The Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr., long-time pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City, died on Wednesday at the age of 81. Rev. Coffin was one of the more prominent voices in the anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights movements of the 1960s and in the anti-nuclear proliferation movement of the 1980s; he was also immortalized in the Doonesbury comic strip (Rev. Scot Sloan). Early in his life, Rev. Coffin was in a U.S. military intelligence program that forcibly repatriated Soviet citizens who had been taken prisoner, which was a service that he regretted for the rest of his life and that caused him to spend time in the CIA opposing Stalin's regime.
I had the privilege of meeting Rev. Coffin as a college student in the 1980's at the height of the anti-nuclear proliferation movement, which was about the time I grew out of my stage as a politically conservative Reagan-supporter. Rev. Coffin's writings and sermons were partly influential in my transition and I have always looked up to him as one of the giants of contemporary American Christianity.