Rodney Shaw

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Biographical Information

Rodney Shaw, (died in 2006) was a United Methodist Church minister, founded the Population Institute in 1969. [1]

According to Mary Meehan, "Activist Rodney Shaw headed a large and well-funded population-control effort within the church. Hugh Moore (a Unitarian) thought so highly of Shaw's work that, when tax-law changes led to dissolution of the Hugh Moore Fund late in 1971, Moore transferred $700,000 of its assets to a United Methodist agency for Shaw's use. The sum was to be divided evenly between the church's own population program and the Population Institute (also headed by Shaw), which offered a secular version of the same message." [2]

"In 1968, he persuaded his denomination to establish a department focused on population problems, which he directed. Two years later, he was a leader in ecumenical efforts to establish the U.S. Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, which President Richard M. Nixon signed into law in 1972, and helped pass the Title X legislation making family planning services available to all low-income women. He also co-founded the organization now known as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

"From 1969 to 2004, Mr. Shaw was a leader in three international nonprofit organizations -- the Population Institute, Population Communications International and the Population Media Center -- that promote small families' and women's rights through entertainment-education strategies. Soap operas on radio and television in developing countries are a key tactic...

"In the threatening days of the Cold War, he pursued the cause of world peace and disarmament as Midwest director of the United World Federalists. In 1961, Mr. Shaw joined the Methodist General Board of Christian Social Concerns in Washington as the director of disarmament education and launched the church's Race for Peace movement.

"In 1961, he worked to help secure adoption of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and was invited by President Lyndon B. Johnson to attend the signing. He then played a leadership role in an ecumenical effort to organize the U.S. religious community in support of the nuclear Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963. As part of his mission to spur understanding and education about disarmament, he wrote "None Shall Make Them Afraid" in 1962.

"Mr. Shaw also became a key organizer and spokesman for the Methodist Church in the field of civil rights and participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965, which contributed to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was also a driving force in the national ecumenical leadership group that helped establish the U.S. Model Cities program...

"Among other honors, he was the recipient of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities Award.

"His wife, Mary Frances Gist Shaw, whom he married in 1944, died in 1999." [3]

"Rodney began working at the General Board of Church and Society in Washington in the 1960s. Rodney received a call from Herman Will who said that the Peace Division of the Board wanted Rodney to serve as director of a newly created Department of Disarmament Education. He accepted that call, and led a church-wide drive to press for the U.S. Congress to ratify the nuclear test ban treaty. Rodney also made the 50-mile march from Selma to Montgomery that brought a civil rights awakening in the United States and led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

"In his work on population, Rodney was a key advocate in the U.S. Congress adopting a landmark family planning bill in 1970, giving 5 million low-income women access to family planning services. Rodney wrote the first United Methodist statement on reproductive rights which was adopted by the 1972 General Conference.

"One of Rodney’s greatest talents and passions was fundraising for causes he believed in. Just what every non-profit organization dreams of! He and Jessma were instrumental in funding the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (now known as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice) as well as the population department of GBCS." [4]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. History, Population Institute, accessed September 28, 2011.
  2. Justice Blackmun and the Little People, findarticles, accessed September 28, 2011.
  3. Minister Rodney Shaw, 88; Population Control Activist, washingtonpost, accessed September 28, 2011.
  4. Population Advocate Rodney Shaw Dies at 88, General Board of Church and Society, accessed September 28, 2011.