Washington: World leaders of the Seventh Day Adventists have come out in strong opposition to the adoption of a world calendar. The proposal, being studied by the United Nations, would bring about equal quarters of 91 days each by dropping one day from the calendar altogether and two in leap years. The objective is to put business on an unchanging cycle, saving millions of dollars in bookkeeping and other costs. But Walter Beach of Washington, general secretary of the Seventh Day Adventists, said the calendar would break the present weekly cycle, hopelessly shift the holy days of various churches and “bring religious confusion and economic hardship to those sacred personal attachments to Saturday or Sunday or to any other day.” (UP)
(AP) Nearly 400 television stations across the U.S., in Alaska and Hawaii, will view a major new Easter film during Holy Week. The 44-minute film is entitled “The Day Before Easter” and will dramatize the Easter message. The film was produced in Hollywood for the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S. The story’s simplicity is said to afford rare religious potency. It concerns a veteran clergyman, Dr. Mackenzie, who finds himself dissatisfied with the Easter Sunday sermon he has prepared. Because of the acute problems involving members of his congregation, he has not had enough time to work on the sermon. Being a man who cannot be happy with easy, glib answers, he knows that unless people’s religion can help them solve their immediate problems, he has failed in his task. The film will be climaxed by Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, performed by the Hollywood Presbyterian Church’s great Cathedral Choir.
Catholics on the Island of Mindanao are mourning the destruction of their church by the violent earthquake which struck the southern Philippines on Thursday. Particularly tragic was the destruction of the Church of St. John the Baptist in a small village on the island. It was a stately stone church seating 1,500 persons. Begun and completed by the Spaniards in 1864, after 40 years of work, it was the only remaining Spanish church on Mindanao. According to its pastor, the Rev. Thomas Callahan, it was built to serve as a church, but was also a fortress against the Mohammedan Moors who used to raid Christian communities. During World War II the edifice was damaged by the Japanese. Only recently were restoration and repairs completed at a cost of $25,000.
Thirty-five years of work by a Jewish scholar, Hugh Schonfield, was completed this week with the unveiling in London of a new translation of the New Testament. An English Jew of the Liberal Synagogue, Schonfield considers his effort the authentic version of the writings which make up the story of Christianity. He was motivated, he says, by a great need to promote improved relations between Jews and Christians. The work is said to be the first such ever done by a Jew, and is the world’s first non-ecclesiastical interpretation of the New Testament. The translation is in modern English idiom and runs to 568 pages. For 30 years, Schonfield studied countless manuscripts, and he traveled to Palestine, Egypt, Athens, and Rome. It took five years to write. A special subscription edition of 3,500 copies is to be issued in London, selling at $11 each. The new translation is expected to be published in the United States soon.
This program has from the first been, and will continue to be, dedicated to the principle of not only the utmost freedom of religion, but also to the right of freedom of religion. To this reporter, no other position is tenable in a nation that wrote into its first article in its Bill of Rights a guarantee of religious freedom.
This week saw an attack in Congress on the sincerity of the religious convictions and activities of the president of the United States. Now let us keep in mind at the outset that Americans reserve the right to criticize freely our public officials, and not even the chief executive is immune from criticism about almost anything. This reporter has done his share of criticizing, not only the present occupant of the White House, but numerous of his predecessors. That is the American way.
However, to question the sincerity of one’s devotion to a religious creed is not only bad taste; it runs counter to one of our deepest and most cherished principles. If one is charged with a crime, that is something that is capable of objective proof in a court of law; if he asserts physical superiority, that, too, can be proved by a test of strength. But if he asserts that he holds to certain spiritual convictions, that is a matter about which only he and his deity know, and no mortal has a right, under our scheme of things, to question the sincerity of that asserted belief.
It is understandable that in the heat of political rancor, even the otherwise most measured of men sometimes indulge in unbecoming charges. This has been true when persons of other political complexion have occupied the White House, and when the attacks came from the same party as that of present occupant. Both are equally in bad taste and both are equally wrong. Citizens naturally have their private evaluations of many things connected with public officials, and doubtless, consciously or unconsciously, they take these things into consideration when they go into the ballot box. But to make his religion a public issue with respect to any man is going beyond the realm of both propriety and ethics.
A great governor of the state of New York ran for president in 1928, and was defeated largely because of his religion. This reporter does not subscribe to that particular faith, but he feels yet a sense of shame that the religious issue was undoubtedly a cause of his defeat. Such prejudice assumes that one cannot be a good citizen or office holder because of his religion, when there is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that any president in the past has let his religious convictions determine his governmental policy. America has had far too much religious bigotry in her past; she needs no more of it, whether it comes from a political spokesman or from a religious fanatic.
An item of possible interest relating to public officials and their religion comes to light this week in the publication of the results of a survey carried out by the Living Church magazine. This survey reflects the current religious affiliations of the members of the present Congress. The results show that Methodists predominate, with 105 members out of a total of 531 in both houses of Congress. Roman Catholics are next, with 82 members: followed by Presbyterians, with 68; Baptists rank fourth, with 66; Episcopalians number 33; Congregational-Christians, 31; Lutherans, 21; Disciples of Christ, 8; Latter Day Saints, 8; Jews, 7; Reformed, 5; Friends, 3; Unitarians, 3; and the rest are unspecified.
There has been no opportunity to check these figures to see whether they are proportionate to the numerical ranking of these faiths in the general population, but it is likely that they are roughly so. If so, this is as it should be, for it reflects something of the heterogeneity of Americans generally, i.e., our religious affiliations find expression even in Congressional representation – not, it is hoped, that many vote for Methodists because they are Methodists, but that as a people we have confidence in men of all faiths, for America is made up of all faiths.
Dr. Charles Allen of Atlanta calls our attention to some parallels between religion and science that are well worth thinking about. Writing in The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, he points out that both science and religion are based on faith, and not on despair. Science looks ahead with optimism believing that things are possible, refusing to believe anything is impossible. The Christian recalls the words of their leader who said, “If ye have faith … nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Science reveals a world that is trustworthy; likewise, religious truth reveals a God who is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Science reveals the existence of positive, creative forces that release spiritual power. Science liberates the man by constantly widening his horizons. Religion liberates the man, for it believes that “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
What, then, becomes of the much talked-about, much prolonged conflict between science and religion? The truth is that this conflict exists only in the minds of those who want to feel rather than think their religion; it sprang more from a non-rational approach to religion than from a knowledge of science. In all likelihood, the major battles in this conflict came from ministers who devoutly believed their religious dogma but were largely devoid of the true nature of what science is, how it works, and what it tries to do. Both science and religion seek truth. Both respect it, and a religion so fragile that it cannot withstand honest scrutiny by inquiring minds is of doubtful utility.
All media these days are so filled with speculations, threats, charges, and counter-charges relating to possible war in the Far East that it is difficult to prepare a 15-minute broadcast without taking some notice of it, for apparently talk of war is ubiquitous, and no subject is of greater concern to people of all religious convictions and faiths. Without trying to review charges that part of the palace guard is trying its best to take us into war, charges made this week on the floor of the Senate, and denials of those charges by the Administration, let us look soberly at some little publicized facts about the Formosan situation.
First, both the governments of the China mainland and that of Chiang Kai-shek are dictatorships. They vary in details, but their general patterns are much the same. Anyone who has read objectively the story of Chiang’s rule while he was in China can hardly, with a straight face, assert that the present regime on Formosa is “the Far Eastern stronghold or outpost of democracy.” That assertion has been made by a spokesman in high public office over and over again. The only thing wrong with it is that it simply does not square with the facts. It is a safe assumption that the American people do not want dictatorship of any kind, from whichever portion of the political spectrum it comes.
Second, the island of Formosa is peopled by over 7 million inhabitants who are Chinese in national origin, but who settled there hundreds of years ago. There is no evidence, no reason to suspect, that they feel any considerable desire to be under the rule of either Mao Tse-tung or Chiang Kai-shek. On the other hand, a recent indication of Formosan desires came in the form of a letter from Dr. Thomas I. Liao, leader of the underground Formosan Democratic Independence Party, to British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, requesting British support for Formosan independence from both the Communists and Nationalist Chinese.
We give much lip service to the U.N. Why not, instead of a big three, big four, or big any kind of conference to settle world tension, work through the U.N. to resolve the Formosan crisis by placing it under the U.N. Trusteeship Council for a period of years, and in the meantime police the country as much as necessary by a truly U.N. police force? ….
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