In your editorial "Reflections: 25 Years Later" (Fall 1998) you state that the civil rights movement is the handmaid of communism. One would not be surprised to read such a statement in a white supremacist publication but such a remark coming from a paper whose masthead proclaims that it is "Recording The Story Of The Presbyterian Church in America" is disturbing, to say the least, and begs for an explanation.
[Editor's Response: First of all, we want to thank Pastor Boroughs for sending us this email. He pastors St. Elmo Presbyterian Church in the historic St. Elmo district of Chattanooga-which was where this editor attended when he was a student at Covenant College. By way of response, we would make three points.
(1) This newspaper has a good track record on race relations. In 1995, we did a feature article on an inter-racial ministry in rural Alabama. In the March 1999 edition, we featured Bill Devlin and his inter-racial Urban Family Council. Moreover, the church where this editor served for eighteen years has throughout its history displayed a great ethnic and racial diversity. About two years ago, approximately thirty percent of its regular attenders were either black or Hispanic. (For those seeking to develop an inter-racial community of believers, we highly recommend a capella exclusive psalmody.)
(2) There is no question that the civil rights movement was used by the Communist movement to engender racial hatred and to divide the nation. Of course, all of us are for equal justice under the law. But the civil rights movement went far beyond notions of equal justice, and imbibed rather of a radical egalitarianism. The ill effects of this movement are still with us, and threaten to engulf us further: witness the use by homosexuals of the same rhetoric.
(3) Those who founded the Presbyterian Church in America were dead-set opposed to the civil rights movement. One thinks of the two churches in Savannah, Georgia, which withdrew from the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1966. As they fought for their property, the prime example of the denomination's departure-from-doctrine cited by the congregations was the Southern Presbyterian Assembly's endorsement of civil disobedience. That advocacy of civil disobedience came in the context of the civil rights movement. Or consider the personal resolution introduced to the 1969 Southern Presbyterian General Assembly, which asked the court to refrain from commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. (The Assembly was so incensed that it ordered the document expunged from the record.) One of the four elders who presented the resolution was Jack Williamson-Moderator of the First PCA General Assembly.
While we properly welcome people into the church no matter what their race or ethnicity-a position affirmed by the Advisory Convention in August, 1973-that does not mean that we should play into a leftist agenda. That is particularly the case with regard to celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a scoundrel-a womanizer, a plagiarizer, and one who, despite his alleged non-violent speech, inflamed passions and stirred up strife. Most importantly, he advocated a social gospel as well as denied the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our view that such an immoral person should not be held in high esteem, especially by the church. It is also our opinion that introduction of such ideas into a congregation, like the one we pastored, would tear it apart and make short shrift of its genuine harmony.
We are sorry if our short-hand way of speaking left wrong impressions. Again, many thanks to Mr. Boroughs for calling this to our attention.]