Dr. Rutherford Losey Decker
Rutherford Decker was pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, an inner-city congregation. He was president of the Kansas-Missouri Baptist Welfare Association. He established the Temple Foundation, which provided housing for the aged. He carried on an active program for the poor, without governmental aid. He fought the political machine in Kansas City so effectively that in 1948 his church was bombed and burned.
-- Roger Storms, Partisan Prophets, p. 60
Earl F. Dodge, writing in the February, 1973 National Statesman, says:
Dr. Rutherford Losey Decker, the Prohibition Presidential Candidate in 1960, was best known nationally as a Baptist minister and as the long-time President and then Executive Secretary of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Born in Elmira, New York, Dr. Decker was destined to spend most of his life in the states of Colorado and Missouri. After serving briefly as a home missionary for the American Baptist Home Mission Society, he pastured churches in Fort Morgan and [in] Denver, Colorado. Dr. Decker was called to the pastorate of the Temple Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, where he ministered until ill health forced his retirement in the late 60’s. While ministering there, he vigorously opposed the Pendergast machine then in control of the city and county. As a result, his church was bombed – right after he opposed the introduction of more liquor outlets in the area served by his church.
After moving to Winona Lake in 1957, I discovered in the files a letter from Dr. Decker to Dr. Claude A. Watson, congratulating him on his presidential nomination in 1944 and pledging his support in that election.
Correspondence with Dr. Decker soon revealed that he was a loyal Prohibitionist. We made a trip to Kansas City in 1958 to discuss the possibility of his serving as out 1960 standard bearer. I communicated his willingness to our party worker, and, after hearing his masterful address at the 1959 Winona Lake convention, delegates gave him an almost unanimous vote on the first ballot (two votes were cast for Mark Shaw), an event almost without precedent in our party.
The 1960 campaign was marked by tremendous pressures on Dr. Decker to withdraw in favor of Richard Nixon, [in order] to prevent John Kennedy from being elected. Dr. Decker and I pointed out that Mr. Nixon would be even more apt to breach the wall of separation [between] church and state that would Kennedy (how time has proved us right). Dr. Decker’s intelligent and forthright candidacy resulted in a number of new workers joining the party, including a young college student named Roger C. Storms.
Our son Calvin and daughter Faith were baptized by Dr. Decker in Temple Baptist Church, and Mrs. Dodge and I lead an adult S.S. class and junior training union there. On the road together during much of the 1960 campaign, Dr. Decker amazed me with his wide knowledge on almost any subject from architecture to theology.
During the 1963-67 period, I stepped out of our party work to direct the National Christian Citizens Committee, of which Dr. Decker was the first President. Just a few months before his death, Dr. Decker wrote to me to express his support for the party backed up by a personal contribution from his meager budget.Rutherford Decker died 21 September 1972.