Carl McIntire: “The fundamentalist who created today’s conservative template”

"When I was growing up in New Jersey in the 1950s and ’60s, there was persistent political controversy over proposals to put fluoride in the public water supply. Among the leading opponents was Carl McIntire... the foremost fundamentalist of his day." - RNS

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pvawter's picture

This article is heavy on innuendo and light on historical analysis. But I guess that's what passes for news these days. 

Jim's picture

His opposition to fluoridation was grounded in a libertarian belief in minimalist government

I lived in Jersey from 1980 until mid 1987. As a matter of fact, in the proverbial shadow of his ministry in Collingswood. 

I don't think he had an outsized influence in NJ politics. Consider this NYTimes article:

A bill in the Legislature would change that, requiring all public water systems in New Jersey to add fluoride to the supply. But while the proposal has won support from a host of medical groups, it has proved unusually politically charged.

Similar bills have failed in the state since 2005, under pressure from the public utilities lobby and municipalities that argue that fluoridation costs too much, environmentalists who say it pollutes the water supply, and antifluoride activists who argue that it causes cancer, lowers I.Q. and amounts to government-forced medicine.

... [the John Birch society is mentioned ...not quoted here]

In New Jersey, water providers typically serve several towns, meaning that all must agree to fluoridate their water — and typically they do not.


The state’s League of Municipalities has opposed the bill, concerned about the cost of what it calls an unfunded mandate. The New Jersey Utilities Association testified against it, arguing that it “is known to have adverse health effects in certain quantities” and that it would cost water companies anywhere from $400,000 to $64 million.


In the last four years, about 200 municipalities nationwide have stopped fluoridating the water. Antifluoride groups cite this as evidence that more people are acknowledging the dangers.

But many of those places ceased for financial, not health, reasons. And nationwide, the trend has been toward more people receiving fluoridated water. San Diego, long the largest city not to fluoridate, began doing so last year. Atlantic City also did so, citing the health benefits.

Some opponents argue that the state could less expensively fight tooth disease by promoting good toothbrushing or fluoride treatments in schools.

When we lived in Jersey, we never heard anti-fluoridation 'information'


Don Johnson's picture

I can remember the debate when they changed it in Alberta. There was a lot of political back and forth. My dad was against it as I recall, not sure why. In any case, nothing wrong with debate. Eventually it passed, we all survived, whether we have better teeth as a result is an open question. I've had my share of tooth problems...

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

G. N. Barkman's picture

I grew up with McIntire, as my parents subscribed to his paper, and my mother listened to his daily radio broadcasts, which were always about political issues.  He was interesting and engaging.  As a student at BJU in the sixties, I heard him speak three times at an annual Bible Conference.  Twice he focused on political issues, as expected, but one message was an exposition of Psalm 22.  I was blown away.  It was one of the most powerful expository sermons I had heard in my life.  He was a master of exposition.  I wondered why he majored on politics when he was capable of such powerful preaching.  It gave me a new understanding of McIntire and his gifts, but left me puzzled about his decision to trade exposition for politics.

G. N. Barkman

dcbii's picture


I never heard Dr. McIntire preach, but I have heard many speakers who have traded "exposition for politics."  I think one likely explanation is that many preachers at some point decide that their listeners can easily read and understand the scriptures for themselves, but that application needs to be preached harder because the listeners aren't getting it or doing it the same way as the speaker.  This applies whether speaking about applying scripture to politics, or applying it to particular fundamentalist shibboleths like "women must wear skirts."  Believing that others who aren't applying scripture as we do are somehow in the wrong or at least misunderstanding is an entirely easy trap to fall into, even with older saints who have a long career of service to the Gospel and preaching Christ.

I'm not saying that application should never be preached, at least the principles of it if not always the specifics.  However, over my lifetime I've come more and more to understand that really knowing the scriptures well will help any believer with their politics or how they make applications.  It's just hard for any of us to get over the idea that everyone must think exactly the same and do everything the same way.  We have a hard time letting them stand or fall for their own master.

Dave Barnhart

Dan Miller's picture

puzzled about his decision to trade exposition for politics. -GNB

This is the same exchange SharperIron leadership seems to have made over the last couple years. Both the prominence of political articles and the anti-Christian nature of many of the positions taken have made me pretty close to stepping away from here. 

While I don't hold out hope of reforming the positions, I  highly recommend returning to the Biblical discussions that characterized this site for its first 10-15 years and dropping the politics. 

G. N. Barkman's picture

I was happy to see Dan Millers political comments on a previous thread about Covid vaccines and our Founding Fathers.  Perhaps SI is a suitable forum for political discussion after-all?

Personally, I am thankful that SI allows political debate.  I think this is exactly the place for such discussions.  However, I believe that the pulpit should be for Bible exposition, not political opinions.  Christians are citizens of two realms, national and eternal, and have duties and privileges that properly belong to each realm.  However, the saints gather to worship God, and hear His Word.  Politics should be conducted outside the church.

G. N. Barkman