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John Birch

Missionary / Spy

Born: 28 May 1918 (?)
Died: 25 August 1945
Birthplace: Landour, India
Best known as:

Missionary for whom the John Birch Society was named

John Morrison Birch was a Baptist missionary and U.S. military intelligence officer who was murdered by communists in China shortly after World War II ended, in August of 1945. Birch was not famous himself; in 1958 a Massachusetts businessman, Robert Welch, founded a fringe group of the radical right and called it The John Birch Society, proclaiming Birch a martyr of the Cold War and a victim of an international communist conspiracy that included U.S. presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D.Eisenhower. Birch was born in India and grew up in Macon, Georgia. In 1939 he went to China and worked as a Christian missionary, often preaching in territory occupied by Japanese forces. In April of 1942 he helped rescue American flyers after the famous bombing raid on Tokyo led by Major Jimmy Doolittle. Birch was then commissioned as a first lieutenant and became an intelligence analyst for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Promoted to captain, he was awarded the Legion of Merit in 1944 and worked in China throughout the war. Birch was taken prisoner by Chinese communists on 25 August 1945 and subsequently shot and killed. The absence of any official retaliation by the United States was seen as a betrayal by The John Birch Society, who believed that many U.S. officials were "dedicated agents" of a worldwide communist conspiracy. The end of the Cold War diminished the profile of the group, but they're still around, advocating the abolition of most federal regulatory agencies and the end of all foreign aid. Their most famous slogan is "Get US out of the U.N."

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