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ROUTH, EUGENE COKE

ROUTH, EUGENE COKE (1874–1966). Eugene Coke Routh, Baptist editor and pastor, son of Joseph Edward and Mary Ellen (Stramler) Routh, was born at Plum, Texas, on November 26, 1874. He received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Texas in 1897, then spent the next four years teaching in the public school system. Routh had joined the Baptist Church at the age of seventeen, and in May 1901 was ordained as a minister in San Saba. He served as missionary for the Lampasas (1901–03) and San Marcos (1903) Baptist associations and as pastor of the Lockhart Baptist Church (1903–07). After leaving Lockhart he became editor of the Baptist Visitor (later renamed the South Texas Baptist), published in San Antonio. When this paper was consolidated with the Baptist Standard in January 1912, Routh was appointed associate editor of the Standard under editor J. B. Gambrell; he was named editor two years later. Routh's fourteen-year tenure as Standard editor encompassed a period of turmoil in which religious issues of both a national and denominational nature were raised. During the 1920s he strongly supported the biblical creationist position in the nationwide controversy over the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Yet he opposed compulsory reading of the Bible in public educational institutions. While recognizing the value of interdenominational cooperation, he also opposed the post-World War Iqv ecumenical movement, fearing that it would infringe upon traditional Baptist independence. Although personally opposed to the views of sensationalist Fort Worth minister J. Frank Norris, Routh attempted to keep the Standard neutral during the events that led to the expulsion of Norris from the Southern Baptist Convention in the mid-1920s. Because his temperate policy met with disapproval, he resigned as editor of the Baptist Standard, on November 29, 1927. After leaving the Standard Routh served as editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger (1928–43). His final position was as editor of the Commission, the publication of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, from which he retired in 1948 after forty-one years in denominational journalism. On December 20, 1897, Routh married Mary Mildred Wroe, with whom he had six children. After his first wife's death, he married Mary Alice Routh, a distant cousin, on July 7, 1926. Routh received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Baylor University in 1918. He died in Dallas on May 12, 1966, and is buried in Laurel Land Memorial Park in that city.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Baptist Standard, May 18, 25, 1966. Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists (4 vols., Nashville: Broadman, 1958–82). J. B. Gambrell, Parable and Precept: A Baptist Message (New York: Revell, 1917). E. C. Routh, The Life Story of Dr. J. B. Gambrell (Oklahoma City, 1929). E. C. Routh, The Story of Oklahoma Baptists (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Baptist University Press, 1932).

Travis L. Summerlin

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Travis L. Summerlin, "ROUTH, EUGENE COKE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fro89), accessed August 01, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.