Many Christian groups which started out well have departed from the faith because they didn’t want to be perceived as narrow-minded and felt that softening their language would help them reach a wider audience. The initial compromise, to reach “key people,” only gets worse. Such was the case with YMCA and YWCA, and we will later see that it has afflicted some of today’s major Christian organizations. Already by the early 1940s, in his zeal to “change the world,” Buchman had become so blind to the truth that he declared that MRA was “the full message of Jesus Christ.” The comments of former MRA members Roy Livesey are instructive:
“Buchman was now poised to integrate people of other religions and faiths into MRA and to reach out to leaders and politicians like [Mahatma] Ghandi in India, Adenauer in Germany and many others. MRA was now more involved with the ‘universal religious experience’ rather than Christianity and it was leading supporter Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, who declared that MRA was the one thing on which Eastern and Western countries can unite.”
This broad-minded and ecumenical promotion of generic “spirituality” has a strong appeal and contributed greatly to Buchman’s vast success. Of course, success in this life does not automatically translate to success in the life to come. One piece of MRA literature was “believed to be the largest, simultaneous, global distribution of any single literary publication in history…75 million copies.” An MRA film, The Crowning Experience, with endorsements from leaders such as a former prime minister of Japan and boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, was credited with playing a major role in “bringing a solution to [discrimination in] Little Rock [Arkansas].”
Buchman had a notable impact on diplomacy during the Cold War. The United States Ambassador to Moscow, Admiral William H. Stanley, declared, “The choice for America is Moral Re-Armament or Communism.” MRA’s worldwide influence caused the Communists to strike back. Moscow radio said,
“Moral Re-Armament is a global ideology with bridgeheads in every nation in its final phase of total expansion throughout the world. It has the power to capture radical revolutionary minds. It is contaminating the minds of the masses….”
MRA became active in more than 50 countries and achieved NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) status with the United Nationals, which it enjoys today. Its principal conference center, located in Caux, Switzerland, is a mecca to which world leaders are drawn. The setting high above Lake Geneva and the beautiful lakeshore city of Montreux is exceptionally magnificent even for Switzerland. The large hotels and property exude affluence, elegance, and power.
While living in the area, this author and his family made several visits to Caux in 1966 and 1967. Buchman had died on August 8, 1961, but MRA’s worldwide influence had not diminished. On one of those visits, we met Ghandi’s grandson, who was there with an “Up with People” (an MRA offshoot) singing group from India. There was never a shortage of wealthy and influential visitors who were staunch supporters of MRA. It was our first encounter with MRA, and we found it confusing to speak with those whose lives had been “transformed” through impressive spiritual experiences, young people who had a compelling zeal to “change the world” but who didn’t seem to know Christ or His Word, though they used “Christian” phrases. Livesey tells of his visits to Caux:
“I could not fail to be impressed by the ex-Mau Mau leader who stood on the platform with a white woman. Thirty years previously he had been responsible for the burial-alive of the woman’s father…in Kenya. There had been forgiveness and the two had become friends under the umbrella of MRA…. At Caux the number of parliamentarians and members of government seemed endless. They came from all over the world. They were hosted by experienced MRA workers who…endeavored to give them the maximum exposure to MRA. There was an African President and several members of his cabinet. There was a Roman Catholic Archbishop. There was a King and Queen, recently returned from the Charles and Diana Royal Wedding…. [At a Health Conference in 1984] everything but the Bible seemed to be quoted…. This conference did not even have a hint of Christ…. In the introductory session, A Molsem exhorted, ‘Don’t fall into the trap of seeing only one God….’ Dr. Paul Campbell, an MRA leader, led the large assembly into a standing ovation.”