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Christ of the American Road: E. Stanley Jones, India, and Civil Rights

  • DAVID R. SWARTZ (a1)

This article, which emphasizes the importance of transnational history, tracks the influence of E. Stanley Jones, a missionary to India in the early twentieth century, on evangelicals in the United States. It contends that global encounters pushed Jones to hold integrated ashrams, conduct evangelistic crusades, and participate in the Congress on Racial Equality. During his time abroad, he discovered that racial segregation at home hurt the causes of missions and democracy abroad. Using this Cold War logic, Jones in turn provoked American evangelicals to consider more fully questions of racial inequality.

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1 For “cantankerous conservatism” see Jones E. Stanley, A Song of Ascents: A Spiritual Autobiography (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1958), 67 . On integration at Asbury see Thacker Joseph A., Asbury College: Vision and Miracle (Nappanee, IN: Evangel Press, 1990), 202–3.

2 E. Stanley Jones, “Integration,” Chapel address at Asbury College, 16 Oct. 1958; Myrdal Gunnar, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1944).

3 For “breath-taking” see Jones circular letter, 28 Jan. 1959, Box 10, Folder 9, E. Stanley Jones Papers, ARC 2000-007, Asbury Theological Seminary Special Collections.

4 On the Asbury students’ visit to Sat Tal Ashram see Graham Stephen A., Ordinary Man, Extraordinary Mission: The Life and Work of E. Stanley Jones (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005), 212–13. On “India's curse” see “India's Conscience Awakened over Untouchables,” The Journal, 8 March 1934. On the “American caste system” see Stanley Jones Startles South,” Christian Century, 50, 15 (12 April 1933), 510 . Clippings of both articles are in Box 40, Folder 2, ATSSC.

5 For examples of “soul-winning” see Jones E. Stanley, Christ of the Indian Road (New York: Abingdon Press, 1925), 84, 105.

6 For “Eastern travellers” see ibid., 6. For “Indian setting” see ibid., 26. For “international meddlers” see ibid., 42. For “disentangle Christ” see Jones E. Stanley, Christ of the Mount: A Working Philosophy of Life (New York: Abingdon Press, 1931), 11 . For “total setting of the world” see Jones E. Stanley, Christ of the American Road (Nashville: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1944), 9 .

7 On the strength of communism in India see Horne Gerald, The End of Empires: African Americans and India (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008), 189 . On Jones's anticommunist work at the Sat Tal Ashram and in Kerala see Jones circular letters, 18 June 1952 and 26 June 1954, Box 19, Folder 53, ATSSC.

8 For Bowles and “repeatedly zeroed in on Jim Crow” see Horne, 198. For Jones's rattlesnake analogy see E. Stanley Jones, “What Have the Churches to Offer,” no date, Box 21, Folder 10. Also see Jones, “History in the Making in India” (1946), Box 19, Folder 2, ATSSC. For “native land” see NBC radio broadcast, Feb. 17 of an unknown year, Box 33, Folder 21, ATSSC.

9 For India's “curse” see “India's Conscience Awakened over Untouchables,” The Journal, 8 March 1934, Box 40, Folder 2, ATSSC. Barbara Brady, “Just Plain Missionary,” Sunday Digest (David C. Cook), 9 Oct. 1955, Box 44, Folder 7, ATSSC. On the ashram at Travancore see Jones, Christ of the Indian Road, 243–44. On Jones's influence see Immerwahr Daniel, “Caste or Colony? Indianizing Race in the United States,” Modern Intellectual History, 4, 2 (2007), 275–301, 290–91. For “more Christian and more Indian” see Yates Timothy, Christian Mission in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 114 . For Jones's poem “I Took My Lamp” and its background see Jones, Christ of the Indian Road, 164; Taylor Richard W., “The Legacy of E. Stanley Jones,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 6 (July 1982), 102 , in “600 Faculty/Staff: E. Stanley Jones Biographical,” Asbury University Archives. For Jones on Gandhi see Jones circular letter, 1 Oct. 1926, Box 10, Folder 6, ATSSC, underlining in original.

10 For “truly Christian and truly Indian” see Jones quoted in Taylor, 102. The description of Sat Tal comes from Dorothy Speer, “The Ashram at Sat Tal,” Woman's Missionary Friend, Nov. 1934, 367–68; “Indian Witness,” 6 June 1963, Box 40, Folder 2, ATSSC.

11 For “Indian genius and life” see Jones circular letter, 3 July 1930, Box 10, Folder 7, ATSSC. On meals at Sat Tal see Jones circular letter, 3 July 1930, Box 10, Folder 7, ATSSC. On clothing at Sat Tal see Taylor, 102; Vivian Weeks Dudley, “Indian Night: A Story of the E. Stanley Jones Ashram,” World Outlook, Feb. 1939, 52–55, 39, Box 44, Folder 3, ATSSC.

12 For “Morning of the Open Heart” see “What Is an Ashram,” Box 17, Folder 4, ATSSC. For ashram inscriptions see “Statements Appearing on the Walls at the Sat-Tal Ashram in India,” no date, Box 17, Folder 4, ATSSC. On work practices see “Beautiful Sat Tal,” no date, Box 17, Folder 4, ATSSC. For “foretaste” see “And What Is an Ashram?”, Box 44, Folder 54, ATSSC.

13 For “great summer” see Jones circular letter, 30 June 1931, Box 10, Folder 7, ATSSC. For “kingdom in miniature” see “What Is an Ashram,” Box 17, Folder 4. For “haven of brotherhood” see “The Ashram,” 1934, Box 17, Folder 4. For other reflections on Sat Tal see Jones circular letter, 3 July 1930, Box 10, Folder 7; Dorothy Speer, “The Ashram at Sat Tal,” Woman's Missionary Friend, Nov. 1934, 367–68, Box 17, Folder 4, ATSSC.

14 For a description of Jones as rooted in the “experiential piety of historic Methodism see Bill Kostlevy's 2001 biographical sketch in “E. Stanley Jones ARC 2000–007 Finding Aid,” 2012, ATSSC. For Jones's exchange with the Texas pastor see Graham, Ordinary Man, 282–83.

15 On Jones not returning to India see “Stanley Jones Barred from Return to India,” 25 April 1945, Box 40, Folder 2. E. Stanley Jones, “Why I Do Not Return to India at Present,” Box 4, Folder 1. For “caste is doomed” see Jones, “After India's Independence – What?”, Box 18, Folder 3, ATSSC. For other Protestant condemnations of “caste” see Gallagher Buell, Color and Conscience: The Irrepressible Conflict (New York: Harper & Bros, 1946); Du Bois W. E. B., Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1945), 137 . On the varied use of “caste” by Indian and American activists see Immerwahr, 276, 283–85.

16 Manis Andrew, Macon Black and White: An Unutterable Separation in the American Century (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2004), 139–40; Horne, End of Empires, 158, 163–65; White Walter, A Rising Wind (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1945).

17 For “false America” see Jones, Christ of the American Road, 75–79, 95–98. Also see E. Stanley Jones, “India's Caste System and Ours,” Christian Century, 20 Aug. 1947, 995–96, Box 19, Folder 18; “Stanley Jones Startles South,” Christian Century, 12 April 1933, Box 47, Folder 15, ATSSC.

18 For Jones's letter from Sat Tal see “An Appeal to the People of Alabama” (n.d.), Box 24, Folder 2. For “embarrassing our witness” see Jones, Christ of the Indian Road, 132–34. For “hesitant people” see “E. Stanley Jones Issues Appeal,” Box 40, Folder 8. On segregation as a national issue see Jones, Christ of the American Road, 179.

19 On Jones's efforts in Macon – and the firestorm that Jones's presence sparked – see Manis, 137–38. For more on Jones's interracial revivals see W. G. Cram, “Stanley Jones in the South,” World Outlook, June 1933, 4–6, Box 44, Folder 35; Jones, Christ of the American Road, 172; J. Maurice Trimmer, “Stanley Jones Discusses Race and Imperialism,” Box 40, Folder 4. For memories of Jones's interracial revivals see William Chafe interview of Mary Taft Smith, 11 July 1973, University of North Carolina–Greensboro Archives.

20 “Suggestions for ‘Little Ashrams’,” Box 14, Folder 15; E. Stanley Jones, “How to Set Up and Run a Little Ashram,” Box 14, Folder 15; “The United American Christian Ashrams – 1958,” Box 47, Folder 20, ATSSC. On the Green Lake ashram see Howard Whitman, “One Week with God,” Collier's, Sept. 1951, 24–25, 40, 24, copy in Box 44, Folder 18; Barbara Brady, “Just Plain Missionary,” Sunday Digest, 9 Oct. 1955, Box 44, Folder 7, ATSSC; William E. Berg, “My Spiritual Journey with Brother Stanley,” in “600 Faculty/Staff: E. Stanley Jones Biographical,” AU Archives.

21 On the North Carolina ashram see Mow Anna B., “I Remember!Transformation, 18, 4 (Winter 1983), 13 . On Dellinger see Kosek Joseph Kip, Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 186 . On the transdenominational nature of the ashrams (and of Jones himself) see “Ashram Report,” Sept. 1961, Box 16, Folder 23, ATSSC. For numbers on ashrams in 1963 see Box 47, Folder 22, ATSSC. On the popularity and growth of Jones's ashrams see Preston King Sheldon, “Retreats Slated by Church Group: 25 Christian Leaders to Join with Methodist Missionary in Conducting Assemblies,” New York Times, 19 June 1954, 16.

22 For MOWM see Calling! Calling! All! Negroes! We Are Americans Too! Conference (Chicago: March on Washington Movement, 1943), copy available in the Historical Society Library Pamphlet Collection, University of Wisconsin; Kapur Sudarshan, Raising Up a Prophet: The African-American Encounter with Gandhi (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992), 114–15; Graham, 283; Tyson Timothy B., Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), 28 ; Chicago Daily Tribune, 5 July 1943; Philadelphia Tribune, 10 July 1943; “Puts Race Riot Blame on New Deal Policies,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 5 July 1943, 22. Also see Jones E. Stanley, “Is Civil Disobedience the Answer to Jim Crow?”, Non-violent Action Newsbulletin, 2 (1943), 21 .

23 On Jones and CORE see James Farmer to John F. Kennedy, 26 April 1961, in Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project. For an example of Jones's Congressional and presidential lobbying efforts see Jones to Eisenhower, 26 Dec. 1956, Box 5, Folder 5, ATSSC. For an example of Jones's call for interracial committees and federal intervention see E. Stanley Jones, “Christianity and Race,” World Outlook, April 1943, 37–39, Box 40, Folder 8, ATSSC.

24 On reenergizing missions in the mainline see E. Stanley Jones, “The Missionary Crisis,” Christian Century, 1 Nov. 1933, 1358–59; Strong Douglas M., They Walked in the Spirit: Personal Faith and Social Action in America (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), 7790 . For “way of salvation” see Florence E. Clippinger to E. Stanley Jones, 23 Jan. 1944, Box 35, Folder 38, ATSSC. For examples of Jones describing himself as evangelical see Jones circular letter, 6 July 1945, Box 10, Folder 8, ATSSC; E. Stanley Jones, to “My Dear Friend,” 30 Aug. 1943, Box 3, Folder 7, ATSSC; E. Stanley Jones Radio Talks, published by Radio Devotional League, and “The Christ of the Andean Road” pamphlet, Asbury College and Seminary, “600 Faculty/Staff: E. Stanley Jones Literary Productions,” AU Archives. For Jones and Graham see undated, unattributed biographical sketch of Jones, Box 1, Folder 3; Box 5, Folders 5 and 6, ATSSC. For Vereide see Abraham Vereide to Jones, 7 Dec. 1964, Box 7, Folder 2, ATSSC. On Jones's relationship with Kamaleson see the back cover of Jones E. Stanley, Gandhi: Portrayal of a Friend (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1983). Mark Hatfield Taps into the Real Power on Capitol Hill,” Christianity Today, 26 (22 Oct. 1982).

25 For “personal piety and social gospel activism” see Kostlevy, “E. Stanley Jones.” For correspondence with Wesleyan institutions see Box 8, Folder 2; Box 14, Folder 3; Box 6, Folder 2; Box 7; and Box 3; Box 47, Folder 21, ATSSC. On Jones's commencement addresses see Thacker, Asbury College, 49; Box 40, Folder 9, ATSSC. For correspondence between Jones and Asbury Seminary see Will Beauchamp to Jones, 9 Sept. 1962, Box 6, Folder 5; Boxes 6–8, ATSSC.

26 On Jones and the liberal speaking circuit see Miller Keith D., Voice of Deliverance: The Language of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Its Sources (New York: The Free Press, 1992), 68, 95. For “crystalline sincerity” see “Noted Missionary in City Tomorrow,” Box 13, Folder 1, ATSSC.

27 For “Christ of the Asbury Road” see “Faculty/Staff: Dr. E. Stanley Jones Day, 8 May 1942,” in “600 Faculty/Staff: E. Stanley Jones Literary Productions,” AU Archives, underlining in original. For “treatment of the Negro” see Jones to Jesse Arnup, 20 Jan. 1944, Box 4, Folder 1, ATSSC.

28 On Jones's reputation as a civil rights leader see Fellowship of Reconciliation Executive Secretary Richard L. Deats, “E. Stanley Jones: A Tribute,” Fellowship, Feb. 1973, Box 1, Folder 26, ATSSC. On Jones's accomplishments see the Encyclopedia of Christian Literature, Volume II (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2010), 396 ; “Missions: Keeping Up with E. Stanley Jones,” Time, 24 Jan. 1964, 34; “E. Stanley Jones’ Name Cited for 1962 Peace Award,” New York Times, 26 Jan. 1962, 16; “E. Stanley Jones, Wrote on Religion: Methodist Missionary for 60 Years Dies at 89,” New York Times, 26 Jan. 1973, 38.

29 On Jones's 1958 reception at Asbury see Box 5, Folder 7, ATSSC. On Jones's visit to Africa see 25 Jan. 1958, circular letter, quoted in Graham, 368–69. For “real blow” see Jones to Z. T. Johnson, 20 Feb. 1959, in “600 Faculty/Staff: E. Stanley Jones Correspondence,” AU Archives.

30 “Results of Integration Questionnaire Tabulated,” Asbury Alumnus, Dec. 1958, 3; Zachary Taylor Johnson, “The Story of Asbury College”; Appendix in Vol. 3, AU Archives; 600 “Faculty/Staff: E. Stanley Jones Correspondence”; Thacker, 258–54; 202–3. On no more restrictions see Folder 7: “Asbury College Trustees Approve Full Integration,” 3 Oct. 1962, Box 100-2, AU Archives.

31 On the international dimensions of the civil rights movement see Horne, End of Empires; Borstelmann Tim, The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001); Dudziak Mary, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000). On broader evangelicals see Miller Steven, Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 2324 ; Willis Alan Scot, All According to God's Plan: Southern Baptist Missions and Race, 1945–1970 (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2005); Newman Mark, Getting Right with God: Southern Baptists and Desegregation, 1945–1995 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001).

32 For “race-blind and colorblind” see On the limits of color-blindness and the persistent individualism of postwar evangelicals see Emerson Michael and Smith Christian, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); DuPont Carolyn, Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945–1975 (New York: New York University Press, 2013); Wadsworth Nancy, Ambivalent Miracles: Evangelicals and the Politics of Racial Healing (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014). For “potentially inequality-reducing national policies” see Emerson Michael, People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), 162 .

33 Jenkins Philip, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); Hanciles Jehu, Beyond Christendom: Globalization, African Migration, and the Transformation of the West (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2008).

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Journal of American Studies
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