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An antagonistic history of the liberal Federal Council of Churches, founded in 1908, and its successor, the National Council of Churches. The author makes no bones about his own belief in the concept of sin rather than the concept of brotherhood, Scripture rather than secular humanism. And, like many honest conservatives, he tends to identify slick liberal anti-Communists with sinister pro-Communist infiltrators. Thus he views some Federal Council of Churches leaders' efforts to befriend the working man away from radicalism as ""a policy of social deception"" geared to ""introducing Christian socialism."" Singer solemnly and frequently alludes to parallels between Council positions and ""the official platforms of the Communist party,"" without acknowledging that the latter tends to be reformist rather than the former being crypto-revolutionary; he uncritically scatters HUAC accusations as fact; and he certainly plays down the aggressive antiCommunism of many Council associates, simply mentioning John Foster Dulles in passing. The book gives little sense of any individuals or factions, an evasion which will disappoint readers. It does score points against the muddled, contradictory positions taken by the FCC on World War I and, much later by the NCC on the ""Black Manifesto"" demand for ""reparations"" from the churches. This, however, is accompanied by a bizarre insistence that no spiritual body should make a stand on any public matters. Finally, Singer argues justifiably that, for anyone with deep commitment to a religious denomination and its theological foundation, ecumenism can be an unprincipled alliance; he offers scant suggestions for principled cooperation, but simply exults that by 1973, the National Council of Churches was wracked by internal divisions to the point of impotence.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Arlington House