Washington: The Episcopal Church in Washington is trying an experiment in what it calls “advangelism.” The idea, adopted by the Episcopal Diocese is an attempt to sell the services of the church to the public through a series of paid advertisements in local papers. The ads will run weekly at least through Easter. Episcopal leaders want to test a theory that churches, like business firms, can profit by professionally drafted ads.
Vatican City: Pope Pius has said that he believes Catholic parents have a right to expect a positive attitude toward religion from teachers in state-run schools with compulsory attendance. The pope recently told 130 teachers from Munich, Germany, that “It would be a violation of man’s elementary rights to force parents by law to entrust their children to a school whose teachers take a cool, negative, even hostile stand toward religious and moral convictions.”
Well, at the risk of being accused of what the pontiff abhors, this reporter considers the position unsound. Obviously, what the pope means by “religion” is his “religion.” It is highly unlikely that he would endorse a positive attitude toward Islam, Mormonism, even Protestantism, to say nothing of Unitarianism. Yet, we teachers in state-run schools must serve all alike, indiscriminately. All of us would probably subscribe to the idea that the public schools should favor morality, but then there are all sorts of definitions of moral. Public school teachers, in America at least, have no business mixing public school instruction with religion. It is reported, for example, that some teachers inquire of their students on Mondays which of them went to church or Sunday school the day before, and then proceed to give merit ratings of some kind to those who did. This too, is out of the sphere of the rightful scope of the teacher. Whether a child goes to church or not is a matter for him and his parents to decide, and certainly one who does not should not be made to feel embarrassed, or be penalized by the public school teacher. Doubtless such teachers do this from the sincerest of motives, but separation of church and state is vital to our American principles, and this was clarified without any question in the famous McCollum case in Illinois a few years ago. While I am a Methodist, I do not want any public school teacher trying to make Methodists, or any other kind of religious affiliate, out of my children. It simply is none of their affair – to put it bluntly.
Chicago: Youth and Christianity are called the most effective opponents of communism. Dr. Robert Cook, president of the Youth-for-Christ International, told a mid-winter convention of 150 regional directors of the group that no government can forever squelch or contain the religious drives of its people. He predicted a religious awakening in Russia and said once it hits it will fan its way through all of communism.
Berlin, Germany: The world-wide Catholic students organization, Pax Romana, has concluded a five-day board meeting in West Berlin with a resolution to step up aid for Hungarian refugees. Board members from 24 nations took part in the meeting.
Evanston, Illinois: The Council of the National Methodist Student Commission says it wants to continue exploration of merger possibilities with other denominational student groups. The council said, however, the Methodist Student Movement must remain faithful to its responsibility to the Methodist Church. This apparently, is like saying, “Go ahead and merge, but let them come to you; don’t go toward them.”
Washington: It is announced that Pope Pius has created a new Diocese of Gary in Northwestern Indiana and named Monsignor Andrew Grutka, of Fort Wayne, as its bishop. The pope also made the Most Rev. Leo Pursley of Ft. Wayne, bishop of Fort Wayne; the Most Rev. Robert J. Joyce of Burlington, Vermont, bishop of his diocese; the Most Rev. Thomas J. McDonough, of St Augustine, Florida, bishop of Savannah, Georgia; and the Very Rev. Hillary B. Hacker, of St. Paul, Minnesota, bishop of Bismarck, North Dakota.
And along the same topic, Mexican Roman Catholics hope the pope will name one of their number to the College of Cardinals when a new consistory is held. Mexico’s 30 million people are estimated to be 90 percent Roman Catholic. But Mexico is said to have been denied a cardinal because of differences between church and state in the revolution earlier this century.
A U.S. newsman has relayed hope for the early release of 10 Americans, including some missionaries from Red China. William Worthy of the Baltimore Afro-American has broadcast from Red China that Premier Chou En-Lai has dropped hints about early parole for some U.S. prisoners because of good behavior. Worthy adds that even without such time off, three of the 10, a Lutheran missionary, a Franciscan priest, and a Jesuit priest, are due to have their sentences end in May, June, and July, respectively. The Baltimore newsman says that so far as can be learned in Red China the general charge against the Americans is espionage.
A recent compilation of suggestions for pastors and parishioners to consider this year includes some practical, as well as churchly, matters. The list is composed of ideas from worshipers and from letters from ministers and church members to other persons and to church journals. One item is the recommendation that people avoid condemning another’s religion unless they are sure they know more about it than he does. Another is the suggestion that churches put more hooks in cloakrooms, so worshipers do not have to sit on their coats. On the church etiquette side is the plea that hymnbooks be placed gently in pew racks after the service, and not with a clatter right at or before the benediction. Many clergy and worshipers would also be glad to hear the offering plates referred to as such, not as collection plates.
A Southern rabbi says racial tensions in the South are undermining the U.S. doctrines of freedom of thought and freedom of speech. The Rev. Jacob Rothschild of Atlanta made the statement in a sermon at New York City’s Central Synagogue. He has added that vague and not-so-vague threats of economic boycott and physical violence have been directed against persons who seek a peaceful solution. Or, worse still, he says, against those who dare to counsel compliance with the Supreme Court desegregation decision because it is the law of the land. Dr. Rothschild also states the right to speak freely and openly is curtailed if what one says disagrees with the popular point of view. Well, there was once an itinerant carpenter’s son who got into trouble for the same reason. But it would seem that in the field of religion, or upon matters having religious implications, at least, people who call themselves religious should be tolerant enough of opposing viewpoints not to stifle the mere expression of such differences. However, there is little doubt but what the good doctor says is true, for Rothschild has for 10 years been spiritual leader of Atlanta’s Hebrew Benevolence Congregation and is a long-time resident and community worker in the South.
Today begins another Christmas – this one, the observance of the Nativity by Orthodox Christians. The services date back more than 1,500 years and depend on the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian one held to by other Christian denominations. The colorful services have humble origins. For example, some Serbian Orthodox Christians burn a Yule log. And in the chancels of their churches they place straw, to remind them that the Christ child was born in a stable. And today, for other Christians, it is the Feast of the Epiphany. This service marks the worship of the baby Jesus by the Three Wise Men.
For the past few weeks, even months, newspapers and other media of communication have been full of news regarding racial problems attendant upon attempted or proposed integration of public schools. This reporter has deliberately stayed away from comment upon them because there did not seem to be much he could add to what was already being said. However, this past week, two columns in as many days have been devoted to the race question by Dr. Charles Allen, of Atlanta. In one he raises the question, “Is one race inferior?” He goes on to point out that some white people insist on maintaining racial segregation because of:
- Economic reasons: They fear to compete in the labor market and in any other kind of market with members of the colored race;
- Fear of Negro control of local government: Parenthetically, this would assume that Negroes vote as Negroes first and citizens second, while studies show that the reverse is true;
- Desire to maintain a servant race of people;
- People with inferiority complexes derive some compensation by thinking that colored people are inferior to them because of color or other racial traits;
- Resistance to any social change. One perturbing thing about social change for all of us is that it requires us to reappraise ourselves in the light of changed circumstances, and we don’t like that;
- Some believe the Negro race is, as a race, actually inferior to the whites and thus they do not want to live on an equal level with them;
- Some people insist upon segregation because they fear intermarriage. How many sins of prejudice has this old myth been used to cover!
- Some want segregation not necessarily because of prejudice but because they sincerely believe the two races are better off apart.
Well, there is the list Dr. Allen presents. It is as good a one perhaps as could be compiled. Most of us could think of other reasons. The point is: Are these reasons valid and worthy? Examine your own hearts and answer that question honestly.
In presenting what he calls the “Case for the Negroes,” Dr. Allen lists some four reasons why Negroes do not like segregation.
- They resent restrictions that segregation imposes on them. Many of them prefer to live in Negro communities, but simply do not like to be told where they can or cannot live;
- Some want integration because they have not fared well under segregation and hope for better education, jobs, etc., if segregation is abolished;
- Some oppose segregation because it presupposes inferiority, and they strongly believe they are not inferior;
- Some Negroes want integration because they actually feel inferior and want to escape from this feeling through the integration process.
Of course Dr. Allen is a white man telling us what the Negro wants, how he feels, and why he feels that way. One of the unfortunate lacks in the welter of arguments over integration is that about all who have written or talked have been white people. All too few Negroes have spoken out comprehensively and clearly as to what they want. However, because Dr. Allen has lived in the South for many years, his circle of acquaintances includes many people of both racial groups.
This reporter was told, rather pointedly, about a year ago, that the matter of segregation did not involve any religious element, and that it would be better to avoid it on this program. To that, my only reply is it depends upon how you define religion. If by “religion” you mean something sacred embalmed between the lids of a book that you take out on Sundays or other special days and treasure it, and then put it back until another such day and forget about your religion on the days in between, and in your relationships with other people, then segregation probably has no religious implications for you. But if your definition of religion embraces the idea that religion should be concerned about people as such – their rights, their responsibilities, their opportunities, their right to respect because they are God’s creatures – then it is difficult to see how segregation could be viewed as a non-religious, academic subject. The Nazarene was not concerned about one’s race, nationality, socioeconomic status, or anything else. His only concern was the need of the persons with whom he came in contact, and he truly exemplified what Paul had in mind when he said, “God hath made of one blood all nations of men.” It is difficult to see how any other conception squares with realities.