A young Lutheran minister, the Rev. Paul Mackensen of Baltimore is one of the 40 American civilians whom Ambassador Alexis Johnson is trying at Geneva to get the Chinese Reds to free. Pastor Mackensen has been in prison in Red China for three years on trumped up charges of spying. Himself the son of a Lutheran minister, he went to China in 1948 to study oriental languages at Peiping, later taking up duties at a mission of the Lutheran church elsewhere in the country.
Another note concerning Lutherans: The Lutheran world is watching the heresy case in Wisconsin. Last weekend the Rev. George Crist, Jr. was found guilty of heresy and removed from his post. Now Dr. Paul Bishop, head of the Northwest Synod of the Lutheran Church has ordered the Rev. John Gerberding, who defended Crist at his trial, to stand trial for heresy. The executive committee of the synod will decided further on the ultimate fate of Crist. Crist was convicted of denying the virgin birth and physical resurrection of Jesus and doubting such miracles as the transfiguration and ascension of Jesus. Also, he insisted that Adam was not responsible for man’s sinfulness.
The two Roman Catholic prelates recently expelled from Argentina, as reported on this program, have been granted asylum in Colombia, but a return to Argentina is hoped for soon. Both clergymen went to Vatican City in June when they were expelled at the end of an uprising against President Juan Peron. They then went to Rio de Janeiro, where they were honored at the 36th International Roman Catholic Eucharistic Congress.
In Argentina itself, the opposition radical party has begun a drive to roll back the recent government curbs on privileges of the Roman Catholic Church, which is the state religion. One radical party member of the Argentine Congress has introduced a bill to repeal a law authorizing a constitutional convention for consideration of church and state separation. Attacks on the Church have diminished since the mid-June revolt, but no indication has come that Peron wants the constitutional convention law repealed. On their part, leaders of the Peronista party are not likely to ignore the move. The Peronistas have a heavy congressional majority, but pro-church sentiment is strong and some 90 percent of all Argentines are Roman Catholics.
And in Rome, Pope Pius XII has appealed for the whole Eastern Orthodox Church to rejoin Roman Catholicism. The pontiff says the followers of the Eastern Rites would lose none of the divinity of splendor of their services nor of their sacred heritage. Instead, says the pope, they would gain much in protection. The pope’s appeal has been made in a letter to the abbot of an Eastern Rites monastery outside of Rome. Its branch of the Eastern Church recognizes the pope.
A young Jewish mother is believed to be the first woman ever named as cantor of a Jewish congregation. Mrs. Betty Robbins will assist the rabbi at the Oceanside, New York, Reform Judaism synagogue by chanting parts of the service. She will have her first service at Temple Avodah on September 15, the eve of the Jewish New Year. The congregation’s president says a search of Jewish law has revealed nothing to prohibit Mrs. Robbins’ being cantor. He has added that women have never been considered for the post of cantor in Orthodox or Conservative Jewish congregations, but reform temples are self-governing in such matters.
Laymen of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the United States and Canada will hold a big conclave at Grand Ledge, Michigan, near Lansing, starting August 30. Attendance may reach 8,000. The World Wide Layman’s director of the Seventy Day Adventists, T.L. Oswald of Washington, will lead the convention.
The Knights of St. Peter Claver, a Catholic interracial organization, in its convention in Chicago, has called on all bishops to abolish racial segregation in Catholic parochial schools. The Knights got down to names. They called specifically on the bishops of New Orleans, Natchez, and of dioceses in Florida and Alabama to admit Negroes to parochial schools.
History is replete with examples of past civilizations that believed they were most moral and fell because of their immorality. Moreover, economic and political perfection which was believed to have been accomplished by earlier societies, was found by later societies to include much imperfection. Our world of today, more highly integrated than ever, is split by major ideological division. Both sides seem to think that what they believe and practice is superior, and while this division goes on, the need for greater integration of world peoples, or world governing, and of world economic systems increases.
It is not making a complicated problem too simple to suggest that in many, if not most, cases where civilizations failed, the difficulty was due to lack of understanding of their own advancement, lack of vision as to how this advancement could be continued, and lack of courage to face truth regarding new needs required for such continuing advancement.
Something new and quite fundamental happened in world civilization when the United States of America was founded. For the first time, government guaranteed freedom to its citizenry. Methods and systems for political and economic intercourse developed which raised the respect for, and the living standard of, the common man to levels far beyond the dreams of ancient philosophers and of our own Founding Fathers. But, as was brought into focus by the Civil War and later by the Depression, government may make men free, but it cannot entirely clear itself from all responsibility regarding the necessity of men to be able to find work to live. This was borne in upon us with tragic clarity in the early 1930s. Increasingly, it became clear that government should not only guarantee freedom, but within reasonable limits should do what it could to guarantee opportunity whenever and wherever our economic system failed to provide such for a substantial number of citizens.
This whole question of the relationship of government to economic enterprise is one in which Americans have deep feeling, whether they be advocates of increased government activity or those who would return nostalgically to the “good old days” of laissez-faire. There is no necessary conflict between promotion of free enterprise and governmental action to see that able-bodied men seeking and unable to find employment in the usual channels be given that opportunity through governmental action. This idea of government guarantee of opportunity is not only difficult to avoid, but it is morally sound.
Ofttimes, however, especially in recent years – say the last 20, those of us who speak out along such lines are often accused of being enemies of the private enterprise system. We are nothing of the kind. We merely place human values first, and insist that when our enterprise system produces slack to the detriment of the unemployed, government should temporarily take up that slack. Such action ultimately inures to the benefit of private enterprise, for it prevents it from complete collapse, and our ideological foes are wishfully hoping that our system will collapse from its own inherent weaknesses, as they see it, and they shall become receivers by default of a bankrupt system in which people have lost faith. We must not let that happen. On the other hand, instead of being blinded by labels that propagandists delight to use in order to arouse our prejudices, we have a responsibility to examine critically not only the status quo, but proposed changes in order objectively to evaluate their merits. Only by such alertness on the part of all can we wage successfully the ideological war now confronting us. A U.S. general recently put it concisely. When asked how he would bring about better understanding between us and the Russians, he replied, “I would teach the American child the truth about communism and the Russian child the truth about American capitalism.” It would indeed be difficult to find any way of improving upon that.
As those of you know who have been good enough to follow these broadcasts fairly regularly, I have continually pointed out instances of infringements upon civil rights and the dangers to us all of such infringements. Such rights are basic, whether they relate to speech, religion, or to any of the other fundamental areas. This week there comes to light the case of a young midshipman. He is Cadet Eugene Landry of Bradley Beach, New Jersey. He graduated this week with second highest honors from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. He won three scholarships and was granted his degree, as did his other classmates. Such accomplishments ordinarily would have enabled him to receive a naval reserve commission, and it did to the others of his class. However, Cadet Landry was unfortunate enough to have chosen as his mother a woman who for some ten years prior to 1947 was a member of the Communist Party. No doubt has ever been raised as to the loyalty of the midshipman. One spokesman of the Academy called him “one of the brightest students we ever had.” However, he continued to visit and associate with his mother, and for this nefarious and un-American activity it was assumed somewhere by someone that he should be denied his rights under the law.
This is indeed strange doctrine and performance on the American scene. The framers of our Constitution wrote, not into the Bill of Rights, but in the original document, a provision that even in the case of treason, punishment could be visited only upon the traitor and that it could not work corruption of blood and be inflicted upon children or other relatives of the condemned person.
Now to put it into plain East Tennessee language, this reporter has no truck with the communist, but since when has it become American to violate not only the spirit but also the letter of the Constitution by denying to a capable young student his rights upon the sole assumption of guilt by association with a mother who has long since avowed any sympathy for communism? For that matter, one should have a right to visit his mother at any time he chooses, regardless of her ideological persuasion, without having it assumed that he, by virtue of such visits, embraced her political viewpoints. The whole thing is not only silly; it is, in my humble judgment, illegal. And I am certain that it is immoral. This is a case when organized protests from all over the country should flood the Navy Department and the offices of president and congressmen. The doctrine of “blood guilt” is certainly as un-American as any of the so-called “isms” of our time, whether they be fascism or communism, or what have you.
Well, it seems to be on-again, off-again with regard to our State Board of Education and desegregation in the state colleges. Several weeks ago, as I reported, the board had agreed to admit Negroes to the graduate divisions of the colleges this year, to the senior class of the undergraduate division next year, and so on until by 1972 there would, presumably, be full integration. In action at Nashville this week, the board changed its mind and decided to take no action at all pending outcome of a suit now on the court docket in Memphis over the applications of five Negro students seeking admission to Memphis State. The court will not make a ruling until sometime in October, so simply by taking no action, the board has averted a hurdle it has seemed to have little taste for, at least until after the fall term. And who knows, maybe before the end of that term a miracle may happen that will bring about still further delay?