The Tennessee Baptist Convention ended this week with delegates unexpectedly dodging the race relations issue in approving a committee report which did not even mention the subject, though the chairman of the Social Service Committee had indicated that it would be contained in his report. As originally drafted and published in printed form, the report included a section stating that “We should accept the Supreme Court decision as the law of the land.” However, in its final form the report merely observes that “Obviously we cannot discuss all the fields of human relations,” and adds that because of “time and space limitations, we shall deal with only two things – race relations and beverage alcohol. We choose race relations because of the recent events in Anderson County; the alcohol problem is discussed because of the continuing magnitude of the problem.”
However, no specific stand regarding the crucial issue of denominational stand for or against enforcement, or attempted enforcement, of the Supreme Court decision was left out.
Everybody, religious or otherwise, cannot but be concerned about the complicated and frightening mess into which international affairs have been plunged by the events in Egypt since June and in the Middle East within the past few weeks. Churches around the world have expressed their concern. Pope Pius has condemned the “illegal and brutal repression” and declared that Christians have “a moral obligation to try all permissible means in order that the dignity and freedom of the Hungarian people be restored.” The World Council of Churches said in Geneva that “Christians must stand together with all who, in the struggle for freedom, suffer pain and trial.” The National Council of Churches in the U.S. cabled the Russian Orthodox Church asking it to work for “avoidance of further bloodshed and oppression.” Britain, where the church has often appeared subdued and on the decline, was aroused by Eden’s action and most of the Protestant clergy took their cue from the archbishop of Canterbury who emphasized that this action makes the British people “terribly uneasy and unhappy.” “Britain,” he says, “has stood alone in the world before because she upheld moral principles at great cost to herself. But she stands alone today because she has acted in direct violation of the moral and legal principal to which she pledged herself.” And he calls upon “Christian people (to) [stop the way.”]
And Protestant and Catholic Church groups and individuals have expressed deep concern over the international situation. The Protestant Episcopal House of Bishops terms itself “outraged by the ruthless slaughter and enslavement of the Hungarian people by the tyranny of Russia.” At their meeting at Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania, this week, the leaders of the American branch of the Anglican Communion also expressed misgivings about what it termed the unilateral action taken by contending powers in the Middle East. The statements are parts of a pastoral letter to be read in all Episcopalian parishes and U.S. missionary districts.
Meanwhile, the president of the National Council of Churches, the Rev. Dr. Carson Blake, has made a national appeal for emergency aid contributions. The gifts of money, food, and clothing will be used for the new thousands of homeless and hungry persons in Europe and the Middle East. Dr. Blake also called on the Russian Orthodox Church to present to the authorities of its nation its Christian concern that the Hungarians be allowed to determine their own national destiny.
So far as is known, Josef Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary is still in asylum in the U.S. legation in Budapest.
Chief Justice Earl Warren has told the National Conference of Christians and Jews that freedom can be endangered in America even in our day. To prevent this, he says, the nation must stay vigilant against intolerance and injustice.
Jewish blind throughout the world now are using the world’s first Hebrew prayer book in braille. Preparation of the nine-volume set has been financed by the National Women’s League of the United Synagogue of America.
Dr. Jacob Agus believes religion should cultivate a sense of reverence for the objective approach in life. The rabbi of the Congregation of Beth-el in Baltimore also thinks religions should cultivate a sense for thinking in terms of humanity, not in racial, national, or political terms. He also told the National Institute for Religious and Social Studies that to serve God as complete humans, we must be objective as well as subjective. The institute is a function of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York City. Every year it is attended by about 200 Roman Catholic, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish leaders. Very often the lectures and discussions produce fast jottings in notebooks of sermon ideas. The institute meetings are for a study of common grounds of religion as well as differences.
New York: The Rev. Dr. Ralph W. Lowe, pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Buffalo, New York, has been elected president of the Board of Foreign Missions of the United Lutheran Church in America.
Winston Salem, North Carolina: A resolution which would bar Negroes from attending Baptist schools and colleges in North Carolina has been defeated overwhelmingly at the 126th Annual Baptist State Convention. The resolution had been advanced by J. Henry Le Roy of Elizabeth City, representing a group of Eastern North Carolina Baptists. But barely a handful among 1,600 convention delegates rose to support it.
Atlanta, Georgia: The Georgia Baptist Convention, the largest religious group in the State, has refused to endorse the Supreme Court integration decision. Recommendations of a committee for endorsement were rejected by a standing vote of approximately 3 – 1.
Madrid, Spain: The Spanish government has further tightened its laws governing the marriage of non-Catholics in Spain. A decree law signed by Chief of State Franco revises the laws for civil weddings which have not been changed since 1870. In net effect, the new law makes non-Catholic marriages neither more nor less possible, but it does serve to make the procedure somewhat more difficult. Non-Catholics, in order to marry in Spain, must apply for permission to marry, and state reasons why they want to wed.
Washington, Ohio: An Illinois psychologist says persons preparing to enter the ministry should take psychiatric tests. Dr. Charles Anderson, of Hinsdale, Illinois, says such tests would eliminate many heartaches, ill feelings, and difficulties encountered by clergymen.
Lisbon, Portugal: A national pilgrimage will take place today to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, to pray for the salvation of Hungary. Catholics were urged to join the pilgrimage to attend a solemn funeral Mass for Hungarian martyrs which will be celebrated November 28.
Hanover, Germany: Hungarian Protestant Bishop Lajos Ordass is reported safe in a village near Budapest. Ordass, a Lutheran bishop, fled the capital with his family and staff when the Russians attacked. German Lutheran officials plan to send a truckload of food and clothing to the bishop.
New York: The Board of Social Missions of the United Lutheran Church in America has approved a plan to train 100 pastors and laymen for an education and action program on desegregation. Dr. Harold Letts, secretary for social action, says the training plan is based on a statement by the denomination’s 20th Biennial Convention that segregation impedes Christian brotherhood.
It is difficult to see how religion can be regarded as something abstract, something removed from everyday living, though some of you listeners have expressed yourselves otherwise. However, unless religion is interwoven into the very fabric of everyday affairs, it becomes a stilted, meaningless, and ornamental affair. That is why, on this pre-Thanksgiving broadcast, I have no hesitancy in presenting the following which is probably the most important, both tangible and intangible, element of our everyday life for which we should regard with thanks. It is an essay of America, by a high school student, presented two or three years ago in a nation-wide contest. It is by Elizabeth Ellen Evans, and is entitled ”I Speak for Democracy.” It says:
“I am an American. Listen to my words, fascist, communist. Listen well, for my country is a strong country, and my message is a strong message. I am an American, and I speak for democracy. My ancestors have left their blood on the green at Lexington and the snow at Valley Forge…on the walls of Fort Sumter and the fields at Gettysburg…on the waters of the River Marne and in the shadows of the Argonne Forest…on the beachheads of Salerno and Normandy and the sands of Okinawa…on the bare, bleak hills called Pork Chop and Old Baldy and Heartbreak Ridge.
A million and more of my countrymen have died for freedom. My country is their eternal monument. They live on in the laughter of a small boy as he watches a circus clown’s antics…and in the sweet, delicious coldness of the first bite of peppermint ice cream on the Fourth of July…in the little tenseness of a baseball crowd as the umpire calls ‘batter up!’…and in the high school band’s rendition of ‘Stars and Stripes Forever’ in the Memorial Day parade…in the clear sharp ring of a school bell on a fall morning…and in the triumph of a six-year old as he reads aloud for the first time.
They live on in the eyes of an Ohio farmer surveying his acres of corn and potatoes and pasture…and in the brilliant gold of hundreds of acres of wheat stretching across the flat miles of Kansas…in the milling of cattle in the stockyards of Chicago…the precision of an assembly line in an automobile factory in Detroit…and the perpetual glow of the nocturnal skylines of Pittsburgh and Birmingham and Gary.
They live on in the voice of a young Jewish boy saying the sacred words from the Torah: ‘Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might.’ …and in the voice of a Catholic girl praying: ‘Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…’ and in the voice of a Protestant boy singing ‘A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing…’
An American named Carl Sandburg wrote these words: ‘I know a Jew fish crier down on Maxwell Street with a voice like a north wind blowing over corn stubble in January. He dangles herring before prospective customers evincing a joy identical with that of Pavlova dancing. His face is that of a man terribly glad to be selling fish, terribly glad that God made fish, and customers to whom he may call his wares from a pushcart.’
There is the voice in the soul of every human being that cries out to be free. America answered that voice.
America has offered freedom and opportunity such as no land before has ever known, to a Jew fish crier down on Maxwell Street with the face of a man terribly glad to be selling fish. She has given him the right to own his pushcart, to sell his herring on Maxwell Street.… She has given him an education for his children, and a tremendous faith in the nation that has made these things his.
Multiply that fish crier by 160 million – 160 million mechanics and farmers and housewives and coal miners and truck drivers and chemists and lawyers, and plumbers and priests – all glad, terribly glad, to be what they are, terribly glad to be free to work and eat and sleep and speak and love and pray and live as they desire, as they believe.
And those 160 million Americans … have more roast beef and mashed potatoes … the yield of the American labor and land … more automobiles and telephones … more safety razors and bathtubs … more Orlon sweaters and Aureomycin … the fruits of American initiative and enterprise … more public schools and life insurance policies … the symbols of American security and faith in the future … more laughter and song – than any other people on earth.
This is my answer fascist, communist. Show me a country greater than our country, show me a people more energetic, creative, progressive – bigger-hearted and happier than our people, not until then will I consider your way of life. For I am an American, and I speak for democracy.