Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 5, 1962
NUMBER 47, PAGE 4,13b

Why, Indeed?


We call your attention to an excellent editorial by brother Reuel Lemmons in the Firm Foundation of February 27, and reprinted on the front page in this issue of the Gospel Guardian, entitled, "Why Create A Problem?" We are quite aware of brother Lemmon's reputation for being "on both sides" of current questions, and realize that even before this paper is published he may have written something completely opposite to the editorial we cite. But that does not change the fact that in this particular editorial he was writing with understanding and insight. From a practical point of view, and as a matter of pure business economics, he is opposing and resisting a movement which the Gospel Guardian has long and consistently opposed on scriptural grounds.

We do not know how the "promoting" brethren will take to brother Lemmons' editorial. Probably they will be more willing to accept such strictures from him than they would from brethren who write for the Guardian; but we must warn him not to presume too far on this friendship. For once brethren become wedded to an idol (as has happened all over the nation on the "orphan home") neither friendship nor logic nor scripture nor much of anything else is allowed to stand in the way. And if brother Lemmons should begin to write against the church "orphan home" as strongly as he writes in this editorial against the church "home for the aged," the promoters of those institutions would not he long in trying to put the pressure on to silence him. He should know this — witness what happened to him at Henderson a couple of years ago! And when in the last paragraph of his editorial he hints that "within the next decade" church orphanages may be as unnecessary as church "homes for the aged" he must know he is courting the anger and violent abuse of many, many of his brethren!

"Where The Carcass Is"

There is another aspect to this problem, not mentioned by brother Lemmons — that is the greediness and weakness of human beings. Jesus said, "wheresoever the carcass is, there will the vultures be gathered together." And it has been demonstrated over and over again that accumulation of huge sums of money, under the loose and capricious management of men who are free from necessity of giving account to anybody for the expenditure of those funds breeds dishonesty and corruption. The "vultures" will take over. And even good men normally honest and reliable, find themselves slipping more and more into the greedy, avaricious cynicism of dishonest men when they have such at their disposal without adequate safeguards and precautions. One of the most shocking things to be disclosed in recent months is the revelation in their own financial statement by the Herald of Truth people in Abilene, Texas, that 56 percent of all monies contributed to them for that program go to "overhead," and only 44 cents out of each dollar contributed is actually used for preaching. And, as if that were not disturbing enough, the same financial statement shows that about $22,000.00 simply "disappeared' — that much of a shortage is seen in their own published reports! If the men in charge of that project have yet found out whose pocket that got into, or if they have even made any effort to find out, we have not heard of it.

All of which but serves to emphasize the danger of such "church in business" ventures as these "homes for the aged," "homes for neglected children," hospitals, rehabilitation centers, convalescent sanitariums, etc. Inevitably such organizations attract money; they must have great sums of money to operate. And with the simple congregational government of churches of Christ, there is no organization to which men handling such vast sums must give account. We have no denominational or ecclesiastical courts to call such men to an accounting. The temptation to feather their own nests is terrific — and the fabulous wealth of certain "orphan home superintendents" among us (Wealth to which they were utterly unknown before taking over control of these. institutions) suggests that resistance to such temptations may not always have been easy.

We call attention to certain other articles in this issue of the Guardian — a long one by an AP writer, Jules Loh, on the businesses (commercial profit-making enterprises) now being increasingly engaged in by certain churches. Although this writer did not deal specifically with Churches of Christ in his article, he could have mentioned among others the Sixth and Izzard Church in Little Rock, which operates two parking lots for revenue, as well as a number of congregations which operate farms, dairies, lease out apartment houses, and engage in a wide variety of businesses in order to gain money for church purposes. The "home for the aged" gimmick is likely to be a moneymaking venture for many, many congregations in the years ahead — brother Lemmons' editorial to the contrary notwithstanding. "There's gold in them thar gray hairs!" Or rather, because of the gray hairs, there is gold to be made by energetic and enterprising congregations. The disgraceful begging campaigns which have been put on for the "poor orphan children" will give place to super campaigns for the aged. Can't you just imagine what will happen to the collection baskets when the lights are turned down low and a superbly trained quartette sings "Mother MaCree" or "That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine"? When one adds up the huge sums to be derived from the pensions and Social Security benefits of the aged, plus the charges paid by relatives for the keep of such, plus government loans and special provisions — to the thousands of dollars to be derived from the "begging campaigns" among the churches, this "home for aged" venture may well dwarf the "orphan home" business and make it look like peanuts. For one thing, the supply of the aged will be constantly on the increase; this will avoid the embarrassing dilemma of certain "orphan home enthusiasts" who have promoted the homes only to find there were no orphans to go into them! And millions of good people, who may have felt no personal responsibility for the plight of abandoned or under-privileged children, will be keenly conscious of their own aged fathers and mothers and aunts and uncles. They may even have a subdued sort of guilty feeling over their "neglect" of these aged ones — all of which will be reflected in large and continuing contributions to these "homes for the aged"!

Read that Lemmons editorial again — and let us echo our brother's fine statement with a resounding, "Why, indeed?"!