Carl McIntire


Carl McIntire (1906-2002), was a fundamentalist preacher, broadcaster, and organizer. Born the son of a Presbyterian minister in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Carl McIntire was raised in Utah and Oklahoma. He attended Princeton Theological Seminary in 1927 where he became an ardent supporter of fundamentalist theologian J. Gresham Machen. When Machen and other conservative faculty left to form Westminster Theological Seminary in 1929, McIntire followed. Graduating in 1931, he was called as pastor to a large Presbyterian congregation in Collingswood, New Jersey. A dispensationalist, teetotaling, separatist, McIntire began broadcasting his church’s services and in 1936 began publishing The Christian Beacon to bolster conservative Presbyterian doings. That same year he joined Machen’s Presbyterian Church of America, but shortly after his death in 1937 split from most of Machen’s followers in the re-named Orthodox Presbyterian Church to form the Bible Presbyterian Church.

In 1938 McIntire created Faith Theological Seminary to train conservative Presbyterian clergymen. In 1941 he became the leading light behind the formation of the American Council of Christian Churches which battled the liberal-dominated Federal Council of Churches and its successor, the National Council of Churches. By the 1950s McIntire was also emphasizing anti-communism. His radio program, “The Twentieth Century Reformation Hour” resonated with many Americans during the Cold War period, and by 1960 his program was heard on over 600 stations. McIntire purchased several properties in the vicinity of Cape May, New Jersey to serve as conference grounds as well as a struggling bible institute which he transformed into Shelton College (1964).

During the 1960s McIntire was the leading figure of the religious far right, targeting Catholic influences, “lenient” evangelicals and their hero Billy Graham, the civil rights movement, and anti-Vietnam protestors. During the 1970s and 1980s, however, McIntire’s star fell precipitously. Internal battles and accreditation challenges plagued his college and seminary; he battled with the FCC over a New Jersey radio station; and state and local officials questioned the tax-exempt status of McIntire’s empire. By the end of the 1990s his schools had closed, the Christian Beacon had ceased publication, and McIntire had been forced out as head of the Bible Presbyterian Church.

For further reading see Joel A. Carpenter, Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism (Oxford, 1997). 

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