First, a potpourri of religion in the week’s news as reported by the wires of Associated and United Press.
In Oxford, Mississippi the segregation issue has closed an annual religious event observed by many U.S. institutions of higher learning. The University of Mississippi has cancelled its “Religious Emphasis Week” after five ministers suggested the religious atmosphere of the program had been ruined. This followed a long dispute over the revoking of an invitation to a pro-integration speaker. This controversy began when the Rev. Alvin Kershaw of Oxford, Ohio, said he would donate part of his TV quiz show winnings to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Kershaw is the Episcopal minister at Ohio’s Miami University, and had been slated to address the Mississippi student religious program on the subject of “Religion and Drama.” However, the invitation was withdrawn when he said he would speak on segregation if the subject arose.
Following this, five out-of-state ministers cancelled their speaking engagements. This week, five other ministers from the university town suggested the event be called off and cancelled their own speaking engagements for Religious Emphasis Week. Instead of the planned program, the students will have 30 minutes of silent prayer and meditation on three days this coming week. It would seem that they well could meditate on the fact that the God to whom they are praying is the Father of us all. Wonder when Mississippi is going to join the Union anyway?
Sunday school once a week cannot make a child a Christian according to Mrs. Marian M. Kelleran, a prominent religious educator. Mrs. Kelleran says not one child in 1,000 can find a meaningful faith in Sunday school unless the lessons he is taught are lived out at home in a family that upholds the same values. And to that this reporter can find nothing to add except to wish that this were true of all homes.
Lowell, Massachusetts: Archbishop Richard J. Cushing, Roman Catholic prelate of Boston, has been awarded the “Man of the Year” award from the B’nai B’rith, a Jewish organization. The archbishop was cited for his lifetime of distinguished service to the cause of human brotherhood.
Berlin: East German communists have threatened East German Protestant leaders with serious consequences if they do not drop their anti-communist campaign against atheism. A statement printed in the Communist Party newspaper accused church leaders of luring East German youths to West Berlin and distributing anti-communist propaganda.
Well, can you imagine communists anywhere not trying to distribute their own propaganda? And how can they expect a minister, Protestant or otherwise, not to campaign against atheism? If he were sympathetic to atheism he probably would not be a minister. But logic or reason has never been the forté of the communists.
Miami Beach, Florida: the National Planning Committee of three joint Jewish organizations has opened its third annual mid-winter conference in Miami Beach. The organizations are the Jewish Theological Seminary, The United Synagogue, and the Rabbinical Assembly of America. The conference is sponsored by the University of Miami, The Historical Association of Southern Florida, and The American Jewish History Center.
Cincinnati, Ohio: The United Student Christian Council has urged its 3,000 chapters on American college campuses to abolish segregation within their ranks. A resolution adopted by the Student Christian Council also urges college and university officials to abolish racial segregation in dormitories, restaurants, and theaters.
An item from Boston emanating from FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover has a curious twist. It says: “Sunday school, like public school, should be compulsory for all children in the opinion of J. Edgar Hoover, FBI Chief.” Yes, that’s what it says.
In an interview with a Roman Catholic priest, printed in the Boston archdiocese publication, The Pilot, Hoover also urged reestablishment of religious exercises in the home. The article also quoted Hoover as saying the church must provide two-fisted forthright men who are not afraid to trample on toes when the honor of God or country is at stake. End of item.
Now this reporter shares with what he is sure is the vast majority of the American people – a profound respect for the way Mr. Hoover has administered the most important law enforcement agency in the world. But when it comes to making Sunday school compulsory, Mr. Hoover is strictly off the bean. He should refresh his knowledge of the First Amendment which prohibits government from establishing or aiding any religion. We can agree with him that all children should go to Sunday school, but as to requiring it, that is another matter. Perhaps the chief G-man was misquoted. Let us hope so.
Vatican City: Pope Pius XII on Friday received in audience 170 American airmen who flew an armada of flying boxcars from Germany to Italy to bring aid to Italian towns isolated by severe snowstorms. The airmen were led by General Emmett B. Cassady, United States Air Attaché at the embassy in Rome. The pope spoke in English, praising the airmen for their courage and charitable work, and imparted a special apostolic blessing to them and their families.
New York: Church World Service says American farmers last year contributed nearly $1 million in commodities and cash for overseas relief through the Christian Rural Overseas Program. R. Norris Wilson, executive director of Church World Service says the 1955 total for the crop program was $924,000, an increase of $108,000 over 1954.
Hartford, Connecticut: An American priest will become bishop of a newly created Roman Catholic diocese on the French island of Madagascar. The Very Rev. Paul Girouard, who has been missionary on the island since 1928, will be consecrated bishop at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut, on March 7. He is a native of Hamilton, Rhode Island, and to refresh your geographic memory, I might add that Madagascar is located off the east coast of Africa.
A stiff legislative fight may be in the offing between the Roman Catholic Church and some Louisiana segregation leaders. The church said recently that integration of white and colored persons in its schools may come by September. Now four state representatives have asked the Louisiana legislature to enact measures to prevent mixing races in private schools.
A Negro bishop has been named the ninth member of an inter-Protestant church group to visit Russia in March. He is Bishop D. Ward Nichols of New York, presiding bishop of the First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Restoration of the Ministry of the Laity to the church has been urged by a Protestant theological professor. He is the Rev. Dr. Reuel Howe of Alexandria, Virginia, and says the real ministry is carried on in the frontiers of where men live, work, love, and play. He describes the officiating minister as the pastor of pastors and the teacher of teachers. Dr. Howe’s remarks were made in Cincinnati this week at a preliminary session of the annual meeting of the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches.
An interfaith group has cited three prominent persons of different religious backgrounds for distinguished work in human relations and brotherhood. The awards from the Northeastern Region of the National Conference of Christians and Jews have gone to Robert Cutler, former White House administrative assistant; Democratic Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts; and Dr. Harry Wolfson, professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy at Harvard. The week coming up is to be Brotherhood Week, under the auspices of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
With this being a presidential election year, it is inevitable that the news will be more than ever filled with items of a political nature, even on such a program as this, for politics deals with government, and whatever government does is, or should be, the concern of everyone. A rather revealing glimpse of the habit of politicians to view with alarm when things go against them and point with pride when they have done something they think will be approved comes by way of a massive report by Sen. Bridges of New Hampshire, chairman of the Republican Senate Policy Committee. He views with alarm the fact that 41 labor unions spent considerable funds in the 1954 congressional elections.
In reply to his report, the CIO Political Action Committee has revealed some interesting comparisons. Assuming that the amount spent by the labor unions all went to Mr. Bridges’ enemies, which it probably did not, union expenditures were still less than $2 million, and they came from 18 million members. At the same time, approximately $1.5 million spent by Mr. Bridges’ supporters came from only some 738 contributors of $1,000 or more. In short, for every $1 contributed by a labor union member, each of the wealth contributors on the other side put up nearly $2,000. Ten members of the Rockefeller family alone donated a total of $66,000, while 14 members of the DuPont family put up $51,000. How about that, Senator Bridges? We little folks, the sovereign voters, want to know such things, but we want to know the truth on both sides. We’re getting pretty tired of the numbers racket, whether it be security firings or campaign contributions.
And while on the subject of government, it seems appropriate to recall at this time something that happened a year ago when 17 freshman congressmen, recently elected from districts widely scattered across the country, got together for a two-hour plea for a revitalized foreign policy which would, in their words, “put some political, social, and economic flesh on the bare bones of our present military measures against communism.” These young congressmen were fresh from the people: They knew what the people back in their districts from both parties were thinking. They looked at their new colleagues, listened to them, and finally could stand it no longer. Finally, one, Charles Vanik of Ohio, revolted and made the following speech: “I have sat here day after day and patiently listened; I have listened for hour after hour to tedious eulogies of congressmen who were and no longer are. I spent, I believe, a portion of one day listening to a eulogy of the ground hog of Pennsylvania. Entire sessions of Congress have been consumed in mutual exchange of birthday greetings. We have spent more time debating the service of food and the quality of food in the Capitol cafeteria and restaurant than we did in total on the Formosa Resolution.”
One of their number told a reporter that their revolt and the resolution that followed would not have happened if these young congressmen had not felt that the people back home wanted something done, that they had misgivings and were confused about the conduct of our foreign policy. Edith Green, e.g., from Portland, Oregon, was sure that her constituents were more concerned over the dangerous drift in diplomacy than over any other issue.
These congressmen had seen Dulles piling up air mileage in lieu of diplomatic achievement. They had heard of the reckless promise to “unleash Chiang Kai-shek.” They had heard the blustering threats of massive retaliation; the new look in defense; or a bigger bang for the buck. These and many more, until they were tired of slogans. So they told the House some simple facts and insisted something be done about it. Well, nothing has been done about it yet. Some of these facts were:
- That nuclear war is capable of destroying civilization, and this country can no longer ignore some of the tensions, quite apart from the centers of communist power in Moscow and Peking;
- That military containment is not enough. It must be accompanied by efforts to unite a free Germany and to permit free governments in central and eastern Europe;
- That it is about time we were backing the fight of under-developed peoples of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East for freedom from colonialism and feudalism;
- That there must be economic aid on an international basis;
- And that ours must be a position of non-involvement in great power rivalry.
It was a wonderful challenge, but nothing has been changed. The discouraging thing about it all is that nobody in high places seems to want to change the situation. What are your and my senators and representatives doing these days? It might be well for us to find out and let them know what we expect them to do, for politicians are afraid of nobody but the people, and if they know what we want, they will respond. They probably will not unless we do. That presents us with a continuing challenge.