June 4, 2006

Profiles in Subversion

The Strange Career of Donald Grey Barnhouse

Part 1: Preacher for Red Revolution

Mao Tse-tung
Eternity Magazine
Barnhouse’s Man of the Year: Red Chinese dictator Mao Tse-tung on the cover of Eternity Magazine, Jan. 1959.
As one of the central founders of modern evangelical Christianity, Dr. Donald Barnhouse theoretically represented the most conservative elements in Protestantism. Yet he became the object of controversy even among fundamentalists for his strange deviations toward “modernist” subversion and his affiliations with Marxist causes.

His imprint on evangelicalism extended far beyond his personal career, which encompassed decades as a Philadelphia-based Presbyterian minister while teaching in New York City, running regular radio and television programs across the U.S., writing dozens of books, and publishing his own magazines.1 He also played a central role in promoting the careers of such evangelical leaders as Walter Martin and Billy Graham, and worked closely with Carl Henry, the Fuller Theological Seminary, and others who shaped the modern evangelical movement.

In light of the traditionally conservative role of religion in the political sphere, and particularly given the tremendous energy fundamentalists have injected into the growing conservative tide in America, it comes as something of a shock to discover that Barnhouse remained solidly entrenched in the enemy camp his entire career, continuing until his death in 1960. A few glances through assorted issues of his magazine Eternity (established 1950) quickly tell the sordid story:

  • Consistently through all his writings, Barnhouse adopted blatantly Marxist language in referring to Communist revolutionaries and terrorists as “liberals” (with a positive connotation), “outsanding intellectuals,” “reformers,” and even “freedom” fighters; anti-Communists and conservatives, on the other hand, he labeled “reactionaries” — precisely the Communist term.
  • He unabashedly praised Juan, and especially Eva, Peron, the Marxist revolutionaries who temporarily ruled Argentina and solidly entrenched the Soviet-run Communist underground throughout that nation. In fact, Barnhouse specifically endorsed Eva Peron’s work in organizing revolutionary networks and agitating the masses for an uprising, as well as their war against religion and the capitalist economy.2
  • Barnhouse never neglected to take any opportunity to slander and smear Spanish leader Francisco Franco, the anti-Communist who saved Spain from the murderous Soviet puppet regime of the 1930s, calling him a “dictator” and even a “ruthless murderer” for executing terrorists.3
  • Despite the consistently Socialist and pro-Communist policies of President Dwight Eisenhower,4 Barnhouse audaciously named him 1955 “Man of the Year,” complete with a cover portrait on his Eternity magazine. Barnhouse wasn’t ignorant of Eisenhower’s appeasement of Communism; he actually singled out Eisenhower’s negotiations with the Soviet Union to disarm U.S. military forces as basis for the award.5
  • He published articles sympathizing with the race-warfare agenda of the Communist-controlled Civil Rights movement, and personally endorsed racist agitator Martin Luther King, who had been trained at a Communist Party school for revolutionaries in Monteagle, Tennessee, who surrounded himself with members of the Communist Party and race-hatred provocateurs, and who was being monitored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for his violence-prone activities.6 But all this was coolly ignored by Barnhouse and his guest writers.7
  • He likewise published articles sharply attacking the South African government for simply trying to survive an onslaught of terrorism, while sympathizing with the revolution in that country — completely neglecting, of course, to mention that the revolution was under the full control of the South African Communist Party and the Soviet Union.8 Barnhouse couldn’t restrain himself from libelous name-calling, referring to South Africa’s alleged “devilish and foolish policy of apartheid” — language he avoided using in regard to Communists.9
  • While condemning South Africa, which was providing economic opportunity and prosperity to millions of blacks, Barnhouse hypocritically adopted a reverse stand toward the brutal Communist dictatorship of Ghana, which was terrorizing and murdering blacks. He not only attacked the positive influences of British colonialism and tried to assure readers that Ghana wasn’t falling to Communism, he personally visited and befriended dictator Kwame Nkrumah, the ruthless terrorist who built Ghana’s police state and became one of the leading theoreticians of revolution for the Communist International. While tacitly admitting Nkrumah was a despotic strongman and a “Marxist Socialist,” Barnhouse also turned around and insisted that Nkrumah was only interested in using power for Africa’s good, was not a Communist, and was “a committed Christian,” in Barnhouse’s own words.10 So slavish was Barnhouse’s propaganda that he graced the cover of his religious magazine with the image of Nkrumah’s face.
  • Charles de Gaulle, the ally of Communists who led the mass murder of over 100,000 Frenchmen at the end of World War II,11 and who actively worked to dismantle the French empire while helping brutal Communist regimes come to power over former French colonies, likewise became the object of Barnhouse’s adoration. Barnhouse simultaneously praised de Gaulle for abandoning French colonies to the terrorists while insisting de Gaulle was not pro-Communist, and honored the French leader on the cover of Eternity magazine.12
  • Barnhouse adored the Communist rulers of both Egypt and Syria and their “United Arab Republic,” repeatedly praising them specifically for their anti-religious measures. He also insisted neither country was Communist, brushing aside reports of Soviet military aid to the regimes as “not too important,” and even called for the U.S. to ally itself with Egypt, Communist Yugoslavia, and Communist Albania.13
  • Unable to deny that Red Chinese dictator Mao Tse-tung was Communist (given Mao’s position as official head of the Communist Party of China), Barnhouse instead dropped all pretenses and named Mao his “Man of the Year” for 1958, complete with a cover photo — even as Mao was already known for having begun the genocidal mass murder of over 100 million Chinese, and while tens of millions of Chinese citizens were desperately fleeing the police-state terror and artificial famine of Mao’s bloody reign. Barnhouse pulled no punches, savagely condemning Chinese anti-Communists (while openly admitting he was echoing the Soviet propaganda line by doing so), admitting Mao was “ruthless while consolidating his power” (Barnhouse was very well aware of the Red Terror) yet insisting in the very same paragraph that “Mao brought the best government to China that this ancient nation has ever had,” and shamelessly praising Mao that “there are no beggars on the streets of any city” (ignoring that they had largely been murdered or were in concentration camps) and that “there are no dogs in China” (having been eaten during the artificial famines that exterminated 40 million innocent Chinese).14

Barnhouse did not reflect the views of fundamentalist Christians in the 1950s; on the contrary, they largely held to conservative, anti-Communist values. Barnhouse simply pushed as far as he thought he could go, trying to play on Christian political naivete in leading them toward a Marxist-evangelical ideological fusion. Within a decade after his death, however, his tactics were unraveling, as the nation’s horrified reaction against the revolutionary 1960s triggered a growing conservative backlash, particularly among Christians.

Supporting Communist and pro-Communist leaders was just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the propaganda lay Barnhouse’s hidden agenda of transforming Christianity itself into a tool of Marxist subversion.

– Continued in Part 2 –


1. Stanford, M.J., “Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse and Neo-Evangelicalism,” withchrist.org, 1977 (retrieved May 18, 2006).

2. Barnhouse, D.G., “Peron and the Vatican,” Eternity, Oct. 1955, pp. 8-9, 45-47.

3. Ibid.; Barnhouse, D.G., “Editorials,” Eternity, Jan. 1956, p. 12.

4. Welch, R., The Politician, Belmont Publishing Co., Belmont, MA, 1963.

5. Barnhouse, D.G., “A survey of 1955,” Eternity, Jan. 1956, p. 43.

6. Stang, A., It’s Very Simple: The True Story of Civil Rights, Western Islands, Belmont, MA, 1965.

7. Lindsell, H. “The Bible and race relations,” Eternity, Aug. 1956, pp. 12-13, 43-44; Barnhouse, D.G., “NAACP answers charge,” Eternity, Nov. 1958, p. 3; Barnhouse, D.G., “Editorials,”, Eternity, Aug. 1956, p. 10.

8. Leitch, A.H., “Racial tensions in South Africa,” Eternity, Aug. 1956, pp. 28-29 (for example).

9. Barnhouse, D.G., “A survey of 1955,” Op cit., p. 9.

10. Barnhouse, D.G., “Special mission to Ghana,” Eternity, Feb. 1958, pp. 7-10; Barnhouse, D.G., “Survey of the year,” Eternity, Jan. 1959, pp. 6-7.

11. Huddleston, S., France: The Tragic Years, Western Islands, Belmont, MA, 1965, pp. 243-266.

12. Barnhouse, D.G., “What do recent developments in France mean to the Christian?”, Eternity, Aug. 1958, pp. 6-9, 45.

13. Barnhouse, D.G., “A survey of 1955,” Jan. 1956, Op cit., pp. 8-9; Barnhouse, D.G., “Window on the world,” Eternity, Feb. 1958, p. 34; “This passing world,” Eternity, May 1958, p. 30; Barnhouse, D.G. & Hitt, R.T., Eds., “Window on the world,” Eternity, May 1956, p.32; Barnhouse, D.G., “What do recent developments in France mean to the Christian?”, Op cit., p. 45.

14. Barnhouse, D.G., “Survey of the year,” Jan. 1959, Op cit., pp. 7-9, 46-47; on Red Chinese mass murder, see Rummel, R.J., China’s Bloody Century: Genocide and Mass Murder since 1900, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, NJ, 1991; Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, “The Human Cost of Communism in China,” US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1971.