September 25, 1955

A penetrating investigation of the American religious scene is contained in a book just off the press entitled Protestant, Catholic and Jew, by Jewish author Will Herberg. Among many other things, it reveals that Americans are very inconsistent in some respects regarding religion. It reports that a recent survey reveals that over 80 percent of Americans say they believe the Bible to be the “revealed word of God.” But another, apparently equally valid survey reveals that 53 percent of those same Americans were unable to name even one of the four Gospels. (This would appear to be something like the citizen who said that he believed in and would die for the Monroe Doctrine, but that he did not know what it was.) But back to the Herberg volume: it cites a panel of 28 prominent Americans who, when asked to rate the 100 most significant happenings in history, rated the crucifixion fourth, making it a tie with the flight of the Wright brothers and the discovery of x-rays.

The author goes on to point out that “While the Jewish-Christian law of love is formally acknowledged, the truly operative factor is the value system embodied in the American way of life. Where the American way … approves of love of one’s fellowmen, most Americans … assert that they practice such love; where the American way … disapproves, the great mass of Americans do not hesitate to confess they do not practice it, and apparently feel very little guilt for their failure.”

Which of course, from a theological standpoint does not make sense. In such circumstances, religion becomes merely a support of or bolster to secular ways of living, leaving little opportunity for it to determine those ways. It would appear that a new kind of secularism is flourishing that uses and supports religion, but fails to let it be a primarily determining factor in the way of life of the people.

The author summarizes something of his convictions in this connection by saying that “The familiar distinction between religion and secularism appears to be losing much of its meaning under present day conditions. Both the religionists and the secularists cherish the same basic values and organize their lives on the same fundamental assumptions.” And just what that leads us to spiritually and theologically, this reporter will not even hazard a guess.


Much satisfaction and relief have been felt, at least temporarily, by the common man throughout the world as a result of the seemingly more peaceful atmosphere in world affairs following the Geneva meeting. Something the president said there is of basic importance in trying to find a solution to basic international problems, and one cannot help but wonder if he knew the full significance of what he was saying. His words were these: “There can be no true peace which involves acceptance of a status quo in which we find injustice to many nations, repressions of human beings on a gigantic scale, and with constructive effort paralyzed in many areas by fear.” And, one could add, with equal pertinence, this applies within countries as well as between them, even within our own. Change is an order of life, and here in the U.S. we have generally found a way of accommodating that change by law. But there are some powerful segments in the American public that find it difficult to accept orderly change. To many of them, their slogan is “Let’s march ahead to yesterday.”

In this country great economic progress has been obtained by labor division and by capital saving and concentration. But with the increase in the size of units of production, with the relatively less significant part the individual worker plays in the whole productive process, workers have, quite naturally, turned to organization and collective bargaining in order to make their voices felt in the marketplace. There are those who would stamp out these organizations through pressure group tactics upon legislative bodies and through propaganda to the public. Slogans like the “right to work” are paraded under the guise of sign points to democracy, when actually their ultimate effect, if successful, would be to kill off labor unions as effectively as did the Stalins, the Hitlers, and other tyrants. Admittedly there have been excesses by labor organizations. Some of them have come under the control of undemocratic cliques, but the same could be said for many other types of organizations, even churches. And a wrong committed by a labor union is just as wrong, and no more, as the same wrong done by the National Association of Manufacturers. The point is that much of the material betterment of the workingman has come about through the functioning of his labor organizations. This material betterment has meant improved shelter for his family, better medical care, education, vacations, more of a feeling of independence and self-respect, and more of a recognition that he has a stake in the functioning of American democracy. Those interested in the promotion of human welfare and social justice could hardly be expected to be misled by the slogans and propaganda of self-seeking and selfish pressure groups whose campaigns are garnished with sweet sounding words, but whose ultimate objectives are in reality gall and wormwood insofar as the masses of the workers are concerned.


The next item is passed along to you for whatever it may be worth and without comment by this reporter. In fact, it needs no comment, for it speaks for itself. It bears a New York dateline with an INS signature, with a byline of the well-known newspaperman, Bob Considine. He points out that the Rev. Carroll R. Stegall, Jr., pastor of the Pryor Street Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, is carrying on something of a one-man crusade against so-called faith healers on television. Preacher Stegall “bows to no man in his respect for the power of prayer,” but he believes that “when it is used as a gimmick at a televised revival at which the hat is passed,” it is time for righteous indignation. He is quoted as writing in The Presbyterian Outlook that “The modern Pentecostal claim that they (the healers) have recovered the apostolic gift of miraculous healing is a fraud.” He believes that they have manufactured a new cult using age-old tricks of suggestion and psychological cant. So far from glorifying God with this, they cause his name to be blasphemed among the worldly by their excesses. So far from curing, they often kill.

The Rev. Stegall did his research on this subject the hard way, being arrested once at least by Atlanta police for disturbing public worship when in fact he was taking notes, interviewing the lame and blind at one of the healing orgies. His findings about what happens to those that are really ill, lame, etc., is rather shocking. He writes: “No healer will come near any really crippled or disabled person at all if he can possibly avoid it. I have seen many desperate cases at every meeting I have attended…. Night after night they are avoided like the plague. When pressed for an explanation, the healers profess to be able to discern those who have faith – which is never found among those really sick, it seems.

“If one of these does by mischance get into the line, the healer will say, ‘Get up here on the platform with me and wait until the line is over, and then I will give you special attention’…. Needless to say these promises are never kept.”

Well, there are the findings of one person who has apparently done painstaking research in the matter and whose faith in matters religious and spiritual is unquestioned.


A Lutheran church council committee investigating heresy accusations against a pastor has asked him to appear before it in October. The Wisconsin Conference of the United Lutheran Church told the Rev. Victor Wrigley to appear before the committee Tuesday of last week. Layman Ralph Ward of the congregation appeared instead. He discussed the congregation’s objection to the appearance for nearly three hours. Dr. Paul Bishop of Minneapolis, president of the Northwest Synod of the Church and head of the committee, abandoned the hearing until October 7. But he said Wrigley is expected to appear along with members of the congregation.


Over the next three years the World Council of Churches will make an international study and appraisal of Christian responsibility in areas of rapid social change. This applies particularly to the countries of Asia and Africa. The study has been made possible by a $260,000 gift of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. It will be directed by Dr. Robert Bilheimer of New York who last year was executive for the 2nd Assembly of the World Council. He is now an associate general secretary of that organization. The assembly set up the division of studies which says its task is for arousing Christian thinking and acting in regard to issues of world import, and about which there is not sufficient clarity or unity of thought.


Enrollment in the nation’s Sunday schools which is expected to reach record proportions this year, [?] will mark the official opening on Rally Sunday of Christian Education Week which is to be observed by most Protestant churches today through October 2. The 1955 theme is “Go make disciples of all.” Churches throughout the country will carry out programs of home visitation to enlist interest of parents as well as children in Christian education. For the first time, many churches will invite parents to attend the year’s first Sunday school classes for children.


Washington’s 139-year-old history-laden St. John’s Episcopal Church has been found to be so near collapse that it will cost $350,000 to put it into good shape. But the chairman of the building committee, Miles Colean, is not sure where the money is coming from for the permanent repairs. Despite the history which makes it a stop for countless tourists, St. John’s is not a wealthy church.

Known as the “Church of the Presidents” because every president since James Madison has at least visited it, the structure is in appalling condition. The rector, the Rev. Dr. C. Leslie Glenn, commented, “I don’t know what was holding it up, if it wasn’t the grace of God.” (Which this reporter might comment upon by saying, without any sacrilege, that this is laying a great deal of material stress upon an intangible concept.) However, the first sign of trouble came when workmen trying to do a minor plaster repair of the dome, found laths sprung loose and so eaten by termites that most of the plaster was in danger of falling. An engineering survey gave the true picture of how badly a nearly complete overhaul is needed.


Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, starts this evening as a climax to the 10-day period of prayer and penitence marking the start of the New Year for world Jewry. During the 24 hours until sunset Monday, religious Jews will fast and pray. It is in that Day of Atonement that they believe that Jehovah writes the Book of Life in which each man hopes to be inscribed for a good year.

September 18, 1955

If, one year ago, anyone in public office had suggested that the heads of the so-called Big Four would sit down together and try to find approaches to settlement of the issues of the Cold War, he would have been branded as an appeaser, a crackpot, or downright subversive. As late as April of this year there were headlines warning of shooting hostilities off the China coast, hostilities that many serious students feared might trigger the whole world into a nuclear struggle.

Since the Geneva meeting of the heads of state, millions of words have been written and spoken, in an effort to evaluate the meaning of the rapid and, on the surface at least, cheerful developments that took place there. Commentaries as to the meaning of what took place range from the sentimentality of those who would have us see it all as a blissful revival of the Soviet-American honeymoon of World War II to the total and apparently cheerful rejection of everything that took place by those who, like McCarthy, see a personal stake in disaster and flourish only in periods of hysteria and despair and frustration.

Certainly this reporter has no inside information as to what it all means, and he shares with probably the most of you the understandable caution against accepting at face value whatever the communists say or do. Doubtless at Geneva there were real fears on both sides; perhaps the greatest real accomplishment may well have been the admission, by their presence at Geneva, on the part of the all the Big Four that they recognized the necessity of peace. Let us hope also that another accomplishment may have been clearing away at least some of the corrosive fears and suspicions so that real negotiation of specific issues could become possible. To suggest that we are on the threshold of an era when the tough and persistent problems of our times will vanish into the mists is wishful thinking or visionary foolishness. The tasks ahead require a blend of caution coupled with daring imagination and boldness, if anything like a peaceful world is to be achieved. The Soviets on their part will have to abandon at least some of the harsh inflexibility that has marked their behavior at many conferences during the past decade. The United States too may have to climb down from its high horse on many critical questions.

Take the question of Germany, for instance. Both sides recognize it as a crucial one. The Soviets may have to consent to really free elections, which doubtless would mean the complete loss of Germany for many Russians. But we may have to agree to the withdrawal of Germany from NATO and the demilitarization of the country under ironclad supervision by the United Nations. Neither we nor the Russians would lose face under such an arrangement, and the reunification of Germany would be accomplished without bloodshed – and such reunification is the key to peace in Europe. Why? Because the Russians have a natural and a mortal fear of a militarized Germany because within the lifetime of many Russians their country has been invaded and their population decimated by German aggressors. Moreover, Germany’s potential for industrial production and scientific achievements – in short, her capacity for making war – is so great that both the Soviets and the West would consider it a major catastrophe if a united, militarized Germany became a partner of the other.

Moreover, in another trouble spot in the world, China, it may be necessary for give and take on both sides, without appeasement and without compromise of principles. Both the United States and Red China are quibbling over Formosa. As it stands at present, China sees the situation as one where we insist on using Formosa as a base from which to destroy the Chinese government and oust the communist regime. Maybe in this case there is no easy road out. But, as was pointed out on this program months ago, Formosa belongs to China about as much as the United States belongs to England. There are ethnic and cultural ties, but that is about all. Solving the present situation may mean U.N. trusteeship for the island, minus Chiang Kai-shek (for whom some Americans seem to have an over-fondness) with a provision that after a reasonable period, say ten years, the Formosans may decide in free elections whether they wish to become part of China or go their own way as a free and independent country. Acceptance of such a plan on the part of the Chinese regime might help to establish Her pretensions to being a peace-loving nation and pave the way for diplomatic recognition by the United States and admission to the United Nations.

As indicated at the outset, there are no easy solutions to these problems. The ones suggested seem a not unreasonable approach to difficulties that are not, by any stretch of the imagination important enough to embroil the world in a war, but which, left unsolved, very well might do so. Peoples of the world want peace, not war, but unless their spokesmen at the tables of diplomacy exhibit on both sides a willingness to find and use areas of agreement, war may come. At any rate, the climate of public opinion here and elsewhere during the last six months has been encouraging us to hope that such peaceful avenues may be found and utilized.

The extent to which this question has been dealt with here today should need no explanation on a program of this kind. The present day situation of humanity is characterized by the slogan of the U.N., “One world or none.” In other words, the time is over when men and nations can be considered disconnected entities. In the mental sphere, this means full acknowledgement of the essential equality of men and the fact that neither insufficient endowment, nor unfavorable circumstances, nor peculiarities of race, class, or nation can deprive man of humanity. Technically, it means that the material base of our life today constitutes the interdependence of all human problems, which in turn implies a joint responsibility for the happiness and prosperity of the whole of mankind. The paradox of the present phase, however, is that the realization of the dignity and worth of man in the mental sphere has been made both actually possible and highly doubtful by the dynamics of the technical world. Modern technique aggravates the consequences of human conduct, which has lagged behind technical progress. This is the reason why mankind is menaced by rivalry, destruction, and poverty. But unless man succeeds in eliminating the threat of world war and solving the problems of material want and population, there will be no world in which mental freedom is balanced by social justice, and social justice should be the key concern of all religions, regardless of their nature.

September 11, 1955

An unexpected exchange between Catholics and Protestants disturbed the 58th Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church being held in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Rt. Rev. Egmont Krischke, Episcopal bishop of the Church’s missionary district of Southwest Brazil, started the dispute. He said Catholicism in Latin America is losing members to communism. In his words, “Latin people have been nurtured in an extremely debased form of Christianity.… The Roman Catholic Church exploits their illiteracy and credulity in a most sordid way.… In all our growing towns and cities, we have multitudes of well-educated people who, under the impact of scientific knowledge, are giving up what they supposed to be the Christian faith, but which is actually only a medieval version of it. Large numbers of them have resorted to communism, to spiritualism, and, strange as it may seem, to some modern forms of Indian and African magic rituals with superstitions of the Roman Church.”

In Honolulu, Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop John J. Scanlan took exception to the remarks. He called the speech “regrettable,” adding that “It certainly seems in bad taste that delegates should choose this occasion to offend the largest religious group of these islands while they are guests of the Hawaiian people.”

In an effort to soothe irate Catholics in the islands, the Episcopal bishop of Honolulu, Harry Kennedy, called the relationship between the two churches there “most friendly,” and added, “The general convention is a democratic body. Individuals may speak and not in any sense be the spokesman for the Episcopal Church nor express the feelings and attitude of the church.”

Other highlights of the Episcopal convention include the following:

The Episcopal bishop of Chicago, the Rt. Rev. Gerald Burrell, strongly criticized the church for what he said was its neglect of big city congregations in the United States.

Bishop Horace Donegan of New York said too many clergymen treat women church workers like what he called “second or third class citizens.”

The House of Bishops voted down a controversial proposal which would have changed present church canons concerning the remarriage of divorced persons.


Berne, Switzerland: David O. McKay, lifetime president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, celebrated his 82nd birthday Thursday. He paid his first visit to Europe’s first Mormon temple, being built in Switzerland’s Capitol of Berne.


And another note comes from Wiesbaden, Germany, where the Salt Lake City Tabernacle Choir sang Thursday in its tour of Europe. During the week it also sang in Berlin. Its audiences continue to be large and enthusiastic.


A man with a mission is Rabbi Harold A. Friedman of North Carolina. His mission is the spiritual care of the 1,000 Jews scattered over the Old North State in groups too small to support a synagogue or a rabbi. North Carolina’s 6,000 other Jews help support Rabbi Friedman in his work. He uses an air-conditioned bus, fixed into a place of formal worship for circuit-riding his 25,000 square-mile rural parish.

Since last March, Rabbi Friedman has been driving his bus more than 600 miles a week. He organizes study groups, brings spiritual guidance and holds services – and in some towns his have been the first Jewish services in as much as 40 years. The bus synagogue idea is a project of the North Carolina Association of Jewish Men.


Roman Catholic Archbishop Richard J. Cushing has praised Jewish-endowed Brandeis University for making religious instruction and devotions available to its students. The Boston prelate made his remarks at dedication of a Catholic chapel at the university Friday of this week. In his special Mass, Archbishop Cushing noted three separate units are being built at Brandeis so Jews, Protestants, and Catholics may not forget their religious obligations. However, a dissident Catholic group caused some short-lived trouble about the Catholic chapel at Brandeis. Earlier in the week a handful of followers of the excommunicated priest, Leonard Feeney, tried to distribute derogatory handbills in downtown Boston. The handbills were critical of Jews and opposed construction of the chapel. Some fistfights ended the effort.


Argentina will not vote until next mid-May on the touchy question of separation of the state and the Roman Catholic Church. A bill to this effect has just become law, replacing the bill that originally set the balloting for late this year. Meanwhile, President Juan Peron has sent the church the state referendum. The measures are designed to assure minority parties at least one-third of the seats in the Argentine House of Deputies.


Going back to the Episcopal convention in Honolulu, the House of Deputies has defeated a proposal to drop the word “Protestant” from the church name. Charles P. Taft, a brother of the late Senator Robert Taft, led the fight against the change. As a lay delegate, he told the meeting, “We are in fact a part of the Protestant community.” Taft also stated the major Protestant communions would not understand the move, and the Episcopalians’ relations in their communities would be seriously affected. Lay delegate Walter L. Cooper, of Cranford, New Jersey, had introduced the resolution to delete the word “Protestant.” He commented that dropping it would not affect any separate church ritual.

This 12-day convention, which began last Sunday, has already accomplished several things. The House of Bishops has defeated a proposal for a bishop of the U.S. Armed Forces. The House of Deputies has refused to allow women a vote in the convention. Both issues are expected to be brought before the convention again. And both houses have ordered a tighter rein on music played in the church. The clergyman will have final authority to ban from all services music that he considers “light and unseemly.”


And the question of whether churches can be required to subscribe to loyalty oaths in order to retain their tax-free status is to be pondered by a Senate sub-committee. Closely allied to it is the right to deny a would-be lawyer admission to the bar if he declines to make a loyalty oath. These are not simply academic. As for the loyalty oath for lawyers, the Illinois law requires it, and a young man who refused to take the oath has been denied admission to the bar, and will testify shortly before the subcommittee.

As for the loyalty oath and tax-free status for churches, 13 churches in California have protested that the no oath no tax exemption law is a denial of their constitutional rights.

Counsel for the subcommittee, Marshall MacDuffie, said testimony will be received from representatives of these 13 churches. He went on to comment that those problems will be considered in the light of provisions of the Bill of Rights. Does either the California law or the Illinois law violate the constitutional ban against interference with freedom of religion and of speech, which supposedly includes the right to think as one pleases, as well as the right not to speak? Commenting further, Mr. MacDuffiie said, “The Senate established this committee for the very reason that such a dilemma does exist today. Every loyal American wants the nation to be secure. But it is beginning to be widely recognized that our form of government itself is endangered if we permit the Constitution to be violated in the name of protection against disloyalty.

The subcommittee plans seven weeks of public hearings starting October 3. Witnesses will include conscientious objectors, publishers who will discuss the Defense Department’s new policy in the light of the freedom of the press clause, scientists and others who will disclose their experience in guilt-by-association rulings of government agencies, prominent individuals who have been unable to keep speaking engagements overseas because of State Department refusal to issue them passports. It is expected that there will also be heard cases of young men who have been denied Armed Forces commissions because of alleged guilt-by-association, such as the case of young Eugene Landry who was indiscreet enough to associate with his mother, who was a member of the Communist Party for 10 years prior to 1947, and who says that she left the party at the request of young Landry himself.


Recent figures released by the National Council of Churches reveal that some six out of 10 Americans are now affiliated with some church. Just what this means is uncertain. Some interpret it as a turning away from materialism and toward things that are of the spirit. And it is hoped by most of us at least that this is true. However, there are others who are skeptical of the real meaning of this increase. Maybe it has become something of a fashion to belong to a church, perhaps some people affiliate with them pretty much as they do secular clubs. Doubtless part of it may well be due to the confusion and uncertainty of the times, and that many of the increased number are seeking some anchor of certainty in a pretty confused world.

One of the things, however, that the critical-minded person dislikes much is what I have referred to heretofore as the “cult of religiosity,” that is, the wearing of a cloak of religion as a sort of insulation against any and all criticisms. We have had a few people high in public office in this country who in recent months have both implied and said that good citizenship is synonymous with Christianity. While there may be a relationship there, to insist that it always holds true is not only nonsense; it is stupid. Outgrowths of this cult have been seen in legislative action by the Congress to insert in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag the words, “this nation under God,” and to place on postage stamps, currency, and other official insignia the words “In God We Trust.” All of this smacks of the pharisee who went about with a drawn face to impress the people he met that he was devout through his practice of fasting. How much the increased membership may be pharisaical in this sense, nobody can tell, but some of us are reminded in this connection of a Shakespearean quote that said “methinks thou dost protest too much.”

Incidentally, the Town Meeting of the Air will discuss this very question in its weekly program tonight over ABC, and will be carried by this station. If you are interested in this subject, be listening to that program this evening when the speakers will present all sides of it.


Something of what seems to be a perennial, and a very controversial, issue in local areas is coming to a focus on September 20, 1955, in a neighboring Knox County: the question of retention of its present so-called prohibition or the adoption of legal control measures over the whiskey traffic. Doubtless most of the protagonists and antagonists are sincere in believing that their proposal is the preferred one. Doubtless, too, is the question of how realistic one wishes to or can be about a very troublesome but persisting problem. I take it that most of us would prefer prohibition if it really prohibited. A goodly portion of us, seeing that it does not, believe that the honest, the logical, and preferable course is to recognize the existence of the traffic and to advocate strict governmental regulation of what is at best an undesirable situation. A really blunt but effective approach is to have state and local units of government take over all dispensing of whiskey, thus taking it out of the realm of private profit. Next is to devise laws and regulations relating to conditions and time under which sales can be made, persons to whom such sales can be made, and penalties, rigidly enforced, for violation of the law. Thus, whatever profit is derived from the traffic accrues to the public treasury. Bootlegging and similar evasions of the law disappear because there is no reason for their existence. Furthermore, it is hypocritical, whether we mean it to be or not, to go on insisting that the present prohibition situation in this area promotes sobriety, when anyone viewing the city streets of almost any town can see visible signs that not all are sober. There is such a thing as being honest with oneself, though it is an excruciating experience at times.


September 4, 1955

A concise but significant statement of Arnold J. Toynbee, the historian, points up the crucial problem facing the world of today with respect to the matter of human relations and the possibility of future existence of civilization. He says:

“We are all now in the same boat, on board this small atom-bomb-haunted planet. Here is a common human plight that is more serious even than the possession of atomic weapons, because it is our moral plight that makes our physical weapons dangerous. Here is a ground for a humility that lies deeper than the various superstructures of mankind’s religions and ideologies. Here is a problem that is common to all human beings as such. Cannot we cooperate to cope with it without prejudice…?”

Obviously it is only when people of moral strength of all nations become vocal and without prejudice come to demand that the destructiveness possible in our physical weapons be turned to constructiveness for the improvement of mankind. “Without prejudice” is a challenge, but with prejudice there is little likelihood of avoiding catastrophe.


I reported some weeks ago on the outcome of the first heresy trial in the history of the Northwest Synod of the Lutheran Church, an outcome that found the Rev. George P. Crist guilty of nine of 14 counts. Reported also was the fact that his counsel in that trial, the Rev. John Gerberding, pastor of Holy Cross Church at Menominee Falls, Wisconsin, was forthwith charged on eight counts of deviating from accepted and acceptable opinions and doctrines of the church. This week the trial of the Rev. Gerberding was held by a board of seven pastors. They were unanimous in finding him innocent of seven of the charges and the eighth charge was set aside. Specifically what those charges were has never reached the press, and his trial was in secret. Penalty, if convicted, could have ranged from a rebuke to defrocking. In the case of the Rev. Crist, he was suspended from his charge.


And from Washington, D.C., the first city to desegregate, comes other information with respect to the matter of racial integration. A white [spokesman] and a colored spokesman for the schools there point out some of the problems that occur when pupils of the two races are taught together. They list them as follows:

1. Withdrawal of pupils from group participation in activities involving members of the other race;

2. Decline in scholastic performance;

3. Organized and unorganized display of hostility toward person of the other race;

4. Overt conflict between Negro and white pupils;

5. An increase in classroom behavior problems.

Now none of these problems is desirable. On the other hand it would be surprising if they did not occur. This reporter happened to be teaching during World War II where everyday migrants, mostly from the South, and of all races, were pouring into our school. The same problems of adjustment were discerned there as are reported by spokesmen for the Washington, D.C., schools. And those problems were not at all peculiar to Negro pupils. White students from the lower income strata of the South, and with meager educational background, had essentially the same difficulties in achieving satisfactory adjustment to the new school medium. The Negro of course had a further handicap because of his color, but then color there was not a matter for overt expression of hostility. It was interesting to study these students as they remained for one, two, and three years in the new school environment. Many of them, both white and colored, by the end of their school program, were no longer distinguishable from native students insofar as behavior, scholastic performance, and other characteristics were concerned.


In Bowling Green, Kentucky, a federal court this week received the first suit to force desegregation in the public schools. In the suit, the court was asked to end segregation of white and Negro students at Columbia, in Adair County. The suit grew out of a petition filed in the name of the Kentucky branch of the NAACP.

This past Tuesday the Adair County Board of Education refused to admit 23 Negro high school students and from 35-60 (the exact number is not reported) elementary students after they had been registered at Columbia schools the previous day. Attorney for the plaintiffs interpreted refusal to admit the students a clear violation of the Supreme Court order of May 31 for a prompt and reasonable start toward full desegregation. Aiding the local attorney will be Thurgood Marshall, New York attorney, who pleaded the case for desegregation before the Supreme Court.


And a final note in this week’s news regarding the racial problem in the schools. In Houston, Texas, about 50 Negro groups have united to ask the United States Department of Justice to investigate the organization known as Texas Citizens Councils, formed to preserve racial segregation. These groups charge the councils with being un-American and undemocratic, and characterize their methods as constituting outright conspiracy to deprive American citizens of their civil and economic rights.

This reporter has referred to such councils before, though not to the Texas groups. Apparently they are voluntary organizations dedicated to prevention of school integration of the races, and willing to use whatever means seems appropriate, but it must be admitted, within the letter if not the spirit of the law, to accomplish their ends. Economic pressure would seem to be their greatest and most often used weapon. A Negro or white person known to favor desegregation finds that the bank refuses him a loan or renewal of an old one. Credit is denied him at stores where formerly he was accepted without question. He finds that real estate agencies refuse to rent or sell him houses. Places formerly hiring people like him go on hiring others but refuse to give him a job. And employers find excuses, other than the real one, to dismiss him from employment. Hence, without access to credit, a job, a home, the individual finds himself in a precarious situation within the community. In addition to the economic pressure is that of social discrimination. Old friends shun him, he no longer receives invitations into their homes and they no longer accept invitations into his.

It would appear that here the organization has a tremendous weapon, and what the Justice Department finds and decides about such councils should be significant. It is difficult to see how even the weight of the federal government could be used to force a bank to grant a loan it did not wish to, or a real estate agency to rent someone a house unless it saw fit to do so.

It is equally obvious that, if these tactics are true, the councils are an organization dedicated to defeating what the Supreme Court has declared to be the constitutional law of the land. Yet nobody, least of all the justices of the court, expected that achieving the goal set by their decision would be an easy matter. It recognized that such achievement could not come about overnight, for it set no deadline. Neither did it deny to colored citizens the equal privileges due them, nor refuse them the equal protection of the law, to which they were entitled. It merely said that states and local units of government should evidence an honest effort to comply with its decision and left it up to local federal courts to review local conditions and decide when such an effort was being made.

Obviously much remains to be done – and it will take a long time – to overcome prejudices, misunderstandings, and practices of generations. It is heartening, though, that substantial progress is being made in various places even this first year, and doubtless each year will see additional achievements toward the goal of democracy in education.