by three embargoes in recent years. These embargoes were the direct result of political pressure by consumer-group representatives and leaders of labor unions. The meat imports are always pushed above quota by the same groups.

Why should our government use food as a “weapon” to force other food-producing countries of the world to sell down their stocks? Why should the farmers in this country be forced to erect more storage or pile grain on the ground? This is poor Christian stewardship as well as hoarding. Our nation’s food policy is directed at cheap, plentiful groceries in the United States, not on full production and world-wide distribution, as it should be.


Connell. Wash.

This past year CHRISTIANITY TODAY has turned out some fine issues, and the July 16 issue dealing with problems of world hunger and Third World development is no exception. I especially enjoyed the article by Ronald Sider, “Mischief by Statute.” Near the end of his article he asks “Have you ever wondered why apples grown in a neighboring orchard or state cost more than bananas imported from another continent?” I am ashamed to say that while I lived in Canada I was never bothered by the problem. I was even so naïve as to believe that the grocery chains sold them at a loss as a customer come-on. Thanks for clearing up my thinking.… Bananas that grow here in Indonesia cost more here than they do in Canada and probably the United States as well.… The local people pay top price for second-grade produce while the first grade is sold dirt cheap in Europe, Japan, Australia, and North America.

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I would also like to comment on the article “Hunger: Twenty Easy Questions, No Easy Answers.” … I almost choked on the question “Is ‘the right to food’ compatible with Scripture?” The question itself is an indictment against Christianity.… Arthur Simon’s answer was beautiful: “The Bible doesn’t say in so many words, ‘People have the right to food,’ any more than it says, ‘People have the right to breathe,’ but the intention of God is abundantly clear.”


Seminari Theologia Indonesia

Tondano, Sultara. Indonesia

Where Imagination Isn’T

Thank you for printing the interview with Joe Bayly about the state of the Sunday school (Aug. 6). The most valuable part was his final observation on the present state of preaching among evangelicals. Our sermons resemble cars coming off an assembly line. They are often void of imagination, and their success is measured by their sameness. The minister who uses Christ’s methods of preaching is likely to be labeled a liberal heretic.


Aurora, Neb.

In the interview Mr. Bayly said that “Sunday-school teachers want Bible characters to look Anglo-Saxon” instead of Jewish. He then concluded that “there is much latent anti-Semitism in the evangelical church.”

No doubt it is good that Bible characters in Sunday-school literature look Jewish. An Anglo-Saxon Lazarus is a bit ludicrous. No doubt Aunt Gert who teaches juniors should be more open-minded about these things, less provincial. But anti-Semitism? Come on, Mr. Bayly, do you have evidence of this evil other than a drop in your sales volume?


Brandywine Valley Baptist Church

Wilmington, Del.

Decadence Through Non-Support

Indeed, if The Omen “is not worth anyone’s two hours or two dollars,” Thomas Howard’s review (Aug. 6) is hardly worth the time it takes to read it. Unfortunately, it is not a film review but a dragging out of the age-old battle between Hollywood and the Church. It is doubtful that the producers of The Omen claimed to have a corner on theological truth. Their concern, as always, was monetary. To say they muddled prophecy is to say nothing that we all, at one time or another, haven’t also said about some learned theologian we differ with. If the film’s scenario allows for most anything, it could be because the Bible itself allows for such a latitude of interpretations.…

As films go, The Omen is good. The danger does not lie in its interpretation of Scripture but in the desensitizing effect it will have on the moviegoing crowd. The film reduces prophecy to just another of a long succession of horror films and therefore makes the acceptance of any plausible interpretation more difficult.

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Biblically we have no cause to expect anything from Hollywood. If the Church and Hollywood aren’t on good terms, it isn’t Hollywood’s fault. If we want better things from Hollywood, we should be lining up at the box office to support their better efforts. I am afraid that our pious refusal to attend the better films of prior years for fear of supporting the movie industry was self-defeating. We must now live with the decadence we helped, through non-support, to create.


Roanoke, Va.

Democrats And Abortion

Your news department continues to perpetuate the illusion that opposition to abortion is primarily Roman Catholic.… In the July 16 issue (News, Religion in Transit), you cite the criticism of the Democratic party’s pro-abortion platform plank by Roman Catholic archbishop Bernardin. Did you miss the fact that Mildred Jefferson, M.D., an evangelical Methodist and head of National Right to Life, and I myself, speaking for the Christian Action Council, condemned it no less equivocally? It is somewhat misleading to call it “mildly worded.” However mild the wording, the fact is that the plank commits the party to opposing both a mandatory human-life amendment and the state’s-rights type that would once again permit the people to legislate on the issue. Governor Carter’s appeal to evangelicals … surely fosters the impression that as president he would do something to restore biblical morality to government. His role in promoting adoption of the pro-abortion plank certainly casts cold water on such a hope. Christians should pray for Carter, both as a campaigner and if elected as president, to have the ability to apply biblical principles in public as well as in private life.


Associate Professor, Systematic Theology

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Deerfield, Ill.

Athletes For Moscow

The July 2 editorial “Christians at the Olympics” noted that a major evangelical effort was under way at the Olympics.… It is doubtful there will be such an organization at the twenty-second Olympiad in Moscow.… I would urge CHRISTIANITY TODAY to challenge the world-wide evangelical community to begin training Christian athletes to compete for their place in the 1980 Olympics. A special challenge should be directed at our evangelical Christian colleges to do their part in supplying candidates for the Olympics.

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Aiea, Hawaii

Improvement In Peru

Thank you for the news story “Welcome Withdrawn” (June 4). We are happy to state that the situation in Peru has improved considerably. The Peruvian government has given an extension of five months, asking for a withdrawal by May of 1977, and at that time it will only be part of our personnel that would be requested to leave, not all of them. It is in the negotiation state as to who will leave and who will stay. We thank God for this turnaround. The minister of education in Peru often mentioned how much he would like this work to continue, but the … government wants this to be done by nationals rather than expatriates.


Wycliffe Bible Translators

Washington, D.C.


The captions identifying the photos of Brian Price and Peter Foggin in the August 27 news story “Outreach at the Olympics” were reversed in the makeup process. We regret the mixup.

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