May 29, 1955

One of the very pressing and very human problems with which millions of people have been beset since the outbreak of World War II, and one which has received little attention in the press generally has been that of displaced persons and refugees, whether they be from the tyranny of Hitler or from that of the communists in East Germany or other countries under the sway of the Iron Curtain rule. Both President Truman and President Eisenhower asked for and got special legislation to permit a modest number of these unfortunates to enter this country, but neither acts has resulted in much more than an aspirin for a headache. The unworkability, of the lack of desire to enforce, the last Refugee Relief Act of 1953 was the subject of recent controversy within the State Department, and resulted in the firing of Mr. [Edward J.] Corsi by Secretary Dulles, because, Dulles said, Corsi was not the man for the job, or words to that effect. Curiously enough, it was the same man who, 90 days before, he had told the Senate was the best-qualified person he knew. Whatever the vagaries of politics in the matter, the fact is that while the 1953 act authorized admission of up to 214,000 refugees and other non-quota immigrants before the end of next year, to date only a little over 30,000 visas have been issued and of these only some 22,000 persons have actually entered under the law – far below the anticipated number, and hardly more than enough to make a dent in the problem. Now President Eisenhower asks Congress to change the law in ten specific ways in order to make it administratively workable. The present outlook for passage is good, partly due, it must be admitted, to the absence of the late Pat McCarran of Nevada, who was adept at devising gimmicks to prevent a law from doing what it seemed to purport to do. There are, it is true, many individuals and groups who retain their holier-than-thou attitude toward immigrants, but in many cases their own ancestors migrated before there were any immigrant laws, and it is reasonable to suppose that many of them could not now enter under the rather stringent criteria set up. Here is a national opportunity and responsibility to perpetuate something of the tradition enshrined in the words of the Statue of Liberty, to receive the oppressed. It was the Master himself who cast favor upon the person because, in his words, “ I was a stranger and you took me in.” Here are millions of strangers and the least we can do in the circumstances is assume willingly the role of host, a role indicated by both our civic tradition and our religious precepts.


Occasionally it appears to be pertinent to deal briefly with some aspect of the scriptures. A few weeks ago, I commented briefly on the New Testament, with special reference to the Revised Standard Version, about which there is continuing, but decreasing controversy. This week, an item came to mind about the problem of prophecy in the Old Testament, which prompted a little investigation, with how fruitful a result, I shall leave you to determine.

The prophets are about the least understood part of the Bible and yet one of the most interesting. They are difficult to understand, and require a knowledge of human nature, social customs, and world history completely beyond the children who study the Bible in Sunday schools. The attempt to bring down to a child’s level has produced a naive interpretation which pictures God as a sort of coach who frequently sends new players into the game with special instructions. They go so far as to show that when the players disregard the instructions they lost the game.

Ministers and writers have added to the confusion by combing the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of the Messiah and twisting them to show that they prove that Jesus was the Messiah.

Actually, the word “prophet” is Greek and has been used to translate several Hebrew words with different meanings but with the common idea of speaking messages supposed to come from a supernatural source. Samuel himself, called a “prophet,” was more of a priest with a shrine and ritualistic duties. Later prophets were “seers,” or visionaries who interpreted the meanings of the times – much like our present-day radio commentators. There were also “diviners,” who sought revelations in natural phenomena, the entrails of a second goose, the stars, the patterns of stones thrown on the ground, and “signs” of all kinds. All these various meanings have been included in the word “prophet.” No wonder it is difficult to understand and interpret. And the bewildering thing is that those who have basic foundation in a knowledge of human nature, social customs, and world history are the very ones that try to do the most interpreting. Those who have done the most study are likely to be the most reluctant to pose any dogmatic statement as the explanation of prophecy.


We used to be amused to read in our history books about the benighted governments of the Old World burning books that expressed ideas that the governments did not like. Now we learn that the Post Office Department is burning “thousands of sacks of mail.” We are not amused any longer. The burning of books is a historic sport of tyrannical majorities. There is no room for such nonsense in a land traditionally dedicated to freedom of conscience and the mind. Book burning is a negative sort of brainwashing. A free and independent press is the symbol and condition of a free and independent mind, without which a person is not a citizen but a slave, though his slave bonds are invisible. As Tom Paine said of another time, “These are times that try men’s souls.” These times call for free institutions of religion, for courage, dedication, information, and patriotism untainted by the particular definition of small, however-well organized, groups who would impose on the minds of men their own narrow, provincial conception of what patriotism is. Time may be found on a later broadcast to deal with this vital problem in detail.


A bit of satire, or so I interpreted it, came to my attention this week from a church paper. An excerpt from it goes something like this: “I have just been reading some old stuff on the National Council of Churches of Christ in America meeting in Evanston. Evidently a lot of time was spent wrangling over whether or not Christ was coming to this earth again and whether people were prepared for it. In 325 A.D. a similar church council wrangled over whether God was in three persons or all of one piece. Not much improvement in the church in fifteen centuries.”


Somewhere I read that the U.S. owns and holds about 75 million bushels of wheat in 317 ships of the U.S. Reserve Fleet, including 30 million bushels on the West Coast. The Agriculture Department is preparing 105 ships of the “mothball fleet” to store about 24 million bushels on the West Coast. Most of the human beings on this planet are hungry. Hunger favors communism or any other change. Wouldn’t it be better to oppose communism with wheat than with bombs? Or am I being unappreciative of the role of force in the world of today. Seems like that somewhere I also read that he who takes the sword shall perish by it.

Of course in recent years those who talk about, believe in, and emphasize the desirability and possibility of peace as opposed to war are often looked upon by little men, or men of little minds, as being suspect; sometimes their very loyalty is even impugned. But war is the breakdown of diplomacy. It is the failure of government. It is, momentarily at least, the collapse of civilization. It is so all-pervading and recurring that little people everywhere, and most of us are little people, cannot but be concerned about it, whatever their religious convictions, or whether they have any such convictions at all. War is the denial of the right of human beings to exist. It constitutes an indictment of the human race. It is the negation of all human values. Curiously and tragically enough, man is the only animal that hunts his own species. As a means of settling international disputes, war is a failure. It creates more problems than it settles. Every war contains the seeds of future wars. There is no such thing as a just war, for war is killing innocent human beings. All war is immoral.

The assumption, in some quarters, is that in a war, one side is right and one side is evil and the right side will win. History shows that this is not the case. Napoleon is reported to have said, “God is on the side of the heavy battalions.” All war decides is which side has the most efficient killing machine. When the war is over the contestants have to do what they might have done before the slaughter: that is, sit around a table and decide how they shall live together in peace. War is always presented to its victims as a noble crusade. It is never that. It is brutal, dirty, immorality on a gigantic scale. It is the supreme disgrace of the human race.

The liberal, and I used the word advisedly, is for peace. This does not mean that he endorses the form of government that obtains in Russia or China, or, necessarily, anywhere else. He can not endorse the government of our ally fascist Spain. He may not endorse the government of our ally communist Yugoslavia. He may say that the form of government that other nations have is none of our business. But in any case, he is for peace. He sees that the U.S. has coexisted during the entire life of communism on this planet. Russia has the oldest government in Europe. During its history it has never attacked the U.S. It, like the U.S., has tried to spread its ideas…. Why this sudden fear that Russia is going to attack us? I think that that fear is whipped up by politicians who see this hysteria as a means of getting elected or staying elected.

Today, no one really wins a war. “You lick ‘em; then you feed ‘em.” In World War II, we defeated Germany, Italy, and Japan. Now the American dough boy, if he survived intact, is holding up their economy by the taxes he pays. Between 80 and 90 percent of our federal income goes to pay for wars past, present, and hoped for. A French statesman is quoted as saying, “We won two wars. If we win another, France is finished.”

The peoples of the world do not want wars. They would live in peace if the old men on the chancelleries of the world would let them alone. On issues removed from the lives of the common people, those in high places decree these bloody sacrifices. In this country boys are conscripted, uniformed, pushed, pulled, hauled, sworn at, brain-washed, and made thirsty for the blood of kids of other nations who have gone through a similar process. How long is this bloody death going on? How long before the youth of the nations will say to the 60-year-olds in government, “If you want Germans, Chinese, Japanese, or what have you killed, go do it yourselves”?

Yet, the problem is not quite that simple. The problem of war is a tough, longstanding one. Man has solved the problem of armed conflict through his history only by applying the rule of law over ever-widening areas. First it was the family, then the clan, the tribe, to the city-state, and now into the sphere of the national state. It is between these national states today that anarchy reigns supreme. Globe-trotting secretaries of state may rush here and there making little agreements that are blown into huge victories by partisan papers, but the fact remains that such people are merely trying to put blowout patches of an old tire that has long since demonstrated its unreliability. The problem of war can be solved, but only when enough people among the nations demand and secure the establishment of world law to apply in the area where there is now only international chaos. Application of law, in our Western, democratic philosophy of things, involves a law-making body responsible directly or indirectly to the people, it implies some kind of administrative agency to see that laws validly enacted are put into practice, and it involves a law-interpreting agency to settle differences of opinion over the meaning of laws. In short, it requires some form of world government. Though I am aware that the phrase “world government” is anathema to some people, in fact, a facts-forum poll that reached me yesterday asks this question: “Is it possible to promote world government and be loyal to the U.S.?” To the liberal, there is only one answer to the question, and to the liberal, the question itself is silly. There is no conflict between my loyalty to the government of the state of Tennessee and my loyalty to that of the United States. Sometime, let us hope, such a narrow conception of loyalty will be relegated into the limbo of dinosaur land, where it belongs.

To realize a world government, responsive to the will of the world’s peoples, will take tough work, compromise, adjustment, and an absence of jingoism. It may, to use a painful phrase, even require an “agonizing reappraisal” or many of the shibboleths that we have mouthed lovingly through the years. But it is the only sure road to solution of the problem of war. It will take brains, not brawn, and sometimes we seem more inclined to use the latter and let the former atrophy from disuse. But the problem of war goes on, like Banquo’s ghost will not down. An alternative to it must be found, and there may not be nearly so much time in which to do it as we need. What do you think about it? Tomorrow, all over this land, people will march to cemeteries to pay decorative tribute to the war dead. These cemeteries are painful memories reminding us of the stupidity of man. Is it not about time that we, in a paraphrase of the words of the Great Emancipator, “Here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this world shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”?

May 22, 1955

Another item in the oft-mentioned and prolonged struggle between dictator Peron of Argentina and the Catholic Church is in the news from Buenos Aires. Argentine police are reported to have arrested a number of Roman Catholic priests. Reports say the police have made a series of raids since Thursday, and are continuing them. The arrests are connected with an alleged plot by Roman Catholics to “disturb the peace.” The raids followed passage by Congress of a law ending the position of Catholicism as the official religion of Argentina.


A Baptist leader has declared Protestants should tear down the mountain of disunity separating them. The Rev. Edwin T. Dahlberg, of Delmar Baptist Church in St. Louis adds Protestants must band together at a time when the U.E.[?] is coming down in a welter of crime and militarism. The Rev. Dahlberg has made his statement to the 10,000 delegates to the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Baptist Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He also states that since the Protestant Reformation we have been marching around the mountain of denominationalism. He has added that Christ did not intend a splintered, divided system of 250 competing churches that in many countries will have nothing to do with each other. “As Baptists,” he says, “we have to work with our brethren in other denominations to find a better answer to our problems than we have now.”


And from Miami, Florida, comes another statement on another subject from another Baptist. The recent leader of more than 8 million Baptists in 30 states, the Rev. J.W. Storer, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, says that Baptist ministers no longer spout so much fire and brimstone. “Baptists,” he says, “still believe in hell as a reality as much as they do in heaven as a reality, but now the approach is not so much the fear of hell as the love of God.” Dr. Storer was, until this convention, president of the Southern Baptist Convention. The 15,000 messengers at the 98th annual Southern Baptist Convention have named a North Carolina pastor as head of their denomination. The new president is Dr. C.C. Warren of the First Baptist Church of Charlotte. Action by these delegates has included a statement against a continuing universal military service in the U.S., as well as the launching of a nine-year program of emphasizing and bolstering their missionary work throughout the world.


This next item brings with it to this reporter none of the satisfaction that is supposed to go with the position of “I told you so.” A third major Protestant church in the U.S. has heard the statement that the so-called revival sweeping America is neither genuine nor permanent. That comment has come from the Rev. Dr. Charles B. Templeton of New York, who is secretary of the evangelism division of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. The statement was made at a rally preceding the 167th General Assembly of the Northern Presbyterians in Los Angeles. Dr. Templeton says most people today seem to want God as they want a hot water bottle in the night – to get over a temporary discomfort. He adds that the statistical columns of today reveal a U.S. increasingly Christian but the news columns reveal us as more and more pagan. However, the new moderator of the Northern Presbyterians sees the U.S. and the world on the crest of great new religious enthusiasm. The Rev. Dr. Paul S. Wright, of Portland, Oregon, declares it a major goal of the church to respond to this enthusiasm and do its part toward filling the need of the people.


An official of a Jewish organization notes dramatic developments in the war against bigotry and prejudice (and to that, this reporter should like to comment that it is about time). Anyway, Henry E. Shultz of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith declares that major battle is still to be won. Schultz’ remarks have been made at a district convention of his organization meeting at Kiamesha Lake, New York.


Back to Argentina for a moment, the Vatican newspaper terms it too early to dwell on particulars of the Argentine House of Deputies to separate Argentina and the Roman Catholic Church. But the publication, L’osservatore Romano, adds that … the nation’s senators have approved the resolution. President Peron’s signature on this and two other bills restricting church is taken for granted. Catholics probably will not like this comment from a Protestant, but it may well be that the Argentine church will be far better off in the long run if Peron has his way, for as long as it is tied to the state, it must suffer from the vagaries and whims of political forces. Independent of politics, it can concentrate on spiritual rather than political fortunes.


Many sociological studies have pointed to the intimate connection between stability in land tenure and stability in the cultural and religious development of local communities. Typically, the rural church in an area of heavy farm tenancy has a shifting population, only a comparatively few of whom are associated with the church. Such areas are also generally characterized by considerable rural poverty, run-down land, and little community purpose. But the rural churches have endured and have grown for the most part in areas in which land tenure is stable.

The Southern agricultural picture generally is one in which the one-year lease is the rule rather than the exception. Hence, a tenant who is ambitious and industrious and applies himself to the best method he knows on the land he is tending may find that next year he has to move, to begin again the same process somewhere else. It is indeed understandable that under such a system, even the best tenant loses his ambition to improve land for his successor to capitalize upon. Nearly every other civilized Western country has, many decades ago, departed from a renting or leasing system of this kind and has required by law the use of a long-term agricultural lease with strict clauses for compensation for … improvements and provision for arbitration in disputes between landlord and tenant as to the values of improvements involved.

It would be well for the land and the people and the churches of the rural South if some such leasing system became customary. It is all the more needed in recent years as the South has moved rapidly from cotton to cows, for nobody can wisely go into the cattle business on an annual unwritten lease. The problem is one that eventually comes back to education of both landlord and tenant, and perhaps the public as well, and this is a problem that churches could and should attack wherever their parishes are suffering from the weakness of a transient, unstable population. They could well do it for their own selfish interest as well as for the unselfishness that would be involved in knowing that they had contributed to the general well being of a class of people that are on the bottom rungs of our socioeconomic ladder.


An item coming to notice the other day from one Joe College seems worth passing on to you. It goes something like this: “In this age of servile conformity and anxiety to be acceptable to the stereotype currently demanded by the conformists, the great need is for college students who are maladjusted. If there is anything duller than a well-adjusted individual it must be the average movie or TV program.” And try as he might, your reporter could think of no comment that would improve upon that statement.


A tract distributed by a Catholic agency says that brotherhood cannot be realized until all people are Catholics. The communist religion holds that brotherhood cannot be realized until all people are communists. Both these are puny conceptions of brotherhood. Brotherhood includes all people of no religions and no religion, people of all politics or no politics – in short, the whole human race. Any other conception divides the world into pharisees and publicans, and it is highly doubtful if you can find any individual who admits that he wants to be either one.


At times, comments have been made that amounted virtually to questions, about the emphasis which this program has consistently given to the subject of civil rights, especially as these pertain to minorities. I have been at times surprised at these comments, for I had, naively it would seem, taken it for granted that everyone looked upon the importance of civil rights as axiomatic which needed no proof or explanation. A brief answer to this is an anonymous quotation which goes something like this: “It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself to resist invasions of it in the case of others.” And to that, might be added, “not only liberty of conscience, but every other kind of liberty.”

In a democracy it is important to protect minorities. Most majorities can take care of themselves. The history of religion, of governments, we might say the history of the world, has been the tyranny of majorities over minorities. A democracy, to be a democracy, must protect the right of a minority to teach, preach, publish, educate, agitate, and propagandize freely in the attempt to transform itself into a majority.

In a democracy there should be no second-class citizens. Such rights and privileges as the state can confer upon its citizens, should be the rights and privileges of all citizens: the right to sell services in every market; to move about at will; to purchase goods, land, houses, services on an equal basis; to enjoy all public facilities as parks, swimming pools theaters, hotels, restaurants, schools, and transportation without discrimination. Democracy demands political, economic, and professional equality. It demands no discrimination on any basis of race, former nationality, political preference, religion, or color of skin, or ideas.

As for civil rights generally, sometimes it would appear that we have become so frightened lest we lose our liberties that we have well-nigh abolished them. In the name of defending democracy, we have denied its principles. One by one we have seen assaults upon our democracy, not by a foreign power, but by the people we ourselves have elected. In the main, the pulpit has been silent. The true patriot has been dumb. And the schools have cravenly acquiesced in inquires and procedures that would do violence to every principle for which the schools should stand, including that of intellectual freedom and independence. The courts have often tweedle-deeded a little on the treble and toodle-doodled on the bass. The opposition party has cried “Me, too.”

There is no doubt that there is danger among us – danger to the freedoms that have been traditional with us as a people; danger from the communists, but also danger from the fascists and the professional anti-communists. Many of us think the danger has been over-exaggerated, though admitting its existence. Thus far I have seen no evidence that any nation intends to attack us, but to bait Russia has become a national pastime. Worse, one who tries to understand Russia is looked upon with suspicion. Some politicians have found it easy and cheap (cheap in more ways than one) to ride into office on red hysteria, conveniently ignoring the basic social and economic as well as political problems that beset us. The notion that this country will become communist is ludicrous. The Communist Party has never elected a single person to the House or to the Senate, and I for one hope it never does. No party in any country at any time is as cordially hated and discredited as that of the communists.

There is no question that a government has a right to take lawful steps to preserve the nation. All of us agree to that. If there are state or military secrets that are stolen or passed on to nations or people who are not entitled to them, those who do these things when found guilty should be punished. But they should be tried in a court of law by due process, and their rights as accused protected. In our republic there should be no Star Chamber councils, no congressional vigilantes, no evidence by professional informers, no wire-tapping, no trial by secret documents, no protected perjurers, no trial by slander. All citizens should be safe in their persons, papers, houses, and property. Only courts should try accused persons.

All of these things are simply the foundation stones of the American way; they represent the best that has gone into American thoughtways and folkways. They apply to all alike: the mightiest as well as the lowliest. It was one who Himself constituted a minority, who refused to conform to the hysteria of his time, who found himself tried, convicted, and sentenced by a paid informer, upon evidence given by perjured witnesses, under a misapplication of the law. It was He who said “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

America cannot afford to forget or to ignore these things, for upon them rest our freedom to worship as we please, and this is one and only one of all the other freedoms to which we as a people have dedicated ourselves as a nation. These are a few of the reasons the subjects of civil rights and minorities are stressed by this reporter, for he believes devoutly in them and is sure that if these are taken away, the real American way of life will disappear with them.


Senator Long of Louisiana recently said in connection with the Far Eastern situation, “The best way for us to save face over Quemoy and Matsu is not to get our face in Quemoy and Matsu.”


May 15, 1955

One year ago next Tuesday, May 17, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision that public schools segregated on the basis of race are unconstitutional. This decision cut squarely across long-established mores and traditions in some 17 Southern states and in some states outside the South. It seems appropriate on this anniversary to review as much as time will permit something of what has happened in the South since last May, one year ago.

It should be emphasized at the outset that there are many “Souths” when it comes to viewpoints with respect to racial matters. Obviously the Georgia crackers who put the Talmadges in office, the North Carolinians who revere their Dr. Frank Graham, and proper Charlestonians would not react the same way to identical conditions. Moreover, different sections of the South differ sharply in their percentages of Negro population, in community leadership, in their cultural level, and in other matters affecting desegregation of schools.

One very significant thing has not happened: Blood has not run in the streets, and there have been no lynchings. The nearest to violence at all are a few demonstrations in some border states shortly after the decision was handed down. Some newspapers and more politicians sputtered recklessly, but most people took the decision in their stride.

Also significantly enough, when the North Carolina Democratic Convention met only three days after the decision, the keynoter drew a round of applause when he emphasized that “We have no other course except to obey the law as laid down by the court. To do otherwise would cost us our respect for law and order.” And the delegates promptly tabled a resolution critical of the court.

Furthermore, with less than a month after the Court’s decision, most of the major church groups aligned themselves in support of desegregation. It could be that they moved swiftly because of guilty consciences, for with the exception of the Catholic and Unitarian churches, Southern religious groups had not seemed to have their hearts in this practical problem of applied Christianity.

This is not to imply that there have been no tough spots. There have. Milford, Delaware, held the national spotlight in the face of organized opposition to desegregation. Ten Negro students involved were transferred to an all-Negro school. Yet, Dover and Northern Delaware communities now have partial integration programs in effect. In West Virginia, white students picketed some schools newly opened to Negroes last September. But the protests died of their own weight. About 1,000 Negro students have been integrated with 50,000 white students in 135 public schools in the state.

But in April of this year, a minister of a Baptist church near Parkin, Arkansas, has been dismissed after delivering a sermon opposing segregation. The Rev. Ed Jones says that last year he discussed the subject of integration in a sermon. Three weeks prior to his dismissal he preached on the subject again. He was then given a choice of not preaching on the subject or being dismissed as pastor. He was told to quit saying that segregation was un-Christian or quit his pastorate. It was something he could not do. In his words, “I had to say that segregation in the church is sinful and not Christian.” His dismissal was on a vote of 43 to 7 for dismissal. Another minister was ousted from another Baptist pastorate in Shellman, Georgia, last year. The Rev. Henry Buchanan expressed similar views to those of his colleague and was dismissed.

Another development on the debit side of the desegregation ledger is the formation of citizens’ councils, mainly, it seems, in Mississippi. These appear to be voluntary associations of white people in the community who organize to make it tough on both white and colored who advocate desegregation. Their tactics include mainly economic boycotts. Persons known to favor integration have their notes refused at the banks; find it difficult to get jobs; are dismissed from the jobs they have for no other known reason. Social ostracism is also among the weapons of these racial supremacists. Persons sympathetic to equal opportunities for both races find themselves shunned by their former associates. Counterbalancing these undemocratic practices is a move to set up a fund for victims of the councils. Individuals, church groups, and other fair-minded people are doing this to neutralize the evil effects of the discriminatory practices.

Looking at the bright side again for a moment, there is more heartening news. The racial bars in schools are being taken down gradually in St. Louis, Kansas City, St. Joseph, and numerous smaller cities. Organized opposition to this, started in St. Louis by a disciple of Gerald L.K. Smith, collapsed almost immediately. Six high schools in St. Louis were desegregated in February, and the only incident was the beating up of a white student, not seriously. One principal remarked after the experience of one month with desegregation that “It’s almost as though we had been going along this way for years and years.”

The District of Columbia is in a special category, in that the legal authority of the federal government was a major factor in the movement toward complete desegregation within 12 months. Here a positive stand was taken by the government, which could be meaningful to hesitant state and local officials. Certainly in the District the transition progressed remarkably well, while official indecision in Delaware, e.g., added to the problems. Over half of the students in Washington attend desegregated schools, and the ratio of Negroes to white students there is about 60:40. The only place that anything like real friction developed during this sweeping change was concentrated in a school with a small Negro enrollment in an area with a history of strained race relations.

Perhaps as significant as any thing else in the fermented picture of the South over segregation is to look at what has happened in a few communities where newspaper editors in the South took a firm stand on principle in the controversy. In Smithfield, North Carolina, famous for producing Ava Gardner, not Smithfield Hams, with a population of 7,200, the semi-weekly Herald, edited by Tom J. Lassiter, former teacher at the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism, the editor discussed the issue fully and frankly in his columns, taking what was, for his community, a radical stand in support of the Court’s decision. Lassiter reprinted liberal articles from Time magazine and other publications bearing on the issue. The paper received and printed letters from only three persons opposing the decision. Furthermore, the editor received a number of compliments – and heard no criticism – on his front-page editorial written the day after the decision was handed down. Subsequent editorials on the same subject did not draw much comment. Editor Lassiter comments, “Someone constantly surprises you by saying quietly that he thinks the decision was just even though he hates to face the problems that the decision has created.”

In Cherraw, South Carolina, Mac Secrest, a North Carolinian and a former student at Duke and the University of North Carolina, runs the weekly Chronicle. Cherraw is a quiet old town of 4,836 on the banks of the Pee Dee River. It is in a farming community, but many of its residents work for hosiery yarn, rayon, and nylon plants. Secrest had this to say after the ruling: “Let us show that we have learned the lesson that it is best and wisest to accept with graceful resignation the inevitable … to Southern parents will fall the responsibility of teaching our children to overcome this (racial) prejudice. To do so we must accomplish the still more difficult task – that of ridding ourselves of it.” This and other editorials prompted four letters. One writer said the issue has two sides and will require time. Another feared the decision would result in more interracial marriages. The third said that people with whom he had talked admired the Chronicle’s stand, and the fourth wrote that “Negroes is all right in there places, but that isn’t with white people,”[sic] and suggested that the editor go back North or to Russia, wherever it was he came from. And to this the editor appended, when he printed it, a saucy note concerning his northern (Carolina) background and admitted memberships in such dangerous left-wing groups as the Kiwanis Club and the American Legion.

Down in Pritchard, Alabama, Charles O. Ditmars, who studied at the University of Alabama, his native state, at Duke, and at the University of North Carolina, publishes the Herald. Pritchard is a fast growing industrial suburb of Mobile. Since the Court ruling, Ditmars has not minced words. He said bluntly that the Court decision was the law of the land. And the brash veteran of Guadalcanal went on to add that when the diehard white supremacy boys march off to the foxholes in northern Virginia, the Herald would wave little stars and bars and send them boxes of cookies, once a year. Ditmar’s comments about the reaction to this paper’s stand: “Readers mutter, congratulate, and condemn, and that suits me.”

The interesting thing is that in these three cases, no advertisers have cancelled because of the stand; the circulation of all three papers continues to grow. One Cheraw Chronicle subscriber cancelled because of the paper’s stand, but circulation has increased about 50 percent during the last year. It would seem that the experience of these editors who have moved ahead of what is considered the prevailing Southern position on segregation suggests that many Southerners will respond to liberal leadership, and that newspapers’ business offices won’t collapse if they offer that leadership. One difficulty seems to be something of a vicious cycle. Many Southern newspapers echo the statements of congressmen and governors of their respective states, and then the congressmen and governors go around quoting the newspapers. It is something like the story of the man who stopped every morning in front of a jewelry store, looked in the window, and then walked down the street. One day the jeweler stopped him and asked why he always looked in the window. “Well,” he said, “I work at the factory. My job is to blow the whistle at noon. So I always stop to look at your clock and check my watch against it, so I will be sure that I blow the whistle at the right time.” “That’s interesting,” said the jeweler, “because I always set my clock by your whistle.”

However, while politicians and the majority of newspapers are setting their clocks by each other’s whistle, another voice is rising in the South and chiming in alongside the small town editors. It is the voice of the men and women who, many for the first time in their lives, are writing letters to daily newspaper editors. The largest paper in North Carolina, The Charlotte News, reports its mail heavy for months following the court decision. The News favored the separate-but-equal doctrine and expressed grave disappointment over the court ruling. For every four letter writers opposing the court decision, there were three for it. Other large papers through the South report the same reaction.

Another positive factor in the situation is the formation last year of the Southern Education Reporting Service, an objective, fact-finding agency established by Southern newspaper editors and educators with the aim of providing accurate, and unbiased information to schools, public officials, and interested lay citizens. Its circulation has reached above 30,000 and the Ford grant, with which it was originally started, has been in a measure extended, though its future circulation will depend upon subscription rates to cover cost of printing and mailing. Experience of the director, C.A. McKnight, a veteran Southern newsman, has convinced him of the following trends in recent months:

  1. Where school boards and administrators have taken a forceful and positive stand, desegregation has proceeded smoothly;
  1. The number of pupils engaged in strikes and picket lines has never been more than a small fraction of the total integrated student body;
  1. Military posts and Catholic parochial schools have undergone some degree of integration in virtually 17 states;
  1. Organized resistance to implementation of the court decision developed in almost every one of the states, with varying degrees of effectiveness;
  1. PTAs and teacher groups, medical societies, and ministerial associations are desegregating in ever increasing numbers;
  1. Unprecedented state spending to equalize white and Negro facilities is planned or under way in many states;
  1. The U.S. Attorney General and all states filing briefs with the court agree that federal district courts should be given a wide latitude to consider variations among states and communities.

Where do we go from here? The Court has not handed down its decree putting into effect its decision of a year ago. When it does, that decree will help answer the question. We do know that in recreational areas, in voting, in membership on school boards, city councils, and other public agencies, Negroes are participating in ever-increasing numbers. Heretofore, opportunities for Negroes in jobs and compensation for those who had jobs were very few and low compared with those for whites. The South is seeking new industries and development of resources. Yet it greatest untapped resource lies virtually unnoticed beneath the dark skins of its colored people. Maybe, as Alan Patton said, “Edicts from the top are not always at the bottom, but the acoustics are improving.”


May 8, 1955

The fact that there appears to be a cult of religiosity in this country generally and in Washington particularly has been mentioned on this program before. John Cogley, writing in a current issue of the magazine Commonweal, deals with the subject somewhat at length. Putting it in time perspective, he says, “Religiosity – or the God-bit, as it is called in the more cynical capital circles – has long been a part of our political traditions. … The people, especially religious people, seem to demand it and who is to say that there may not be some faint ring of sincerity as the politico’s little coins of godliness are dropped.… It is the identification of our national cause, our needs, our ends – conceived in political and military terms – with God’s cause.… Certain vestiges of America’s Calvinist past seem to have reappeared [and] people who know better talk as if ours is not only God’s country but that we are his chosen people.… It may even be that when a great nation begins to think of itself as godly because it is great, it has gone a long way toward losing its claim to godliness.” And to that, anything which this reporter might add would indeed be superfluous.


Some people find it easy to become emotional over sacred writings. An understanding of how they came to be what they are may do something to shed light rather than heat on a subject of importance to all of us.

Even yet, after it has been distributed widely over a number of years, there remains much heated emotion over the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. This version is a monumental task that required our ablest scholars a number of years to finish. Without dwelling on its merits or demerits, it is illuminating this controversy to reflect how our Bible came to be, especially the New Testament.

Actually the New Testament consists of a small part of the writings that were produced by the new religion that came to be called Christianity. Many of these early writings have been that new religion. Some of them have been lost or were not considered worthy of preservation. There remain more materials that did not get into the New Testament than did. Unlike the Old Testament that took over 900 years in developing, the New Testament was dashed off in about 100 years (50-150 A.D.). It is divided into 27 sections called “books.” Like the Old Testament, the titles tell us nothing reliable about the authorship. The books were tracts for their times, and exhibit great theological diversity. Some people have been confused because they have approached the New Testament with the notion that Christianity began as a full blown theological system and that that system was set forth consistently in all its parts. The truth is that when a person speaks of Christianity, he may mean almost anything having to do with Christ. Christianity is a culture containing many, and often somewhat contradictory, theologies, just as it must be admitted that in the New Testament there are some contrary doctrines.

As with the Old Testament, there are no original manuscripts extant. All we have are copies of copies. All the books have been changed through the years by editing, translations, and deliberate revisions, as well as by unintentional errors in copying. By the time that printing was discovered some 1,450 years after Christ, thus making uniformity and permanence possible, the text had become progressively corrupt through copying and translating. The earliest complete copy of the New Testament is of recent discovery and written in Greek. It shows a large number of discrepancies in what we have been calling the New Testament.

A large part of the New Testament consists of letters of Paul, an apostate Jew, who had absorbed many religious ideas of the Hellenistic world. He wrote nine or ten of the books (Authorship of Ephesians is in dispute, though usually accorded to Paul).

There are three biographies of Jesus that show remarkable likeness, even to parallel language. A philosophic biography called “John” completes the list of the Gospels. The writer of “John,” whoever he may have been, was seemingly trying to bring together all the disparate and warring conceptions of Christianity under one big tent. Then there is a history of the early church called “Acts,” part of which may be fictitious. There is no consensus as to who the author was, though generally it has been ascribed to Luke. Some minor writings largely make up the rest of the New Testament except for the final book called “Revelation.” This seems to be rather frenzied symbolic writing. The author appears to be suffering at times from delusions of persecution, at other times perhaps of grandeur. Its contents are subject to almost any kind of interpretation, and many of us do not profess to understand it or to believe those who claim they do.

These, then, are a few of the facts of how the New Testament came to be. The authors of the Revised Standard Version simply took what we had and tried to make it as nearly like the earliest known copies as they could, eliminating as many errors that had occurred during history as possible. They tried, then, to give us a Bible like it originally was and in language of the man-in-the-street today. It might be well for us to keep these historical facts in mind as we try to evaluate the work of these scholars, for theirs has been a truly monumental production. For my personal use, I prefer the King James Version, but that preference is in no sense a disparagement of what has gone into the new version.


Intellectual compartmentalization perhaps has always been a characteristic of secondary intellects. But it became a disease in the 19th century. It is most evident in the church now, which is ready for the most part to bless war and nuclear weapons, and it is also evident in government that in the name of liberty takes away our liberties. It would seem past the time when the former should reassess its principles and the latter its procedures.


It is interesting, though not very rewarding, to reflect upon some of the more popular and publicized theological trends these days. On the one hand we have the paralyzing theology that Christianity is a religion of failure taught by the Niebuhrs and the Tillichs. On the other hand, we have the oversimplified psychology of the Sheens and Peales. The latter support their viewpoint on the superstition of direct and personal intervention on the confident supplicant’s behalf by the deity. Reason and logic combine to leave the impression that the first is founded on a cosmic conception that has never been established: while the latter bears some elements of pure charlatanism. It gives assurances more extravagant than the claims of a salesman of second-hand cars.

President Eisenhower says his attendance at religious and dedication services of a Jewish temple is neither unique nor especially extraordinary. He said that before the service some of the distinguished members of the congregation had voiced to him surprise at his attendance, wondering that the president of the U.S. should attend services of a faith not his own. The chief executive spoke from the pulpit Friday evening at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, in ceremonies dedicating the building of the congregation. He emphasized that the U.S. is a spiritual organism. He told the 2,000 persons present that “It is well to remember … you may not protest those rights [of religious freedom] only for yourself. You must protect them for all, or your own will be lost. During the service, conducted by Rabbi Norman Gerstenfeld, the president joined in responsive prayers.


Fuller use of America’s abundance to build a freer, more prosperous world is urged by some U.S. religious leaders. In a joint declaration, 88 top-ranking Jewish, Roman Catholic and Protestant clergymen and lay persons also ask greater output and more equitable distribution at home.

The six-point declaration has been released in New York by the Rt. Rev. Monsignor Luigi Ligutti of Des Moines, director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. Other signers include Rabbi Eugene Lipman of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and the Rev. Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, president of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.


Celebrations today honor two U.S. mothers. A woman lawyer and mother of ten children has been selected as the Roman Catholic Mother of the Year. She is Mrs. Henry Mannix of Brooklyn, N.Y., for many years an officer in many Catholic organizations. The other, chosen by the American Mother’s Committee, is 75-year-old Mrs. Lavina Dugal, of Pleasant Grove, Utah. She is a Mormon and the mother of eight children, and much of her activities outside the home have been in the Mormon Church.


We are enjoined by the Bible to judge not, lest we be judged. Also, and this may be one of the contradictions I mentioned a moment ago in the New Testament, we find that “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Following the latter biblical instruction for a moment, it is easy to say that we would be impressed by the self-avowed religiosity of some public officials if such avowals were accompanied by commensurate morality. Many of us have been highly skeptical of the morality of a continuing practice of government of hiring professional informers. Over 80 people that we know of have been employed in such questionable capacity. How many more there are is not known, for the agencies using them are not talking.

Now at least one of these 80 has called the practice a racket, and three have confessed that they are liars. Everybody can agree that this last is true, for if they are now telling the truth, their original testimony was false, and vice versa. Few of us would hazard a guess as to which of their stories, if either, is true.

Harvey Matusow says that he was a dedicated communist fanatic (Are there any other kind?) for a year or two. One day he walked past a synagogue and was overcome by a realization of the sins he was committing and decided to reform. He says he made his living from 1951-1954 by testifying in 25 trials, deportation proceedings, and other hearings, and that he made 180 identifications of communists, or persons he wished to call communists, all for the various agencies that employed him. Not only that, but he hired out as a speaker in congressional campaigns in which, for a fee, he would damage this or that candidate with insinuations of subversion. He wrote for the Hearst papers and lectured on the American Legion circuit.

Among the agencies who used him were the Department of Justice (of all people), the Subversive Activities Control Board, the McCarthy Subcommittee, the Jenner Subcommittee, the House Un-American Committee, the State of Ohio Un-American Committee, and the New York City Board of Education.

Two other people, a Lowell Watson of Kansas, and a Mrs. Marie Natvig, of various places and occupations, admit they lied before the FCC and other agencies. In her testimony before the FCC, Mrs. Natvig branded a prominent publisher and TV licensee as a communist. Now she says that she not only lied about this man but also about her own communist affiliations.

None of the agencies concerned has indicated its intent to reconsider the moral, juridical, or political effects of retaining these witnesses, nor, more to the point, do they seem concerned about trying to find out what injustices, if any, have been done on the testimony of these self-confessed liars. On the contrary, the Department of Justice, at least, seems more concerned about withholding any facts that might indicate its agents helped these liars manufacture evidence, or that they were suckers who accepted untrustworthy evidence, than they are about righting any wrongs that may have been done. Apparently, the Justice Department is not disturbed by the commandment that says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness …”

Let us be clear on a basic point in this connection. Anyone who has broken the laws of this nation should be punished with whatever penalty the law provides for their crimes. The government has a right and an obligation to know that its employees are loyal to our constitutional system of government. But, government also has an obligation, both legal and moral, to uphold that system through observing due process at all times. This involves informing the person of the charges against him, confronting him with his accusers, permitting him to cross-examine them, convicting him upon reliable evidence, and permitting an appeal, to the highest court, if necessary, in case any of his rights have been violated. Not only this, but government has an obligation, moral if not legal, when a wrong has been committed by its own agents to seek just as assiduously to correct the error it has made.