The Adventist Church and Americans United
John Hughes, of New York, had organized a church political party, to
obtain government financial subsidies of Roman Catholic schools in New York
State. The Vatican anticipated that success there would be followed by
government subsidies of Catholic schools
all over America.
next step would be additional church-state entanglements, enabling the church to
gradually take control of the government.
there was a strong anti-Catholic sentiment back
then, and Hughes proposition was defeated at the polls. His party
disintegrated and New York State wrote, into its constitution, some of the
strictest prohibitions on the use of public funds for church schools that are to
be found in any such document.
the archbishop told his associates they would have to build their own school
hundred years later, Roman Catholic leaders felt the time had come to demand recognition and state
financial support of their schools which, by that time, numbered 4
million students at the elementary and secondary levels.
1947, Priest W.E. McManus, head of the educational division of the National
Catholic Welfare Conference, appeared before a House subcommittee and demanded
November 21, 1948, U.S. Catholic bishops
issued an official statement, attacking the Supreme Court doctrine enunciated in
the McCollum case, which barred religious schools from receiving public
subsidies. They declared it was an establishment of secularism which must
unchanging Catholic position, that the State must support the Church, was
reflected the next year in Cardinal Spellman's public attack on Mrs. Eleanor
Roosevelt, because she had opposed government subsidy to religious schools.
1960, he expressed anger that John F. Kennedy, first Catholic to be elected to
the U.S. presidency, refused to obey the Vatican on this issue. (Those of you
who were alive when Kennedy was shot may recall, as I do, that Herbert Hoover
said it occurred because Kennedy got into trouble with his church.)
soon as World War II was over, representatives of a group of Protestant
organizations gathered. Their objective was to found an organization which could
oppose Roman Catholic
encroachments. Dr. Rufus W. Weaver, a prominent Baptist living in
Washington, D.C., was the first to see the need for such an organization.
Working closely with Dr. Joseph Dawson, director of the Baptist Joint Committee
on Public Affairs, and Elder C.S. Longacre, a prominent religious liberty leader
at the General
Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, they convened a meeting at a D.C.
hotel on September 19, 1946.
those who attended a second meeting on February 5, 1947, was Dr. Charles Ormond
Williams, president of the National Education Association; Elmer Rogers, editor
of the Scottish Rite magazine, The New Age; H.H. Votaw, editor of Liberty
Magazine; Elder C.E. Longacre; Dr. Clyde Taylor, secretary of the National
Association of Evangelicals; and several others.
January 29, 1948, their new organization, Protestants and Other Americans
United for Separation of Church and State, was chartered in the District of
Columbia. Glen L. Archer was selected as the one who would lead the new
organization, a position he assumed in July of that year. POAU later changed its
name to Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU). (The POAU and
AU names had been selected because the NEA, Scottish Rite, our General
Conference, and several others did not want it known that they were working
that point onward, AU opposed Catholic efforts to get government money. It also
countered efforts, by other denominations, to do it also.
decades, our General Conference heavily subsidized the work of AU. The present
writer attended a lecture by Glen Archer, at the St. Helena, California, Church
in the summer of 1957. Noting that Archer walked with a limp, I was told it was
the result of a beating he had earlier received from Catholic thugs. Little
wonder; because of his efforts, the Catholic Church in America lost millions in
special benefits and subsidies.
early summer, 1969, I heard a prominent non-Adventist AU staff member (an
Italian), in a speech at Sligo Church in Takoma Park, tell the audience that the
General Conference was his boss.
a conflict of interest occurred in the 1970s; when, as a result of bitter
controversy between our Religious
Liberty Department, our colleges, and universities, church leaders voted
to begin accepting government funding for those schools, as nearly all the other
denominations were doing.
AU was also changing as, in the 1980s, secularists and atheists gained control.
Ultimately in the 1980s, the General Conference severed ties. This year (1998),
AU filed an amicus
brief with the court against Loma Linda Medical School, in an employment
AU has changed from being a church-state separation organization to one which is controlled by humanists, initiating attacks against anything and everything religious. It ranks with the ACLU, and works hand-in-hand with it. vf