Biography of Famous Evangelical Carl McIntire Part 1

About the famous American preacher Carl McIntire, biography and history of the evangelical.

CARL McINTIRE (1906- )

The Rev. Carl McIntire has been fulminating against the 20th century for nearly 40 years, earning for himself a special place in the hearts of right-wingers everywhere.

Over the years he has fought communists, Catholic, "apostate" Christians, the American civil-rights movement, existentialism, the 1970 census, gun registration, and the Rev. Billy Graham, to name but a few.

Reverend McIntire received worldwide attention in the early 1970s while enthusiastically boosting the cause of the Vietnam War. Later he made news when he ran afoul of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's "fairness doctrine" for broadcasters. Defeat in the latter case lost him about half the 600 stations that once carried his 20th Century Reformation Hour. Tax problems and legal disputes surrounding McIntire properties in New Jersey and Florida have also clouded the feisty pastor's influence.

But Carl McIntire has lost before. And losing a fight has never dulled his taste for combat. At 69 he is still the undisputed dean of the far-right radio preachers.

His ultraconservatism emerged even when he was a young man. While attending Princeton Theological Seminary in the 1920s, he came under the influence of fundamentalist theologian J. Gresham Machen. When Professor Machen spurned "modernist" trends at Princeton and founded the breakaway Westminster Seminary in Chestnut Hill, Pa., McIntire was one of the young turk reactionaries who went along.

Carl McIntire was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1931 but he was ousted 4 years later when the Church's ideological rift flared into open warfare. An ecclesiastical court found McIntire, and other young Machenites, guilty of "causing dissension and strife" and "seriously undermining the peace of the Church."

An unfrocked McIntire repaired to his Bible Presbyterian Church in Collingswood, N.J. There he shaped the nucleus for a whole splinter-group denomination. In 1941 he merged with other renegade Protestant fundamentalists to form the American Council of Christian Churches as a right-wing alternative to the National Council of Churches. Six years later he similarly established the International Council of Christian Churches to harass the "communist-infiltrated" World Council of Churches.

He began a career of turning up at NCC meetings and at those of other ecumenical groups with his band of placard-waving bitterenders. He once stood in the snow for 4 consecutive nights in Berlin to protest a World Congress of Evangelism, which he called "a monstrosity of ecumenicalism."

Protest has always been McIntire's thing. He gave particular attention in the 1950s and 1960s to any perceived weakening of U.S. cold-war resolve. A delegation of Russian churchmen, or a visiting Soviet official, could frequently expect a greeting from the New Jersey firebrand and his true believers.

When the Nixon Administration began dabbling in "Ping-Pong diplomacy," McIntire responded by flying to Taiwan to recruit an all-Christian, anticommunist table-tennis team. He brought his players to the U.S. and demanded they receive the same White House courtesies shown to the visiting Red Chinese team. As usual, McIntire was ignored.

Angered, he took his Taiwan team across the street from the White House and set up a protest Ping-Pong tournament within view of the Oval Office. To drive home his point, McIntire and an aide engaged in a free-swinging Ping-Pong match while their table was paraded meaningfully down Pennsylvania Avenue.

But it was the Vietnam War, at its lowest ebb in public support, that gave the fiery radio preacher his greatest opportunity for public demonstration. From 1969 to 1972 he organized a series of "Victory in Vietnam" marches in Washington, D.C. On a few occasions he was able to muster several thousand hawkish die-hards to the nation's capital. He briefly booked South Vietnamese Vice-President Nguyen Cao Ky to one of his pro-war pep rallies. However, horrified State Dept. diplomats quickly convinced Ky that his appearance at a McIntire rally would do the war effort no good.

Generally the Vietnam victory marches were pitiful flops. When the turnout fell far short of his projections, McIntire fumed that his followers had been kept away by inclement weather of "fear of hippies."

McIntire's sorties into public affairs are launched from his headquarters in Collingswood, N.J. There, in addition to his church and the offices of the Twentieth Century Reformation Center, he maintains a broadcasting studio, bookstore, mail room, computer center, high school, and offices of the International Council of Christian Churches.

In 1963 he purchased a hotel and other buildings in the declining resort town of Cape May, N.J., and turned them into a vacation spa and Bible conference center for his followers. He established Shelton College nearby, teaching a 4-year course in McIntire-style orthodoxy.

In Cape Canaveral, Fla., after space business fell off and real estate values declined, McIntire moved in with plans for a multimillion dollar "Gateway to the Stars" Bible center with regular bus service to Cape May. He bought the old Cape Canaveral Hilton and renamed it the Freedom Center Hotel and installed a scale model of the original Temple of Jerusalem he picked up at the Canadian Expo.

Then came the setbacks. In 1969 the American Council of Christian Churches dropped its founding father from the executive board because his antics were giving less flamboyant fundamentalists a bad name. The New Jersey Board of Higher Education withdrew accreditation from Shelton College. The city of Cape May slapped 6 tax liens against buildings on the college grounds. In Florida, McIntire faced losing the options on his Cape Canaveral property and found his Gateway to the Stars hopelessly embroiled in a court dispute.

But the most damaging blow, by far, was delivered by the Federal Communications Commission when it revoked the broadcast license for his radio station WXUR in Media, Pa. McIntire had consistently refused to allow dissenting views on his station, the Government charged, thus violating the fairness doctrine.

The doughty preacher cried "government censorship" and purchased a W. W. II vintage Navy minesweeper equipped with a 10,000-watt radio transmitter. With the words "Radio Free America" emblazoned on the ship's side, McIntire chugged out to sea from Cape May planning to broadcast his radio message from beyond the 3-mi. U.S. territorial limit. But the 1st day's broadcast cut in on several land-based stations and brought a permanent injunction against Radio Free America from a Federal court.

McIntire came ashore, at least temporarily bent to the government's will. But conservative congressman John Rarick of Louisiana introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to restore WXUR's license, and powerful senators like Sam Ervin of North Carolina and William Proxmire of Wisconsin began questioning the fairness of the fairness doctrine in light of the McIntire case.

Meanwhile, the indefatigable fundamentalist was openly discussing plans for going to sea again--this time on a ship of foreign registry, one not subject to the dictates of an American court.

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