An unexpected exchange between Catholics and Protestants disturbed the 58th Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church being held in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Rt. Rev. Egmont Krischke, Episcopal bishop of the Church’s missionary district of Southwest Brazil, started the dispute. He said Catholicism in Latin America is losing members to communism. In his words, “Latin people have been nurtured in an extremely debased form of Christianity.… The Roman Catholic Church exploits their illiteracy and credulity in a most sordid way.… In all our growing towns and cities, we have multitudes of well-educated people who, under the impact of scientific knowledge, are giving up what they supposed to be the Christian faith, but which is actually only a medieval version of it. Large numbers of them have resorted to communism, to spiritualism, and, strange as it may seem, to some modern forms of Indian and African magic rituals with superstitions of the Roman Church.”
In Honolulu, Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop John J. Scanlan took exception to the remarks. He called the speech “regrettable,” adding that “It certainly seems in bad taste that delegates should choose this occasion to offend the largest religious group of these islands while they are guests of the Hawaiian people.”
In an effort to soothe irate Catholics in the islands, the Episcopal bishop of Honolulu, Harry Kennedy, called the relationship between the two churches there “most friendly,” and added, “The general convention is a democratic body. Individuals may speak and not in any sense be the spokesman for the Episcopal Church nor express the feelings and attitude of the church.”
Other highlights of the Episcopal convention include the following:
The Episcopal bishop of Chicago, the Rt. Rev. Gerald Burrell, strongly criticized the church for what he said was its neglect of big city congregations in the United States.
Bishop Horace Donegan of New York said too many clergymen treat women church workers like what he called “second or third class citizens.”
The House of Bishops voted down a controversial proposal which would have changed present church canons concerning the remarriage of divorced persons.
Berne, Switzerland: David O. McKay, lifetime president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, celebrated his 82nd birthday Thursday. He paid his first visit to Europe’s first Mormon temple, being built in Switzerland’s Capitol of Berne.
And another note comes from Wiesbaden, Germany, where the Salt Lake City Tabernacle Choir sang Thursday in its tour of Europe. During the week it also sang in Berlin. Its audiences continue to be large and enthusiastic.
A man with a mission is Rabbi Harold A. Friedman of North Carolina. His mission is the spiritual care of the 1,000 Jews scattered over the Old North State in groups too small to support a synagogue or a rabbi. North Carolina’s 6,000 other Jews help support Rabbi Friedman in his work. He uses an air-conditioned bus, fixed into a place of formal worship for circuit-riding his 25,000 square-mile rural parish.
Since last March, Rabbi Friedman has been driving his bus more than 600 miles a week. He organizes study groups, brings spiritual guidance and holds services – and in some towns his have been the first Jewish services in as much as 40 years. The bus synagogue idea is a project of the North Carolina Association of Jewish Men.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Richard J. Cushing has praised Jewish-endowed Brandeis University for making religious instruction and devotions available to its students. The Boston prelate made his remarks at dedication of a Catholic chapel at the university Friday of this week. In his special Mass, Archbishop Cushing noted three separate units are being built at Brandeis so Jews, Protestants, and Catholics may not forget their religious obligations. However, a dissident Catholic group caused some short-lived trouble about the Catholic chapel at Brandeis. Earlier in the week a handful of followers of the excommunicated priest, Leonard Feeney, tried to distribute derogatory handbills in downtown Boston. The handbills were critical of Jews and opposed construction of the chapel. Some fistfights ended the effort.
Argentina will not vote until next mid-May on the touchy question of separation of the state and the Roman Catholic Church. A bill to this effect has just become law, replacing the bill that originally set the balloting for late this year. Meanwhile, President Juan Peron has sent the church the state referendum. The measures are designed to assure minority parties at least one-third of the seats in the Argentine House of Deputies.
Going back to the Episcopal convention in Honolulu, the House of Deputies has defeated a proposal to drop the word “Protestant” from the church name. Charles P. Taft, a brother of the late Senator Robert Taft, led the fight against the change. As a lay delegate, he told the meeting, “We are in fact a part of the Protestant community.” Taft also stated the major Protestant communions would not understand the move, and the Episcopalians’ relations in their communities would be seriously affected. Lay delegate Walter L. Cooper, of Cranford, New Jersey, had introduced the resolution to delete the word “Protestant.” He commented that dropping it would not affect any separate church ritual.
This 12-day convention, which began last Sunday, has already accomplished several things. The House of Bishops has defeated a proposal for a bishop of the U.S. Armed Forces. The House of Deputies has refused to allow women a vote in the convention. Both issues are expected to be brought before the convention again. And both houses have ordered a tighter rein on music played in the church. The clergyman will have final authority to ban from all services music that he considers “light and unseemly.”
And the question of whether churches can be required to subscribe to loyalty oaths in order to retain their tax-free status is to be pondered by a Senate sub-committee. Closely allied to it is the right to deny a would-be lawyer admission to the bar if he declines to make a loyalty oath. These are not simply academic. As for the loyalty oath for lawyers, the Illinois law requires it, and a young man who refused to take the oath has been denied admission to the bar, and will testify shortly before the subcommittee.
As for the loyalty oath and tax-free status for churches, 13 churches in California have protested that the no oath no tax exemption law is a denial of their constitutional rights.
Counsel for the subcommittee, Marshall MacDuffie, said testimony will be received from representatives of these 13 churches. He went on to comment that those problems will be considered in the light of provisions of the Bill of Rights. Does either the California law or the Illinois law violate the constitutional ban against interference with freedom of religion and of speech, which supposedly includes the right to think as one pleases, as well as the right not to speak? Commenting further, Mr. MacDuffiie said, “The Senate established this committee for the very reason that such a dilemma does exist today. Every loyal American wants the nation to be secure. But it is beginning to be widely recognized that our form of government itself is endangered if we permit the Constitution to be violated in the name of protection against disloyalty.
The subcommittee plans seven weeks of public hearings starting October 3. Witnesses will include conscientious objectors, publishers who will discuss the Defense Department’s new policy in the light of the freedom of the press clause, scientists and others who will disclose their experience in guilt-by-association rulings of government agencies, prominent individuals who have been unable to keep speaking engagements overseas because of State Department refusal to issue them passports. It is expected that there will also be heard cases of young men who have been denied Armed Forces commissions because of alleged guilt-by-association, such as the case of young Eugene Landry who was indiscreet enough to associate with his mother, who was a member of the Communist Party for 10 years prior to 1947, and who says that she left the party at the request of young Landry himself.
Recent figures released by the National Council of Churches reveal that some six out of 10 Americans are now affiliated with some church. Just what this means is uncertain. Some interpret it as a turning away from materialism and toward things that are of the spirit. And it is hoped by most of us at least that this is true. However, there are others who are skeptical of the real meaning of this increase. Maybe it has become something of a fashion to belong to a church, perhaps some people affiliate with them pretty much as they do secular clubs. Doubtless part of it may well be due to the confusion and uncertainty of the times, and that many of the increased number are seeking some anchor of certainty in a pretty confused world.
One of the things, however, that the critical-minded person dislikes much is what I have referred to heretofore as the “cult of religiosity,” that is, the wearing of a cloak of religion as a sort of insulation against any and all criticisms. We have had a few people high in public office in this country who in recent months have both implied and said that good citizenship is synonymous with Christianity. While there may be a relationship there, to insist that it always holds true is not only nonsense; it is stupid. Outgrowths of this cult have been seen in legislative action by the Congress to insert in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag the words, “this nation under God,” and to place on postage stamps, currency, and other official insignia the words “In God We Trust.” All of this smacks of the pharisee who went about with a drawn face to impress the people he met that he was devout through his practice of fasting. How much the increased membership may be pharisaical in this sense, nobody can tell, but some of us are reminded in this connection of a Shakespearean quote that said “methinks thou dost protest too much.”
Incidentally, the Town Meeting of the Air will discuss this very question in its weekly program tonight over ABC, and will be carried by this station. If you are interested in this subject, be listening to that program this evening when the speakers will present all sides of it.
Something of what seems to be a perennial, and a very controversial, issue in local areas is coming to a focus on September 20, 1955, in a neighboring Knox County: the question of retention of its present so-called prohibition or the adoption of legal control measures over the whiskey traffic. Doubtless most of the protagonists and antagonists are sincere in believing that their proposal is the preferred one. Doubtless, too, is the question of how realistic one wishes to or can be about a very troublesome but persisting problem. I take it that most of us would prefer prohibition if it really prohibited. A goodly portion of us, seeing that it does not, believe that the honest, the logical, and preferable course is to recognize the existence of the traffic and to advocate strict governmental regulation of what is at best an undesirable situation. A really blunt but effective approach is to have state and local units of government take over all dispensing of whiskey, thus taking it out of the realm of private profit. Next is to devise laws and regulations relating to conditions and time under which sales can be made, persons to whom such sales can be made, and penalties, rigidly enforced, for violation of the law. Thus, whatever profit is derived from the traffic accrues to the public treasury. Bootlegging and similar evasions of the law disappear because there is no reason for their existence. Furthermore, it is hypocritical, whether we mean it to be or not, to go on insisting that the present prohibition situation in this area promotes sobriety, when anyone viewing the city streets of almost any town can see visible signs that not all are sober. There is such a thing as being honest with oneself, though it is an excruciating experience at times.