Category Archives: Ethics

Pentecostals, Pacifism, and Religious Liberty in World War I: The Waldron Case

ChristianEvangel_728
This Week in AG History–April 5, 1919
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 2 April 2015

Clarence H. Waldron (1885-1926), an early Baptist-turned-Pentecostal minister, became the central figure in the first important criminal court case involving religious opposition to World War I. Newspapers across America carried reports of Waldron’s trial in 1918 for violations of the Federal Espionage Act. Later historians dissected the case, determining that the pastor was likely unjustly convicted based on suspect allegations made by members of his Vermont Baptist church who did not like their pastor’s embrace of the Pentecostal revival.

The pages of the Pentecostal Evangel remained silent about the Waldron case until April 5, 1919, when Samuel R. Waldron, an Assemblies of God minister, reported on the status of his son. The Pentecostal Evangel editor prefaced the elder Waldron’s letter by noting, “Many of our readers have been interested in what is known as the ‘Waldron Case.'” Undoubtedly many Pentecostals were apprehensive about the case’s outcome. Waldron’s case carried weighty implications regarding religious liberty for Americans.

Waldron had been accused of attempting to undermine the U.S. government in a time of war. Early Pentecostals, like most other premillennialists of that era, preached that believers should be fully committed to Christ and His kingdom. They admonished avoidance of worldly entanglements that would conflict with their heavenly allegiance. Accordingly, most Pentecostals avoided politics. Many likewise believed that killing in war was moral compromise. When America entered World War I, it became increasingly difficult for Pentecostals to maintain their pacifist stance in the face of intense societal pressure to support the war effort.

Waldron had a respectable, successful background in Baptist ministry. He was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1907. When he accepted the pastorate of the Baptist church in Windsor, Vermont, in 1915, the church’s prospects seemed bleak. But Waldron’s energetic and winsome ministry won hearts and converts, and by 1917 attendance had tripled. In that year, a Pentecostal evangelist began holding revival services in Windsor. Waldron and about half of his growing congregation attended the services and embraced the Pentecostal movement. A segment of the church that opposed the revival decided to force the resignation of Waldron. They did this by accusing him of violating the Federal Espionage Act.

Did Waldron “willfully attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, and refusal of duty in the United States military forces”? This was the question that the courts tried to resolve. Waldron’s accusers identified at least two events they believed constituted offenses. First, Waldron refused to allow his church to participate in a patriotic-themed “Liberty Loan Sunday” event. He told his congregation that he believed that Sunday morning services should be reserved for preaching the gospel and not for politics or nationalism. Second, they accused Waldron of advising his church members, through preaching and the distribution of literature, that Christians should not bear arms in war.

A trial in January 1918 ended with a hung jury. Jury members could not reach a verdict, in part because they identified significant bias by witnesses on both sides. Cross-examination seemed to reveal that a church squabble was at the heart of the case, and Waldron’s accusers seemed to be using the law to force the pastor to resign.

At a second trial, in March 1918, the judge did not allow testimony regarding the anti-Pentecostal religious prejudice of Waldron’s accusers. The jury returned a guilty verdict and the judge sentenced Waldron to 15 years in federal prison.

The 1919 letter from Waldron’s father, published in the Pentecostal Evangel, reported that President Woodrow Wilson had commuted his sentence following the conclusion of the war. Waldron, according to his father, almost died from influenza and pneumonia during his year-long incarceration.

Shortly after his release from prison, Clarence Waldron received ordination with the Assemblies of God and moved to California. He spent the remaining years of his life in bivocational ministry, working in secular employment and occasionally ministering alongside Aimee Semple McPherson in San Diego and Los Angeles. Waldron’s trial and imprisonment had broken his health. He died in 1926 at the age of 41.

The trial of Clarence H. Waldron was widely reported in the press in 1917 and 1918, and historians have studied it ever since. The Waldron case highlights the fragility of religious liberty. Historian Gene Sessions, in his definitive 1993 article on the Waldron case published in “Vermont History,” concluded the following:

“In Windsor that national legislation, ostensibly directed against spies, provided a way to remove from town an individual whose religious views had split his congregation and embarrassed his denomination’s state hierarchy and whose pacifism, rooted in those same views, had confused and infuriated local patriots … the Espionage Act became in the hands of Windsor citizens a potent instrument for disciplining, harassing, and punishing a neighbor no longer welcome.”

While Clarence Waldron was tried for his advocacy of pacifism, the Waldron case stands for a broader proposition — that religious liberty needs to be carefully guarded.

Read “A Note of Praise,” by Samuel R. Waldron, on page 14 of the April 5, 1919, issue of the Christian Evangel [the predecessor of the Pentecostal Evangel].

Other articles also featured in this issue of the Evangel include:
• “The Pentecostal Baptism: Its Foundation,” by David H. McDowell
• “Healed and Filled with the Spirit,” by Mrs. E. M. Whittemore
And many more! Click here to read this issue now.

The fascinating account of Waldron’s trial, “Espionage in Windsor: Clarence H. Waldron and Patriotism in World War I,” published in the Summer 1993 issue of Vermont History, is accessible by clicking here.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Christians have Obligation to Oppose Statism, According to 1933 Assemblies of God Publication

Cartoon published in the Pentecostal Evangel, June 29, 1940.

Cartoon published in the Pentecostal Evangel, June 29, 1940.

By Darrin J. Rodgers

Christians have an obligation to oppose statism. An article in the May 1933 issue of the Latter Rain Evangel, a magazine published by the Stone Church (a prominent Assemblies of God congregation in Chicago), warned against fascism. The article defined fascism as “a State organization so absolute, [where] every interest is subordinated to the overriding authority of the organized State.”

This fascism, or statism, left little room for freedom of conscience. Under fascism the dictates of the State, according to the article, “overrides all considerations of religion, prejudice and inherited doctrine.” The State defined right and wrong: “All morality, as all religion, is thus lodged in purely civic virtues.”

The article noted that the Fascist and Nazi parties arose in a mere eight years in Italy and Germany due to economic distress. How did this happen? People who called themselves Christians accepted an “idolatrous nationalism” in which faith in human progress replaced the idea that truth resided in scripture and natural law.

What should Christians do when the state forces them to choose between loyalty to Christ or country? The article answered this query forthrightly: “Should such a dilemma arise, we follow Christ.”

Read the article on the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center website: “State Religions,” Latter Rain Evangel, May 1933, pp. 17-18.

____________________________

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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2007 Interview with Stanley Horton

In the featured audio below, Dr. Martin Mittelstadt and Matthew Paugh interview Stanley M. Horton (Parts 1 and 2) in, Springfield, Missouri, 2007

Part 1 (25:37):

Part 2 (19:21):

See also:
Martin William Mittelstadt and Matthew Paugh, “The Social Conscience of Stanley HortonAssemblies of God Heritage (2009): 15-19.

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The Story Behind the Foot Washing at the 1994 “Memphis Miracle”

Click here to listen to Donald Evans tell the story behind the foot washing at the Memphis Miracle

Certain segments within early Pentecostalism – most prominently the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, California – promoted a vision of “brotherly love” across the racial divides. However, this interracial vision was quickly eclipsed as Pentecostals set out to organize churches and did so largely along cultural and racial lines. When the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America – an umbrella organization for Pentecostal denominations – was formed in 1948, its founding members were all mostly-white denominations.

Recognizing the need to heal the racial divisions within Pentecostalism, church leaders came together in Memphis on October 18, 1994 and dissolved the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America. The next day the Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA) was formed by both white and black denominations. The meetings surrounding this monumental act of racial reconciliation came to a climax when, on October 18, a white Assemblies of God pastor, Donald Evans, approached the platform. He tearfully explained that he felt God’s leading to wash the feet of Church of God in Christ Bishop Ithiel Clemmons, while begging forgiveness for the sins of the whites against their black brothers and sisters. A wave of weeping swept over the auditorium. Participants sensed that this was the final seal of the Holy Spirit’s approval from the heart of God over the proceedings. This event, which became known as the “Memphis Miracle,” is a significant milestone in the annals of Pentecostal history. Continue reading

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Pentecostal Origins of Earth Day

John McConnell, Jr., ca.1990

The 2010 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine includes an article that will raise eyebrows — the story of John McConnell, Jr., the Pentecostal founder of Earth Day. McConnell’s parents were founding members of the Assemblies of God, and his grandfather identified with the Pentecostal movement at the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1906.

Forty years ago, McConnell established the first governmentally-recognized Earth Day on March 21, 1970. The United Nations adopted the holiday the following year and has been celebrating Earth Day on the March equinox since 1971.

This original Earth Day was quickly eclipsed in prominence, however, by a second Earth Day (celebrated on April 22). The founder of the April observance, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, took the name Earth Day for his Environmental Teach-In, scheduled to be held on the 100th anniversary of communist leader Vladimir Lenin’s birthday.

According to McConnell, a representative of Nelson approached him at a United Nations conference and asked McConnell to switch the original Earth Day to April 22. McConnell refused, because he believed the celebration should be on nature’s event. Furthermore, McConnell intended Earth Day to be a non-partisan event that would unite people from various backgrounds and foster peace. In contrast, Nelson’s purpose was a political protest against pollution – he viewed Earth Day as a means to force the environment on the national agenda by mass demonstration.

McConnell states that Nelson “stole” the name Earth Day and used it for his own personal political agenda. McConnell contends that the April 22 observance is too politicized, which alienates many people, including Christians and conservatives.  He maintains that the day should be celebrated on the March equinox. Significantly, he views Earth Day as an opportunity for Christians “to show the power of prayer, the validity of their charity and their practical concern for Earth’s life and people.” McConnell’s call is not for earth worship, but for responsible stewardship (which he prefers to call trusteeship) of the earth.

McConnell also spearheaded two nationally-recognized peace movements: the Star of Hope (1957) and the Minute for Peace (1963-present). He also served as a leader in Meals for Millions (1961-1963), an organization that fed starving people.

McConnell credits his Pentecostal background for his concern for peace, justice and care of earth. He wrote, “If there had been no Christian experience in my life there would be no Earth Day – or at least I would not have initiated it.”

In a 2009 interview, McConnell stated, “I definitely still believe what my father taught and preached.” His father, J. S. McConnell, was an Assemblies of God pastor and evangelist from 1914 to 1928. According to McConnell, his father emphasized the teachings of Jesus above all else.

McConnell’s story offers an intriguing example to Pentecostals from their own history of how one can love Jesus and care for creation; these two attitudes are not mutually exclusive.

To read the entire article about John McConnell in the 2010 edition of Assemblies of God Heritage, click here.

To watch an interview of McConnell discussing his Pentecostal background, click here.

Posted by Darrin J. Rodgers

_________________

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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A House No Longer Divided

 
 
 
Dr. Stanley Horton extemporaneously addressing participants at A House No Longer Divided, Timmons Temple COGIC, Monday, April 13. Horton was explaining that his father was pastor of a multiracial church in Arroyo Seco, Los Angeles, in 1926-1927. Members – half were black, half were white – would eat dinner together after every Sunday service. (Photo courtesy of Ken Horn)

Dr. Stanley Horton extemporaneously addressing participants at A House No Longer Divided, Timmons Temple COGIC, Monday, April 13. Horton was explaining that his father was pastor of a multiracial church in Arroyo Seco, Los Angeles, in 1926-1927. Members – half were black, half were white – would eat dinner together after every Sunday service. (Photo courtesy of Ken Horn)

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center Co-sponsors Demonstration of Unity, Marking Unlikely Dual Anniversary of Springfield Lynching and Azusa Street Revival

On April 13-15, 2009, people from various ethnic, social, and denominational backgrounds gathered in Springfield, Missouri, to celebrate their unity in Christ. This demonstration of unity, dubbed “A House No Longer Divided,” was sparked by the unlikely dual anniversary of two events — the horrific Springfield Lynchings and the beginning of the multiethnic Azusa Street Revival, which has become a worldwide symbol for racial reconciliation. The meetings were held each evening from 7-9 pm at Timmons Temple Church of God in Christ (April 13-14) and at the William J. Seymour Chapel at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (April 15).

On April 14, 1906, three African-American men were lynched by a mob on the Springfield town square. The lynching of Horace Duncan, Fred Coker and Will Allen led to the flight of possibly hundreds of blacks to less hostile areas. The ethnic makeup of the community, to this day, reflects that horrific event. The African-American community in Springfield remembers the event much like Jews remember the Holocaust.

That same day, on April 14, 1906, William J. Seymour began holding services at the run-down mission at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The interracial Azusa Street revival, which emerged from meetings in a home on Bonnie Brae Street, became a focal point for the emerging Pentecostal movement. Azusa participant Frank Bartleman famously exulted that “the color line was washed away in the blood.” A little more than one year later, Rachel Sizelove, a Free Methodist-turned-Pentecostal evangelist, brought the movement to Springfield from Azusa Street and started what became Central Assembly of God.

“A House No Longer Divided” featured special speakers, preaching, and music. Timmons Temple Pastor T.J. Appleby emceed the services, and speakers included both seasoned and young ministers. Organist Beverly Daniels and the Timmons Temple gospel choir led participants in worship each evening. Half of each evening was devoted to gospel music, which was interspersed between speakers (each was given either 10 or 30 minutes to speak).

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Review: PAON View of Divorce and Remarriage


Divorce Decree

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland View of Divorce and Remarriage, by Rick Walston and Clarence Buckle. St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada: Good Tidings Press, 2006.

Rick Walston and Clarence Buckle have collaborated to present a view of divorce and remarriage that will serve as a guiding document for the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland. It is part of a teaching resource for churches. Dr. Walston is president of Columbia Evangelical Seminary, a distance-learning school. Pastor Clarence Buckle is the General Secretary of the PAON.

The book is a tightly written document consisting of eight chapters. The arguments are concise and to the point. The first two chapters introduce and define the issues of marriage and divorce. Chapters three and four summarize the material on divorce from the writings of Paul and the Gospels. Chapters five and six deal with the restrictions and exceptions as related to the remarriage issue. Chapter seven is a discussion of how the matter of divorce and remarriage impacts ministry and membership in the denomination’s assemblies.

The authors are seeking to help people steer a course between the conflicting views on marriage and divorce prevalent in our culture and to determine the biblical principles and scriptural basis for effective pastoral care as it relates to this matter. They have accomplished their task admirably. I expect the book to be well received.

Reviewed by Dr. Garry E. Milley, Lead Pastor, Park Avenue Pentecostal Church, Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada

Paperback, 84 pages. $6.99 retail, plus tax and postage. Order from: Religious Book & Bible House, 57 Thorburn Road, P.O. Box 8895, Station “A,” St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada A1B 3T2 (email: BackRoom@paon.nf.ca), or Religious Book & Bible House, 10 Hardy Avenue, P.O. Box 558, Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland, Canada A2A 2J9 (email: rbbh@bookandbiblehouse.com).

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