September 29, 1957

At the top of “Religion in the News” this week is the beginning of the Jewish New Year, observance of which began at sundown last Wednesday and continues for 10 days. This season of penitence and prayer began with Rosh Hashanah, and will end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The Jews received a special message from President Eisenhower, in which the chief executive said, in part, “It is fitting for all to give thanks for the past 12 months and to look to the future with confidence born of the mercy of God … The blessings of life and the freedoms all of us enjoy in this land today are based in no small measure on the Ten Commandments which have been handed down to us by the religious teachers of the Jewish faith. These commandments … provide endless opportunities for fruitful service, and they are a stronghold of moral purpose for men everywhere. In this season, as our citizens of the Jewish faith bow their heads in prayer and lift their eyes in hope, we offer them the best wishes of our hearts.” And that, this reporter might add, is a wish in which most of us join the president of the United States.

Incidentally, it might be pointed out, Touro Synagogue, built in 1763, and now a national monument, is America’s oldest Jewish house of worship and is located in Newport, Rhode Island, near where the chief executive is vacationing.


At a recent meeting of the National Home Demonstration Council at Ohio State University, a rabbi declared that “Responsibility is the price of opportunity.” Rabbi Jerome D. Folkman of Columbus, Ohio, also told the women gathered from all over the United States that irresponsible individuals are dangerous in such a society as ours. He added that some persons would solve the problems thus created by restricting the opportunities of many. But, Rabbi Folkman states this is not the American way. He sees our way of life as one that teaches responsibility. And that, he declared, is why education is so essential to us. He asserted that full education requires the cooperation of home, church, and school, and not through force, but through a mutual recognition of their common responsibility.


The U.S. lost one of its nationally known pastors and religious leaders this week. Dr. A. Powell Davies, minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C., died unexpectedly of a heart attack Thursday. Dr. Davies, a native of Britain, was a Methodist minister there and in the US until 1933, when he became a Unitarian. He was an outspoken liberal, and often based his sermons on current news. He had been chairman of the Emergency Conference on Civilian Control of Atomic Energy and president of Food for Freedom.


Some of you listeners have taken me to task for the persistence and consistency with which I have presented items and comment supporting separation of church and state. A few have seemed emotional about the matter, asserting that ours is a nation founded upon Christianity. Well, in the first place, few arguments are settled by emotion; even religious problems. And in the second place, even a casual familiarity with the basic framework and trends of American history refutes the claim that ours is a nation founded on any particular religion, though, admittedly, more of us affiliate with some one of the Christian faith than we do with non-Christian ones.

But as for the assertion that historically, our nation was grounded in the Christian religion, let us look at a few facts. In 1787 in Philadelphia, when someone suggested that the Constitutional Convention be opened with prayer each day, Alexander Hamilton, somewhat facetiously perhaps, emphasized that the convention was there to handle problems relating to the United States, and he felt that this could be handled by the delegates without the intervention of any foreign power. Apparently, this was the consensus of the convention, for there were no daily invocations to the Hebrew God or to any other.

George Washington, who was also at the convention, remarked on June 10, 1797, in connection with the treaty of peace and friendship with Tripoli, that “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian religion.”

James Madison, called the “Father of the Constitution,” and the fourth president of the U.S., said in his tract entitled “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” in 1787, that “Religious establishments … have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny … upholding the throne of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people.” And, I might add, this was a battle to keep the church from dominating the schools, and yet there are among us some sincere but simple souls who would have religion taught in the schools.

Jefferson was more bitter and less diplomatic in 1794 regarding his hope for the revolutionary armies of France, when he said that he hoped they would “kindle the wrath of the people of Europe and bring … kings, nobles, and priests to the scaffolds which they have been so long deluging with human blood.”

There are others, but time does not permit their inclusion. It is about time that we stopped using religion, of the Christian or any other variety, as an element of nationalism and a part of national policy.


In this connection, it is pertinent to call your attention to an article appearing in The Christian Century of September 11, by one Virgil M. Rogers, teacher, high school principal, and city superintendent of public schools in Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan, before going to Syracuse University as the dean of the school of education. Calling his article, “Are Public Schools Godless?”, Mr. Rogers said, “The American concept of separation of church and state is, I believe, the supreme protector of all our individual freedoms.” Again, “The public schools are not ‘Protestant schools’. They are the schools provided by government for all the children of all the people by virtue of common citizenship in the USA. As such they and they alone are to be financed from the public treasury. They must of course be secular. There is nothing sinister and unclean about that word … It is not to say godless, anti-religious, in league with evil, but merely secular, like the courts or the presidency.”


Two major items in the news for some time contain moral and ethical elements, and some of us believe they have heavy religious overtones as well. I refer to the perhaps forthcoming election of a Teamsters Union president next week, and the “Faubulous” situation in Arkansas. In both situations, much remains to be desired.

For months now the Senate committee investigating corruption in labor unions has uncovered item after item that leaves a foul smell on the administration of the out-going president, one Dave Beck. The odor is not much more delightful regarding his would-be successor, James Hoffa. The revelations have become so serious that the AFL–CIO Council has given the Teamsters so many days to clean house or get out. Now it appears there is evidence to rig the Florida convention and elect Hoffa by handpicked delegates, delegates that do not represent the wishes of the rank and file of the membership. Whatever the outcome of the convention and further investigation by the Senate committee, the Teamsters, or any other union, will enjoy the confidence and support of the public only so long as it operates honestly, respects and practices the democratic process, and is in control of officials who feel keenly their responsibility not only to the majority of the membership, but also to the American public as well. Labor unions are a necessary concomitant to our industrial growth and development. There is no more room for skullduggery in a labor union than there is in the National Association of Manufacturers. Unfortunately, over the years, there has been evidence of far too much in both, but the two wrongs do not make a right. This reporter feels the importance of this matter keenly, for he has long been a member of the American Federation of Teachers, an AFL affiliate. But he has no defense to make of this or any other organization that permits itself to get into a position where such suspicions and evidences exist.

As for the Arkansas situation, many of us who have followed it carefully from the first have been amazed at the continued succession of blunders. Not only that, but distortions, misrepresentations, etc. It is deplorable that federal troops were sent into Little Rock. But given the condition of things last Monday, the fact that the matter had been allowed to drift as it had, perhaps the federal action was about the last resort. There are two disturbing questions that have not been satisfactorily answered about the whole affair. One is, why did fabled Faubus order the National Guard to surround the high school and prevent the law from being enforced? He talks sanctimoniously about his regard for the constitution of the state of Arkansas and that of the United States. Yet, when he took the oath of governor, he not only swore that he would uphold the state constitution, but also the federal one as well. He violated that oath when he used force to prevent the enforcement of provisions of the federal Constitution he was sworn to uphold. There can be no excuse, no defense for that. Segregation or integration has nothing to do with this central question. The local federal court had made its decision and the matter was then on appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals. Until the higher court ruled otherwise, the edict of the local judge was the law, and that law Faubus was sworn to uphold. Instead, he used all the force at his command to defy the law, and this defiance was a green light to all the rabble-rousers and hoodlums to do as they please. And they did that last Monday.

The next question that remains unanswered is: What went on between Faubus and Eisenhower in their conference about the Little Rock situation? Some of us hoped we’d find out right after the conference, but both governor and president said nothing that meant anything. From both, the essence of their statements was that a great deal of “constructive” discussion went on. This is diplomatic double-talk that quite often means nothing important happened.

Again, we hope that the president, in his address to the nation this week, would let us know. It appeared that he was going to do so by saying that he would trace the sequence of events that led to the sending of troops, but he stopped short of saying anything about his conference with the governor. We cannot help but wonder if things would not have gone differently if the president, at the Ike – Orval conference, had said something like this: “Governor, the courts have approved the plan of integration in Little Rock and have said it is to go into effect immediately. You may not like that, and I may not. But until or unless this decision is overruled, it is the law of the land and will be enforced. It is in the American tradition that law enforcement should be done at the local level. But if that fails, and if the state enforcement machinery does not enforce the law, then the federal troops will. Make no mistake about that.” Maybe this was said, but the president has not said so.

It is true that many, perhaps most, of the citizens of Arkansas, and of Little Rock, prefer segregation. If that is true, if enough Americans agree with them, then there is a legal, a constitutional way, to change things through a constitutional amendment. But unless law and order are upheld, our whole structure of government collapses and anarchy results. And the ethical and moral aspects of the whole problem is simply that we the citizens have a right for elected officials, governor and/or president, to respect their oaths to uphold the law. Somebody failed to do so in this case. Of Faubus we can be sure he did; of Eisenhower, we wait for him to let us know what happened.

Name-calling, evasions, and assertions – all have been resorted to by assorted individuals of various political hues and persuasions. But neither the misrepresentations of Sen. Russell Johnson of South Carolina, Talmadge of Georgia, and other of like ilk can remove the fact that American citizens of the colored race were being denied their rights to go to school at Central High School. And perhaps it is more than a token of the difference between the value of things in our democracy that we are willing to invoke the aid and majesty of the federal government to protect the rights of nine colored students, for a great man a long time ago said that “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me.”

September 22, 1957

Three Massachusetts women are happy about their non-paying teaching jobs in Rock Hill, South Carolina. They are donating their services for one year at St. Ann’s parochial school. Two are recent graduates of Regis College, in Weston, Massachusetts – Miss Marie Lynch and Miss Maureen Burgin. The third is a retired Boston teacher, Miss Mary Magner. Miss Lynch, from Newton Center, explains that 17 members of her graduating class volunteered to donate one year to some Roman Catholic school that could not afford to pay teachers. Others went to such places as Texas, Virginia, New Mexico, and Jamaica. Miss Lynch explains the Catholic lay apostolate teaching program began among Catholic students about seven years ago. Miss Burgin, who is from Somerville, Massachusetts, says four other girls in her education class offered their services for one year. The retired teacher, Miss Magner, stated she still could have taught in Boston. But, she says, she wanted to give this year while she still has time.


The Champlin, Minnesota, Methodist Church, a white congregation, has called a Negro minister as its pastor. Church authorities believe that the Rev. Dr. Charles Sexton is the first of his race to hold such a position in the upper Midwest. Dr. Sexton was pastor of the Minneapolis Negro Methodist Church that merged by invitation with a white congregation, also in Minneapolis, last December.


A world Baptist leader has told Southern Baptist men that Christ should be an active partner in the business life of Christians. The statement is from the Rev. Dr. Theodore Adams, president of the Baptist World Alliance and pastor of the First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia. The 6,000 delegates to the Oklahoma City meeting represent Southern Baptist men’s groups in 40 states.


A Methodist clergyman from Charleston, South Carolina, has been elected national chaplain of the American Legion. The Rev. Feltham James was chosen unanimously at the Legion’s Atlantic City, New Jersey, convention this week.


Youthful rabbis are being sent out from New York’s Yeshiva University to suburban areas and they usually have to build their congregations from scratch. A prime example of the new program is Rabbi Jack Sable, 29 years old, and a former Air Force chaplain. In Riverdale, a New York City suburb, he began three years ago with a slip of paper with some names. Soon he had the Riverdale Jewish Center operating – a post office box at first, but quickly an 18-family group and a Hebrew school in an apartment. Then a basement was converted into a sanctuary for Sabbath services. Rabbi Sable became fundraiser as well as chief organizer and holder of other titles. And today, the Riverdale Jewish Community will hold its first services in its new $500,000 synagogue and social center. Rabbi Sable and director Victor Geller of the Yeshiva University Community Services Division say such experiences point to an Orthodox resurgence in American Judaism.


And while on the subject of Judaism it is pertinent to observe that next Wednesday the High Holy Days of the Jewish faith will begin at sunset. These days have been called the most holy in the Jewish calendar and a time for spiritual inventory. The 10-day period that follows extends from Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. At both services rabbis will stress the theme of penitence and the possibilities of moral regeneration. Typical of the prayers that will be offered is the following, taken from the Union Prayer Book: “O Lord, hasten the day when all evil shall be destroyed and wickedness shall be no more. Quicken us to work with the righteous of all nations and creeds, to bring about thy kingdom upon earth, so that hatred among men shall cease, that the walls of prejudice and pride, separating peoples, shall crumble and fall, and war be destroyed forever.” It would be difficult to find a prayer, in Christendom or elsewhere that surpasses this in merit.


It was reported this week that archaeologists have uncovered the biblical Pool of Gibeon and that the spring of ancient Israel is flowing again after 25 centuries. This was announced by the University of Pennsylvania Museum. This discovery confirms the biblical tradition that the men of Gibeon, now called el-Job, were literally “drawers of water.” The archaeologists also uncovered a mass of evidence indicating that wine-making was a flourishing industry before Gibeon and its environs were laid waste by King Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC. The Bible refers to Gibeon as the place where the sun stood still and stones rained down from the sky as Joshua routed the invading Amorites.


For some time recently considerable discussion pro and con has developed regarding the deletion of certain racial and ethnic materials from songs, especially those of Stephen Foster. Those supporting such deletion say that such words as “darkies,” “Massa,” and the like, are resented by colored people because they remind the world that we, the whites, once held them in slavery. Last Monday the issue was focused locally by editorial in the Johnson City Daily Informer, under the title “Pious New York Has Started Burning Books.” Particular attention was given in the editorial to removal of Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” from the public school book list because in that book the author has his characters use such words as “nigger.”

Today, the same newspaper runs, on the editorial page, a lengthy letter from a reader who resents this deletion, apparently mostly because, according to her, it is done at the instigation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It is a well-written letter. You are urged to read it.

Now this reporter takes second place to no one in his desire to protect, scrupulously, the rights of all people, regardless of their race, color, or other artificial insignificant differences. However, he too has shared the concern over the emasculation of literature in the name of minority rights. The Jews have complained about Shylock and parts of the “Merchant of Venice” have been changed. They objected to Fagin in Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” and parts of that great novel were deleted or changed. Catholics objected to the moving picture “Martin Luther,” and in some cities censors moved in and prevented it showing. Now it is the songs of Stephen Collins Foster and the novels of Mark Twain that are to be distorted in the name of civil liberties. Where is it all to end? These novels, songs, plays, are now a part of history. If there was or is any derogatory aspects about slavery (and there was) the onus rests upon the white man, not the Negro. So why should any thinking Negro object? If what Martin Luther said and did is objectionable to the Catholics, it is equally true that what a number of popes and other high-ranking Catholic officials have done down through the ages is equally offensive to us Protestants. If the Jew thinks that Shylock is bad from the Jewish point of view, let him read the process by which the author is supposed to have settled upon Shylock as one of his main characters, and he will find it was not with any necessary intent to disparage Jews as such, but to create a major character in the plot.

Members of minority groups would do well to stick to essentials in their commendable fight for equal rights, and forget about the happenstances of the past that make up much of our cultural history. It is true that ignorant, unthinking, unscrupulous people use Foster’s songs, Shakespeare’s play, and Twain’s and Dickens’ novels and other literature as vehicles to vent their prejudice towards others different from them. But if we are to embark upon a course that deletes from the press, radio, television, movies, etc., everything that might possibly offend someone, we are not only becoming a nation of sissies, but we are letting our concern for the incidental cause us to destroy the fundamental. Ours is a colorful culture and history, and all races, creeds, colors, nationalities have contributed to it: all should be proud of the contribution of each and every one of these. It should not be subjected to pernicious anemia because of the thin skins of the NAACP or any other minority group organization, and this reporter has great respect for the objectives and most of the accomplishments of the NAACP. Simple respect for the facts of history should cause us to have more sense.


Probably most people who reflect on the subject would agree that religion, like many other areas of living, consists largely of a scale or pattern of values with respect to themselves, other people, and life in general. Someone has said, with considerable pertinence, that a person’s life can be evaluated by looking at his checkbook stubs, for they reflect the things that person considered most importance in life. Be that as it may, one who has a social consciousness cannot help but speculate occasionally about the pattern of values that causes people to bestow so much so frequently upon animals when such beneficence is totally unneeded. And this at a time when human beings in every community are in dire need of material comforts. Take the case of the Reading, Pennsylvania, woman who willed her dog a three-room apartment with air-conditioned bedroom, living room chair, a practical nurse, and $50,000. Or the Murray Hill, New Jersey, man who paid a carpenter $3,000 to finish the house with a glass-bricked roof, cedar and knotty pine walls, fluorescent lighting, and an electric blowing system. Then turned the whole thing over to his four Doberman Pinschers. Or the New York Life Insurance Company, recently chartered; its only policy holders: dogs. This reporter is fond of dogs and assorted varieties of other animals, but how many of these people for providing so lavishly for their pets will contribute 50% as much to a milk fund for undernourished children? Not only is the country going to the dogs in such cases, but, to put it biblically, it would seem that such persons are casting their pearls before swine.


One of the virtues in any philosophy of religion framework is that of honesty; that is, being honest with oneself, as well as with others. Those of us who have studied and tried to understand the Russian system have long since given up the hope of finding honesty intentionally displayed by those who espouse the Moscow line. However, the recent hullabaloo in a few places in the United States over segregation, and the heyday the Russians are making of it has impelled one nationally-syndicated writer this week to point out that while in most places in this country, segregation under law is not practice, in Russia, segregation of the races for educational purposes is the order of the day, and that under not only statutory but under constitutional law. David Lawrence, the arch-conservative of the columnists, observes that Russia defends her segregation policies on the ground that she wants to preserve the literary tradition of the groups. Five of the so-called Soviet republics are in Central Asia, and there, according to evidence presented by Mr. Lawrence, “The Russians maintain one set of schools for their children and one set for the children of local people. It is a segregated system.”

Officials insisted, as do some of our southern Dixiecrat segregationists, that the “People like their own schools,” part of which may be true in both cases. It should be observed in passing that the Russian are European and white, while the Asians are Mongolian and dark. But what does all this mean for the argument put up by some segregationists here that integration is a Russian scheme? Well, it may be, for the communists will promote any idea, however inconsistent with their Marxian dogma, if they think it will cause confusion and trouble in the free world. Communists care nothing really about the civil rights of Negroes or anyone else but their own ilk.

And, what does it do to the Russian propaganda line that they invectively hurl at their own people and the world via their newspapers, radio, and other communication media?

There is a rule very old in the idea of Anglo-Saxon equity, namely, that’ he who comes into court should do so with clean hands. Or, to put it another way, he that would seek justice must be just himself. Obviously, two wrongs don’t make a right. If segregation in schools is wrong in this country, then it must also be wrong in Russia and vice versa. Christ put it much more succinctly when he said, “He that is without blame, let him cast the first stone.” But of course the Russians probably do not read the Christian Bible.


September 15, 1957

At Sewanee, Tennessee, the House of Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church opened its 105th meeting yesterday. The Rt. Rev. Henry Knox Sherrill presided. More than 100 of the church bishops from the United States and the Panama Canal Zone were in attendance. This meeting is being held in conjunction with the 100th anniversary observance of The University of the South in Sewanee. The university is owned and operated by 21 dioceses of the Episcopal Church. Dr. Edward McCrady, vice chancellor and president of the university reviewed the history of the school at a dinner meeting last night. A formal reception held at the home of McCrady followed the dinner. Today the Rt. Rev. Sherrill received an honorary doctor of civil laws degree. The Rt. Rev. Thomas N. Carruthers, bishop of South Carolina and chancellor of The University of the South presented the degree.

The main business sessions will begin tomorrow and continue through Wednesday. Among those on the program for tomorrow are Dr. W.A. Visser ‘t Hooft, executive secretary of the World Council of Churches, and Dr. W.G. Pollard, executive director of the Institute of Nuclear Studies at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.


In a report on religious items of current significance that ignored the developments in Nashville, Tennessee, and Little Rock, Arkansas, during the past two weeks would be ignoring one of the most pressing and important social problems with which all citizens, religious or not, prosegregationists or desegregationists, must be concerned. For cutting across the internet using the whole legal, political, and otherwise model crosscurrents, lies the simple consideration of the rights and dignity of the individual, and that, regardless of race, religion, nationality, or socio-economic status.

Today I should like to explore some basic facts in the matter as well as to suggest certain long-range, ideological implications of the problem, and this without regard to personalities, political, religious, or otherwise.

Our culture here in America is deeply rooted in the Judaeo-Christian ethic, and many of our mores, customs, and traditions stem from the beliefs and teachings of the Hebrews, from Genesis to Revelation. It was the Master himself who violated the current social taboos by demonstrating his respect for the individual. The little children whom he insisted be permitted to come to him; the lepers; the blind; the tax collector, an insidious individual in Palestine at this time; the woman of Samaria; as well as the more “respectable” Pharisees and others of the time. There is no mention anywhere in the scripture that he asked one his race, his nationality, or his economic status before ministering to him. The Hebrews themselves are not a race in the sense we use the term today, so we have no way of knowing which racial group Christ himself would best have fitted into.

Stemming from this recognition of the importance of the person as a person, philosophers who envisioned a better social order than existed in their time, generally advocated a system wherein there was a high degree of personal freedom and rights. It must have been this basic ethic back of Jefferson’s thinking (which, incidentally, was in no sense original with him) when he wrote those revolutionary but immortal words that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” Time does not permit exploring the social context of society at the time he wrote those words, nor does it allow discussion of the semantics of the terms used. But throughout our history we have adhered to this philosophy in principle, however much we have departed from it in practice – which, unfortunately, has been all too often.

It is a very simple faith. It holds that man is not only equal in the sight of God but that he has (or should have) the same equality before the law. It was to bolster this principle that the 14th Amendment was added to the Constitution after the War Between the States, forbidding a state the right to abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens or to deny to any person the equal protection of the law. It is, in the main, controversy over the meaning and application of this constitutional passage that the problems have arisen in Nashville, Little Rock, and elsewhere.

The sociologist recognizes at least three levels of social problems. One is where everyone, or almost everyone agrees on the existence and nature of a problem, and there is a high degree of agreement upon the desired solution. Integration, obviously, does not fit into this category.

The second level is where there is general agreement upon the existence of a problem, but no consensus as to the desired solution. The third is where only a vocal few insist there is a problem, but the majority do not recognize its existence.

It is the second level with which we are concerned here, namely both pro-and anti-integrationists agree that there is a problem, but there is no agreement upon a desired solution. Hence, we are going through the turmoil of seeking a solution in harmony with prevailing community opinion and also with existing constitutional requirements, a solution that it is impossible, in the present situation, to find without compromise or acquiescence. One or the other must give – perhaps both.

Through it all runs a continuous, unchallengeable thread: Ours is a government of law, not of men. And if enough citizens are of the opinion that the law, as interpreted by men, is inadequate or unjust, there are constitutional ways to rectify the matter. The Georgia proposal for resettlement of southern Negroes in white communities is no solution, though in a few instances it might lessen the acuteness of the problem in some communities if it could be made to work without doing violence to the rights of the individuals concerned. The use of the National Guard to defeat the orders of a federal judge is no solution. If enough Americans wish to amend the Constitution to provide for racial discrimination, there is a way by which this can be done, but it is a safe assumption that few would admit they would like to see this happen.

But the whole issue is even broader than merely national constitutional requirements, for it involves an ideological division among Americans that seems confusing to about everyone except the voter. He continues to recognize that which makes democratic order and that which does not. And while the connection may be incidental (more likely, co-incidental), there is a relationship between the Kasper-like advocacy of racial supremacy in this country and the autocratic orders that have developed, still exist in some places, and are still developing in some parts of the world.

Leadership in churches, government, education, management, farming, etc., seem to be divided, roughly at least, along liberal or conservative lines, i.e., the so-called left or right. But the American voter has seemed to sense that he cannot really be liberal without at the same time being conservative, and vice versa. That is, though liberal, he wishes to conserve the best that has been proven good in American life; and while being conservative, that there is need to recognize that change is inevitable. Sometimes to oppose change is good; at other times actively to promote it is better. So, he goes along with this leadership, making his daily decisions according to his own pattern of values in the light of his understanding of our past history, present condition, and future probabilities and possibilities.

The voter seems to feel instinctively that two world wars, particularly the second, were fought between kinds of autocratic order that in principle were left and right ideologies that had gone to maturity. Expanding imperialisms competing for limited world markets were primary cause for World War I. From the American viewpoint, both original opponents in that war were autocratic to a relatively high degree. When the security of American democracy became threatened the American voter demanded that his country enter the war against that particular group of nations which clearly threatened that security.

Again, in World War II, both original opponents were in many respects autocratic, from our own conception of democracy, and the American voter had little choice but to enter the war when it became clear that the security of his kind of democracy was threatened. And it is more than significant from the standpoint of segregation versus integration to reflect that the opponent we faced was one that had come to power mainly upon the vicious doctrine of racial superiority.

So it is today that the memory of the voter is not as short as many let themselves believe. He recognizes that within our own generation two world wars have been fought to uphold our conception of a democratic order, one in which the dignity of the individual is stressed, where there is free speech, freedom of religion, and all the other freedoms. He recognizes that we live today in a world of rapid change and pyramiding danger. This is reflected in the results of a poll just conducted by the American Institute of Public Opinion in which the voter was asked, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” The replies, in this order, were: keeping out of war, 34%; high cost of living, inflation, 22%; and integration problems, only 10%. It’s highly unlikely that a mere 10%, however vocal and vociferous, will sway the course of the nation away from the basic commitment to the belief that “All men are created equal.” And it becomes increasingly difficult for us to pose as the leader of the democratic, free world, striving for a world in which all men can be free, and at the same time deny basic rights to a racial segment of our own people.

It is true that ours is far from an ideal society, but it is one developed within a framework of law that permits orderly revolution constantly to take place. We need to recall only such things as removal of religious and property qualifications for voting; abolition of slavery; the granting of the ballot to women; and similar changes, to realize that we have come a long way from the tiny nation of 3.5 million souls who founded what they hoped would be a “more perfect union.” At that time, one out of every five in the population was a Negro; today only about one in ten belongs to the colored racial groups. Ours is a society of classes, yes. There are social classes in any society; but perhaps our own is based more nearly than any other on an aristocracy of ability, industry and thrift – not upon inherited nobility or royalty. The greatest advocate of social change of all, as he walked by the Sea of Galilee, recognized only the worth, potentialities of the individual. So He saw possibilities in Matthew, a publican, who wrote the first Gospel; in Peter, a lowly fisherman; one Judas Iscariot – he believed in giving him a chance to prove himself.

So today, in the midst of a temporary turmoil, proponents and opponents of integration would do well to recall American history and the principles upon which our nation was founded. A reporter cannot tell whether what he says makes sense to his listeners, but he can think at this junction of no better injunction than that of Paul the apostle who urged the Philippians in these words, “… Brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just… think on these things.”


September 1, 1957

In the last broadcast, I cited a United Press dispatch to the effect that school administrators are feeling steadily increasing pressure to add a fourth “R” to the traditional “readin’, ritin’, and rithmetic,” namely “religion.” Jews and other (mostly minority) groups insist upon a hands-off policy in this respect. Protestants and Catholics are largely the ones who urge that if the schools ignore religion they discriminate against the majority of Americans who, they say, believe in God. Some rock-ribbed fundamentalists have gone so far as to propose that the Constitution be revised to permit schools to teach Christian religious doctrines. A segment of the agitants has suggested schools teach children the basic elements common to the major faiths. But here, by “major faiths” they usually mean the Christian faiths. Few would include, for example, the common elements contained in the Moslem religion. Still others recommend teaching the pupils “about” religion, insisting this can be done without teaching religion “to” the students.

All these proposals have their appeal to many people, and many of them take the position that unless schools do teach religion, they are godless institutions, implying or asserting that they must therefore be anti-religious. This reporter has worked with and in a number of schools where this pressure was exerted and can understand the dilemma of school administrators and teachers as well as the seeming sincerity of the proponents of the idea. The fact is, however, that those who propose religious teaching in the school mean “their” religion, i.e., they would have the schools tinge whatever teaching they do with a slant towards the Baptist, the Methodist, the Presbyterian, or the Catholic faith. They won’t admit it very often, but push them hard enough, and they admit it, inadvertently or otherwise.

And certainly they mean by “religion” the Christian variety, and here in the so-called Bible Belt of the South they certainly in 99.44% of the cases, they mean the Protestant religion. The teacher here who had anything good to say about the Catholic faith in classes in religion would soon find himself the target of suspicion, opposition, and perhaps worse, by many of the parents.

Few doubt the sincerity or the well meaning of proponents of religion in the schools, but many of us doubt their fairness or common sense judgment about the matter. Two or three facts stand out stubbornly in this controversy. The most immediate one is that preachers, priests, and rabbis who are strongest for embarking upon such a course admit by their actions that their messages in church do not have enough of a compelling attraction to hold a congregation, hence they wish to invoke the aid of the state to force students, who must attend the public schools, to spend part of their time listening to a religious instruction which they cannot escape. Some minister and priest friends of mine have finally admitted this when driven to do so. I must admit they have done so ruefully and reluctantly.

Another fact is the one mentioned above, namely that when these people say “religion,” they mean their own particular brand of it. They would be very disturbed if they heard that teachers were taking turns about reading devotional lessons from the Mohammedan Koran bible, or the Mormon “Book of Mormon” bible, or any other bible but their own.

A third fact, and one that cuts across all the others is that such a program runs counter to our whole history and tradition as a nation, i.e., separation of church and state. To use a statement that Christ made, we have tried to make a distinction between things that are Caesar’s and those that are God’s, though the line has not always been easy to draw. We have said that religion must survive or perish on its own appeal merits; that we had, and have, no place in this country for an established church; that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Those who urge teaching of religion in the schools ignore or are ignorant of that well-established fact. The public schools are charged with instruction of children of all faiths and those of no faith, for one does not have freedom of religion unless he at the same time has freedom from religion. To depart from this basic fact is to venture into a quagmire of danger that would embroil the school and community in controversy and would do violence to the conscience of many young school citizens.

The public schools have no responsibility to be either godly or godless. Certainly religion must come in for considerable consideration in the course of public school instruction. One cannot understand much of the impetus back in early colonization without learning of religious persecution, which the Puritans, Catholics, Quakers, and others sought to escape by coming to America. One cannot understand the founding of Rhode Island, for example, without knowing why Roger Williams disagreed with the Puritan fathers of New England. A knowledge of religious bigotry is indispensable to understand the Know-Nothing movement in American history that reached its climax in the 1840s and 1850s, especially the ridiculous and fictitious but harmful “awful disclosures” of Maria Monk that inflamed people against Catholics and set off a chain of persecution. There was an element of religion also in the revival of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, at least to the extent that Klanism was opposed to Catholics, Jews, and other non-Protestants. The schools do teach these things, as a part of our history, and to leave them out would make of history instruction an unbalanced, incomplete program.

To teach these things in the natural course of instruction is necessary and desirable; to embark upon a program of teaching religion in the public schools is quite a different matter entirely. The courts have made this quite clear in an unbroken line of decisions, highlighted in recent years by the celebrated McCollum case in Illinois. Despite all this, schools, and some colleges, go on year after year violating the law. They hold baccalaureate services in high schools, which, incidentally, the court held, in at least one case, to be a violation of religious freedom if students were required to attend as a requisite to graduation. In one school which I know, there are (or were last year) at least two teachers in the elementary division who, each Monday, asked their pupils whether they attended church or Sunday school the day before. All who did were commended, were given stars, or other insignia of merit, while the little fellows who did not soon caught on to what was happening and several of them admitted they told the teacher thereafter they had gone to church, whether they had or not. Those teachers should have been told in no uncertain terms to stop this outrageous practice.

Schools do have an obligation to stress the importance of such basic elements as truth, honesty, fair dealing, respect for the rights of others, sincerity, and all the other generally recognized factors that go into the making of commendable characters. But this can and should be done without any religious and sectarian flavor. If preachers and zealous laymen who urge upon the schools the teaching of their particular brand of religion would confine their efforts to improving upon the religious program and appeal of their respective churches, they would be doing not only their churches a service, but would not be violating one of the most consistent traditions of the American people. Moreover, they would not be cluttering up the schools with nonsensical advocacy of an un-American course of action by these schools. One can admire their sincerity; it is difficult to have much respect for either their sense of fairness or their knowledge of and respect for our basic constitutional principle of church and state separation. I am a Methodist, but I do not want any school teacher trying to make a Methodist out of my children; neither do I want them to be in a classroom where disparaging remarks are made, by implication or otherwise, about any religion. And that goes for all religions, non-Christian as well as Christian ones. Schools and teachers are simply getting out of their province when they do this. Preachers and others should know and respect this fact.


Fairfield, Connecticut: The Rev. Joseph F. Mulligan, of Fordham University, has been elected president of the Eastern States Division of the American Association of Jesuit Scientists. He was elected at the close of the organization’s 32nd annual meeting at Fairfield University.


Chicago: A Roman Catholic priest has criticized the Knights of Columbus on charges of racial discrimination. The Rev. Louis Twomey, of Loyola University in New Orleans, charges that the K of C has (in his words) “a policy that forced Negro Catholics to form a separate organization. The Knights of Columbus wouldn’t take them in.”


Rome, Italy: A General Congregation of the Roman Catholic Jesuit order will be held in Rome starting next Thursday, September 5. The General Congregation, which is the guiding authority of the order, meets only to elect a new superior-general who is chosen for life, or when important problems of general character arise affecting the society as a whole. It has met only 30 times in 400 years.


New York: Billy Graham, an itinerant preacher who has already received considerable publicity recently in New York, has compared today’s young hoodlums with Belshazzar, the corrupt, immoral, and bullying biblical ruler of Babylon. Belshazzar, who succeeded his father, Nebuchadnezzar to the throne, is the one who witnessed the handwriting on the wall and later was killed by the conquering Persians and Medes. Well, even a minister, I suppose, has a right to let his imagination help make a colorful impression. Anyway, comparisons are hazardous, as well as sometimes odious. Besides, such analysis does not take into consideration the differences in statuses of today’s delinquents with that of the king. And finally, one can find almost any kind of character in the Bible to compare to about anyone he meets on the street anywhere today.


Washington: The head of the South’s largest religious denomination says church members have three clear duties to perform in seeking a Christian solution to racial problems. Representative Brooks Hays of Arkansas, recently elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, says the first duty is to keep free the prophetic voice of the church (whatever that means); second, he said, is to throw all the influence of religion on the side of a non-violent adjustment of racial tensions; and third, church members must display imagination and Christian courage in correcting specific situations where the actual practice of the community has produced injustice.


Mackinac Island, Michigan: The prime minister U Nu of Burma has sent a message of support to the Moral Rearmament Assembly of Nations meeting at Mackinac Island. Said the prime minister, “The world has need of the lead that is being given by moral rearmament in the moral and spiritual realm. The standards of honesty, purity, and unselfishness and love forming the basis of this ideology, if universally and sincerely accepted, will insure a safe and happy future for humanity.” Well, it may not insure such, but few there are who would argue that it would not help to bring such a future about.


Canterbury, England: Church authorities are preparing a report for the archbishop of Canterbury on an Anglican priest who won’t stop using the word “bloody.” The Anglican priest, the Rev. Frederick Richmond, says he sees nothing wrong in using what he calls “a 17th century word.” But the word in England is considered vulgar and a cuss word. But at a trial, after his automobile had hit a truck, the Rev. Richmond admitted he used the word four times. He was fined $30 and lost his driving license for a year. And the archbishop wants a report of the whole affair. Of course it is easy to poke fun at our British cousins, but one cannot help but wonder what this world is a comin’ to when brethren of the cloth use such bloody words.