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Reinhold Niebuhr

minister, writer, poltical activist

During his lifetime, Reinhold Niebuhr was one of the best-known Christian intellectual in the United States. Ordained as a minister in the German Evangelical Synod of North America in 1913, Neibuhr pastored a middle-class congregation in Detroit for 13 years. In 1928 he began a career-long association with New York's Union Theological Seminary, serving as professor of Christian ethics (1928-60) and dean (1950-60). Niebuhr neither created nor defended a particular belief system as much as he worked to apply Christian morals to contemporary political and social problems. His theological stance has been described as "Christian realism," and most of his work was devoted to reconciling the concept of perfect love with a world in constant violent conflict. A prolific writer and a popular, engaging lecturer, Niebuhr became a national celebrity and influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. and policy makers in the administration of President John Kennedy. His books include *Does Civilization Need Religion?* (1927), *The Nature and Destiny of Man* (2 volumes, 1941-43) and *Faith and History* (1949). He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.