EXPIRED: 09/07/09 – John Elson, 78. As religion editor for Time magazine, John wrote an article that ran as a cover story in big red letters spelling out “Is God Dead?”
In researching the cover story, Elson interviewed hundreds of people. Everyone from Reverend Billy Graham to a church custodian and prostitute in Bethlehem.
The article took months to write and when you get to the end you can plainly see which side of the argument Elson, a Roman Catholic who went to Mass every Sunday, lands on.
Elson’s father was a Canadian newspaper reporter who later became an editor of Time and Life. After moving to the US and getting a master’s in English literature from Columbia in 1954, Elson also started a career at Time. Over the next 40 years, he wrote dozens of stories for the magazine but none were as notorious.
Readers were outraged that the story ran on Passover and Easter week. It sparked outrage, gave Time its biggest newsstand sales in 20 years and remains a signpost of the ‘60s. For many, the question has not adequately been answered.