Xi'an Shaanxi, China (JFK+50) Seventy years ago today, August 25, 1945, John Birch*, an American missionary before World War II and a captain in the United States Army during the war, was shot and bayoneted to death here in Communist China.
Captain Birch was leading a group of Americans, Chinese Nationalists and Koreans to a prison where Allied personnel were incarcerated when they were stopped by the Communist Chinese military. Birch was ordered by a Chinese officer to surrender his pistol but he refused and became involved in a verbal dispute which resulted in his being shot and bayoneted multiple times.
His death, at the age of 27, came just ten days after the end of World War II. According to the John Birch Society website...
"John Birch was a simple, but highly intelligent man, who worked hard to serve God, spread God's word, and fought for the freedom to do so."
The John Birch Society was founded by a former candy manufacturer and Republican party official named Robert Welch** in 1958. According to the JBS website, the organization "is dedicated to restore and preserve freedom under the U.S. Constitution...united by a strong belief in personal freedom and limited government."
The Southern Poverty Law Center does not believe the Society is quite so noble. Don Terry writes...
"The John Birch Society publishes the (Communist) Manifesto and sells it for six bucks a pop at gatherings of its conspiracy theory-loving, U.N.-hating, federal government-despising, Ron Paul-supporting, environmentalist-bashing, Glenn Beck-watching true believers...."
According to the SPLC, the John Birch Society continues its crusade against communists and "insiders" who are, in the Society's view, "bent on handing the country over to the socialists at the U.N."
The Society may have had as many as 100,000 members in its hey-day during the 1960s, "but few know for sure how many Birchers exist today."
*John Morrison Birch (1918-1945) was born in India and raised in New Jersey and Georgia in the Fundamentalist Baptist faith. His parents were missionaries. He graduated from Georgia Baptist (Mercer) University with highest honors in 1939. JMB completed missionary training in Fort Worth, TX and was sent to China where he joined the USAF in 1943 and became a member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).
**Robert W. Welch, Jr. (1899-1985) was born in North Carolina and graduated from UNC, USNA and Harvard Law School. He founded Oxford Candy Company in NYC & later joined his brother, James O. Welch, in making "Sugar Daddies." RWJ retired in 1956.
"Bringing Back Birch," by Don Terry, Southern Poverty Law Center, March 1, 2013, www.splcenter.org/
"John Birch," The John Birch Society, www.jbs.org/