October 27, 1957

Today is seeing thousands of churches across the nation marking the 440th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The song of the day will be “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” the great hymn of the 16th century reformer, Martin Luther. It must be noted, however, that the revolt touched off against the Roman Catholic Church of that day is no longer the central theme of the observance. The lasting principles, though, are still in action. One of New York City’s leading Episcopal clergymen, the Rev. Dr. James Pike, says the word “Protestant” would be a negative and not a particularly honorable term if the occasion were considered merely the recollection of a time way back in history when Protestants broke with Rome. Dr. Pike adds that a truly Protestant church is not one that can look back to a Reformation, but rather one that recognized its need of reformation today. And, this reporter might add, few thinking people will be likely to disagree with that.


Not the least of the many festivities in many places scheduled today is one which is not officially a part of the Protestant observance. This is the second annual NATO Naval Chaplain’s Conference being held in the United States. It includes chaplains of Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox faiths. Serving in Eastern pulpits as guest preachers will be 40 Navy chaplains from 14 countries having membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


A church world service committee was told recently that critical repercussions are likely unless there is strong support for the United Nations relief efforts among Arab refugees. An internationally renowned churchman, Dr. Tracy Strong, said the whole Middle East situation could worsen dangerously unless the United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency is permitted to continue its food and distribution program among the more than 900,000 Arab refugees. Dr. Strong pointed out that the United States has pledged 70 percent of the money for a projected $23 million U.N. fund for Arab relief. Britain has pledged 20 percent and the other nations 10 percent. But Dr. Strong noted that a lag in payments by other nations might hold up the entire program since Congress has made U.S. payments contingent upon those of the other countries.


Conviction was expressed this past week that a new kind of missionary is needed to fulfill the requirements of a new era in missionary work. The first Indian to be consecrated bishop of an Evangelical Lutheran Church in India, Dr. Rajah Manikam, made the pronouncement upon his installation as this year’s Harry Emerson Fosdick Visiting Professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He declared that the French and Russian revolutions are pale in comparison with the changes going on today in Asia and Africa. Never before, he said, have so many millions of people taken part in such a rapid and radical social upheaval. He called it a revolution of the masses, who are demanding political independence, economic justice, social equality, and religious motivation of life. Practically extinct, he declared, is the missionary of a previous generation who was a superintendent, a director, or a boss. He said the day has now dawned for the missionary who is a friend, a philosopher, and guide of a young church. This new type of missionary, he added, must be a man who is willing to get behind the cart and push it along rather than pull it from the front.


One of the curious things about the mystics and revelators is that they claim to receive information from God that is superior to ordinary knowledge. They claim that this information is ineffable and indescribable. Then they write many books and make many speeches describing the indescribable. Does this make sense?


One point seems to have been overlooked in the prolonged discussion of the Little Rock debacle. Was it proper for the president to go over the head of the federal court and [?] with a governor who was violating a court order?


Some of you have taken issue with the opposition expressed on this program to censorship by self-appointed or officially appointed board of censors made up of lay people who pass upon whether literature offered for sale is obscene. This reporter has never advocated obscenity. On the contrary, he has opposed it, but has insisted that determination of what is and is not obscene was a matter for the courts to determine, and not for a bunch of neighborhood Madam Grundys who probably know little of what it means other than their own prejudiced definition. Comes now a report that the Rev. Irving R. Murray, chairman of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the ACLU, took issue recently with the widespread notion that so-called obscene literature fosters juvenile delinquency. He pointed to a study completed not long ago by the Colorado legislature showing that literature, decent or indecent, is without effect on juvenile delinquents, practically none of whom read anything. He went on to call upon the legislature to reject bills dealing with alleged obscene literature and to leave it to the home, school, and church to nurture wholesome taste and moral attitudes in the young.


Already the United States Bureau of the Census is preparing for its decennial enumeration of the population as required by the Constitution. Reports indicate that this time the bureau is planning to include a number of questions inquiring into the religious affiliations of the people. Now the nature of this reporter’s work is such that he feels keenly the need for accurate and complete data on this subject, data that does not exist anywhere. But he feels even more keenly that it is no business of government to inquire into the religious beliefs of the people. He personally, were it not for the potential evils that easily could result from such questioning, have no objection to replying to such questions. But the First Amendment makes it clear that religion is none of government’s business. As the law now stands, refusal to answer any question of a census taker is punishable by fine or imprisonment, but even if the law were changed to make response voluntary, there would still remain a violation of civil liberties. Even a factual inquiry, when made by a government official, might for some persons under some circumstances be an infringement upon freedom of religion. Again, the mere assembling of information about religious beliefs would aid some or all religious bodies and thus breach the constitutional wall of separation of church and state, for that Constitution clearly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” If, then, you believe in this separation, it might be well for you to let the Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C., know about it. Also, write your congressman and let him know, for bureaus are peculiarly sensitive to congressional attitudes.


And while on the subject of government, separation of church and state, etc., it is pertinent to point out that a Navy court martial last month convicted a young Seventh Day Adventist in Hawaii of “willful disobedience” for refusing to stand watch on Saturdays, his denomination’s Sabbath. The sailor maintains, quite logically, that his constitutional right of freedom of religion was violated.


One of the essential elements of religion, any religion, it would seem, is to make practice coincide with precept insofar as possible. American business insists upon its belief in free enterprise (a term, incidentally, that never has been, is not, and never will be accurate or realistic). Nevertheless, business asserts its belief in democracy and free competition. Yet it has no faith in either. Sponsors turn pale when a bobbysoxer registers dislike of a program, and business trembles at the notion that any idea should appear on screen or be heard on the air that is in competition with any other idea. Only this week, for example, a sponsor is reported to have dropped a noted performer who has as a guest star another equally famous name. The trouble was that this guest appeared on another network for a sponsor who also sold watches. Out of this lack of faith in competition and in the practice of democracy, what does the public get on the air and screen? Mostly stupid soap operas, loud noise (miscalled “music”), inane continuity, neutral themes, and still more neutral plots and characters, whose time is severely limited by the lengthening commercials that try to impress upon the public the idea that this product is the newest, best, and only worthwhile product of its kind. How can those whose sole entertainment is to watch and listen to such piffle as an escape from reality improve themselves if they think of nothing but such bosh? On the contrary, how can they go on looking and listening if they do think? For then the discrepancy between practice and precept will become so apparent they probably will lose interest. Is not a matter of morality involved here?


As emphasized here form time to time, any ideas expressed are put forth for consideration, not necessarily in the expectation, or even the desire, that all of you will agree with them. Indeed, if you did agree with all of them, I would consider the program a failure. What brought this all on is the comment by one of you that the Bible says “Judge not that ye be not judged,” and goes on to suggest that in one of my broadcasts I had indulged in judgment. That is a fine and welcome comment. It shows at least that you were listening and thinking.

My only reply is that the Bible is a large anthology. It contains many curious things, some wise and some foolish. Survival and progress of the race depends on judgment. In writing to me you passed judgment. He who is devoid of judgment is unable to maintain himself in a society and must be institutionalized. I am, like many students, intolerant of error. One can be tolerant of people and yet combat their ideas. I would defend the right to Billy Graham, for example, to preach his doctrines. Yet to me his message is ludicrously over-simplified and I would insist that we do not live in the kind of world he describes. Tolerance does not mean lack of disagreement. It doesn’t mean a “don’t care” attitude. It doesn’t mean everyone is right. It certainly doesn’t mean seeming to agree when you don’t. It doesn’t mean being a hypocrite. Tolerance means willingness to examine honestly evidence from all sources, looking hopefully for new truth. It does not mean embracing propositions that have small or no evidence to support them. In this process, judgment must constantly be exercised if one is to reach even tentatively intelligent conclusions.


Today marks the beginning of the fourth year of this program. The temptation was great to fill the time today with reminiscences of the high points of the past three years. However, instead, I should like to use this last minute to express my appreciation to the owners and employees of radio station WJHL who have made their facilities and assistance available to me for the program. They have never told me what to say or what not to say. At times, I am sure that some of my materials have not coincided with their own beliefs, but it is testimony to their belief in democracy and free competition of ideas that they have permitted me to go on saying those things. I appreciate this liberal attitude deeply. Also, I wish to thank you who have listened to the programs and hope that you have not felt that it was listening time wasted. If the program has made you think, examine your own tenets and practices with a view of improving upon them, this reporter’s time will have been well spent, for that is what he most hoped for.


October 20, 1957

One of the difficult aspects of our approach to religion, and one that hinders progress in it, is the element of flavor of sanctity which we attach to the magic name “religion.” A person whom most of you know, and whom I call “great” in his religious thinking and approach, Dr. William Rigell, pastor emeritus of Central Baptist Church here, and now professor at State College, once put it this way to me: “When you students enter classrooms, your minds are open to conviction; you are willing to examine and accept evidence, and draw your conclusions.” “But,” he said, “when you enter the church, your minds are already made up, and what most of you wish is for the preacher to say only things that will square with your preconceived opinions.”

It is this unwillingness, perhaps the cultivated inability, to approach religious matters on a thought rather than an emotional basis that has been largely responsible for lack of progress in the field over the centuries. The simple fact is that Orthodox Christianity has operated in different forms for over 19 centuries. It has failed to convert the inhabitants of this world to a peaceful happy life on this earth and has no evidence that it has affected the state of the dead. It has spent more time talking about … an abstract, intricately developed theology that provides an excellent exercise in theological semantics. But all this does not appear to have had much relevance to reality; that is, the reality of the known nature of man and his environment.

Dr. George B. Stoddard, in a statement that reached me this week, points out what he calls five fallacies in religion:

  1. That there is a mysterious world beyond the physical;
  2. That simply to appease a god is a desirable human state, and to praise him is a sign of virtue;
  3. That a god of vengeance represents the highest point in human aspiration;
  4. That the supernatural, the superstitious, the magical are permanent in human affairs;
  5. That piety is the only basis for ethical behavior.

Well, whether you agree or disagree with his labeled fallacies, they strike at the root of gullible swallowing, but not digesting, anything placed before you and labeled good, or religious. It will be noted that these fallacies are directly counter to the scientific approach in the study of human affairs, and it is through the scientific method that concrete results have come about in our understanding of man, his environment, and the end product of their interaction with each other. Some people who sincerely believe their religion attack science as being godless, and allege a conflict between science and religion. What they really mean is between science and the confirmed prejudices they hold about a particular religion. The blunt fact is that in human affairs, if religious ideas and beliefs cannot withstand the critical and empirical test of science, then they will have to suffer. The scientific method is simply a way of discovering truth, and truth should be the basis of all religion. A great religious figure said many years ago that “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Perhaps to find that truth, we need still another commandment, at least need to keep such in mind. It might read something like this: “Doubt all things, search all things, analyze all things. Yea, accept nothing contrary to evidence because people in high places say it is so, or because you read it in an imposing and ancient or even new, volume.” The other approach is like that told about the old Tennessean who said that if there was anything wrong with the Methodist Church and Democratic Party he did not wish to learn about it until he was dead. He was already dead spiritually, but did not know it. If only through knowing the truth we can find freedom, and if freedom is desirable, why not seek truth, regardless of where it leads or what false little gods we have erected it destroys? I know this is not orthodox, but it was not intended to be.

It was a pagan – if that is the appropriate term by which to designate non-Christians– who said that “Man’s inhumanity to man has made countless millions mourn,” and it is hardly likely that many of you would challenge the accuracy of that statement. A great Galilean spent his life being human toward men. Furthermore, if you are attending adult classes now in your church (Protestant) school, you know the theme of the current lessons is “Religion Applied to Society.” For this reporter, and he presumes to speak for nobody else, that is the only justification for the existence of a religion in today’s world. Anyway, it may well do us some good now and then to take a brief inventory to see how we are doing in this matter of application.


A heartening note came from Mississippi’s Governor Coleman, even, who recently said, in arguing for a new VA hospital, that “To deny medical facilities for veterans to preserve segregation … is just a little unrealistic.”

But out in Oklahoma the legislature recently enacted what it called an emergency law creating a state literature commission to censor all kinds of publications. Despite the alleged emergency the state attorney general has attacked the law as unworkable and invalid; the commission is having trouble getting financed; and no complaints have been registered yet regarding publications distributed in the state.

Up in Connecticut the State Civil Rights Commission complained to Governor Ribicoff that it is virtually impossible for a Negro to rent in a white neighborhood. At the same time, Alabama State Senator George Little recently charged that some white plantation owners were holding Negroes in virtual peonage through manipulation of welfare funds.

And the Pentagon has revealed that security clearance procedures have been applied to a review of an 1879 book by a Confederate general dealing with the Civil War – we might page George Orwell on that one.

And it is heartening to note that just this last summer the last of six Salem witches was cleared when Governor Furcolo signed a resolution absolving them – only 265 years after they were hanged.

And Texas, being what it is, probably deserves a position of prominence on this last item. The school board of Houston has eliminated from its grammar school curriculum virtually all courses dealing with history and geography – other than Texan. I guess that will learn those blankety-blank Yankees that they can’t hoodwink Houston children by other-world ideas and nonsense.


The American Jewish Congress has just published a pamphlet entitled Assault Upon Freedom of Association: A Study of the Southern Attack on the NAACP. It is well worth reading, whatever the complexion of your ideas on the organization is.


Finally, for most of us, it is only human to be human, and this reporter trusts that he is no exception. It was [Alexander] Pope who said that to err is human; to forgive, divine. If that is true, this reporter has been more than human more than once, but he always regrets his errors. Anyway, the human breaks through in that, like all of you, he cannot help but have a special feeling and regard for the small group related to him or close to him, or those he wishes were close to him. The point of all this is that a person very important to him is observing her birthday anniversary next Wednesday. It will not be the kind of observance I would wish for her, but I am not selfish enough to neglect to wish that it be the kind that she wishes for herself. So, to that special person, may I use this medium of conveying to her sincere wishes not only for a happy observance of that day, but of all the days to come?


October 13, 1957

Religious leaders are gravely concerned over the spreading use of tranquilizing pills. The director of the Academy of Religion and Mental Health, the Rev. George Anderson, calls the problem a new aspect of the age-old subject of morals and medicine. What seems most disturbing to ministers is this question: Are people employing drugs to dull conscience and shun realities, to avoid what he calls the God-ordained crucibles that forge character and spiritual strength? The Rev. Dr. John Thomas, who heads the American Baptist Council on Christian Social Progress, stated emphatically, “You can’t overcome the tests and problems of life by trying to find a way out of them through drugs.” Clergymen concede that under careful medical controls, tranquilizing pills can be helpful in the treatment of cases involving serious emotional illness or exaggerated anxieties. But they point to the increasing volume of sales of the so-called “peace” pills throughout the nation. Churchmen fear the pills are often used to deaden sensitivities and stifle responses necessary for inner growth. Another commentary on the situation is that by the Rev. Charles McManus of New York’s Roman Catholic Chancery Office. He says that when rashly used, the pills could become a means for a person to suppress feelings that, in his words, “have a providential purpose in his life.” Father McManus adds, “It is something less than following Christ when we try to duck all anxiety. He promised a cross to all. But there will always be those who shrink from it.”

Says Rabbi Dr. Robert Gordis of New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary, “Whenever these tranquilizers are used to the excessive point of blunting man’s conscience or awareness, it runs contrary to religious teachings.” And the only comment that this reporter has is that when the divines have rushed in, he fears to make any tread of his own.


Although details are yet to be announced, the U.S. Post Office Department soon will issue a special commemorative stamp honoring religious freedom in America. Postmaster General Summerfield discloses that the 3-cent stamp will be sold first at the Flushing, Long Island, New York, post office December 27. It will mark the 300th anniversary of the signing of the Remonstrance, a protest by Flushing citizens against a law imposed by Governor Peter Stuyvesant. The Stuyvesant edict was regarded by those early Flushingites as violating the principles of religious freedom.


And over in the neighboring city of Elizabethton this week, the Watauga Baptist Association deplored the wearing of shorts by both men and women on the streets of cities in Upper East Tennessee. The resolution finally adopted declared that “We believe this practice to be below the moral standards of teachings of the Bible and Christianity.” Well, without casting any suspicion or doubt as to the sincerity of those resoluting on the matter, if they are going to be literal about this thing, let’s employ historians to prescribe as accurate as possible replica models of the costumes worn by Hebrews during Biblical times and then all of us proceed to tog ourselves accordingly. On such matters as this, it is very difficult for this reporter to decide whether immorality is in the object or in the minds of those viewing that object. All of us, theoretically at least, are, like Cal Coolidge’s preacher, against sin, but we just don’t agree on what it is. Anyway, winter is acomin on and we will be more concerned in the months ahead with the long rather than the short of it in wearing apparel.


The problem of racial integration was one of many discussed this week by the Oklahoma Synod of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. At its meeting in Oklahoma City, the synod asked each church in its jurisdiction to report on progress toward eventual elimination of racial lines within the church. Also approved was a resolution urging support of President Eisenhower’s action in the continuing Little Rock school integration controversy. The resolution, however, deplored what it called “the necessity” for calling out federal troops. Worthwhile to note is that both resolutions were drawn up by William Einsfield [Enfield?] of Bentonville, Arkansas, a laymen and attorney. Little Rock and Western Arkansas are part of the Oklahoma Synod.


And on the subject of Little Rock, integration, and religious attitudes and practices, an event occurred yesterday in that city and more or less throughout the state that indicates how illogical we approach the relationship between our own shortcomings and religious belief, if there is any such relationship. Anyway, yesterday 85 churches and synagogues in Little Rock held services to pray for the end of integration troubles at Central High School. At these services, Negroes and whites, Protestants, Catholics, and Jews implored the deity to do something about the mess things are in there.

However, 24 Baptist churches, segregationist-minded, held their meetings separate and asked for divine approval of a plan to keep segregation. The Rev. M.L. Moser, Jr., of the Berean Baptist Church of North Little Rock, conducted the meeting and intoned a prayer that included, “We pray that our national leaders might follow constitutional law and remove federal troops, rather than follow political expediency … We thank thee … especially for Gov. Orval Faubus. We feel that he has been raised up for just this hour…” There is more, but these will suffice to indicate the general trend of this group.

Other church groups prayed for “forgiveness for having left undone the things we ought to have done; the support and preservation of law and order; the support of our leaders, community, state, and nation; the casting out of rancor and prejudice in favor of understanding and compassion…” Again, this will suffice.

But let us look at what we have in what is to some of us a ridiculous performance. It is not much different, if any, from the Greek and Roman concept that the gods actually step down and interfere in the affairs of man. Read Homer’s Iliad about the Trojan War for an example.

Moreover, here we have segregationists and those who would uphold law and order praying to God for him to step in and settle matters. But their supplications are conflicting, and it is impossible to see how the deity could answer yes or no to both requests. And one can observe without sacrilegious thoughts that to do so would require an advanced case of schizophrenia. Far be it from this reporter to arrogate to himself any assumed right to suggest what the divine thinks of such things. We not only put God in the middle, but we also use Him and our supplications to Him as something of an escape from facing the realities of a problem that only we can solve. And this is certainly said without any disparagement intended toward either the virtue of praying of the efficacy of prayer.

Abraham Lincoln dealt with the same dilemma when, during the Civil War, and in his second inaugural address, he said of the North and South, “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other.” And here I paraphrase to suit the present occasion, “It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in denying to their fellow men a right that is theirs by nature’s God and by the laws of the land.” But, Lincoln goes on, “The prayers of both could be answered …” but “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

But of course the Little Rock performance is in complete accord with the Graham-Peale-Sheen philosophy, if it can be so dignified, and they are making millions on such stuff.


Last Sunday I devoted a portion of the program to introducing the fact that a state-wide educational survey is about to be completed, that during the months ahead Tennesseans are going to be required to make fundamental decisions regarding education in the state, and that these decisions are important, not only for secular education, but also for the perpetuation of our ways of freedom, including that of religion. Today, I should like to pursue that a little further, insofar as time will permit.

Crowded classrooms, increasing enrollments, insufficient staff of qualified teachers, inadequate income to support education – there are the basic ingredients of the problem. And over it all is the fact that Tennessee is passing out of the agrarian society stage into one that is increasingly urban and industrial, and this fact calls for not only enriched, but much more highly diversified types of educational training. Already we have heard that “vocational schools” are the answer; consolidation is the answer; merit ratings for teachers (a vicious proposal to which I shall give attention later) [is the answer]. And countless other panaceas have been or will be proposed as the answer. Disconcertingly little is being said about some basic, fundamental considerations. All the above are merely twaddling with educational problems, not the real problems of education.

The simple fact is that business, and by that I mean employers of all kinds, is reaching out more and more for people with broad training, people deeply infused with the ideas that can come only from a sound liberal education program, and with ideas that arise out of association with great minds. By this I do not mean only learning for learning’s sake (though I know of nothing intrinsically wrong about that) but education to attain the mind to think, to reason, to explore, and above all to continue to educate itself so that there will be created a well of knowledge from which to draw not only inspiration but the technique of performance and production.

It must be kept in mind that the years of youth allotted to man are short, and that they should be filled with wholesome and lasting experiences – and these can be provided only by capable teachers devoted to the task of real education.

A liberal education is not the mere ghostly shadow of things that some persons imagine it to be; it is real and substantial. No matter how glorified the science may be or how practical the technology, it needs an arterial connection with basic education if it is to live. As I mentioned last time, engineers, scientists, and other technicians in this age should have a grasp of the humanities grounded in the liberal arts as well as the techniques of their profession.

We are misguided if we think of one curriculum as being suitable to prepare men to be leaders, and of another to be suitable for specialists in techniques who are to be the servants of the policy makers. Yet, some will clamor for a public service sort of institution, poking into the whole range of practical activity, carrying out industrial research, turning out materialistic technicians, testing guided missiles and missing the guidance of intellectual development. To such people an education is a sort of union card (and I belong to a union). The fact is that the course of our technological development has been such that increasingly grave social responsibilities are falling upon the shoulders of men who are only technically trained. There is more than considerable reason in education today to discourage specialization which is designed only to enable the student to take his place in a given industry with a minimum of delay. The necessary factual information, in most cases, can be picked up on the job. What is wanted, certainly above the high school level, is training in basic principles. There is no reason why the specialist should not also be an informed and cultivated citizen.

Higher education will suffer an irreparable loss if it ceases to educate the mind of man and not merely his fingers for handling gadgets and his eye for reading charts and his mental capacity for interpreting blueprints and slide rules. It is sad, not only for the man, but it is tragic for society when the technically trained man comes along in his vocation to the point where he is called upon to make plans, to direct the work of men, and to put into words the visions he sees of improvements and advancements in his craft – only to discover that he has neither the background nor the faculty to do so. He cannot relate the past to the present; he cannot draw the most in effort and interest of men; he cannot express in a constructive and telling way the great thoughts that are, or should be, in him.

Our colleges and universities are, for the most part, free institutions in that they affirm the worth and dignity of the individual, which is the fundamental concept of true democracy. A university or college is not, or should not be, a class nursery, but the resort of young men and women of all races, classes, and creeds who seek what these institutions have to offer. To the traditions of all the peoples of the ancient world, reaching back to Greek and Romans, we have added the cultural heritage of Western Europe and many others. These rich experiences in the arts, and talents and science, have become part of the resources of our institutions of higher learning. These institutions are not planned on the outskirts of life, but are or should be pursuing broad and important objectives in everyday affairs. Higher education is part of our general culture, producing well-educated people who in the words of the director of extension of the University of Montreal, “whatever may be their language, race, or religion, will be excellent citizens.”

America – and this includes Tennessee – and for the time being at least, Arkansas – has the resources with which to build an educational system that will in turn develop a greater civilization than we have had in the past. Such an education should provide for development of individual excellence, physically, mentally, and morally. It should cause these individuals to wish to develop a society of equals; to perpetuate and improve such a government of and for free men; to seek the development and maintenance of an economy of security and plenty; to promote a civilization of beauty (billboard advocates take notice); and it should make them capable of and desiring to develop an enduring civilization in a world community.

Time has forced me here to deal in what seem to be basic generalities, underlying the development of any program of education suited today’s world. However, if these things be sound, think upon them, for you are going to have to make some important decisions on the subject soon.


October 6, 1957

Christians around the world gathered at the communion table today for the 18th annual observance of World Communion Sunday. Since its founding 21 years ago by a small group of ministers as an effort to meet spiritual needs during the Depression, the event has grown into a worldwide observance in more than 50 countries. The observance began at sunup in the Fiji Islands and New Zealand – which are closest to the international date line, then continued westward around the world. Services will be held at sundown in Alaska and the Aleutians. Sponsoring the event is the National Council of Churches. The council’s director of the Department of Evangelisms, the Rev. H.E. McConnell, refers to the occasion as one of the high points of the Protestant church calendar. He calls World Communion Sunday a day of re-dedication which, in his words, “brings Christians together in the realest sense as they partake of the cup and break the bread together in God’s name.”


From now through November is also another important period for the nation’s Protestant churches. Known as Harvest Festival Time, the period will be marked by special services in many denominations, just as they were in Biblical times.

Many churches have continued to celebrate the occasion of Harvest Time, which stems from the primitive folk festivals combined with the Hebrew tradition and the Christian observance. Typical of the expressions of joy marking the harvest’s end were pageantry, sports, singing, feasting, and the general good fellowship between the farm owners and their workers.

In some communities the emphasis has shifted to Thanksgiving Day in late autumn and the remembrance of national blessings, with little mention of the bounties of the harvest. Just as the Pilgrims did on the shores of New England, many parishes now hold an all-day service of Thanksgiving for the Harvest Festival. Often participating are various agricultural groups, such as 4-H clubs, Future Farmers of America, the Farm Bureau Federation, National Grange, and the Farmer’s Union.


Significant developments back-dropping the Little Rock school integration case this week were statements by the executive committee of United Church Women and the integrated Greater Little Rock Ministerial Association. The Church Women sent a telegram to President Eisenhower commending him for his action in Little Rock. The message called the president’s action consistent with the statement of the National Council of Churches on the occasion of the Supreme Court decision on integration of public schools. It also stated that it was imperative that the governors recognized President Eisenhower’s responsibility for upholding the Constitution of the U.S. in maintenance of law and order throughout the nation. The United Church Women represents approximately 10 million women in the nation’s Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches. Of its 2,200 state and local council affiliates, 12 state councils and 425 local councils are in the 12 Southern states. The other significant development was the statement by the Rev. Dunbar Ogden, Jr., president of the Greater Little Rock Ministerial Association. He declared: “We all share responsibility for what is happening at Little Rock.” The clergymen called on Little Rock citizens to pray for peaceful integration. Ministers of several denominations throughout the Arkansas capital immediately responded with sermons underlining the Christian’s obligation to the spirit of law, order, and justice.


Starting at sunset next Wednesday, the Jewish holiday of Sukkos will be celebrated in synagogues and homes the world over. For traditionalist Jews, Sukkos lasts for nine days; eight for reform Jews. Sukkos is history’s first thanksgiving festival and its origin dates back to biblical times. In the Hebrew language, Sukkos means “huts.” It recalls the gratitude felt for giving protection when they had lived in fragile homes during their long journey through the desert. The president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath, has this to say upon the significance of Sukkos for modern times: “We need constant reminders today that no individual is self-dependent. We are indebted to Almighty God for the countless favors we enjoy daily…”


This program has stressed so often that our freedoms are indivisible that the reaction of some of you, as revealed in your correspondence, is that the reporter has gone far afield from religion. And yet, he reiterates that it is true that if we are denied even one of our freedoms, all are endangered. This topic is stressed currently by an editorial appearing in the local press Thursday of this week under the caption, “Church and Press Rise and Fall Together,” and the occasion for reminder is that this is National Newspaper Week, and today is specifically “Religion and the Press Day.” For once, this reporter finds himself in complete accord with the editor, his good friend Mr. Kelley. The editor says, in part:

“In a very real sense, the press and the pulpit are partners. It may seem at times that the two are far apart, but in a deeper sense they are not.

“You have heard it said that churches and newspapers rise and fall together. In every land bent under a tyrant’s yoke, two things stand out: (1) a controlled press and (2) an intimidated church. You may put it down for a truism that there cannot long be a free church in a nation which has a slave press. By the same token, a free press will not endure alongside an imprisoned church.

“The two thus are dependent on each other and complementary to each other. The press maintains freedom of the mind, and the church preserves freedom of the spirit. Take one away and the other is sorely distressed
“Perhaps it is significant that the first article of the Bill of Rights recognizes this church-press partnership by providing specifically that Congress shall make no law (1) respecting the establishment of religion and (2) abridging freedom of press of speech…

“As newspapers of this nation observe their “week” and dedicate themselves to the cherished task of keeping the people informed, they salute the churches of the land for their transcendent responsibility of keeping people faithful to their religious beliefs….”

And anything that this reporter might add to that simple but profoundly important statement would, indeed, be superfluous.


In this connection it is sobering to reflect that doubtlessly sincere, but equally doubtlessly misguided, people in our midst do not really believe in a free press. In the week’s news comes further information about the City Board of Review of Knoxville, to which august body this reporter has not infrequently paid his disrespects. This time the whipping boy (or, more accurately whipping girl) is the current issue of Life Story, which according to the arbiters of literary good taste in our neighboring county, is banned for girls because, according to reports, it contains a number of stories about “hard luck” girls. Numerous other magazines came under the censorship of the book burners. November issues of Sir, Bedside Reader, and Caper, as well as the October issues of Playboy, Tan, Night and Day, and Vol. 1 of Men’s Digest. Apparently members of the board had a good time debating among themselves what is and is not obscenity. Ho hum! I have not read or looked at any of these magazines, nor can I afford to buy them, but this publicity about them does arouse my interest, and probably that of everybody who read the item. Much, perhaps most, of the stuff appearing in such magazines is, to this reporter, merely trash. But it is probably equally true that those who like such magazines would give his reading material the same label. Publications that violate obscenity laws are a matter for consideration and decision by the courts, not by self-appointed or even locally appointed do-gooders who think that they and they only know what people have sense enough to be permitted to read. It is likely that most of us Americans resent the idea that we cannot be trusted to determine our reading menu for ourselves without the help of Madam Grundys, however well-meaning such people may be.


The next comes under the heading of how mixed up can you get department: The subversives in Hungary are trying to overthrow communism and establish capitalism. Subversives in the U.S. are trying to overthrow capitalism and establish communism. In both cases the governments are scared silly. And in Cyprus: Greece says it is Greek; Turkey says it is Turkish; Britain says it is British. What the people of Cyprus say definitely does not count.


Without attempting to classify this next, I pass it on to you for what it is worth, if anything, which is highly doubtful. The National Association of Evangelicals, a fundamentalist group, sometimes referred to by the caustics as “Ignorance Inc.”, endorses the Walter-McCarran Act. Its release admits, “Only the National Association of Evangelicals has consistently supported the national origins system.” Some of the members of this thriving religious organization believe the Earth is flat and that virgins have babies.


Well, we Americans are a peculiar people. Americans fought World Wars I and II because they were shocked and outraged at the absurdity of any other people claiming to be superior to Americans in anything. Today our quarrelsome State Department gets its greatest support from resentment that any other people can produce bigger and more devilish instruments of death than can Americans.


Anyway, the pessimist has a great advantage over the optimist. He doesn’t kid himself. He does not pretend a pimple is a dimple. He is prepared for trouble. So he receives unexpected blessings. The optimist is never prepared for reverses. He is condemned to an endless round of disappointments. The stoics are the happy people. So it would seem that the answer is to be a happy, cheerful pessimist, for if anything pleasant happens, you will be surprised.


Since the days of our New England forefathers when education was designed to be the best safeguard against snares from the devil, Americans of religious belief, and many who were not religious, looked upon education as an important ingredient not only of a religious society but also for a democratic one. During the next several months, Tennesseans are going to be called upon to make decisions with respect to education in the state that will have far-flung implications, not only for today but also for the future. The legislative council is about to complete a rather searching survey of state education and its findings will soon be available. Already the state commissioner has warned against our jumping to conclusions that trade schools are the panacea for our educational ills. I should like to take what few minutes remain of today’s time to comment briefly upon this subject, reserving for next Sunday more extended comment.

Far too many people regard liberal education as a ghostly shadow of things. Instead, it is real and substantial, for no matter how glorified our science and how practical our technology, both need an arterial connection with basic education if they are to live. A liberal education is practical because, if for no other reason, it provides experience in formulating judgments about concrete contemporary problems. While it probably will not do a complete job of preparing young men or women for life, it does initiate the sort of personal growth that leads to maturity. It encourages wisdom, judgment and perspective, three qualities badly needed in facing the daily decisions of life. It is all-important, according to Dr. James R. Killian, president of M.I.T., that engineers, scientists, and other technically trained men in this atomic age have a solid grasp of the humanities, being well-grounded in the liberal arts as well as the techniques of their profession. For no matter how clever a scientist may be, he still must live with them, work with them, and participate in the responsibilities for the human qualities of life, by providing the student with knowledge of himself and others, of the physical and biological world, and of his own and other cultures. It gives him an historical view of man’s achievements and of his religious and philosophical heritage. It helps keep him in balance.

The story is told that the middle-aged Tennessean said that when he went to school they learned him to figure but not to read, and now when he went down the road and saw the signs he could tell “how fur but not whar to.” Technological education can teach one “how fur.” But is it not about time that we learned not only” how fur” but “whar we are a goin?” More of this next time.