From the current issue of Time magazine comes an article on a subject touched upon occasionally on this program, namely, the resurgence of interest in things religious by the present generation. Since it deals with the subject as related to college campuses, it was of particular interest to this reporter, and I should like to pass on to you some of the basic elements in the article.
Four Cornell sociologists made a survey of 7,000 students at 12 colleges and universities and came up with the results that 80 percent of those questioned said they felt a need for a religious faith. Significantly enough, only one percent confessed themselves to be atheists. The tendency, apparently, is not toward any particular creed, but a search for a religious system based on the deity as a supreme being.
This renewed interest in religion is reflected in an increase in number of courses devoted to the subject and the numbers of pupils attending such courses. For example, in 1933, Yale offered only three undergraduate courses in religion and had only four students; today it offers 12 courses and in one course alone there are 400 students. Much the same is true of Harvard, Princeton, and other similar institutions. The University of Chicago had only one chaplain in 1928; it now has 11 full time chaplains and 13 part-time workers. Students of this trend are by no means agreed upon its exact meaning. The professor of Christian morals at Harvard says, “The cycle has come full turn. Once we doubted our faith. Now we have to come to doubt our doubts.”
While the assistant professor of religion at Bowdoin College says, “The resurgence of religion is largely due to the shock administered … by two world wars, a depression, and the painful knowledge that the great powers possess the awesome tools of genocide. Religion is seen as an essential tool in the hard work of sheer survival, not as a matter of icing on the cake.” Still another, emeritus professor of Christian methods at Yale comments that “It is a wistful generation, tired of living on snap judgments and seeking enduring foundations.… This does not mean a return to religion or a revival of religion. Rather it means that these students are seeking to come to grips with the basic problems on faith and living. They are asking not superficial but ultimate questions, and they will not be satisfied with easy answers. They want to find solid grounds for ultimate loyalties.” And that, of course, is something that all of us would like to keep on finding.
The much-criticized religious group, Moral Rearmament, Inc., was permitted to use military aircraft and personnel to transport 192 MRA leaders to chief points on an extensive world proselyting tour at little or no cost to the organization. This occurred shortly before Air Force Secretary Harold Talbott resigned. Moral Rearmament describes itself as “an inspired ideology for democracy that would remake the world on the basis of moral standards and the guidance of God.”
Objection was raised to this use of government equipment and personnel by interested organizations, raising the question as to the constitutionality of Talbott’s action, and pointing out that in a previous case the Supreme Court had ruled that “Governments may not furnish support to any religions or all religions.”
In replying to the objection raised, the secretary sidestepped the constitutional question of separation of church and state, but replied that MRA would reimburse the government for all expenditures attributable to the trip, thus presumably preventing the use of taxpayers’ money in support of the objectives of this religious organization.
All of us, I take it, wish to have as much freedom of local and individual action as possible. That is our traditional way. But we hear a great deal of concern being expressed these past two or three years about the shifting of power from the states to the federal government – about states’ rights regarding schools, off-shore oil, and other matters. In this connection a rather thought-provoking paragraph comes to hand from the President’s Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. It reads like this:
“If states do not give cities their rightful allocation of seats in the legislature, the tendency will be toward direct federal-municipal dealings. These began in earnest in the early days of the Depression. There is only one way to avoid this in the future. It is for the states to take an interest in urban problems, in metropolitan government, in city needs. If they do not do this, the cities will find a path to Washington as they did before, and this time it may be permanent, with the ultimate result that there may be a new government that will break down the constitutional pattern which has worked so well up to now.”
It would be both interesting and illuminating to know just how much the federal government has grown in power throughout our history, grown at the expense of the states, because the latter themselves did not live up to their obligations. Certainly, as some problems have arisen, e.g., schools, the ability of all the states to provide needed services equally has been revealed. Nobody wishes federal bureaucracy less than this reporter, but he fails to subscribe to the theory that any expansion of federal power in any direction is undesirable, especially if it involves the rights of boys and girls to an education adequate to meet their needs.
There is a great deal in the news these days about the plight of the farmer. Perhaps most of us have constantly asked ourselves this question: “Why do we have to subsidize the farmer?” Well, there is no simple and easy answer to this, and certainly not enough time on this program to do more than point to some fundamental factors in the matter. The farmer occupies a unique position in our economic system. He has no control over the market in which he sells or that in which he buys. Moreover, his individual output of products is influenced not only by his own decisions but by the elements and by the force of life itself, for all that comes from the farm is a living thing at some point.
On the other hand, industry and business have learned to gain a measure of control over their markets by banding together, while the farmer cannot control his market. Realizing their hazardous position in our economic structure, farmers have tried to compensate for it through the years in various ways. Schemes for easy money, like free silver and greenback; laws regulating railroad rates; and many other devices have been sought to give the farmer a better position in the system. But all this was not enough. Back in the Hoover days, cooperatives were encouraged and indulged in, but many of them failed, primarily because the cooperators lacked control over volume of production. The next step was government support for cooperatives, which was achieved by the Hoover Farm Board, but this failed too, again mainly because of lack of production control.
The final step, of course, was direct government support of farmers through price support loans in exchange for controls over production. The system has not worked entirely successfully, but it has worked to keep the farmer from bankruptcy. Perhaps one of its greatest weaknesses has been the failure of the administrator to act decisively and swiftly enough to avert breakdowns. At least it has, for the first time, given farmers some measure of control over their markets. The people of the nation have paid for this. The public pays for all such market controls. In non-agricultural businesses, the cost is hidden in the price of the product, but in agriculture, it is open for all of us to see, and we do see and often complain about it.
All this does not mean that the present system is the best that can be devised. One of the problems growing out of the system is to learn how to dispose of what the farmer is able to produce. We have done a pretty good job in teaching our farmers how to grow two stalks of wheat where one grew before, but we have failed to learn how to use the extra wheat. Food is an essential of life, and in a complex economy we cannot afford to let those who produce it fall into a level of income that will not support them. A collapse in the agricultural segment of our economy well could bring the house down in all the other segments.
New York: Negotiations are continuing for a merger of the major Eastern Orthodox churches in America. Archbishop Leonty, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan of North America, says his church is taking the lead in projecting a united Eastern Orthodox Church, embracing all national churches on the continent. The other principal church in the negotiations is the Greek Orthodox Church. Half a dozen other churches, such as the Serbian and Rumanian Orthodox Churches, also are involved. In all, the Orthodox Churches have a total membership of 6 million from Alaska through South America.
Washington: The Catholic hierarchy of the United States has defended church and private schools as an integral part of the nation’s educational system. It claims for them equal rights to grants or aids extended to public schools. This position was made clear in a 2,500-word statement issued at the end of a three-day conference by 208 cardinals, archbishops, and bishops. Now most of us appreciate fully the splendid work being done in church and private schools, and we recognize them as valuable parts of our system of education, but when it comes to granting them aids from public moneys, that is another matter. Again, most of us are committed rather strongly to the idea of separation of church and state, and we are not likely to depart from this commitment in the near future.
In Durant, Mississippi, the elders of the Presbyterian Church have called for the dismissal of their minister. He had defended two men accused of advocating racial integration. The Rev. Marsh Calloway defended Dr. D.R. Minter and A.E. Cox at a mass meeting last September. Minter and Cox were called before the meeting and told to leave the country. They were accused of racial integration by permitting mixed swimming on their farm. The Rev. Calloway told the mass meeting the action was “undemocratic and un-American.” The board of elders demanded his resignation. Church members will vote today.
London: Prime Minister Anthony Eden has refused to consider a demand for separation of church and state. He turned down a Laborite challenge to investigate lines between the Church of England and the government. The tie-up has been [going on] since Princess Margaret renounced her love for Peter Townsend because of church rules.
The head of the United Synagogue of America says the recent upswing in church membership poses a major challenge to every U.S church and synagogue. Charles Rosengarten [president of the World Council] of Waterbury, Connecticut, adds joining a church has become fashionable. But he asserts these people will not remain long if the emphasis on religion is on the social aspects of culture. He asserts they will not remain, and more will come, only if the churches help them find their place in the world in terms of their religious tradition. Rosengarten’s statements have been made at the United Synagogue’s Biennial Convention, at Kiamesha Lake, New York. He says U.S. church and synagogue membership has risen from 20 percent of the population 100 years ago to 60 percent today. The United Synagogue represents one million members of 585 congregations of Conservative Judaism in the U.S. and Canada.
Two Presbyterians in Tucson, Arizona, have given a 21,000-acre ranch to their national church. The $250,000 property north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, will be used by the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., for religious retreats, conferences, and similar programs. The donors are Mr. and Mrs. Arthur N. Pack. He is a retired ranch resort operator and active in Presbyterian and community programs in Tucson.
Two of the largest of the 16 Lutheran bodies in North America will soon begin to explore the possibility of organic union of all the groups. Representatives of the United Lutherans and the Augustana Lutherans will meet in Chicago, December 16 to issue invitations to merger talks early in 1956.