Joanna Maiden had been in the United States when the war broke out and was unable to return to Nigeria. More problematic, of course, was the situation facing the missionaries remaining in Nigeria. Of particular concern was the Baptist hospital at Eku, where Maiden had served. Rebel forces took over the compound in September Those missionaries who could fled to Ogbomosho, where they waited out the war, hoping to return to their posts when peace was achieved.
Maiden, however, never returned to Nigeria. In Tanganyika, later Tanzania after its merger with the island of Zanzibar, Africans were quick to point to that hypocrisy. Tanganyika, like Nigeria and Ghana, had a longestablished Muslim community. Missionary James W. The most important frontier was in their attitude. Roslin D. Christian mission forces clearly saw that communism was a threat to their work. Communists were able to both provide education and exploit the traditional ties between Christianity and Western imperialism.
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Hermione Dannelly Jackson, writing for the Window, recognized that communists wanted an end to Christian missions, but she offered different reasons from those put forth by Khrushchev. They looked instead to African unity. Cornell Goerner and Mrs. Howard Smith both recognized the rising tide of PanAfricanism. African Baptist leaders in Ghana tended to agree with Nkrumah.
In his presidential address, J. Let us plan it. That problem was perhaps most acute in southern Africa, where whites continued to dominate politics and economics with starkly racist policies. Southern Baptists began their mission there in He lamented that there were, as of , no evangelical schools in all of Southern Rhodesia. Meanwhile, white Southern Rhodesia was experiencing a population boom.
In , only about 69, whites lived in that country, but by the mids the number was nearer , They must at the same time observe the law and be conscious of the local customs. There is always the possibility that they might suffer in any African uprising merely because of the color of their skin, even though they might not share the discriminatory views of most of the European element in the population. Kennedy, would work for racial harmony and progress.
Kennedy generally sympathized with the independence movements in Africa, though at times political considerations prevented his being able to support those efforts. This was particularly true of southern Africa, where American relations with both Portugal and South Africa complicated the matter considerably. For Kennedy, clearly, the strategic considerations were more important. James N. Mission efforts went forward even if Christians in America were slow to change. Missionaries remained certain that world redemption was the only path away from world disaster.
Missionaries had to live in the European areas and could visit the African townships only by permission of the government. Whenever violence erupted it was impossible for the missionaries to visit the churches or the homes of church members. Whites had dominated the economy, the politics, and the culture for generations, despite being outnumbered ten to one by Africans.
As missionary W. Clyde Dotson noted that the Africans became increasingly blunt in their rejection of Christianity on racial grounds. In early , Goerner announced the establishment of the Baptist Convention of Central Africa, a significant step toward Africanization. It meant that Baptist churches in Southern Rhodesia could operate independently of the Central African Mission, which was staffed by white Southern Baptist missionaries. Recent elections placed in control of the country a government which is committed to racial policies patterned largely after those in effect in the Union of South Africa.
This means more rigid enforcement of a pattern of segregation, and development of the European and the African sections of the population into separate communities. Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia elected Africanmajority governments while Southern Rhodesia elected the white supremacist government led by Ian Smith.
Alan Scot Willis
The elections made the political Federation of Central Africa wholly ineffective. The Central African Mission itself formally split in , allowing the missions in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia to operate independently of the problems facing the mission in Southern Rhodesia. Southern Rhodesia, alone of the former Central African Federation, remained under British control, nominal though it was. Southern Baptists welcomed the two new nations, and The Commission ran extensive stories informing readers about the background, people, and culture of both Malawi and Zambia.
Goerner noted that roughly one-third of the members of the United Nations were newly independent African nations. Goerner noted increasing racial and political tensions and said that Southern Rhodesia under the leadership of Ian Smith was an unknown quantity. Smith had threatened to declare independence from England, which would make it only the second nation, after the United States, to do so. The United States, this time, would side with the British, and the United Nations would not recognize an independent, white-ruled Rhodesia. Cornell Goerner arrived in Salisbury on November 6, , to tour the Southern Baptist work in the region.
The day before, negotiations between Ian Smith and Harold Wilson, the British prime minister, ended in an impasse. Goerner then went to the Sanyati mission station, where he was on November 11 when Smith announced Rhodesian independence. Their ministry is more needed than ever in that land. Yet missionaries found themselves in a dilemma.
Baptist leaders condemned the silence of American pastors on racial issues, saying such silence aided and abetted racism. In Africa, they had to face the fact that their silence could be interpreted that way, though they believed it was necessary to achieve the greater good of ensuring that the missions continued operation.
The missionaries, except for Clyde Dotson and Sam Cannata, signed the registration forms, but they sent a letter of protest saying they were not signing voluntarily. They signed only so that the mission could remain open in Rhodesia. They hoped that their letter would minimize the image of their cooperation with the Smith government and lessen the damage that might be done to their work with the Africans. Instead, they prayed for additional missionaries and remained optimistic that a political solution was possible.
The board took no action toward preparing to withdraw them. While in they worked in only one African nation, Nigeria, within twenty-five years their work had spread through sub-Saharan Africa. Dramatic changes took place in Africa in those years, but some problems dogged Southern Baptist missionaries no matter where in Africa they went.
Foremost among those problems was racism. This situation was further complicated by the persistent racial problems in the United States in the years after World War II. Missionaries coming from the segregated South appeared, to Africans, to be hypocrites. If they personally were not, then their denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, with its segregated churches, universities, and hospitals, certainly appeared to be. The missionaries, then, stood against imperialism in Africa and racism in America.
The omnipresent threats of the cold war, combined with unprecedented changes in society, led people to look to religion for a sense of grounding and community during the postwar years. Church membership increased from 57 percent of Americans in to Christian Americans became hostile to any criticism of their society, especially the implication that America was not the Christian nation it professed to be.
Those who dared criticize America could easily be branded communists, and the charge could stick with little or no evidence. Progressive Southern Baptists focused on materialism and racism in their critique of postwar America, a critique that remained consistent well into the s. They realized that they stood against traditions that many southerners considered Christian, but that was no deterrent. Denham Jr. Those parts which do not fit will be lopped off. Tradition, or any other force, will not prevent the true Christian from an increasing expression of this new life within.
Baptist leaders intended to lead America to that repentance. He worried, however, that the United States would not provide Christian leadership for the world. Guy explained that, by the standards of the minor prophets, America was not Christian. Lawrence led the Home Mission Board through much of the postwar era. One pastor, Harold G. Human freedom is threatened by Communist ideology which is militantly atheistic and materialist.
George R. The United States stands in the awful position of having the major responsibility for deciding the outcome of the crisis. Men of keen minds from all walks of life are saying, almost with one voice, that Christianity offers the only hope for the future. America is known as a Christian nation. Can we meet the challenge?
The situation requires action now. The Scriptures and science tell us the time may be short! Yet time was running short, and failure would be devastating. Communism, atheism, and chaos stood waiting to sweep the world. For us, the call is now or never. Storer, president of the Southern Baptist Convention in , suggested that some churches were more concerned with numbers than with living a truly Christian life. After living through the Great Depression and World War II, people naturally wanted to provide material comforts for themselves and, especially, for their children.
Nevertheless, Professor W. Bolstered by the baby boom, the Marshall Plan, and other circumstances, it lasted another decade. In the face of these temptations, Mather urged Baptist churches to redouble their efforts to reach out to young women. She had long been in the forefront of those efforts, launching the Window, a monthly publication for young women, in September Truth and salvation could not be found in makeup or perfume.
All According to God's Plan : Alan Scot Willis :
Like Mather, the writer put the responsibility for upholding morality on women, as was typical for the early postwar era. Returning to the Christian path was the individual responsibility of each Baptist. If America did not use its wealth responsibly, its international reputation would be severely damaged. And hatred leads to war. Joe E. Burton worried that efforts to sustain popularity and social status got more time than prayer.
We become sick at heart when we realize that the things in which we have placed our confidence for securing peace have failed us. It will ever be so. If our nation sets itself to rediscover Christ and his way of life, to govern our social, civic, economic and international life by his work, there is hope. And apparently the main objective of many of our Christian friends is a life of comfort rather than of service.
She and her husband then eliminated all nonessentials while packing for their return to Southern Rhodesia. Americans, however, did not always realize just how much worldly comfort they enjoyed. Toward the end of the s, one missionary, Robert H.
Volume 32, 2009
He noted that Southern Baptists were the fastest growing denomination in the United States, and indeed they increased their numbers by roughly two and a half million in the s. In , the year Culpepper wrote, church membership continued to increase, and Billy Graham led a successful crusade in New York City. That year, however, was also problematic.
The latter half of the year brought both the Little Rock crisis, in which Eisenhower had to send federal troops to ensure compliance with the Brown decision, and the escalation of the cold war into space as the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. Still, Culpepper was optimistic. In her program notes for Royal Service, Irene Curtis lamented that race remained an excuse to oppress people and keep them in squalor.
Davis Woolley cited continuing exploitation. Three-fourths of the population of the globe is colored. They are watching to see what we will do with American Negroes, whether we practice what we preach. The Communists are appealing to the other colored peoples to forsake the United States. Marie Wiley Mrs. Tradition proved a formidable foe to a Christianized South, perhaps even more formidable than W. Denham had anticipated. Progressive Baptists, however, believed that racial discrimination was unchristian and that whites were clearly responsible for both creating and solving it.
Our attitude toward people who are different creates the problem. Jackson had been born in and lived in Birmingham, Alabama, where her husband, Lamar, pastored Ensley Baptist Church. During the s, Birmingham gained the reputation as one of the most segregated and virulently racist cities in America. Jackson, however, challenged segregation on moral grounds even before the Supreme Court declared the practice unconstitutional. Then we point to the product of our system and use it to justify the way we treat him. It is a vicious circle that the white man himself could not beat under the same circumstances.
Even so, progress was slow. As late as , only one, Golden Gate in California, had a program for recruiting black students, and none had as many as ten black students. Mission leaders offered advice to those who were struggling to overcome their prejudice. A young woman named Wanda wrote to Edith Huckabay looking for advice on how to avoid prejudice. Race prejudices are like that too. False ideas about other races dissolve as we come to personally know fine members of that race.
Huckabay stressed developing personal relationships with people of differing backgrounds, reflecting a common theme among Baptist mission leaders. For Baptists, another key was living according to the teachings of the Bible. Miller of the Christian Life Commission reminded Baptists about fundamental Christian truths concerning race as revealed in the Scriptures. He urged Baptists to accept the ruling as consistent with Christian teachings and to adjust their behavior accordingly. The Christian way would offer both. Baptist leaders believed that it would take time to overcome the long-established prejudices of the South in part because many southerners continued to believe that segregation was, in fact, Christian.
Baptist leaders believed it was necessary to convert southerners to a truly Christian view of race, but many Baptists in the pews, believing that individual Christians approached the Bible on their own, resisted the teachings of the Convention leadership. Nevertheless, the leaders believed that these Christians could mature in their faith and come to a truly Christian understanding of race. The law might help, but a deeper understanding of Christian principles was the only sure way to overcome racism. Seminary professor J. Laws create a measure of restraint against injustice and mark out certain producers under sanction of government power.
But we are seeing the truth today that law, even the Constitution of our Nation, cannot relax the tensions and resentments nor banish the prejudices and injustices that spring from fallacious thinking and racial feeling. The law did not quickly change thinking, and racism persisted. Mary Elizabeth Mrs. Chester F. Charles Prewitt, a student at Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, related his awakening to the depths of racial prejudice and segregation. The mischievous black prankster had slipped up on my back side, raised the helmet a few inches from my head, and then let it drop.
Right then I began to develop a dislike for colored people. It never became a hatred, and I would not even admit the ill feelings, but they were there. Years later I was wearing a real military uniform on a bus in San Antonio. A Negro friend of mine got on the bus. I was glad to see him and greeted him cheerfully. He returned the greeting, and it was evident that he was glad to see me too. I moved over to let him sit down. His dark eyes met mine. He forced a smile. He passed on by. Another blow. Another state of confusion. Another realization. The realization was that my prejudice had been conquered by love.
Prewitt found his prejudices challenged on a segregated bus, but many southerners continued to justify, at least in their own minds, racial discrimination. Therefore, eliminating racism involved teaching children to have Christian attitudes regarding race. If that were done successfully, the problem could be solved, at least for future generations. Progressive Baptists believed that children were never too young to begin learning Christian attitudes and sought to teach about missions and race in the Sunbeam Bands. The Sunbeam Band program was designed for young children and generally involved teaching Bible stories or telling the stories of famous missionaries.
In the early s, over , children participated in nearly 28, Sunbeam Bands. Between the ages of two and five, a child learns not only his own place in the family but also in the neighborhood. More and more, we adults have come to regard the world as a community of neighboring peoples and cultures. We should want our tiny tots to respect the entire family of man.
Even a pre-school youngster notices our consideration— or lack of it—in dealing with the yard man, delicatessen owner, sharecropper, or delivery boy who happens to come from another racial background. The Sunbeam Band, however, had a positive influence on at least some of the children who were enrolled.
Competing visions of America reverberated throughout the postwar era. How can superiority find room at the cross? Has this order. Would the Mercer University students protest? Or would we join the hosts of others—fearful of this repulsive and malignant growth in our midst—yet unwilling to become personally and publicly identified with the opposition.
These students felt that something must be done. There must be no violence, but at least a silent protest must be made in the name of Christian young people who must face the issues of both today and tomorrow. Second, I am an American. Therefore, I cannot believe in the principles of the Ku Klux Klan. For children to learn the Christian view of race they had to be taught early and consistently. That required that they be reared in a Christian home.
Marie Mrs. Noble Y. The front page of almost every daily newspaper carries some tragic story of weak and broken homes. She cited broken marriages, juvenile delinquency, and illegitimate births as evidence that the home was disintegrating. Freeman suggested that prejudices blinded Baptists to the reality around them. Whites employed a double standard. The dean refused to let a student go alone on the streets late at night.
The white group listening was hilarious at the thought of a Negro girl needing a chaperone or escort for safety. Russell realized that there would be considerable resistance to integration. They will need to understand the immensity of the events taking place and the Christian approach to these to be able to make the necessary adjustments in school, on the playgrounds, on the streets and in public places. We have taught our children to love the Negroes in Africa. Now is the time to be specific and teach them to love the Negroes around them.
Zenona Mrs. But their son had learned other lessons in the racist South. He must, therefore, have learned it somewhere else. Clearly, parents had to do everything they could to confront such outside influences. They had to teach their children Christian attitudes about race, and they had to work for racial change in the community. They could also provide positive contacts across racial lines that would teach children to be tolerant in their racial views. Among the children most likely to have such contacts were the missionary kids. One missionary, James E. Hampton, wrote from Tanganyika.
Cornell Goerner realized that few Baptist youths could afford to attend the Baptist Youth Congress in Stockholm, Sweden, in , but reminded them that the next year it would be in Cleveland, Ohio. Meanwhile, Goerner suggested studying a foreign language, making pen pals from around the country and the world, and going on a tour of home missions or, if possible, foreign missions.
Foreign students from the nearby college visited the Hamilton home beginning around the time Layne was seven. Many became student summer missionaries. For some of these students, the summer experience was their first real opportunity to know people from different backgrounds. These experiences challenged students to confront prejudices they had learned at home, at school, or from the community at large.
In this [summer mission] experience of confrontation it has come alive forcing me to evaluate, analyze, and objectively to decide what Christ would have me do in this area of my thinking. Baptist missionaries believed that the only way to change society was by changing individuals, leading Moseley to conclude that the summer experience influenced campuses and churches because the returning students would necessarily affect their environments. Campuses were particularly important because Baptist colleges were the training grounds for future missionaries and ministers.
That same year, Baptist young men did much the same in Sinton, Texas, where they helped create a Royal Ambassador chapter at a local black church. The pastor, W. Acting editor of The Commission Eugene L. Hill reminded Baptists that they were the largest group of Christians in the South. His article hardly amounted to a significant attack on segregated public transportation, nor did he mention the Montgomery bus boycott.
Are there playground facilities for Negro children? She may have been personally ambivalent in , or she may have considered a direct assault on segregation quixotic. A concept once held by most white Southerners as being right beyond any question has been declared to be illegal. Further, it denied people opportunities based solely on the color of their skin. The majority of the readers would be young, unmarried women. One historian has suggested that Baptist men allowed women and youth more leeway in discussing racial issues. For G. Frank Garrison, the reason was simple: Baptist women were more informed about missions and therefore more interested in the cause of missions.
Such allowances, however, undermined white supremacist beliefs in significant ways. But this is not the entire story. They promoted progressive views of race in The Commission and Home Missions, both of which targeted all Southern Baptists, including adult males. Furthermore, Baptist leaders, including Maston, wrote for the Southern Baptist Brotherhood Quarterly, which targeted adult men almost exclusively.
True, the writings on race were less frequent and less emphatic in that publication, but when articles appeared in it, they echoed the progressive view of other Southern Baptist publications. One, John P. Davies of Alexandria, Virginia, wrote Clifton J. Allen at the Sunday School Board in the spring of with just such a critique. I think we need to be very careful and considerate of our fellow Christians in those areas. The literature published by mission organizations was, on average, less cautious.
Some Baptists clearly recognized the role of religious teaching in passing racial attitudes to the next generation. If a Christian service is being held, the little god is present, and some of his devotees will assuredly look after him. Our prejudices must be preserved and passed on to the youth.
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By , however, much of the ambivalence had faded from the writings in Royal Service. Her stand set off a storm of protest. She noted the truths cited by the founders: that there is a God, that all men are created equal, that each person is endowed with inalienable rights, and that the role of the government is to protect those rights. The unity of the human race is declared in its anatomy, its blood, its pigmentation. There is no difference in mentality due to biological inheritance. Yes, who if not Christians in their churches?
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Courts Redford, the executive secretary of the Home Mission Board, provided alarming information regarding religion in the United States. Arthur B. After twenty years of promoting progressive ideas on race, mission journals continued to get letters of protest in the late s. One, written in to Home Missions by Mrs. I have no intention of integrating and have taught my children likewise. Higgins clearly believed that Baptist leaders were changing their views under pressure from the Supreme Court and the federal government.
Regardless, Higgins clearly intended to be immovable, but she overlooked the fact that the Baptist missionaries and leaders had been steadfast in both their faith and attitudes. They had been surprisingly consistent. While not expressly supporting segregation, such ideas allowed many Southern Baptists to be comfortable with their own views that segregation was Christian and undermined the more activist and transformative model of Christianity that progressives promoted.
Despite the rapid growth in church membership, Baptist leaders remained dissatisfied. Americans may have been going to church, but persistent social problems, materialism, and racism showed that they were not living truly Christian lives. Southerners, and Baptists prominent among them, resisted the vision offered by the progressive leadership. The process was agonizingly slow.
After twenty-five years, Baptist leaders still held views at odds with those of many Baptists in the pews. In the late s, with materialism and racism still rampant in America, Baptist leaders continued to cry out against such sins. Racism created divisions in humanity that God had never intended, and progressives viewed issues involving racism in much the same manner regardless of which minority groups were involved. As a result, Latinos, Indians, and other minorities figured significantly in discussions about race and racism. Baptists combined their work among Latinos, Indians, immigrants, and the deaf in the Department of Language Missions.
In , Baptists had missionaries working with 1. By , the Home Mission Board had missionaries working in the various language fields, twothirds of them among Spanish speakers. As Baptists sent increasing numbers of missionaries into the field throughout the postwar years, missionaries and mission leaders remained consistent in their views regarding race.
Baptist leaders emphasized the biblical principles of equality and unity and urged Baptists to take personal responsibility for the race situation. The leadership believed that ignorance about ethnic groups and about the biblical principles regarding race lay at the heart of the race problem.
Missionaries and leaders sought to teach Baptists about the situations facing Latinos and Indians, much as they sought to teach Baptists about blacks and Africans. They never offered a substantial history of Latinos or Indians in America. The issues remained racism and the unity of humanity. What progressives said about Latinos and Indians serves to demonstrate the continuity of progressive Baptist thought on the race issue throughout the postwar period.
The State of Texas. The Court determined that the exclusion of Mexican Americans from juries violated the Constitution. The Court recognized that Mexican Americans, like blacks, had faced a history of oppression. The particular group may differ—Negro, Mexican, Japanese, and so on, but the patterns of prejudice and discrimination are very similar.
Maston pointed out that the Tower of Babel explained the existence of multiple languages. One Father meant one humanity, and there could be only one race. Carver denied that God had separated the races. He maintained that, biblically, there was only one race.
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Many of these people cannot speak our language. They are not wanted in our churches. They are segregated by race, tradition, and language. In New Mexico, missionaries sought to bring together the three main cultural groups of the state. Miguel A. Baptist leaders like Stumph believed that God intended people of all nationalities to live together in harmony. In , Anne Garner admitted that she had to face her prejudices when she realized that she was going to spend the summer among people who were different from her, or anyone she knew.
She explained that the United States Indian Service had determined that an Indian was a person with one-quarter Indian blood, a recent revision from the one-half requirement passed in the s. Carver and an increasing number of scientists and social scientists, race was a social construct. Only about ten percent are of the white race. The only clearly defining traits were cultural and linguistic. Yet Mexicans and Mexican Americans were a socially defined race and were subjected to racial prejudices. James P. The committee recommended starting a mission program among the migrants immediately.
The board employed Rev. Sam Mayo to minister to the migrants. After ten years in the field, Hazel Hunt Mrs. Of course, I knew they were there. After working with them these ten weeks, I realized that they are not wild and un-civilized, as we in the East so often think of them. American Indian Movement activist Russell Means remembered that movies often inspired whites to violence, and white children would attack him and his brother as they left the theater after a Western.
At the Glorieta Baptist Center in New Mexico—which attracted Baptists from throughout the South for retreats—sessions frequently focused on the problems facing the Indians. In America, as in Africa, the missionary message was laced with cultural imperialism. Still, they did call for fair treatment for all minorities, Indians among them. We have crawled along in progress, but never have been allowed really to walk. Each time we get to the walking stage, the white man clips our strength.
Still, some states denied Indians the vote until , when three Navajo Indians won their lawsuit against New Mexico. New Mexican authorities had argued that Indians, and the Navajo specifically, were not residents of the state since all reservation lands had been ceded to the United States.
Baptists also cited the lack of constitutional protections for religious freedom on Indian reservations. In C. Indians who became Christians were persecuted without the First Amendment protections that most Americans had. The Zia Pueblo had begun expelling Christian Indians in Hererra took his case to federal court in , arguing he had been unlawfully denied his rights. His Indian friends and relatives had no respect for this one who had forsaken his tribal ways.
Eventually some white people began to help him and pray for him. She offered an example of how white greed—that cardinal American sin of materialism—damaged missions in America by making the conversion to Christianity unnecessarily difficult. Alcohol provided yet another example. Baptists had protested when New Mexico put the question of liquor sales to Indians on the ballot in They also protested when it became legal under federal law to sell alcohol on Indian reservations in We are not convinced that those who are advocating liquor for Indians are much interested in the Indian and anti-discrimination, as they are in their getting elected to office, or in the liquor industry.
Otherwise they would include some of the other. Furthermore, Baptist missionaries shared their leaders' progressive views, as did the leaders of other Convention agencies, seminary professors, and some prominent pastors. Progressives were not theological liberals. Their goal was to involve the churches in Southern society and create a more Christian America while maintaining an emphasis on individual conversion. The Baptist doctrine of the Free Pulpit and the free church nature of the Convention meant that progressive leaders and segregationists could remain within one Convention.
Missionaries shared the progressive views of the board leaders, not the attitudes that dominated the South in which they lived. Baptist missionaries and mission leaders were prophetic rather than reflective. In some ways this is a traditional intellectual history, focusing on the ideas expounded in a public forum. Approaches an old topic with fresh sources, ones that have been largely overlooked by previous historians of the denomination. A valuable survey of the attitudes of the progressives in the SBC. Willis's perceptive analysis of the SBC's popular missions literature illustrates the progressive hold over missions agencies and emphasizes the important role women and youths as writers of this material that was so widely disseminated in SBC congregations.
Delineates in detail something that many, possibly including many Baptists, scarcely knew existed, a progressive Southern Baptist position on the question of race during the time in which the civil rights movement was coming into full fruition. The present study, well-written and extensively researched, is likely to be the definitive work on Baptist missions and race for many years to come. Raises a number of important issues, and Willis offers convincing answers to difficult questions.
An important book about a topic that deserves more attention.