JOHN BIRCH Biography - Religious Figures & Icons


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Name: John Morrison Birch                                                       
Born: May 8, 1918                                                               
Died: August 25, 1945                                                           
John Morrison Birch (May 8, 1918 - August 25, 1945) was an American Military   
Intelligence Officer and a Baptist Missionary in World War II who was shot by   
armed supporters of the Communist Party of China. Some politically conservative 
groups within the United States consider him to be a martyr, and the first     
victim of the Cold War. The conservative John Birch Society, formed 13 years   
after his death, is named in honor of him. His parents joined the society as   
life members.                                                                   
Birch was born in Landour, a hill station in the Himalayas in northern India;   
both his parents were missionaries. In 1920, when John was 2, the family       
returned to America. He was raised in New Jersey and Georgia, brought up in the 
Southern Baptist tradition, with his five siblings (he was the oldest). He     
received his high school diploma from Lanier High School for Boys, now known as 
Central High School (Macon, Georgia). He graduated from Southern Baptist       
affiliated Mercer University in Macon, Georgia in 1939. In his senior year at   
the university, he organized a student group to identify cases of "heresy" by   
professors such as the teaching of evolution. While at Mercer, Birch decided to 
become a missionary, and enrolled in the Bible Baptist Seminary at Fort Worth, 
Texas. After completing a two-year curriculum in a single year, he sailed for   
China in 1940. Arriving in Shanghai, Birch began intensive study of Mandarin   
Chinese. After six months of training, he was assigned to Hangzhou, at the time 
outside the area occupied by the Japanese fighting in the Second Sino-Japanese 
War. However, the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 ended that: the       
Japanese sent a force to Hangzhou to arrest Birch. He and other Christian       
missionaries fled inland to eastern China. Cut off from the outside world, he   
began trying to establish new missions in Zhejiang province.