Sometimes even the most well-meaning people, trying to thread their way intelligently through the confusingly complicated world of today, find themselves taking, unconsciously of course, diametrically opposite and contradictory positions on important issues. What brought this on is an item brought to my attention by one of you listeners. A reader of the Miami Daily News insists upon retaining freedom of religion and of speech, but later on in her letter she justifies the banning of the film “Martin Luther.” How can one square a loyalty to freedom of religion and at the same time subscribe to censorship of religion because it happens to be filmed and deals with religion in a way one does not like?
In this connection, the words of Benjamin Franklin seem more than appropriate. He says, “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it, so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil powers, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
The same reaction was evoked some years ago by the appearance of “The Miracle.” And one having only incidental religious implications was a film of a story by Charles Dickens that displayed a Jew in a bad light. I personally regret that any form of communication media holds any individual of any group up to contempt because of his identification with that group, but to prohibit all communication media that do not portray everybody in a favorable light would mean to stifle all communication. The good common sense of most people, and their sense of fairness, will usually assess any character, film, or other means of portrayal as it should be, and censorship of any kind is anathema to free men who love freedom.
Today we hear a great deal about that behavior which we call juvenile delinquency. It is a very complicated subject, and one which I hope to deal with in greater detail on some future broadcast. However, I wonder if the public generally is aware of some of the fundamental, society-imposed influences that contribute to such behavior. For one thing our system of contracting marriage is psychologically – and I might add biologically – unsound, outmoded, confused, hit-or-miss, putting a premium on guile, promoting unhealthy competition, and encouraging sexual looseness. Being an unmarried young woman, under our far-from-intelligent system, is a hazardous occupation like handling explosives. Yet, the young female herself is not without some blame, for many of her antics to attract the male are pathetic and rarely funny. Often in our marriage mart the solid young man with substantial academic or other achievements to his credit, but not clever with women, feels rejected. He has no line, he doesn’t dance well, he isn’t good at lying, he doesn’t have a sporty car, but because of his lack of success with members of the opposite sex, he is confused, frustrated, and feels cheated.
The rising divorce rate, with its consequent paralytical impact upon the personalities of young people is something for which they are not responsible, but because of which they suffer from the insecurity, uncertainty, frustration, that go with uncertainty. Someone has said that there are no tragedies but the tragedies of childhood. That may be hyperbole, but perhaps it is not too much to say that most of human tragedies have their genesis in childhood. My work brings me constantly in association with young people, many of whom, directly or indirectly, convey to me something of the problems that are affecting their outlook and behavior. The tragic thing is that most of these problems have their roots in attitudes or activities of adults, adults who affect very personally and directly the attitude and behavior of these young people. How would it be if we stopped putting so much emphasis on talking glibly and with sad countenances about juvenile delinquency and started taking a serious, unemotional, and objective inventory of the adult delinquency that contributes to this so-much-heard delinquencies of minors?
In line with this same thought comes an AP news item that a Protestant youth leader this past week stressed the importance of the Christian home in combating juvenile delinquency. President Edgar Fritz of the International Walther League says in nine cases of ten, parental delinquency is to blame for wayward youth. Fritz has also told the 2,000 youthful delegates at his group’s convention they have a duty to help churches make the family a spiritual unit. The Walther League, which met in NYC, is the youth organization of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.
The National Council of Churches says that teenagers and young adults leave the church mainly because they are bored. A survey of 605 youths adds the teenagers and young adults do not like programs that offer little or no challenge to their skill sand interests. Other reasons named were marriage and family responsibilities that conflict with working or school hours. The council adds that the young persons recommended several ways for churches to hold their interest. Included are well-planned programs that are intellectually adapted to local needs, capable and sincere leadership, friendliness to newcomers, and church activities in which all … may take part.
Contacts between the Church of England and Britain’s Methodist Church seem to have gone beyond the preliminary stage. Worldwide attention of religious circles has been stirred by the moves. The Anglicans have expressed cautious hopes for closer association with the Methodist Church, built on Episcopal lines. That would mean inter-communion between churches governed episcopally, by bishops, priests, and deacons. Some proposals have been made that the British Methodist Church might become an Episcopal one. Now Britain’s Methodist Church leaders say they would welcome opportunity to discuss closer relationships with the Church of England. The Methodist conference meeting at Manchester, England, has declared it does not envisage a dull and level uniformity. It desires that the particular character and influence of each church be retained.
Well, it seems that at last investigationitis has beset at least one of the churches. In Milwaukee, July 28 has been set as the date for the heresy trial of the Rev. George Crist, pastor of a Lutheran parish in Durham, a suburb of Milwaukee. A five-member investigating committee of the Church’s Northwest Synod has informed the 31-year-old minister of the date. Crist says he’ll defend himself by trying to prove his views are within the doctrine of the Lutheran Church. He says he does not believe in the virgin birth of Christ. He says that statement and others attributed to him probably will form the basis of the charges. But he says he believes his point of view is within the synod’s article of faith, which is based on the Bible and the confessional writings of the Lutheran Church. Two other Milwaukee area ministers are also under investigation by the committee.
The Argentine government has informed the Vatican that two Roman Catholic priests ousted from the country three weeks ago may return. Vatican sources say the withdrawal of the expulsion order was communicated to the Vatican through normal diplomatic channels. The two prelates are now en route to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the International Eucharistic Congress. And in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Copello has urged all Catholics to heed President Peron’s plea for peace and harmony, and has ordered that a pastoral be read at all masses in all Roman Catholic churches today signifying support of the president’s plea.
For some time now I have been getting together some comments upon the fundamental social and political and moral nature of the Supreme Court decisions relating to desegregation of the public schools – those of May 17, 1954, and of May 31, 1955. While I had made some progress on that, here comes a national magazine that does it much better and more comprehensively, so I take the liberty of quoting to you rather liberally from an editorial of Collier’s for July 22, now on your newsstands. It says, in part:
“In two great decisions requiring the integration of white children and black in our … schools, the … court has restated shining principle and returned to the smallest communities the challenge of living up to it. By ruling … that ‘separate educational facilities are inherently unequal’, the … court set the record straight for ourselves and the world. To the communist charges … that we are insincere in our pledges to our own colored citizens, we have said they lie. At home the decision swept away the legal struts by which 20 states and the District of Columbia permitted or required separation of school children according to race or color. In one stroke, the court destroyed the jerry-built house of legalisms that had protected our prejudices for nearly a century. It got down to the clean granite of what we believe.
“… The court set no deadline; it knew that the change would be neither easy nor simple, that conditions varied widely from place to place.…
“In its decisions the … court has followed its instructions to the lower courts. It has moved with ‘deliberate speed.’ That this is a wise course is shown … by the transition which has already happened. At the time of the original ruling everyone looked instinctively to the South, fearful of violence. Actually, surprisingly, little violence has occurred…. True, some of the bitterest opponents of the Court’s decision have repeatedly vowed a last-ditch fight against any change.…
“But their outraged cries have sometimes sounded hollow, as if spoken for political effect. The plain facts show that the tide is against them. In many of the so-called border states, Negro and white children now for the first time are seated on adjacent benches learning their ABC’s together. Here integration is proceeding for the most part quietly and unspectacularly, particularly when public officials have given an example of calm compliance. Even in the deepest South there has long been a growing body of citizens who have foreseen that ultimate integration must come, that by depriving the Negro of equality under the Constitution, we were also depriving ourselves of the full benefit of his immeasurable gifts.…
“The … decision, of course, did not please those who wished integration to come overnight, some of these eager minds feared that by failing to set a deadline for compliance, the … court had opened the way for years of delay while a multitude of individual legal actions would have to be carried upward through the courts all over again. Yet the court’s decision should give little comfort to those who would destroy its meaning. It has ordered that good faith compliance be undertaken promptly, and that those asking delays must prove the delays are necessary.…
“Implementation would come more quickly … if it were left to the nation’s children. In Washington, D.C., and other localities where integration already has been largely accomplished, it has been found that in the elementary grades particularly, Negro child and white child accept each other simply, find nothing astonishing when a little Negro girl is elected to play Goldilocks or the fairy princess. For youngsters have an easy way with truth, a direct and casual acceptance that all children are created equal. They have not yet had laid upon their free minds the deadening weight of old prejudices and old fears. The adults who most oppose integration could find worse examples of democracy in action than on the playgrounds where white and Negro children mingle.
“Yet the court’s decision for the most part will have to be implemented by parents. For many, it will require an act of courage; it is not easy for any man to alter abruptly the beliefs by which he has lived a lifetime. It is here that the … court has served us well. It has recognized that its decision will stir a struggle in many an individual conscience, that to impose an arbitrary deadline might only inflame resistance to the change that must come. The decision emphasized that in a free society it is far better for compliance to come from below than to be enforced from above. Prejudice cannot be erased by an edict, or enlightenment created by law. The court has preferred to challenge us, North and South, Negro and white, to be the kind of citizens that a free society must have – and not having them, dies. For ultimately the law must be enforced not by a man with a gun, but by recognition in the heart. This is the immeasurable strength, the enduring secret, of free men.