January 30, 1955

One basic religious aim should be the promotion of brotherhood through elimination of prejudice. Unfortunately it is sometimes difficult to see that people of religious profession are any freer from prejudice than those who make no such profession. An item occurring in the news this week reveals a rather unique experiment seeking reduction and elimination of prejudice. In Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, a series of eight meetings, called, appropriately enough, Thaws, T-H-A-W-S, is being held this month, sponsored by a local chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Its purpose is to bring together members of different faiths to discuss varying points of view and through doing so come to understand and appreciate differences among the various groups. It was not so very long ago that Oak Park was almost 100 percent Protestant. Now it is about 55 percent Protestant, 40 percent Catholic, and 5 percent Jewish. Such changes create problems, and it is these problems the people are meeting to discuss.

Representatives of the different groups take turns leading group discussion. Last week the leader was Mrs. Anna Julian, wife of the nationally known Negro chemist, Dr. Percy Julian. Such items as the following were discussed: A Protestant reported he knew of some bias against two Catholics who had sought minor political offices. Another Protestant commented that perhaps this was because they were also Democrats. A Jewish man said the parents of a Catholic girl had ordered her not to attend a social affair at a Protestant church. A Catholic schoolteacher remarked that as she understood it, Catholics were forbidden to worship at other churches. To which a Protestant woman replied she had recently gone to Mass with Catholic friends. And thus it went. Out of such incidental attitudes and behavior, group differences and similarities are brought to light, discussed fully, and, it is hoped a better understanding of inter-religious problems emerges. Meetings are held at homes of members, and a social hour is enjoyed as well as that time devoted purely to local religious, civic, and social problems. This experiment at Oak Park may have some meaning for you and me in our communities. It is a commendable approach to the problem.


Along the same theme of greater cooperation and unity come two AP dispatches this week. One from New Haven, Connecticut, where Dean Liston Pope of the Yale Divinity School predicts that the day is surely coming when Catholic and Protestant churches will work together officially both in matters of social reform and in promoting Christian faith. He bases this prediction on the conviction that they will be brought together “by the pressures of the world, of which communism is only one of many, and by the inherent requirements of the Christian faith. Catholics and Protestants have a lot more in common than they have things that divide them. They both believe in a God revealed by Christ, that God is merciful and just, that faith is the way to the highest truth, and that every man has dignity and worth. They both believe that racial segregation is wrong, that war is wrong, that political totalitarianism is wrong.” He went on to cite many efforts by organized groups to unite all Christian faiths in a common cause – war upon evil, citing particularly the Church Peace Union, the National Religion and Labor Foundation, and the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

The other dispatch has a New York dateline, and quotes Dr. J.A. Aasgaard of Minneapolis, veteran Lutheran leader, commenting on efforts toward Protestant church mergers. “We can’t go it alone,” he says, “any more than nations.”


Way up off the coast of Massachusetts on the island of Martha’s Vineyard comes a reported story of a conversation between a farmer and a little girl, a story that has an important and direct meaning to each of us. The little girl said to the farmer, “They are improving on television and radios and all that such but the one thing that needs improvement, education, is not getting much.” At about the same time this conversation went on, in Washington a speaker was telling the American Council of Learned Societies the same thing in other words: “If constructive criticism of the security program is the most urgent problem in the defense of morality and the intellect, our most serious long-term problem is to reach all of our children with educational standards they will respect.” He went on to describe the situation facing many educators, a situation which all of us who try to teach know about all too well. He said, “Our overworked and underpaid teachers have become sensitive under the barrage of criticism to which they have been subjected … yet no one knows better than they how much we are in need of scholarly and constructive leadership if we are to make the progress now needed to improve the educational standards in our overcrowded public schools.”

Not only the public schools have faced this criticism; in fact, much of this criticism has been directed at higher levels of learning. In the past three years, for example, there have been two major investigations into the activities of philanthropic foundations such as the Rockefeller, Ford, and Carnegie. Ministers such as Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam have been brought before congressional committees for questioning. Proposals have been made to investigate the clergy. (And I might add parenthetically, our own state legislature has had suggested to it by some doubtless well intentioned but equally doubtless uninformed individual that it pass a loyalty oath for teachers. Haven’t we already had more than enough of McCarthyism?)

Yes, there appears to be much time and money to be found to spend on improvement of roads, television, cars, and improvement of livestock handling. But at a time when schools across the nation are in dire straits, we do not have time and money to spend on children of the country. The children of Martha’s Vineyard would not be so important if they were the only ones facing inadequate schools; virtually all American children everywhere are. But when the secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in the president’s cabinet was asked recently by a press reporter what her department was going to recommend toward federal aid for schools, her reported reply was, “That is not on my legislative program at this time.” When will it be? The growth and development of children will not wait until she makes up her mind what to recommend, and Congress can hardly be expected to act without some encouragement from the executive branch.


One of the most precious of our rights, especially in the field of religion, is to think as we please. But it extends into fields other than religion. Americans, I take it, are, as a people, opposed to any form or anything that smacks of thought control. Yet, in a district court in Chicago, there is going on these days a case that may well be decided against freedom of thinking, without which we would have nothing but intellectual stagnation, and as a result of that, nothing but political, social, and economic decadence.

The facts are these: Claude M. Lightfoot, a Negro, is being tried under the Smith Act for two things: 1. membership in the Communist Party; and 2. knowledge of the purpose of communism, which, according to the prosecution, has only the nefarious purpose of overthrowing the government of the U.S. Mr. Lightfoot makes no denial of either of these charges. However, he (at least his counsel)  insists that he has never taken part in any action directed toward conspiring to overthrow the government, and that he subscribed to Marxist-Leninism as a philosophy that would seek a political moral, and social order in which his, and all other submerged races would be given greater equality. The defense goes on to argue that under our system, communism could only come about here through the peaceful, democratic will of a majority.

This reporter is sure that he, along with virtually all other Americans, has no use for dictatorship in any form, whether it be the communist or any other variety. But that is not the point in the case at issue. Among the points that are at issue are these: How far can or must we go in this nation to restrain the communist menace? Is the internal danger from communism so great that membership alone in the Communist Party shall be punished? When in Anglo-Saxon tradition has it been possible to penalize an individual for what he thinks? Criminal acts, not thoughts, are punishable under the First Amendment, and the prosecution in its opening statement indicated that it would not attempt to show overt acts in which Mr. Lightfoot was attempting to overthrow the government. Cutting through all the legal terminology and technicalities, the issue in question is: Can Lightfoot, an admitted communist, who is not charged with any treasonable action, but who admits to subscribing in thought to a revolutionary philosophy, be punished for what he thinks? If he can, then eventually may you and I not be punished for what we think about politics, religion, civic and moral questions? Whatever the decision of the court, appeal will probably be taken to a higher one, and the final decision whatever it is, will be one we could well watch for, since it is on a subject of more than academic interest to all.


January 23, 1955

New items continually appear, in this country and elsewhere, having to do with the importance of maintaining separation of church and state. Many such items have been included for comment on this program. Also, during the last few weeks I have reported as much as the news dispatches revealed regarding the running feud between President Peron of Argentina and the Catholic Church down there. This feud has come to something of a head in that country, and the two items of freedom of religion and church-state rivalry in Argentina come to a focus in this week’s events.

Briefly stated the facts are these. Eight years ago the Catholic Church in Argentina championed the Peronista cause in the elections in return for something of a monopoly of religious education in the nation’s schools. The vote of the church resulted in a Peron victory and his entrenchment as head of the government. Some months ago Peron decided that indoctrination for the new Argentine state must start with the children, and he set out to gain the good will of teenagers, setting up the Union of Secondary School Students, and obtaining for them sports fields, rest centers, and hotels, and finally opened his summer residence as headquarters of the girl’s branch. Speedboats, motorcars, ballet shows, theatrical performances, and balls were provided, all without cost to the children. He not only permits, but also encourages, boys and girls to mix freely at these events. To the Catholics, this was nothing but a return to paganism, and to counteract the President’s influence among the young, it established the Union of Catholic Students.

In the meantime, the Catholics had tried, and to a certain extent succeeded, in building up their own trade unions and getting vacation for workers, as well as other working condition benefits. In Cordoba, their efforts went so far as to establish a basis for a Christian Democratic Party.

Last November 10 was a turning point between Peron and the Catholics. On that day Peron held a regular meeting with the provincial governors and asked them to report on Catholic activities throughout the country. This report has never been published in full, but shortly after the meeting the president made a speech which was duly recorded and broadcast over a national radio hook-up. In it he referred to Catholic infiltration in the Peronista movement, and said, “We shall take steps to see that the authority of the state prevails and expect the church to take measures to make offenders abide by the laws.” He went on to warn that unless Catholic groups conformed to his decrees, the churches would be closed and the members charged with unlawful association.

The church leaders retorted with a pastoral letter read in all churches in which they asked the faithful to adhere to their religious principles. Privately they sent a letter to Peron asking him to present evidence of his charges against them. Two months later it was clear that the government had won and the church had lost. Peron drove through Congress a bill permitting divorce; the police put some 15 priests in prison; such inroads have been made in the schools that religious education there now is all but an empty phrase; and processions and public meetings of a religious nature were banned. And within the last ten days, the Catholic newspaper El Pueblo, the only Roman Catholic daily, has been seized and its editor released on bail. The excuse this time was nonpayment of an employee bonus, which was not yet due at the time of the seizure.

These are the facts, and their implications are clear. The Argentine Constitution declares that church and state there are inseparable, and the result has been a conquest of the church by the state. Our own Constitution declares that church and state shall be separate, and both have flourished side by side under that Constitution for 166 years now, without either coming under the domination of the other. Let us keep it that way. Our system has admittedly not operated perfectly. At times less than justice has been done to unpopular and weak sects; and there are those among us who would inject religious education into public schools. But it would be far better to omit such from the schools at all than to find our whole religious framework under the dictation of the state, as is the case now in Argentina.


Sharing a considerable portion of the spotlight on the news this week have been a barrage of comments on our present so-called security system. People of religious convictions have reason to be concerned about having an effective security program, because religion in this country has had an independence and growth unrivaled by any other country. People of religious interests also have a natural concern about the protection of individual rights within that security system, for among those rights are freedom of speech and religion, both indispensable to religious development.

Out of the welter of viewpoints about the security system, these seem to be the major items: Freedom House in New York wrote the president urging that he appoint a commission to determine whether our security policies and measures are retarding us in our effort to keep ahead of the Soviet technology.

One of Mr. Eisenhower’s appointees to the Subversive Activities Control Board, the former Senator Cain of Washington, issued a statement saying that the security system as now administered fails to balance security and justice, citing the case of ousted Wolf Ladejinksy as an example. (Mr. Ladejinksy’s case was treated in some detail on this program two weeks ago.) Senator Cain used strong language in his indictment of present practices, saying, “The Ladejinsky case points up practically every weakness which we can find or trace in our prevailing security system. It includes evidences of shortsightedness, ruthlessness, smugness, and brutality of bureaucracy at its worst.” He goes on to observe that he cannot see why Ladejinksy could both a risk and not a risk at the same time.

Rep. Frelinghuysen, Republican of New Jersey, asked the president to establish a non-partisan commission to review the whole security program.

The Department of State informed Democratic Senator [?] of South Carolina by letter that none of the persons investigated by the former Tydings Committee have been found guilty of being either communists or disloyal. This is the committee whose work was constantly attacked by Sen. McCarthy, who repeatedly accused the persons mentioned therein and who have now been investigated with being both communist and disloyal. It is apparent that, as usual, McCarthy’s charges far outrun any evidence he had on which to base such charges.

A final item that can be included, though by no means all that are available, is a column the past week by Walter Lippmann, generally friendly to the administration, and widely read by government people. In that column, Mr. Lippmann waxed very critical of the present administration of the program, and he, too, characterized the mishandling of the Ladejinsky case as “cruel injustice.”

To what do all these comments add up? What is their particular significance to people of religion? Several observations emerge somewhat naturally in answer to these questions. All loyal citizens, religious or otherwise, want an effective security system. We believe that we can have one that will protect us from aggression from without and subversion within, and will, at the same time, protect the basic individual rights of the individual. The scrupulous observance of these rights lies at the foundation of our basic moralities and our tradition as a people. When so many people who are of widely divergent convictions about politics and other matters agree upon the weaknesses in our present security system, it is convincing proof that men of good will everywhere should be concerned about the matter. There is nothing moral in injustice, whether it be at the hands of a vigilante committee or of a duly constituted but badly operating governmental agency. We neither need nor want in this country a Gestapo of the Nazi variety nor the purge trials of the Soviet band. Neither will be foisted upon us all at once, but either could easily become a reality if we begin by undermining due process a little here and a little more there until gradually due process and the right to be heard in court by the individual are trampled out in the name of a well-meaning but misguided security board, for security has, in the minds of some, come to cover a multitude of sins.


In his State of the Union message to Congress recently, the president aptly stated that our struggle at the present time is not over forms of government or economic theories but is one of human values, a difference over our conceptions of the true nature of man. In his words, man is “either … the creature whom the psalmist described as ‘a little lower than the angels,’ crowned with glory and honor … or man is a soulless animated machine to be enslaved, used, and consumed by the state for its own glorification.”

This is a definition and a distinction with which most of us, certainly all of religious convictions, can well agree. It was well-stated.

However, in his budget message to Congress this week, the president recommended that we embark upon a 10-year road building program that will mean eventual expenditures of some $101 billion, or over $10 billion a year. That same budget recommended expenditures for slightly more than $2 billion for health, education, and welfare. It would seem, then, that when it comes to glittering generalities, man is endowed with divine attributes, but when it comes to expenditures to nurture those attributes, such as funds to maintain his health, educate his children, and provide welfare for the needy, man rates only about one-fifth as important as highways. This country can afford both schools and highways, and for most of us, if we had to choose one or the other, we would place schools first, for highways can wait, but the education of growing children cannot. Perhaps we little people are not expected to look for consistency between precept and practice on the part of our public officials. If we are, our search in this instance proves unrewarding, and it comes at a time when according to the N.E.A. we have a shortage of 270,000 classrooms and 235,000 teachers, with some one million pupils now in school on a part-time basis because of lack of physical facilities and instructional staff.


To a Roman Catholic priest is due a large share of the praise of ending the three-and-a-half day convict revolt at the Massachusetts State Prison in Boston. The Rev. Edward Hartigan, Catholic chaplain of the prison, spent many hours conferring with the rebellious prisoners, hearing their grievances and trying to persuade them to give up. Father Hartigan also heard confession and gave Holy Communion to the four Catholics among the five guards held as hostages. Also playing a part in the talks was the prison’s Protestant chaplain, the Rev. Howard Kellett. The slim, seemingly tireless Father Hartigan was also a figure in a rebellion at the prison in 1952. Then he stayed all night with the barricaded prisoners, talked with them, and calmed them and helped in the release of two guards as hostages.


In London a radio debate took place between a proponent of atheism and the wife of a minister. The debate came about because Mrs. Margaret Knight advocated morals without religion in two previous broadcasts. These broadcasts caused Britons to boil and bubble as they had not done for years over a religious controversy. The newspapers and churches took up the issue, and there were proponents and opponents among them both. Time magazine treats the matter in some detail in its issue of January 24, in case you wish for further comments that cannot be included here.


Merger of the three main Presbyterian bodies in the U.S. is apparently not hopeless, despite defeat of the union by the Southern Presbyterians this week. A revised unity plan is considered likely for the future. The Presbyterians of the South gave as among their reasons that Northern Presbyterians are too liberal and that their 757,000 membership might be swallowed by the 2.5 million members that comprise the Northern branch. Some observers thought that the issue of segregation would enter into the voting, but South Presbyterians have said it did not. The proposal needed 64 votes, or three-fourths of the 86 districts. It failed of passage by four votes. It was the Southern Presbyterians who initiated the merger talks back in 1938.


The underlying assumption of this program is that many items appearing in the news have religious significance, though they may not be headlined as such, and that religion is a matter of every day practice rather than merely a holy day precept. An opportunity to put it into practice occurred in this section this week, and the station authorities have permitted me to bring it to you. Last Friday the home of Mr. Sherman Carver of the Greenwood community burned down, destroying family belongings, furniture, and everything he had. He and his family have arranged for temporary shelter, but they have use for and will welcome assistance of any kind: financial, household items, or wearing apparel. The Methodist Church of Jonesboro urges any help that you can give. If you wish to contribute money, send it to the church at Jonesboro. If you have clothing or household utensils to contribute, call Mr. Raymond Miller, telephone number Jonesboro 4542, who will call at your home for them. There are eight children ranging in age from 3 to 6 years.


January 16, 1955

The 15th Annual Methodist Convention was held this week in Cincinnati. Twenty-five administrative agencies of the church held sessions during the convention. The delegates represented some 9 million Methodists in the United States. A highlight of the meeting was a plan outlined by Bishop Ivan Lee Holt for a merger of the three great Protestant communions into a United Church of Christ. This would include the Congregational, Episcopal, and Presbyterian. Under the proposed plan, each local church would determine its own mode of worship and administration of the sacraments of Holy Communion and baptism. Bishop Holt said the plan would be submitted for study to the African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Colored Methodist Episcopal, Congregational Christian, Disciples of Christ (Evangelical and Reformed), Presbyterian U.S., and Presbyterian U.S.A.

Most ministers who commented on the sweeping plan agreed with it in principle but were doubtful over its practicality. Dr. Roy Mueller, executive secretary of the Indiana Synod of the Presbyterian Church said, “I don’t see how it possibly can be effected,” while the Rev. Roy Utterback, a Congregational minister, said his church would not consider a merger which “would imperil our deeply-valued autonomy of the local church.”

An AP dispatch reveals that another question has been raised at the conference that would not be understandable were it not for the hysteria of the times. As it is, it is disturbing that representatives of such a large number of Americans, generally considered stable and conservative, should take the approach they have on the matter. The dispatch is as follows:

“A Methodist Church group has asked – but not answered – if civil liberties should be granted U.S. communists. The Board of Social and Economic Relations adds it knows that if the communists came into power they would eliminate those privileges. The group, meeting in Cincinnati, notes that Christians are, of course, unalterably opposed to communism. Yet, it cautions that if civil liberties are expended too long they may be finally lost.”

Civil liberties are simply constitutional rights guaranteed people in this country under the Constitution. To deny constitutional rights to anyone, communist or otherwise, is to violate the Constitution, upon which our whole system of government rests. And that Constitution applies to everyone, whether he be communist, fascist, Republican or Democrat. When we begin denying such rights just a little bit to even a few people, we are opening the hole in the dike that can well loosen the whole structure. There are those in this country who would like to deprive unpopular groups and individuals of those rights. One person has gained a lot of notoriety (one could hardly call it fame) by branding people who choose to invoke their rights under the Fifth Amendment as, to use his choice phrase, “Fifth Amendment Communists.” Of such beginnings is the road to the very kind of dictatorship which we as a nation and a people oppose. Let us get it clear: We cannot save democracy from dictatorship by becoming dictatorial ourselves. And to say that we might, for even a little while, deny communists civil rights because they, if they were in power, would deny them to us, is to make ourselves no better than the very communists we oppose. Today it may be the communists to whom we deny such rights; tomorrow it is Jehovah’s Witnesses; the next day it may well be Baptists or Democrats. It is hoped that the Methodists will see this and answer before they adjourn the question they have asked but thus far have left up in the air.


John D. Rockefeller, Jr. has spared words but not money in a gift to United States Protestantism this week. He used just two sentences to donate $20 million worth of securities to strengthen and develop Protestant theological education in the United States. The money will be handled by the Sealantic Fund, a Rockefeller philanthropic fund set up 15 years ago.


The Cleveland chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews has voted to withdraw from the parent organization. The Cleveland group has long been feuding with the national organization because the parent society wanted to transfer the Cleveland area director, James Nobel. He is expected to be hired as director of the New Brotherhood group when it organizes as an independent unit on January 27. Nobel says that the new interfaith organization will be concerned with educating members individually in better human relations and then applying human relations principles in community projects.


Two famous Americans withdrew from religious activity this week; one by death, the other by retirement. Nearly 75 years ago, while a girl of 17, Miss Mary Virginia Merrick injured her back, and for the remainder of her life was an invalid. But this did not end her usefulness. She founded the Christ Child Society, which has sent thousands of crippled children from city slums to summer camps. Her own convalescent farm near Washington D.C. helped scores of young boys and girls to forget about polio and other crippling diseases and to leave their wheel chairs and to play as other children. Branches of this society she founded have been set up in 38 U.S. cities and one in The Hague, in Holland. Her work brought her many honors of the Catholic Church, of which she was a member. She died this week at the age of 88.

The other famous person who withdrew from active service by retirement was Bernard Bell, Canon of the Episcopal Church. For many years Dr. Bell has served on the campus of the University of Chicago as “Episcopal Representative,” an assignment that was part of his church’s policy of freeing one of its most distinguished writer-preachers from specific duties. At the university, his job was something of an unofficial chaplaincy to the university’s brightest brains, answering questions, enlivening bull sessions, and putting the things of the spirit in terms intellectuals were willing to listen to. His cant-hating, spade-calling honesty brought thousands of clergymen to his lectures, often to hear themselves taken apart. He went blind a year ago, and since then has written little, but one thing even a muffled bell could be counted on was to keep up his sharp talk. This week, when a visitor mentioned the so-called “current religious revival,” he snorted, “Religion has become a fad. There’s an awful lot of people joining the church, but what it means I don’t know. I’m not sure it means anything … it’s too easy to be in the church.”

In his retirement, Dr. Bell will still stay on at Chicago as consultant on Christian education, but it is largely an honorary title, given him, he says, “as a status in the church with no functions at all.”


The top inter-Protestant churchman in the U.S. hopes for a religious revival in this country as one result of military service in the post-Korean War period. The expressed wish comes from the Rev. Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, President of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. He has just returned from a 20,000-mile tour of U.S. military posts in Korea and elsewhere. Dr. Blake says the First World War gave churches a major setback. But he says that after World War II, seminary enrollments doubled, and many other trends became apparent that he describes as reflecting a new note of spiritual and moral interest. He emphasizes that in view of this resurgence of religious interest, churches must develop long-range religious programs that recognize most Americans today will see military service.

This reporter has no desire to add sour note at this point, and certainly under the present circumstances it would appear that such prolonged and indefinite military service is a probability. One cannot help but wonder though how long it will be until, if ever, organized religious forces in this country and others, take a definite, active, and positive stand in a drive for achieving a world order in which the probability of war will be much more remote than it is. The discouraging thing in the present instance is that most spokesmen for the churches, as does Dr. Blake, take it for granted that there is nothing we can do but accept the status quo projected into an indefinite future. There are many of us who do not share that viewpoint. People of religious beliefs, of whatever kind, have a responsibility to assert themselves in helping bring about the establishment and enforcement of law at the world level to replace the present anarchy among nations. When that is done, probabilities of military service on the part of uncounted generations of young men will be far more remote than it is today.


Another noted churchman returning from the Far East has a less hopeful appraisal of what he found there. Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York says he finds a smaller area of the Free World left each time he visits the Far East. He believes, too, the Asian mainland is a volcano that may erupt at any time. Cardinal Spellman terms the Philippines a bright spot in the Asiatic picture. He says the Filipinos are a people very grateful for the independence the U.S. helped them gain.


A unique experiment to determine the role of religion in coping with the problem of juvenile delinquency is underway at the Harvard Divinity School. For the first time a seminar in juvenile delinquency is being offered graduate students, directed by Dr. Richard V. McCann and an assistant. “In the course,” says Dr. McCann, “we talk about communication of religious values in the family, in the community, and in the individual. Juvenile delinquency is a symptom of the breakdown of this communication of religious values in the family.

“In studying the problem,” he added, “delinquency is looked upon as a symptom of an illness. We are trying to decide, among other things, just exactly who the patient is. Is it the individual delinquent, his family, or society? And where can the church help most effectively in preventing the illness?”

As a beginning point, the students are surveying the field to see what has been accomplished. As individuals later going into active ministerial work, they are gaining, it is hoped, an insight into and an understanding of the problem that will be valuable.

Already, Dr. McCann said, the students have found lack of love basic to the problem of juvenile delinquency. “Without intelligent, constructive love received from his parents,” the director said, “the child will grow up deprived of the thing he needs most.” This is something of a sad commentary upon his parents, for love is something that any parent can give his child, regardless of the socioeconomic status of the family.


On the local scene, East Tennessee State College has secured the cooperation of the University Christian Mission for its Religious Emphasis Week, which will begin January 30 and continue through February 4. This is a non-denominational program which will include classroom discussions as they relate to religion. There will be seminars and evening worship services. The roster of participating speakers include Dr. Gresham, president of Bethany College; Dr. Hunter Blakely, secretary of the Division of Higher Education of the Board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian Church; the Rev. Leon Sanbourne, pastor of the Union Church, Berea, Kentucky; and Dr. Travis White, president of Atlantic Christian College, Wilson, North Carolina. The college invites and welcomes the participation of the community in this week of religious activity. The dates, again, are January 30 through February 4.


In New York the highest court of the state has ruled 3-2 that a 12-year-old child is capable and has the right of selecting the religion of his choice. The suit grew out of the desire of a son of a Catholic father to attend a Christian Science Sunday school. Despite a premarital agreement that children would be reared in the Catholic faith, the court ruled that there was “ample evidence to support both the findings that the youngster was old enough to testify intelligently” and that “a child of 12 is competent to make a choice” of selecting his own religion. It is not sure yet whether there are any grounds upon which an appeal can or will be made to the United States Supreme Court in this matter.



January 9, 1955

Among the things that both our religions and our civic conscience hold to be important are such simple things as elementary justice, religious toleration and respect, and the right to be considered innocent until proved guilty. These things, to us, are at the heart of our basic moralities, underlying whatever religious beliefs we may hold.

An incident that has been brewing for some days now seems to put both justice and religious tolerance in jeopardy. Simply stated, the facts are these: Wolf Ladejinsky is a Russian-born Jew who has for years been a naturalized American citizen. He served the Agriculture Department as an attaché in Japan under Gen. MacArthur, and it was due largely to his ability and efforts that fundamental land reform were brought about in that country during early occupation years. He has three sisters still living in Russia. Despite that fact, he has over the years contributed scholarly articles to American journals attacking communism for the deadly thing that it is. Formerly he worked for the Department of State.

Several days ago a zealous security officer in the Department of Agriculture decided that Mr. Ladejinsky, despite his years of meritorious service, is a security risk, and should be removed from his position. This was done at the order of the head of the Department of Agriculture. The only explanation that has been made is that the man has three sisters living in Russia; that he is of Jewish extraction; and that while he has written articles against communism, it is believed by the security officers that these articles are really a blind to his secret adherence to communism. Curiously enough, the State Department still considers him no security risk, and nobody has yet accused the security officer in the State Department of being soft on suspected security risks.

The injection of the anti-Jewish factor was done by the executive secretary to the head of the Agriculture Department, and while Mr. Benson has decried the use of the letter containing the anti-Semitic sentiments, the incident was serious enough to bring protests from our ambassador in Japan, from officials of the Japanese government who recognize the splendid work the man has done there, from politicians as wide apart as Republican Walter H. Judd of Minnesota and Senator Humphreys from the same state.

The letter has been denounced by the American Jewish Congress and the Anti-defamation League of B’nai B’rith. In the meantime, Mr. Ladejinsky has been offered a place in our FOA, who some months ago tried to get him to work in Vietnam to bring about much the same reforms in land holdings that he did in Japan. Also, should he seek employment in the State Department, he would, at present at least, have no difficulty in getting security clearance.

Thus we have the spectacle of one department firing him as a security risk when his job was not sensitive from the standpoint of national defense, while another department is willing to take him when his work would probably be far more sensitive, while still another agency would send him into an area where his opportunity, if he chose to use it, to work with communists would be much greater than it is in Japan.

These are the facts, as thus far revealed. People with religious and moral convictions may well ask themselves such questions as these: Have we come to the place in our hysteria today where not only do we apply the idea of guilt by association, but go even further and insist upon guilt by the simple fact of relationship? Another, is it not curious that one would be considered a security risk, when his whole career has been one of a nature opposed to communism, of which the security officer suspected him? And a final one, since when has mere adherence to a given religion, whether it be Jewish, Protestant, Mohammedan, or any other, become a basis for attacking the good faith and loyalty of a citizen who has shown no evidence of bad faith or disloyalty? If there is such evidence, it should be presented and, if sufficient, should result in his removal. So far that evidence has not been revealed. Mr. Ladejinsky is only one out of 160 million people, a not very significant number as an individual, but his case should remind us of the basic fact that no religion is safe from attack unless all religions are safe; no one can be sure that justice will be done in his case unless every effort is made to see that justice is done in all cases. The public still waits to see what or whether justice will be done in the matter.


The Christian Science Monitor for Wednesday of last week devoted an editorial to what it called “heroes unsung,” and the ideas presented coincide with the basic idea underlying this program, namely, that religion is a matter of everyday practical concern, rather than something merely to be paraded on the Sabbath. An 8-year-old in NYC found two broken parking meters, took out the money and gave it to his mother, who in turn gave it to the city. The mayor had the wisdom and courtesy to thank both child and mother. A famous New York newspaper ran the story on page 1. New services and radio picked up the story and gave it prominence. The editorial goes on to commend the mother for her use of this instance to teach the youngster honesty. Among the other unsung heroes mentioned are those who stop at red lights late at night, even though there are no other cars in sight and the woman who returned the article more expensive than the one she ordered from the department store when it was delivered by mistake. Some may call these heroes “Casper Milquetoasts,” but they are the ones who give honesty an everyday meaning and keep our society fit to live in.


An encouraging report with an Atlanta dateline was released this week showing that the economic gap between Negro and white family income is narrowing and that business men are recognizing the potentialities in the expanding Negro consumer market. Farm mechanization is reducing the low wage agricultural employment, an area where the proportion of Negro workers is very high. The Negro has been migrating out of the South, or, like the white farm worker, has been moving into urban centers in the South, where economic opportunity is greater than it is for him in the country.

This report highlights not only the tremendous changes taking place socially and economically in Southern thinking, but it underscores the fact that we are finally recognizing that we can pull one race up without pushing the other down; that as we provide greater income opportunities for Negroes and whites alike, we are making possible better housing, better health, more purchasing power, and the likelihood of better citizenship and morality. Good citizenship and high moral standards are difficult to maintain where there is nothing but poverty, disease, overcrowding, and illiteracy. These, money can remove, and by such removal make it easier for the individuals affected to lead better lives.


Here is a roundup of the week’s religious news, by United Press Radio.

Vatican City: Pope Pius XII received his third blood transfusion in ten days yesterday (Friday). The transfusion was administered by a specialist from Rome University. The Pope’s physician says the transfusion is part of the routine treatment prescribed by specialists who have been attending him.


It was Christmas yesterday (Friday) for many Christians throughout the world. They are the members of the Orthodox churches that still measure days by the old Julian calendar, 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar of other parts of the world. Thus, it was Christmas in Russia for members of the Russian Orthodox Church. Americans and other foreigners joined Russian believers in crowded churches for the Christmas Eve Mass observed as midnight tolled on Thursday. Many young Russians, including soldiers, took part in the observance.


Jews in the Soviet Union have become the fifth religious group in Russia to oppose the projected rearmament of West Germany. In a statement published by the government newspaper Izvestia, they call on Jews throughout the world to support the Moscow European security plan. Religious groups in the Soviet Union earlier denouncing rearming West Germany are the Russian Orthodox Church, the Baptists, Moslems, and the old believers, or dissenters from the Orthodox Church.

But in the U.S., a congressional committee has been told that persecution of the Jewish minority continues in the Soviet Union and its satellite states. The House Committee on Communist Aggression notes that twelve Moscow doctors, including some Jews, have been released from charges of murdering high Soviet officials. But the congressmen said that no victims of anti-Jewish measures have been publicly rehabilitated. Hundreds of former Zionist leaders in satellite countries remain in jail.


New York: The Rev. Daniel Poling has left on a round-the-world trip to study the Christian climate in Europe and Asia. Dr. Poling, who is editor of the Christian Herald, will visit Hawaii, the Fiji Islands, Japan, Korea, Formosa, India and Europe. During the trip he will arrange for a conference of religious leaders to be held in Suva (soo’-vah), the Fiji Islands, in July 1956. He also will arrange for a World Christian Endeavor Union Convention to be held in Lebanon in 1957. He is president of the World Christian Endeavor Union.


London: American Evangelist Billy Graham will return to London for a series of religious meetings May 9 -21. The meetings will be held in London’s Wembley Stadium. The evangelist drew a total audience of 1,740,000 persons during a two-month crusade in London last summer.


Nandi (nahn’-dee), the Fiji Islands: President David McKay of the Church of Latter Day Saints is on a 45,000-mile tour of the Church’s missions in the South Pacific. McKay, of Salt Lake City, arrived in the Fiji Islands with Mrs. McKay this week. The plane carrying them was three hours late after having been delayed on Canton Island by a typhoon.


New York: Dr. Francis Carr Stifler is retiring at the end of this month as a public relations man for the Bible. He has served for many years as secretary for public relations of the American Bible Society. As such, he has written pamphlets, books, and magazine articles and made hundreds of broadcasts for the world’s best-selling book, the Bible. Dr. Stifler, who has just turned 70, will retire to his home in Summit, New Jersey.


Rock Island, Illinois: A pulpit campaign against an alleged communist-dominated union has paid off. Employees at the International Harvester Farmall Tractor Works at Rock Island, Illinois, have voted to switch allegiance from the Independent Farm Equipment Workers Union to the CIO Auto Workers. The tally was 1,740 to 760. Catholic priests throughout the area had urged Harvester employees to make the switch in sermons last week. An estimated one-third of the Harvester workers in the area are Catholics.


New York: The nation’s largest Protestant organization is campaigning to put Christianity on a seven-day week. The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. says Americans should practice at work what is preached to them on Sunday. Everyone, says the council, which represents 35 million churchgoers, should work overtime at his religion by taking it to his job. The Rev. Cameron P. Hall, executive director of the council’s Department of the Church and Economic Life, offers this slogan: “Put Christianity to work where you work.”


Washington: Plans for the eventual union of three branches of the Presbyterian Church in this country were discussed this week with President Eisenhower. A group of six Presbyterian leaders told the chief executive of their discussions, which they hope will lead to unity of the three branches. Mr. Eisenhower is a Presbyterian.


New York: Protestant churches throughout the nation will observe January 30 – February 6 as Youth Week. The observance is promoted by the United Christian Youth Movement and the International Society of Christian Endeavor. This year marks the 12th annual observance of Youth Week by the two organizations.



January 2, 1955

An item reported this week almost immediately disappeared from newspapers or other news sources. It concerns our agreement negotiations with Spanish dictator Franco. Sometime ago the U.S. agreed to extend military and economic aid to Franco in return for the right to establish certain defense bases and maintain certain military personnel in that country, an agreement which many people looked upon with no enthusiasm because of the moral principle involved in our accepting as an ally a government that has been fascist from the beginning.

Nevertheless the agreement was reached and now our military people are working out with Franco detailed understandings with regard to our occupying the bases for which we bargained. Among these details is a report that our representatives agreed that marriages among U.S. personnel, both civilian and military, would be solemnized by the priests of the Catholic Church.

Let me make it clear that there is, or should be, no object to having marriage ceremonies performed by a priest of the Catholic faith or of any other denomination, as long as this conforms to the voluntary desire of the two principals involved. However, our Constitution states specifically in the First Amendment that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

If the above report is true, it would appear that our military men, representing the Executive department, are trying to do something that not even Congress can do. Perhaps it would be well for such men to read the Constitution or to take a course in its principles before trying to placate an ally of doubtful morals by committing American citizens, with or without their consent, to the religious preferences of that ally. We wish no combination of church and state, and even the military should finally get around to realizing this.

In regard to the morality of our dealing with Franco, it might be recalled that in two world wars the U.S. insisted, and generally rightly so, that it was not interested in securing by these wars any material advantage, that its sole interest was in achieving peace. If no material gain was our aim, then we must have been motivated solely by moral principles. It follows quite naturally, then, that we should have moral scruples regarding those with whom we allied ourselves. The Nazis were our bitter enemies in the last war, and Franco was a close friend and collaborator with Hitler. Now we apparently have no qualms about doing business with that collaborator, though he has not changed either the purposes or principles of his government. Truly our memories must be short when we make a cornerstone of our foreign policy a rearming of Germany, which in effect means putting our former Nazi enemies into uniforms, and proceed to make a close alliance with Franco. Perhaps we little people are shortsighted, or perhaps our moral scruples are too insignificant to count, but to us it appears that there should be some consistency in the conduct of nations as well as in that of individuals.


Between last week and and this, we have had two three-day holidays for many people. Over the Christmas holiday weekend Americans demonstrated the wrong way to celebrate by piling up some 500 casualties on our highways and in accidents in other ways. That record even went beyond the most feared predictions of the National Safety Council. Statistics are not yet in on the present weekend, because it is not yet concluded. But it is probable that when they are, an equally unenviable record will have been established. Most of the highway accidents are the result of speed, and in many of them drinking is a factor. Speeding and drinking stem from no statistical phenomena. They are the products of personal violation to a high degree, and both individuals and society must take the blame. War is indeed a terrible scourge, but we do not as yet have control over it. The speed at which we drive our automobiles and the physical condition of our bodies at the time are matters under our control, and we should be more conscious than we apparently are of this high toll of deaths that is entirely within our power to prevent, for we kill more people in this country with automobiles than have been killed in the wars we have fought.


We hear much today of the influence of reading matter upon the habits of people. Specifically, a hue and cry is raised that comic books cause delinquency. Whether that is true or not has yet to be proved, but an interesting experiment in newspaper publication was carried out in Klamath Falls, Oregon, recently. During the week before Christmas, the Klamath Falls Herald and News devoted its whole front page to constructive news, relegating stories of crime and scandal to inside pages.

The reaction of the public was astounding. Telephone calls came in from Houston, Texas, from New York City, and from Arizona, as well as many from nearer home. The newspaper made arrangements to keep track of the first 1,000 persons in the subscriber area who telephoned in, but it was soon swamped with calls and no tabulations were made of the entire number. Without exception, these calls were heartily in favor of a newspaper with only constructive news on page one. Some of the papers which specialize in highlighting revolting crimes or scandals in box car type on page one, and which at the same time are decrying the admittedly tragic rise of delinquency might stop contributing to this delinquency by ceasing their spotlight displays of the very kinds of crimes they so prominently feature for the front page of their papers.


In religious life, the New Year’s holiday is perhaps evidenced mostly by “Watch Night” services on New Year’s Eve. Sometimes church services are held on New Year’s Day. The church uses the occasion to emphasize to members the time for a new leaf – a new life – in a new year. It seeks to strengthen those good resolutions so boldly made. “Watch Night” goes back a couple hundred years to the Wesleyan Methodists, who held a monthly devotion lasting until after midnight. Later they and other denominations began holding watch night on the last night of the year.

New Year’s itself has religious background. January 1 as the start of the year began when Caesar adopted the Julian calendar. That moved the holiday from December 21. In medieval days, most Christians observed March 25 as the year’s first day. But Anglo-Saxon England used December 25 as the start. Then William the Conqueror ordered the year to being on January 1 – doubtless because he was crowned that day. Still later, England joined other parts of Christendom and adopted March 25 as the annual beginning. When the Gregorian calendar was brought in in 1582, January 1 was restored as the year’s initial day. All Catholic countries adopted the new date at once. Germany, Denmark and Sweden accepted it about 1700. But England waited until 1753 to again have New Year’s Day on January 1. In the Middle East, many Orthodox Christians still use the Julian calendar. For such as the Greek Orthodox, the ecclesiastical New Year thus falls on January 13.

Most Christians in Egypt are not celebrating New Year’s today. Many of those in the Nile valley are Copts, who have New Year’s on September 11, 12, or 13. They date their calendar from “the year of the martyrs,” some 700 years ago, when the Emperor Diocletian massacred the Christians.

For Jews, New Year varies between September 6 and October 5, because their calendar is a compromise between a lunar and a solar year. The Jewish calendar, by the way, is dated from the “creation of the world.”


The year just past has witnessed the world’s religious forces moving closer together. In the U.S. and abroad, various branches of various denominations have found they have common enough beliefs to cooperate and to merge.

The most vivid, and stirring, show of the shift to greater solidarity in 1954 was the assembly of The World Council of Churches, at Evanston, Illinois. Representatives of 161 Protestant and Orthodox denominations in 48 nations found and demonstrated the value of solidarity based on Christ.

U.S. church bodies that took steps toward mergers in the past year have included three Presbyterian churches, four Lutheran ones, the Unitarian and Universalist churches, and the Congregational Christian and Evangelical and Reformed Churches.


For Roman Catholics, the greater part of 1954 was the Marian Year, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Tens of thousands traveled to Rome for services and audiences with and blessings by Pope Pius XII. Millions of Catholics were pilgrims to other shrines to pay homage to the Virgin Mary.

For the Catholics, 1954 was also the year in which their Pontiff twice made miraculous recoveries from death. Once again Pius is convalescing, although still ill and weak. But his faith and vigor are such that within days of his more recent critical illness he has been up and about for short walks.

Vatican City: Pope Pius XII hopes to read his delayed Christmas message in person next Wednesday. In addition to the traditional appeal for peace, the 4,000-word address to Catholics is expected to announce a consistory to name new cardinals to the Roman Catholic Church. The Sacred College has been reduced to 64 members from its full strength of 70 because of deaths this year. The Pope’s doctors have opposed his plans to read the Christmas message in person. But Vatican sources say that if he should prevail, his voice would be recorded beforehand in several sessions.


Washington: A World Assembly for Moral Rearmament opened a 10-day session last week in Washington. It is being attended by 500 delegates from 23 countries. Among the chief speakers at the early sessions was a member of the Indian Parliament, N.P. Rajabhoj (razh’-ah-bozh). John McGovern of the British Parliament told the Assembly that co-existence with Russia is like trying to co-exist with a lion in a jungle. Yakubu Tali (yak-koo-boo-tah’-lee), the chief of 1.5 million Moslems on Africa’s Gold Coast, said moral rearmament is doing for Africa “what Abraham Lincoln did for this country.”

New York: The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada has branded the Conservative Rabbinate’s revised Jewish marriage contract a “heresy.” More than 200 members of the Orthodox group, meeting this week in a special session, adopted a resolution on the subject. It warned Jews not to “consult the so-called beth din”… or Rabbinical tribunal … “of the Conservative Rabbinate on any matters pertaining to marriage or divorce, or any other religious question.”


Philadelphia: The National Council of Presbyterian Men has announced it will hold three meetings in 1955, instead of one, because of the rapid expansion of the Presbyterian Church. The Council said it will hold meetings February 11 ,in Sacramento, California; February 25, in New York; and March 18, in Chicago. All will be for two days.


Okinawa: Francis Cardinal Spellman, Catholic vicar for the United States forces in Korea, is on Okinawa. Yesterday (Friday) and today, he is conducting four masses and two benedictions for air force and army troops.


Chicago: A sociologist has suggested that Catholics might reduce Protestant antagonism by not throwing group support behind a political figure simply because he is a Catholic. The suggestion was made by professor Gordon Zahn of the University of Loyola in Chicago before the 16th annual convention of the American Catholic Sociological Society.


U.S. Jews also can mark Gregorian 1954 as a big period. Last September, at the start of their new year, they began an 8-month observance of the 300th anniversary of Jewish settlement in America.


From a poll of its member radio stations and newspapers, the Associated Press found evangelist Billy Graham with the most votes as the “Man of 1954” in Religion. His most spectacular program last year was 12 weeks of successful revival meetings in England. British ministers and lay people mostly welcomed the Rev. Graham. They saw in him and his work a revival of their own churches.

The U.S. evangelist followed his English success with a short, and also successful, revival series in Europe. But the heavy schedule broke his health. However, now the Rev. Graham is again on the circuit.

The AP editors also picked, by the way, as their foreign affairs “Man of the Year” one who has had close connections with Protestant church affairs all his life. That’s the U.S. Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, a Presbyterian, a minister’s son, and one-time head of the old Federal Council of Churches of Christ.