The Cults of Frank Buchman 25

Buchman in 1960

In August, 1961 Frank Buchman died of a heart attack. He was 83 years old. His follower Peter Howard took over for the next four years until his own death. Howard had been over the course of his life an Oxford student, captain of the British rugby team, an Olympic bobsledder for England, “black shirt” for the British Union of Fascists which modeled itself after the Brown Shirts of Germany, and a writer of MRA propaganda. He had followed Buchman since his Oxford days.

As leader, Howard published an MRA book titled Britain and the Beast, where he devoted two chapters to his hatred of homosexuals. He also preached that sex within marriage was sinful (as well as all other sex). He kept Buchman’s legacy alive and continued to preach the same fascist, capitalist religion that claimed to display “Absolute Unselfishness” in a resort turned palace.

After Howard’s death in 1965, the mantle passed to the five member Board of Moral Re-Armament, Inc. and its Executive National Director, J. Blanton Belk. They gave Moral Re-Armament its last glimmer of fame and positive press with the peppy preppy song and dance troupe Up With People! (The exclamation mark is part of the name.)

The eponymous touring show “Up With People!” was originally named “Sing Out!” as an official MRA production, but corporate sponsors like General Electric did not want to be associated with that group’s reputation. So its origins were concealed and Up With People! was offered as a clean cut, patriotic alternative to Vietnam protestors and hippies. The MRA loved to promote war, but not to serve in it.

Something young, something fresh, something defiant has erupted onto the modern scene. A new heartbeat has quickened the pulse of the age. A new generation has risen to shoulder the tasks of world rebuilding.
It is not a fresh innovation of the tousle-topped sex-mongers and groaners, not a new wiggle, a new twist, not a new thrill, not the rainbow world of LSD or a fast, fast, fast, form of escape.
It is the newly discovered thrill of the very opposite of these …
It is a rebirth, a reversal of a trend, a dramatic turn across the traffic patterns of an age.
Thus, while thousands were crying, “Down with war! Down with patiotism!” a new voice of a generation was heard crying “Up With People.”

Born To Upturn The World: The people who are making the Sing-Out explosion, “Up With People”, David Allen, pub. 1967

During the 1970s to 1980s, Up With People! performed at five Super Bowl halftime shows. In the 1990s, they performed for (sometimes very unwilling) United States military service members. Up With People! still exists. As of this morning their website offers applicants 16-29 ” a unique global education experience “, but does not mention this ” experience ” will be self funded.

One thought on “The Cults of Frank Buchman 25

  1. Of all the posts in this series, this one surprised me the most. I come from a family that was heavily involved in both the local Sing Out and Up With People – I did my first Sing Out show at age eight, in 1991 (and my last in 1998, after which the local group folded).

    I had no idea about its origins. It was presented to us as an aggressively “good kid” community thing and, of course, as a family tradition. I doubt my family knows either….


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