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Full text of "Race: challenge to religion, original essays and An appeal to the conscience"

UNIVERSITY 
OF FLORIDA 
LIBRARIES 




COLLEGE LIBRARY 



.RACE: 

Challenge to Religion 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2011 with funding from 

LYRASIS IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 



http://www.archive.org/details/racechallengetorOOahma 



RACE: 



CHALLENGE 

TO 

RELIGION 



Original Essays and An Appeal to the 
Conscience from the National 
Conference on Religion and Race 



Edited by 

MATHEW AHMANN 



HENRY REGNERY COMPANY 
CHICAGO 

19 6 3 



X 



HE ESSAYS in this volume are based on papers 
delivered at the National Conference on Religion and Race, 
convened by the Department of Racial and Cultural Relations 
of the National Council of Churches, the Social Action Com- 
mission of the Synagogue Council of America, and the Social 
Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Con- 
ference. An Appeal to the Conscience of the American People 
was unanimously adopted at the close of the Conference by the 
delegates of 70 participating organizations. The Conference 
was held at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago from Jan- 
uary 14 to January 17, 1963. 

Preparation for the Conference was assisted by grants from: 
The Acquinas Fund, the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., Foundation, 
the William J. Kerby Foundation, the Irwin Sweeney Miller 
Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. 

Mathew Ahmann, editor of the volume, served as Conference 
Executive Secretary. He is the Executive Director of the 
National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice. 

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© 1963 by Henry Regnery Company 

Chicago 4, Illinois 

Manufactured in the United States of America 

Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 63-13762 



PREFACE 



The National Conference on Religion and Race represents, 
for the first time in the United States, the formal cooperation 
of our major faith bodies on a common moral and social prob- 
lem. The Conference was convened by agencies of the National 
Council of Churches, the Synagogue Council of America, and 
the National Catholic Welfare Conference. Sixty-seven addi- 
tional religious and religiously identified groups participated in 
the meeting by selecting delegates to attend. Several other na- 
tional religious bodies sent observer delegates to take part in 
the deliberations. 

The meeting was conceived as a distinctively religious com- 
memoration of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclama- 
tion made effective by President Abraham Lincoln in January, 
1863. The Conveners hoped and planned for a Conference 
which would concretely examine the role of religious institu- 
tions in race relations, and then move on to propose and inspire 
renewed action, and interreligious projects to increase the lead- 
ership of religion in ending racial discrimination in the United 
States. 

The essays in this book, by their number and length, may 
tend to hide the fact that the delegates present felt the theme 
of the meeting was action. The talks provided a setting for the 
real heart of the meeting — 32 workgroups in which lay and 



vi Preface 

clerical religious leaders from all over the United States re- 
viewed concrete problems facing religion and religious insti- 
tutions in race relations. 

Workgroups dealt with concrete matters: racial exclusion in 
congregations and denominations; programs to educate mem- 
bers on moral issues in race relations; use of national and local 
policy and programs in the desegregation of religious institu- 
tions; the responsibility of religious institutions as employers; 
the responsibility of the church and synagogue as administra- 
tors; educational resources of religious institutions; the role of 
church and synagogue in urban and suburban neighborhoods, 
and in rural areas. 

Groups of delegates also dealt with the relation of religious 
institutions to voluntary civic groups and movements, as reli- 
gious people worked for desegregation and racial integration. 
Others were concerned with the relationship between religious 
groups working for interracial justice, and the relation of reli- 
gious groups working for interracial justice to governmental 
and political forces. 

In each of these groups, delegates first made a candid ap- 
praisal of the weaknesses and strengths of religious work for 
race relations. They dwelt on the racial abuses still extant within 
the life of religion itself. Then they moved on to propose ideas 
and map programs to correct racial abuses within religious insti- 
tutions, and to quicken the impact of organized religion on 
United States racial patterns. 

Some sixty-two practical program suggestions were accepted 
in a closing plenary session. While delegates, chosen by their 
groups, could not commit their groups, there was firm resolve 
to use the proposed program ideas within national religious 
groups, as well as in local communities around the country. 

Indeed, the weeks prior to the meeting saw initial steps taken 
in ten local communities around the country to organize top 



Preface vii 

flight interreligious committees which would implement Con- 
ference findings by developing interreligious action programs. 
And the weeks immediately after the Conference saw sponta- 
neous developments along these lines take place in a number of 
cities and states. 

The Conference Steering Committee and the delegates were 
conscious of the need to extend the influence of the meeting, 
and so provided for the maintenance of a national interim 
secretariat. This secretariat and a continuing Steering Commit- 
tee also have responsibility for publishing Conference findings 
not contained in this book, for evaluating accomplishments of 
the meeting, and for proposing further joint program ideas to 
the participating groups. While the decision taken at the meet- 
ing indicated the secretariat should continue for a period of 
only four to seven months, delegates felt strongly that inter- 
religious action for interracial justice must go on, increase in 
its impact on our divisive racial patterns, and especially develop 
specific local projects in our many urban and rural areas. 

Secretariat responsibilities are being transferred to a strength- 
ened Steering Committee, and the United Church of Christ 
has released Dr. Galen R. Weaver to serve as interim Executive 
Secretary. 

To the 657 delegates present in Chicago from January 14-17, 
1963, there was no doubt that the work of the National Con- 
ference on Religion and Race only began when the meeting 
itself ended. 

While interracial justice was the goal which has called forth 
this demonstration of religious unity, an underlying concern 
was the relationship between religion and society. How do reli- 
gious values influence and shape our society? How do religious 
institutions behave if they want their values to produce con- 
structive social change? 

While acknowledging some notable religious accomplish- 



viii Preface 

ments in race relations— not the least the religiously motivated 
non-violent-movement inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, 
Jr.— conferees acknowledged the collective guilt of the religious 
bodies in America; guilt for malpractice which contributed to 
the climate which produced the Civil War; guilt for the racial 
abuses still found in religious bodies; and even more, they 
acknowledged the massive fear of positive action to open our 
society so that every man is accepted by every other man. 

There was a note of frustration and almost desperation which 
kept cropping up in deliberations. But there was no despair. 
The meeting was a solid demonstration of the eagerness of 
religious men and women to break unnecessary social and insti- 
tutional restraints and give real leadership in resolving the great 
dilemma of America's conscience. 

Three main lines of action seemed to emerge in the thought 
of delegates. 

1 . The conscience of each individual communicant of a re- 
ligious group must be informed. Definitive policies of moral 
education on racial justice and love must be adopted and ad- 
ministered in all religious bodies. They must affect seminary 
education, the intraining education of clerical and lay leaders, 
adults from pulpits, and children. This education must be con- 
ducted in terms so concrete that the conscience is disturbed, so 
that any man can see that toleration of racial segregation in his 
neighborhood, his worklife, and the life of his religious body 
makes his faith irrelevant. As Dr. Heschel says in his paper, the 
man who permits racial segregation, really segregates God. Man 
must also see that religious values will not even permit him to 
segregate racially in his private social life. No part of the life 
of the people of God is apart from His judgment. In the far 
reaching meaning of religious commitment, religion does go 
much further and makes greater demands than government or 
other social institutions can ever make. Religion is not a crea- 



Preface ix 

tion of man, but of God, and adherents to our Jewish and 
Christian traditions must fulfill the command of God to draw 
no artificial line between man and man. The theme of the Con- 
ference was: "Challenge to Justice and Love J' 

2. Religious institutions must correct their own abuses. 
Again specific policies eliminating racial segregation in the life 
of religious and religiously administered institutions must be 
adopted and administered in all religious bodies. A religious 
body which preaches a doctrine of the oneness of humanity, the 
equality of all men created by God, denies its nature if it does 
not scrupulously root out those sore spots in its own institutions 
which divide brother from brother, and conscience from God. 

Delegates to the Conference were not naive. They might 
hope for, but did not expect a rapid fire development in reli- 
gious bodies which have been slow to respond to the moral 
challenge our racial patterns have placed before them. But they 
did pledge to see to the constant development of policy and 
administration which would enable religious institutions to 
cleanse themselves of their own sins, and be free to give leader- 
ship to a confused country. 

3. Finally delegates were concerned with the specific rela- 
tion between religious institutions, as social institutions, and 
our society. The life of a synagogue or a church in a local com- 
munity shapes the response of that community to interracial 
challenge. Religious groups can refuse to contract or purchase 
from concerns which have not taken deliberate steps to elimi- 
nate racial discrimination in employment policies. Religious 
groups do manage social and welfare institutions which can 
respond to the needs of people caught in the misery of the slum 
ghetto. Religious groups together can conduct the kind of dem- 
onstrations which will awaken the conscience of Americans. 
Religious groups together can give forceful testimony before 
governmental and civic bodies. Indeed, delegates shared a posi- 



X Preface 

tive belief that joint religious action in our communities was 
the one force which could dramatically alter racial patterns, 
bring racial justice with rapidity, free the conscience of white 
people from a burden of guilt, and shape the kind of social pat- 
terns which would enable all men to contribute their talents 
to the development of our world. 

There was, then, a conviction present in the Conference that 
religion should influence our society not only through the in- 
formed communicant, who acts on religious principle, but also 
through the proper exercise of institutional power. Religious 
groups bear institutional responsibility, too. As Rabbi Adler 
says in his essay, religious bodies have every right to behave as 
other social institutions in contributing to the life of our society. 

It was with these convictions, I believe, that the delegates to 
the National Conference on Religion and Race left the meet- 
ing hall, to work with renewed vigor for a just and open society. 

It was my good fortune to be deeply involved in planning 
and preparing for this historic Conference. It was a pleasure 
for me because of the task before it, and also because of the 
many people who gave of themselves so deeply, and in such a 
splendid demonstration of interreligious cooperation to make 
the meeting a good one. It is never possible to acknowledge the 
contributions everyone made, but if the meeting is productive 
of new vigor in religious work in race relations the help of the 
following must be recognized. 

The Rev. Gene Wesley Marshall was released temporarily 
from the staff of the Ecumenical Institute of the Church Fed- 
eration of Greater Chicago. He joined my staff at the National 
Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice, and brought unique 
talents for administering the many details of a meeting like 
this, and for inspiring others to make their best contributions. 

Conference direction was given especially by the following 



Preface xi 

representatives of the convening agencies: Dr. J. Oscar Lee of 
the Department of Racial and Cultural Relations, National 
Council of Churches; Rabbi Philip Hiat, Executive Vice-Presi- 
dent of the Synagogue Council of America; and the Rev. John 
F. Cronin, S.S., Assistant Director of the Social Action Depart- 
ment, National Catholic Welfare Conference. 

I wish also to thank the Conference Chairman Dr. Benja- 
min E. Mays, and the Committee Chairmen, Rabbi Marc 
H. Tanenbaum who was helpful from the inception of the 
Conference, Mr. Fletcher Coates for his public relations serv- 
ices. Miss Thelma Stevens, Dr. Garry Oniki, Rabbi Balfour 
Brickner, the Very Rev. Msgr. Daniel M. Cantwell, the Rev. 
Arthur E. Walmsley, Mr. John McDermott, Dr. Edgar Chan- 
dler, Rabbi Irving Rosenbaum, and the Honorable James B. 
Parsons. 

Mr. Donald Graham, Vice Chairman of the Continental 
Illinois National Bank and Trust Company, and Mr. Irving J. 
Fain, Chairman of the Commission on Social Action of Re- 
form Judaism provided generous leadership in raising necessary 
funds. 

And I am personally indebted to Dr. Nathan Lander and 
Miss Peggy Roach. 

Mathew^ Ahmann 
February 2, 1963 



CONTENTS 

Preface v 

Introduction 1 

Part I The Inner Life of Church and Synagogue 

in Race Relations 9 

THE REV. WILL D. CAMPBELL 

Part II Religion and Race: The Historical Perspec- 
tive 31 
dr. franklin h. littell 

Part III The Religious Basis of Equality of Oppor- 
tunity—The Segregation of God 55 

DR. ABRAHAM J. HESCHEL 

Part IV The Religious Institution and the Commu- 
nity 73 

The Role of Church and Synagogue in the 

Racially Changing Community 75 

DR. DAN W. DODSON 

The Responsibility of Church and Syna- 
gogue as Institutions in the Commu- 
nity 91 

THE VERY REV. MSGR. JOHN J. EGAN 

Relation of Church and Synagogue to 

Other Community Forces 101 

RABBI MORRIS ADLER 

xiii 



xiv Contents 

Part V Perspectives on the Challenge 115 

Interracial Justice and Love: Challenge to 

a Religious America 117 

DR. JULIUS MARK, President, Synagogue 
Council of America 

ALBERT CARDINAL MEYER, Archbishop of 

Chicago 124 

J. IRWIN MILLER, President, National 

Council of Churches 135 

America, Race and the World 142 

R. SARGENT SHRIVER, Director, United 
States Peace Corps 

Part VI A Challenge to the Churches and Syna- 
gogues 

THE REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING 



155 



An Appeal to the Conscience of the Amer- 
ican People 171 

Notes on Contributors 175 



INTRODUCTION 



Dr. Benjamin E. Mays 

Chairman, National Conference on Religion and Race 
President, Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia 



On January the first, 1863, two significant meetings were 
held in Boston, Massachusetts. The people assembled that day 
to rejoice and to thank God for the signing of the Emancipa- 
tion Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln, thus ending 244 years 
of physical slavery which had been in operation since 1619. 

The first meeting was held in Music Hall, Boston. If you 
had been living on the afternoon of January 1, 1863, and if you 
had been present in Music Hall, you would have seen some of 
the great literary figures celebrating and rejoicing as if they 
themselves had just been emancipated from bondage. Who 
were some of them? 

You would have seen Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver 
Wendell Holmes, Charles Eliott Norton, John Greenleaf 
Whittier, Edward Everett Hale, Francis Parkman, and Ralph 
Waldo Emerson. And last, but by no means the least, Harriett 
Beecher Stowe. Charles Sumner was absent because his invita- 
tion arrived too late. Wendell Phillips had a previous commit- 
ment. 

Emerson opened the meeting with the reading of a Boston 

1 



2 Introduction 

hymn which he had completed that morning. Here is one of 
the stanzas: 

I break your bonds and masterships, 
And I unchain the slave. 
Free be his heart and hand henceforth 
As mind and wandering wave. 

Emerson was followed by music, highlighted by Beethoven's 
Fifth Symphony, with Carl Zerrahn conducting the Philhar- 
monic Orchestra. 

Harriet Beecher Stowe, sitting inconspicuously in the bal- 
cony, was called upon to speak. She walked slowly down the 
rail of the balcony— so deeply moved that she could only weep 
and bow. 

The counterpart to this meeting was an evening assembly in 
Tremont Temple, Boston. Though sponsored by a predom- 
inantly Negro group, it was an integrated audience. Comment- 
ing on this meeting Frederick Douglass said: "We were not all 
of one color but we all seemed to be one color that day." An- 
other Negro speaker, John S. Rock, commented that this was a 
great day for his country and for his race. 

Why did they celebrate? Hale, Parkham, Longfellow, Whit- 
tier, Emerson, Stowe, Douglass and Rock? They celebrated 
because to them the emancipation of the slaves was not a mili- 
tary necessity, not a political gesture, not a diplomatic move- 
emancipation was a moral necessity. To them slavery was im- 
moral, a cancer destroying the soul of religion and democracy, 
just as real cancer destroys the body. That's why they cele- 
brated. They rejoiced that Lincoln had issued and signed the 
Emancipation Proclamation. 

Why do we come one hundred years after Lincoln? Cath- 
olics, Jews and Protestants? We come because we too believe 
that racial discrimination and prejudice are immoral and can- 
cerous and that they destroy the very vitals of democracy and 



Introduction 3 

religion, and undermine the foundation of both church and 
state. 

We come because we stand on a sohd doctrinal foundation. 
We affirm together that God is the ground of our existence, 
Creator, Sustainer, Judge. We hold that God is Father of all 
mankind, and that all men are brothers under God. We hold 
together that man is made in the image of God and that the 
life of each and every person is of intrinsic worth and value. 
This common doctrine cuts across all boundaries— national, 
religious, racial, class and caste. It is a common platform upon 
which Jews, Catholics and Protestants all stand. In believing 
this, we know that this doctrine must apply to each and every 
person everywhere, or it applies to none. God is the Creator of 
all mankind or He is the Creator of no part of it. He is the 
Father of all or He is the Father of none. The life of every per- 
son is sacred or the life of no person is sacred. If God cares for 
the greatest. He cares for the least. Either all or none. In this 
belief, Jews, Catholics and Protestants unite. We come because 
"We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are cre- 
ated equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain 
unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the 
pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights. Governments 
are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the 
consent of the governed." We believe then that life, liberty and 
the right to pursue happiness are gifts of God and not govern- 
ments. It is the function of government to protect life, liberty, 
and one's right to pursue happiness. Although this document 
was pronounced when slavery was an accepted institution, the 
Declaration of Independence must apply to all or none. 

We are here this week because we feel that the time has 
come for the three major faiths to speak to the nation with a 
united voice on what is one of the most crucial problems con- 
fronting mankind today. In questions of ethics and morals, we 



4 Introduction 

believe that religion should lead and not follow. It may be that 
if religion had taken the leadership, emancipation might have 
come without a Civil War and without the hatred that the 
War engendered. It may be that if the Church and Synagogue 
had led the way in desegregating their congregations, the May 
17, 1954 decision of the United States Supreme Court might 
have been unnecessary. The so-called secular society would 
have followed the leadership of the Church and Synagogue. 

The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the en- 
acting of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments brought phys- 
ical freedom to the newly emancipated people. But the struggle 
to emancipate the mind and free mankind from prejudice and 
discrimination had to be left to those who followed Lincoln. 

We come this week to think together, to work together, to 
pray together and to dedicate ourselves to the task of complet- 
ing the job which Lincoln began 100 years ago. 

We recognize the fact that we have had 100 years to make 
religion real in human relations and that we may not have 
another 100 years to make good on our theological commit- 
ment. We did not seek world leadership, but the Second 
World War thrust it upon the United States. The United 
States is the leader of the free world and it is the most powerful 
industrial nation in the annals of man. No nation in history 
has been so favorably circumstanced as the United States. But 
world leadership requires more than industrial and military 
might. It requires that we practice at home what we seek to 
sell to the world. So we are here because our consciences will 
not let us rest in peace until we implement, more fully, in deed 
what we expound in words. And as long as we say we believe in 
God, the brotherhood of man and in the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, we have no choice but to strive with might and main 
to close the gap between theory and practice. Until we do this, 
we play a hypocritical role and wear an uneasy conscience. 



Introduction 5 

We believe that this conference will create in us a new sense 
of urgency to do in the next ten years what we failed to do in 
the past 100 years— abolish from among us racial discrimina- 
tion and prejudice. Other countries that repudiate God, deny 
the God given worth of the individual, and lay no claim to a 
Declaration of Independence, a Bill of Rights, and a 14th 
Amendment may hesitate and falter on this question, but the 
moral leadership of the world is in the hands of the United 
States of America. We dare not fail the world in this crucial 
moment of history! 

We come because great responsibility rests on our shoulders. 
God has blessed America. No nation in history has achieved so 
much in so short a time. In less than two centuries we have be- 
come the wealthiest nation in history. Our standard of living is 
the highest in the world. Our military might is probably su- 
perior to that of any other nation. Our literacy is high. Never 
before has a country been in the enviable position where prac- 
tically every nation on earth looked to if for some kind of aid. 
Whether they hate us or love us, the nations respect us and 
accept our aid and in many instances our leadership. Neither 
Rome nor England in its heyday carried the responsibility 
for world leadership as that which has fallen upon our shoul- 
ders. 

This enviable position makes our country morally vulner- 
able. The Biblical injunction is applicable here. "To whom 
much is given of him much is required." Our greatness in other 
areas will amount to naught unless our moral leadership in 
human relations equals or surpasses our industrial and military 
power. Segregation in God's house, a few Little Rocks, Oxfords, 
New Orleans, Albanys do more to tear down our moral leader- 
ship in the world than our billions given in foreign aid can build 
up. These are not the main reasons why we must abolish racial 
discrimination and prejudice. We must abolish them because it 



6 Introduction 

is right so to do. But we can not dismiss the fact that the eyes 
of the world are upon us, and what we do in human relations 
speaks so loudly that the nations cannot hear what we say about 
religion and democracy. 

We come today 100 years after Lincoln to seek ways and 
means of eliminating human injustices because we love the 
United States. It is my candid belief that if the United States 
so favored by God cannot implement its religious ideals in the 
area of race and culture, no other nation will or can. If men of 
all races cannot live together in mutual respect and helpfulness 
in the United States, religion and democracy as we know them 
will be doomed in the world. 

In one sense, it may matter little what happens to minority 
groups in America— Negroes, Jews, Indians, Japanese, and Chi- 
nese. But it matters much what happens to the soul of Amer- 
ica, to our democracy, and to our Judeo-Christian faith. If 
these lights go out, may God have mercy on our souls. If we 
cannot build the brotherhood of man in the United States I 
despair of its ever being built anywhere in the world. So we 
come today. Catholics, Jews, and Christians to confess our sins 
before God and dedicate ourselves anew to our religious ideals 
to the end that the emancipation which Lincoln began 100 
years ago may become a reality in our time. 



PART I 

The Inner Life of 
Church and Synagogue 
in Race Relations 



The Inner Life of Church and 

Synagogue 

in Race Relations 



Rev. Will D. Campbell 



"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One." 

The traditional Shema, as old as Israel itself, should be 
enough to solve the race problem. 

It hasn't solved it. 

The response which often follows certainly should have 
been enough to prevent the centuries of prejudice, discrimina- 
tion and hate we have experienced: "Thine, O Lord, is the 
greatness, and the power, the glory, and the victory, and the 
majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; 
Thine is the Kingdom, O Lord, and Thou are exalted as head 
above all." There is really nothing one can say beyond that 
concerning the subject before us. What can we say after we 
have acknowledged the existence of God in the Shema? The 
only thing we can do is try to define what kind of God we have 
acknowledged and the response does it for us. It says He is the 
kind of God who has all power, all greatness, all glory, and the 
victory and the majesty. It says He is the kind of God to whom 
everything in heaven and on the earth belongs. It says He is the 
God who is exalted as head of everything. He alone is sovereign 



10 R E V . W I L L D . C A M P B E L L 

and all our fates and destinies belong to Him. That should have 
been enough to know. 

It wasn't. 

Likewise since 1521 when the first Roman Catholic altar 
was erected in what is now the state of Florida, day after day, 
in parishes scattered from Minnesota to Alabama, from Cape 
Hatteras to San Francisco Bay the priest, just before the most 
important part of the Mass, namely the re-enactment of the 
Last Supper of Jesus, has turned to the people and said Orates 
Fratres. Pray Brothers . . . that my sacrifice and yours may be 
acceptable in the sight of God. You are brothers. Day after day 
after day Orates Fratres, no condition, no qualification, no 
exceptions, those two powerful words are spoken wherever and 
whenever the Mass is celebrated. Whether in Lewiston, Maine 
or Biloxi, Mississippi, the words are the same. And they are 
said, not in a general and nebulous way from a top level con- 
ference or council where there is always the hazard of their 
being lost between there and the living level but they, like the 
Shema, are said in a local situation, to a congregation gathered, 
to the family circle. Our subject is the inner life of church and 
synagogue. It is at this level that these words are spoken. They 
should have been enough to solve the problem of race in 
America. 

They haven't solved it. 

Again in Protestant Christianity Sunday after Sunday the 
people stand and affirm: "I believe in God the Father Al- 
mighty, Maker of heaven and earth." Or they stand and recite, 
"In His hand are all the corners of the earth; and the strength 
of the hills in His also. The sea is His and He made it; and His 
hands prepared the dry land." Or from the Jubilate Deo, "Be 
ye sure that the Lord He is God; it is He that hath made us, 
and not we ourselves; we are His people." This constant affirma- 
tion and reaffirmation of the absolute sovereignty of God, as 



The Inner Life of Church and Synagogue 1 1 

creator, redeemer and sustainer, should have been enough to 
have shown us the total irrelevance of race, the frailty of man, 
the folly of such Bible Belt absurdities as, "God was the original 
segregationist." 

These words, the Shema, the words from the Mass, the cen- 
tral message of most Protestant liturgy scream out at us that 
life is suffering and sorrow, and the beginning of death, that we 
all come forth like a flower and are cut down and are of a few 
days and full of trouble, and all flesh is grass and we are all here 
dying together. They alone should have been enough to teach 
us the error of our ways in dividing people into such categories 
as race. 

But the truth is they haven't. 

Some Jews who are active in the life of the synagogue con- 
tinue to respond to the Shema by going out and joining the 
White Citizens' Councils. Father J. H. Fichter, one of the 
world's foremost authorities in the Sociology of Religion, found 
in his study called Southern Parish (J. H. Fichter, Southern 
Parish, Vol. I, the Dynamics of a City Church, Chicago, 1951 ) 
that Catholic parishioners may indeed hear the words of the 
Mass daily but often take it to mean that they are brothers at 
the altar rail at prayer but not on the street car or in the school 
room. And Protestants have continued to number among them 
more racists than perhaps any other religious group in the 
world. This despite their avowed belief in a God Who became 
man to die that all men may be drawn into one family— the 
Church. This despite the Beatitudes which most Protestant 
Christians know by rote before they can read. Blessed are the 
meek, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, 
blessed are the peacemakers. Where is there mercy, where is 
meekness, where is there purity of heart, where is there peace- 
making in racist doctrine, a doctrine which yet rules on the 
throne in every segment of American life, in every industry, in 



*^ 



12 REV. WILL D. CAMPBELL 

every region, in every mass medium, in every profession? 

Despite the Decalogue, despite the Mystical Body, despite 
the strong emphasis on the absolute Sovereignty of God, de- 
spite the Beatitudes, every religion represented here today is 
deeply afflicted with the cancerous cells of racism. 

So perhaps it is ludicrous that we should be here talking 
about the inner life of church and synagogue. Perhaps the Black 
Muslims and the White Citizens' Councils are right. Perhaps 
it has now come down to a matter of sheer naked survival and 
that we should now take our stand, not on the basis of our 
religious faith and heritage, but on the basis of the color of our 
skin. 

Or perhaps we are already irrelevant. Perhaps if we are not 
ludicrous in our presence then maybe it is sheer madness. There 
is a scene in a novel of some years ago which strikes me as being 
tragically descriptive of church and synagogue in the American 
racial crisis. The scene takes place on the sky balcony of a large 
hotel. The symbolism is too obvious to miss. A band is playing 
and people are dancing and making merry. At a table are four 
people playing bridge. One of the men is dealt a dummy hand. 
He places it upon the table, walks over to the balcony rail and 
looks far down to the street below him. Drifting lazily out of 
the basement window, a tiny wimper of smoke can be seen. He 
lights a cigarette and when he has finished it, crushes it upon 
the floor, walks into the dancing couples and dances with a 
beautiful girl. He returns to the table and during the course of 
the game he is again dealt a dummy hand. Again he goes to 
the balcony rail, lights a cigarette and gazes downward. This 
time he sees flames lashing their tongues out the fifth story 
window. He calmly finishes his cigarette, walks out onto the 
the dance floor, dances with the beautiful girl and once more 
returns to the bridge table where in a little while he is dealt 
another dummy hand. Again he walks quietly over to the bal- 



The Inner Life of Church and Synagogue 1 3 

cony rail and starts to light his cigarette. But this time the 
flames are leaping and stepping their deadly dance across his 
face, singeing brow and lashes as they move. And at this mo- 
ment there is a crash at the door, the fireman breaking the 
door down with the shout, which is the central theme of the 
book, "Gentlemen, are you mad!" 

This, it seems to me, essentially has been the history of the 
religious forces during the long, dark night of American racism. 

We looked over the balcony from the comfort and security 
of a promising and prosperous young country and saw just a 
hint of smoke when good, sincere and conscientious business 
men began paying African tribesmen to capture and deliver 
their brothers into white hands. But for the most part we 
turned and walked away because, after all, had not the Apostle 
Paul admonished Onesimus to return to his master, Philemon? 

We saw the curling smoke of slavery flowing from the fifth 
story window but turned and sat down, for in reality this was 
one way of converting the heathen and, really and after all, 
weren't they more happy singing in their shanty under the pro- 
tective eye of Colonel Sartoris and the big house than they were 
in disease-ridden jungles? 

We walked to the balcony and saw the billowy flames of 
secession and Civil War soaring over our heads and almost 
engulfing us. And Dr. James Silver, in his book, Confederate 
Morale and Church Propaganda, has shown that there was not 
one known clergyman of any faith opposing slavery in the 
South by the time the first shot was fired (though some had 
earlier) and that the war would have collapsed from lack of 
public sentiment and support had it not been for the morale 
supplied by the churches. 

We witnessed that C. Van Woodward has called "the 
strange career of Jim Crow" rise to manhood and for the most 
part saw our role in it all as establishing departments of Negro 



14 REV. WILL D.CAMPBELL 

work, floating little schoolhouses down rivers to educate Negro 
children and otherwise fitting into the segregated pattern . . . 
the flame, leaping over the banister and all around us and we 
were all set to take our place again at the bridge table when out 
of the darkness, knocking us into a state of consciousness on 
May 17, 1954, those nine old men with a shout, "Gentlemen, 
are you mad!" Your house is burning down, why did we have to 
tell you! Why the Court? Did not the prophets tell you? Did 
not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob warn you? Is this not 
a moral and spiritual problem? Has it not to do with God and 
love and people and brothers and children of one God? "Gen- 
tlemen, are you mad!" 

And no longer can we take our seat. No longer the casual 
smoking of a cigarette and the unconcerned dance with the 
beautiful girl. For nothing has slept since. All is motion, and 
the question must be answered. Are we indeed mad? 

If our being here is not ludicrous, if it is not madness, then 
maybe it is too late for us to be here at all. Perhaps God has 
already moved out of our houses erected in His name and that 
such inner life as we may now know is but the growth of a 
man's beard after he has been placed in the casket. Professor 
W. W. Stout in a recent review reminds us of the time in the 
fifth century B.C. when the keepers of the oracle at Delphi had 
to admit the real presence of Apollo was not consistently with 
them. "However," he says, "they hoped for the best and kept 
the shrine open for declining business another eight hundred 
years." If would be presumptuous and possibly a sacrilege for 
me to maintain with any degree of certainty that this is hap- 
pening today. But if God be God He can move in whatever 
circles He chooses. 

And I do say that it is too late for us to be here. That is, it is 
too late now for us to establish harmonious relationships be- 
tween the races on a worldwide scale. We who live in America 



The Inner Life of Church and Synagogue 1 5 

are not inclined to take this seriously for Negro leadership in 
the field of civil rights had a fortunate beginning in America 
in the rise and development of the NAACP, and most organi- 
zations concerned with Negro rights which have come into 
being, in more recent years have, for the most part, been sophis- 
ticated and non-violent in orientation. However, a new phe- 
nomenon which we must face honestly is in America. The fact 
that it might be too late is irrelevant to our task. The fact that 
Cain might become Abel and Abel, Cain, that history might 
see a reversal of majority and minority positions cannot be our 
concern. 

If it is indeed too late for us to be here then why are we here? 

We are here as a religious people. We are Jews and Chris- 
tians. We come from various theological and ecclesiastical 
backgrounds. There are things which we hold in common but 
I think it would be a mistake if this conference takes its stand 
on the symbol of three faiths meeting together. There are many 
things upon which we do not agree. But there seems little point 
in discussing that upon which we do or do not agree. Suffice it 
to say that we are here as a religious people. We are not here 
as civil libertarians first or as scientists or historians or lawyers, 
although some of us are all those things. We are gathered here 
because we are a religious people. Centennial Conference on 
Religion and Race is our title. We are here as Jews and we are 
here as Christians. Thus I would say that we are here to discuss 
the subject which has been given to us but maybe not in the 
order it reads. We, at least I, am not here to discuss how we can 
use the inner life of the church to solve the race question. This 
presupposes that there is a well defined and established inner 
life as a tool to be used. That this is not the case is rather widely 
accepted by students of the sociology of religion. Conor Ward 
in Priest and People, a book in a current English social research 
series says of St. Catherine Parish: "It could be said perhaps 



16 REV. WILL D.CAMPBELL 

that the system of ecclesiastical organization . . . arose in the 
somewhat different circumstances of the . . . end of the nine- 
teenth century and that in some respects it had not as yet 
adapted itself sufficiently to the new conditions and to a 
changed situation in the mid-twentieth century." I have little 
reason to doubt that what this scholar said of one Catholic par- 
ish in England is likewise true of most churches and synagogues 
on a local level in America. 

If we are saying that there does not now exist sufficient inner 
life within local parishes to substantially influence social change 
we are still stuck with the question of why we are here. 

I would like to suggest that instead of seeking a solution to 
the race problem through the inner life of church and syna- 
gogue it would be more realistic to seek a true inner life for 
church and svnagogue through the race problem. For here is 
an issue that is virtually absolute. Unlike any other social prob- 
lem religion has ever had to come to grips with, here is one on 
which there is no room for argument. Here is an issue which 
should never have been an issue in the life of church and syna- 
gogue for it was settled for the Jews in the wilderness when they 
were admonished to accept the Ger, the so-journer, the stranger 
within their gates; when God approved the marriage of Moses 
to an Ethiopian woman to the extent of giving Miriam leprosy 
for disapproving; and it was settled for Christendom at Pente- 
cost when members of every race and nation and tongue were 
"altogether, in one place [integrated] hearing the mighty 
works of God." 

Yet not only did what was so basic and elementary in our 
body of doctrine become an issue; it stands today as the most 
crucial issue in the life of both church and society. That some- 
thing so elementary did become an issue can only lead us to the 
conclusion that something went wrong in the life of institu- 



The Inner Life of Church and Synagogue 17 

tionalized religion— that if we had had that basic element, race 
would not have become a problem but that since it did our 
greatest hope is to recover that basic element. 

What is the basic element? I would not wander to the brink 
of absurdity by trying to summarize each of the three faiths 
represented here today. I would say that where there exists a 
true understanding and acceptance of what we are as members 
of St. Mary's Church, or as members of Congregation Beth-El 
or members of First Methodist there does not exist a problem 
of race in that grouping because it is recognized that as a people 
of God the concept of race is neither tolerated nor recognized. 
There exists an inner life of a people of God. 

If the basic theological assumptions of all faiths represented 
here do not tolerate the concept of race then how did it happen 
that race is such an issue in the life of religious communities? 
How and why did it happen? 

I would like to suggest that it happened because the South 
won the Civil War. The Civil War was fought over the issue 
of race. One of the best historians on the Civil War period, Dr. 
James Silver, says it was this and nothing more. After all has 
been said about the economics and politics of it all, it was really 
a war of the abolitionist and the non-abolitionist. And it has 
been the racial theory of the non-abolitionist which has en- 
dured and is to be found in every area of American life. 

And where in America, a democracy — a political system of 
equality— where in America, a nation of Jews and Christians, 
two religions refuting racism from the beginning, came this 
influence? For the answer I would turn to an article by the 
novelist, Walker Percy, published by The Commonweal a 
number of years ago. He says that while the South did live in a 
Christian edifice, it lived there in the strange fashion Chester- 
ton spoke of, that of a man who will neither go inside nor put 



18 REV. WILL D.CAMPBELL 

it entirely behind him but stand forever grumbhng on the 
porch. And from that vantage point, infers Percy, he developed 
a religion which was neither Jewish nor Christian, but Greek. 
It seemed to have a theology of the Judeo-Christian tradition 
—at least in words and liturgy— but an ethic (that pattern of 
behavior resulting from any theological system) which was 
Stoic. The noblesse oblige of Southern aristocracy has often 
been condemned and the notion that he was "the best friend 
the Negro had" has been dismissed as a myth. It was not a 
myth. There was this period when he fought the Klan and de- 
fended the rights of his Negro charge. There was this bond 
which Faulkner describes between the Colonel Sartoris "who 
made himself responsible for his helpless 'freedom,' and the 
Lucas Beauchamps who accepted his leadership," and between 
them formed an alliance which worked for a long time. But it 
was an alliance based on the Stoic notion that sovereignty and 
the power and authority to rule inheres naturally in the best 
man. As Percy said, this nobility, and nobility it was— make no 
mistake about that— "was the nobility of the natural perfection 
of the Stoics, the stern inner summon to man's full estate, to 
duty, to honor, to generosity toward his fellowmen and above 
all to his inferiors— not because they were made in the image 
of God and were therefore lovable in themselves, but because 
to do them an injustice would be to defile the inner fortress 
which was oneself." The Southerner fought the Civil War, con- 
vinced that this power had inhered naturally in him and he 
outfoxed those who, following the war, occupied his land, con- 
vinced that he above all was prepared to do the decent and 
honorable thing toward the freedmen. And on the basis of the 
Stoic understanding of power and nobility and decency he did 
the best he could. But when his charges lost their manners, 
when Lucas Beauchamps quit coming to Colonel Sartoris, but 



The Inner Life of Church and Synagogue 19 

instead joined the NAACP and the labor union and turned to 
the Federal Court and the Executive, and instead of asking, in- 
formed: "We are going to ride, we are going to vote, we are 
going to go to school and we are going to eat in dignity and you 
are going to help us," the Stoic understanding of man could not 
survive the test. For in that concept, based on an hierarchical 
structure, when one becomes insolent, when he demands in- 
stead of asking, when he refuses the oblige and the noblesse, the 
Stoic no longer has a responsibility toward him. The following 
paragraph of Percy's seems to sum up the point. 

For the Stoic there is no real hope. His finest hour is to sit 
tight-lipped and ironic while the world comes crashing 
down around him. It must be otherwise with the Christian. 
The urban plebs is not the mass which is to be abandoned to 
its own barbaric devices, but the lump to be leavened. . . . 
The Stoic has no use for the clamoring minority; the Chris- 
tian must have every use for it. 

The White Citizens' Council member and the Neighbor- 
hood Protective Association member is right when he says the 
rising mass has nothing to offer his former kingdom. Much of 
the data he has about the behavior of the rising mass is accurate 
though it does not take into account sociological reasons for 
that behavior. But there is no point in challenging him on that 
level and on that basis. As a Stoic he is right. As a Christian and 
as a Jew he is wrong, bad wrong, dead wrong, heretically wrong, 
for his data is irrelevant to the heritage he claims. 

So what we are saying is that the greatest contribution the 
local rehgious unit can make is to seek and to find, nay, to be 
found of that inner life without which it is sounding brass and 
tinkling symbols, without which it is nothing. Their greatest 
contribution is to preach and proclaim and live their own par- 
ticular and peculiar message, that which they and they alone 



20 REV. WILL D.CAMPBELL 

have. Unless we can say, "We are not pagans, this is the way 
we behave because we are in this household of faith, this is 
what it means to be a Jew, this is what is means to be a Chris- 
tian, this is how we behave because of what we believe." Unless 
this can be said then I am convinced that all our techniques, all 
our gimmicks, program kits and human engineering will fail. 
And so will this conference fail unless it results in rediscovery 
and renewal of the hundreds of religious communities repre- 
sented here. 

There is strong racial consciousness and loyalty in every part 
of America and the new Executive order on housing may well 
dramatize the degree of hostility that exists in other regions as 
the court decision on education in 1954 did in the South. So 
the issue over which the Civil War was fought was not resolved 
and its body lies mouldering in the grave much less than John 
Brown's. 

Still the question comes, what can we do? Although I insist 
that a more appropriate question is, "What can we be?" the 
question deserves treatment. But any treatment I give the ques- 
tion presupposes true renewal of church and synagogue in their 
inner life. Until we are able to proclaim categorically and with 
authority, "We are Jews and this is the way we behave in this 
household of God," and, "We are Christians and this is the 
way this family behaves because of what it is." Until we are 
able to say that— there is nothing we can do, for we are too 
much a part of the culture in which we live. 

And I would say further that generally someone who has to 
ask doesn't really want to know. Often what we really mean is, 
"What can we do to improve race relations and still maintain 
the strength and rate of growth of the institution?" The answer 
to that question is, "Nothing!" For the cobblestones of a daring 
and radical and prophetic religion is the road to death. Further- 



The Inner Life of Church and Synagogue 21 

more, even if we ask the question in all sincerity with a well- 
defined and established inner life we must understand that the 
secular agencies and government are better prepared to do most 
of it than we are. We must understand that our actions must 
be based, not on what we may be able to accomplish, but on the 
basis of what we are, and on the basis of our very nature. 

And the first thing we can do is repent. There can be no 
reconciliation without repentance. And we are all involved. 
You don't have to own a cotton plantation in Sunflower Coun- 
ty, Mississippi, to be involved. If you wear a cotton shirt you 
contribute to American racism, you are a part of the sin we are 
discussing. Across the street from where I once had an office in 
an American city there was a house of prostitution— so they 
said. A small grocery located in the building was managed by a 
Negro lady. The establishment proper was owned by whites. 
We used to go there for take-out sandwiches when we had 
interracial gatherings and had to eat in the office. On one such 
occasion when I went for the sandwiches, the manager of the 
grocery was not there and in her place was the white propri- 
etress. When I inquired as to where Mrs. X was, the white lady 
began to weep and told me of the untimely death of Mrs. X 
the night before. And then in fits of tears she told me of her 
deep affection for Mrs. X. And it was apparent that her tears 
were not the patronizing tears of the Old South weeping for 
a passed-on Aunt Jemima or a departed Mammy. Here was 
genuine grief for a friend and peer. This was in the era of the 
kneel-ins. And as I sought to console this proprietress of a 
house of prostitution, I could not help but feel the tragedy of 
a culture in which this woman would have been unwelcome in 
the respectable churches in the area, but was deeply mourned 
for in a bawdy house. No wonder a prophet whom most white 
council members and most neighborhood protective associa- 



22 REV. WILL D.CAMPBELL 

tion members call Lord said to some of the "good" people of his 
day that those who sold their bodies for pay and those who 
cooperated with occupying forces for pay were closer to the 
Kingdom of which he spoke than they— "Truly I say to you, 
scalawags and whores enter the kingdom of God before you." 
Woe unto a generation when a human soul finds more accept- 
ance and community in a whore house than in a church house! 

Having repented what can a local congregation do— where 
can it go from there? Are we suggesting that the duty of the 
local congregation is to get together every weekend and say, 
"God is Supreme, let us pray"? Far from it. I would like briefly 
to outline nine areas where it seems to me a congregation which 
has discovered what it is as a people of God can work. I con- 
sidered proposing ten but to use that number seemed presump- 
tuous. Not all of them apply to all religions represented here. 

Certainly high up on any list would be the area of housing. 
I am grateful that churches and religious groups have already 
pioneered in that field to some extent. Both the National 
Council of Churches and several denominational and religious 
groups have provided advisory services on a sustaining basis to 
local community organizations which have done such things as 
securing open occupancy pledges, gathering information and 
data on the private housing market, putting buver in touch 
with seller and following up the situations in the capacity of 
counsellor as long as it is needed. These have been pilot 
projects. Now with the recent Executive Order on housing 
there will be a ready made opportunity in every American town 
and city for local congregations to carry out such a program. 
Any one of the convening agencies of this conference is pre- 
pared to offer materials which would give you the information 
needed. Whereas the school desegregation crisis has affected 
but a few southern communities, the housing order has more 



The Inner Life of Church and Synagogue 23 

far-reaching implications and will offer every church and syna- 
gogue a chance not only to be the conscience of the community 
but also an opportunity to involve itself in appropriate direct 
action. It takes no genius to predict that the housing order, if 
enforced and supported, will do far more to change the racial 
picture in America than did the Supreme Court decision on 
public school education of 1954. 

A second dramatic and significant development among 
minority groups is the current emphasis on voter education 
and registration. In some states nearly half the population is 
disfranchised on the grounds of race alone. Such agencies as 
the NAACP, CORE, the Southern Christian Leadership Con- 
ference, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, 
and the Urban League are cooperating in voter education drives 
in a project administered by the Southern Regional Council. 
What more appropriate could a local congregation do than to 
sponsor one such drive itself working through its youth. It is 
disheartening to me that about the only time religion is men- 
tioned in political circles is when the bigots inject it to dis- 
credit a candidate. Could it not become a major moral influ- 
ence through such efforts as the one mentioned? 

A number of previously all-white colleges and universities 
have now declared an open policy. But they are finding that no 
Negro students apply. Why could not a local congregation 
recruit and offer scholarships for students to attend these 
schools? Especially since most of the schools in that category 
are church related. 

I would also mention a very interesting movement among 
some African Christians to send missionaries to America— not 
to preach racial tolerance, but to preach the gospel as they have 
understood it from other missionaries. If that movement de- 
velops the very act of their preaching to us, white America may 



24 REV. WILL D.CAMPBELL 

be spared. Local congregations can ask for such help just as 
African congregations have requested it in the past. But it can't 
be done in the old patronizing manner of thinking there is 
something virtuous in seeing the cute and quaint African cos- 
tumes on Sunday morning or during Brotherhood Week. 
Rather we must ask because we need the freshness of their 
preaching, because we need their witness and ministry for the 
health of our souls. 

There is a somewhat similar program which developed 
among Seminarv students in this country known as the Student 
Interracial Ministry. These students give a summer to serve as 
assistant pastor in a church where their race is not the dominant 
one. White students serve as assistants in Negro congregations 
and vice versa. A Southern Baptist congregation in North 
Carolina had a Negro student pastor who for much of the 
summer had full responsibility for all the work of the church. 
Congregations in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Ten- 
nessee, South Carolina and other states have also participated 
in the program. Local churches throughout the country could 
profit from such an experience. Or they could contribute funds 
to that project so that others may participate. 

There are silent sermons being preached throughout the 
land by a group who call themselves "BROTHERS." Started 
by a physically handicapped layman during the Little Rock 
crisis, the group wears a little lapel pin and carries a small card 
as a pledge that they will pray for the unity of mankind and 
that they will work constantly for the disappearance of patterns 
of separation and discrimination. They are not an organization, 
they have no dues, no membership roles, no officers. I dare say 
that all of you will see at least one such pin being worn at this 
conference. Inquire as to its meaning. 

Once a congregation has discovered its real nature it no 



The Inner Life of Church and Synagogue 2 5 

longer fears criticism or persecution and no longer needs to 
protect its institutional growth. It is then willing to be used up 
in the service of God and mankind. Thus it can then make use 
of the mass communications media, to reach the community. 
Who, having a light, hides it under a bushel? Who? Why, 
churches and synagogues. When the going really gets rough if 
we venture out at all it is often after we have made sure the 
press won't be there and that no names will be named and no 
pictures made lest we ruin our effectiveness. Now we aren't 
really worried about our effectiveness are we? We're worried 
about our institutional hides. So for the most part we have 
turned radio and T.V. over to the bigots and crackpots who 
hawk their wares of bigotry in the name of religion on every 
band and channel in the country. When we have finally de- 
clared that we are a people of God and are against discrimina- 
tion and injustices of all kinds we are no longer afraid to shout 
it to the winds. And he that hath ears to hear let him hear. 

Or a local congregation can do what one let its leaders do in 
Oxford, Mississippi, on what the natives call "the longest 
night." Their priests went out into the face of death and hell 
as a sort of two-man truth squad, relieving students of knives, 
shovels, bottles, bricks and other more advanced trinkets of 
pleasure. What happened on that night made me proud to be 
a Mississippian for a few native sons, James Meredith one of 
them. Father Duncan Gray another, showed what it meant to 
be men of faith, and they are both products of Mississippi. Cer- 
tainly I was ashamed of the chaff, but the grain stood out in a 
manner seldom witnessed in this century. And there is a subtle 
Oxford almost daily in the average American city. What's the 
difference really if two people are killed by bullets or two people 
die because they are forced to a life of squalor and poverty and 
ghettos and lack of opportunity because of the color of their 



26 REV. WILL D.CAMPBELL 

skin. What difference except social respectability and headlines 
and subtleties. And it happens every day. But how many cities 
have a James Meredith to challenge it and how many local 
congregations provide or would even tolerate a Duncan Gray 
or a Kilmer Myers to "light the dark streets" in support of the 
challenge. This is not a defensive effort to say Mississippi isn't 
so bad after all. It is rather an effort to say it is worse than its 
most severe critics say but that it isn't different from the rest 
of America— it is typical. Take a neighborhood in Manhattan 
where 80% of the young people betweeen 16 and 18 years old 
who have finished high school or have dropped out and are 
Negroes and who find it utterly impossible to find employment 
and turn to all forms of death and despair— drug addiction, alco- 
holism, illegitimate relations, crimes of various sorts. Thou- 
sands are dying daily and their lives of crime are retreats from 
society and they suffer the same kind of denial— the denial of 
fellowship and opportunity — that James Meredith suffers. Con- 
sider the increasing breakdown of relationships between white 
liberals and Negro youths in these areas and it is frightening. 
When a congregation has found renewal, has found itself, it 
will not only lend its minister and laity to such a ministry, it 
will literally push them into it. The well have no need of a 
physician. 

Or again Sunday Schools can get their studies out of cinder 
block classrooms painted a pretty blue and often as far from the 
world God placed us in as Oral Roberts is from the Mayo 
Clinic and the laboratory of human life; the human world of 
various racial and ethnic groups. Where is the community 
that does not offer a local church a peace corps situation, 
a children's camp to be built, a widow's house to be 
painted, a desecrated synagogue or a bombed church to be 
rebuilt? I would trade one weekend of such labor by an inter- 
racial group of young people who discuss with their leaders and 



The Inner Life of Church and Synagogue 27 

experience with one another the dimensions of their faith, for 
a year's curriculum in the average Sunday School. 

Well. I'm finished. We began by saying it is too late. It is 
never too late for faithfulness. In the process of our being faith- 
ful to the God we worship and seek to serve, society might be 
changed. But we must not be faithful in order to change 
society. And if there is to be any increase from the fruits of 
our labors, let God be the giver. 



PART II 



Religion and Race: 
The Historical 
Perspective 



Religion and Race: 

The Historical Perspective 

Dr. Franklin H. Littell 



In a recent interview, the legal advisory to Mr. James Mere- 
dith ( Mr. Medgar Evers of the NAACP ) commented that the 
white ministers in Jackson, Mississippi, had failed to stand up 
in the face of injustices and violence. "As far as speaking out," 
he said, "we don't know they exist. "^ Although in Oxford three 
of the Protestant clergy showed exceptional moral courage in 
dealing with the challenge to the Church's teaching,- the ques- 
tion will not down : Wherein is the captivity of the Protestant 
churches, which has led to all too much silence of the Amer- 
ican pulpits in the face of widespread triumph of violence and 
anarchy? 

Understanding the Nineteenth Century 

To understand the special strengths and peculiar weaknesses 
of the American churches, a brief glance at the course of reli- 
gion in American history is necessary. There is a widespread 
misapprehension that America has been, and still is, a "Chris- 
tian nation," and therefore there is embarrassment and frustra- 
tion among the sensitive when infidelity runs rampart. As a 
matter of fact, the American people is but slowly being won 

31 



?i DR. FRANKLIN H. LITTELL 

from heathenism to faithfulness, and the process is far from 
completed. The existence of racialism is one proof of that fact. 

Contrary to the reactionary legend of the Nativists, the 
generation of the "Founding Fathers" was not the heyday of 
true religion and simple virtue — from which high level degen- 
erate sons and daughters have been steadily falling away.^ The 
legend is a white Protestant construct, and it is heart and core 
of the vicious assault of the Radical Right upon our present 
national leadership, and — more fundamentally— upon our Con- 
stitution and upon those agencies entrusted with interpreting 
and enforcing it. Since Catholics and even Jews sometimes 
seem appallingly vulnerable to the myth-making of the "Prot- 
estant underworld," one of the major contributions of Negroes 
to their fellow Americans may be to foster the suspicion that 
the "good old days" of Protestant hegemony, slavery, concubin- 
age, limited suffrage, indentured ser\'itude, religious persecu- 
tion, and widespread illiteracy, were not so wonderful after all. 

The truth is that the "Roundhead" coercion of the New 
England Way was unseemly and unsuccessful. And the "Cava- 
lier" laxitv of the southern colonial establishments was unlovely 
and fruitful of religious disaffection. With the collapse of the 
colonial state-churches, church membership fell to its true 
proportions— quite different from the inflated claims of estab- 
lishments, then and now. The "Founding Fathers," being rep- 
resentative and responsible men, paid their church taxes. The 
generation of the "Founding Fathers" was a heathen genera- 
tion, with no more than 7% holding church membership. The 
true historv of American Protestantism has not been that of 
defending and preserving the pretensions of "Christendom," 
but of winning a whole people back to the churches on a vol- 
untary basis. Todav, nearly 70% are on church rolls and 96% 
of all Americans fourteen years of age and older claim to be 
affiliated. 



Religion and Race 33 

Statistically, and in the practical expressions of the faith, the 
Golden Age of Protestantism in America lies not in antiquity 
but — potentially — directly ahead. The primitivist legend, so 
debasing to sound religion and corrupting to good citizenship, 
is a self-deception which must be struck down. 

I am waiting for my case to come up 

and I am waiting 

for a rebirth of wonder 



and I am waiting 
for the American Eagle 
to really spread its wings 
and straighten up and fly right 

I am waiting for the Second Coming 



I am waiting for the day 
That maketh all things clear 

and I am waiting 

for the deepest South 

to just stop Reconstructing itself 

in its own image. 

(Lawrence Ferlinghetti)'* 

The stance of looking backward ill-becomes citizens— whether 
Southerners or Northerners— of a country entrusted with the 
responsibility of self-realization and moral leadership on a 
world scale. 

In point of fact, the shape of American Protestantism during 
the last century and a half has been given by mass evangelism. 
The representative churches on the scene have been the great 
revival churches — Baptist, Methodists, Disciples, and those off- 
shoots of Presbyterianism which abandoned orthodoxy for vol- 
untaryism. Even the great social crusades, as Timothy L. Smith 



34 DR. FRANKLIN H. LITTELL 

has demonstrated in an epochal study, were products of revival- 
ism; the Social Gospel did not appear with the relaxation of 
intense faith and the sometimes emotional manifestations 
thereof, but as a result of "the zeal and compassion which the 
midcentury revivalists awakened for sinning and suffering men. 
And it rests in large measure upon social theories which they 
originated."^ Not the maintenance of a legendary past, cast in 
the mold of European Christendom, but the proclamation of 
the "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is 
God" (Hebr. 11:10), has graced American Protestant preach- 
ing at its best. 

Foremost among the social crusades was the abolition of 
slavery. Beginning with Wesley during the Great Awakening, 
and carried right on down through Charles G. Finney and the 
Oberlin School, revivalism was identified with the anti-slavery 
cause. And the orthodox opponents of voluntaryism in religion 
were just as consistent in support of slavery. Robert J. Breckin- 
ridge, leader of the Old School during the Presbyterian Schism 
of 1837-38, said he was 

going to lay no burden on men which neither they nor their 
fathers were able to bear. . . . Never would he consent that it 
should be mooted at all, until the church had first got back 
upon sound and orthodox ground. . . .*' 

J. H. Thornwell, the most effective apologist for slavery in ante- 
bellum theological circles, was equally opposed to revivalism 
and what he called "the insane fury of philanthropv."' He also 
initiated a word association sequence which is still found in 
some disturbed groups today. "The parties in this conflict," he 
proclaimed, "are not merely abolitionists and slaveholders — 
they are atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, 
jacobins, on the one side, and the friends of order and regulated 
freedom on the other."^ By such inexorable logic (both past 
and present), unembarrassed by love and unhampered by 



Religion and Race 35 

humility, a system based on holding human beings as chattels 
may become "regulated freedom," mob violence may become 
an expression of "gracious living," and defiance of the Amer- 
ican tradition of due process of law may be termed "a higher 
patriotism"! 

Religious liberty, made workable by powerful appeals to 
voluntary acceptance of the religious obligation, was thus in- 
timately related to the anti-slavery impulse. When revivalism 
found an economic basis in the free soil movement of the old 
Northwest, it became an irresistable force to emancipation. 

Although slaveowners became increasingly resistant to evan- 
gelistic work among the slaves, the nineteenth century opened 
with both whites and Negroes in the little congregations of the 
awakened. It was the impending Civil War which, traumatic 
in so many areas of American life, fastened the pattern of racial 
segregation upon the Protestant churches. 

But a second point about the revivals of religion is worthy 
of note: in meeting the problems of the newly freed, agencies 
and institutions created by the revivals were pre-eminent. Abra- 
ham Lincoln, perhaps the ablest American theologian of the 
nineteenth century, was in his religion a characteristic product 
of the camp meeting culture. So were Lincoln's generals- 
Clinton B. Fisk, Oliver Otis Howard, Samuel Chapman Arm- 
strong, and others who left security of position and profession 
to work in the education of the freedmen. So was the American 
Missionary Association ( AM A ) —one of a long line of devoted 
efforts beginning with the American Board of Commissioners 
(ABCFM) in 1810 which owed their founding and subsequent 
support and staffing to the religious awakenings. 

There is not enough space to more than note the astonishing 
growth of major colleges and universities and charitable insti- 
tutions in the Negro community. At this juncture, the impor- 
tant point is that the growth of Negro church membership has 



36 DR. FRANKLIN H. LITTELL 

kept pace with white membership during the Great Century 
of the expansion of Christianity. Indeeed, in spite of the most 
clever appeals, anti-Christian ideologies have found less follow- 
ing (percentage-wise) among the Negroes than among the 
whites. More than that, in the last half of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, when white churches north and south were often identify- 
ing uncritically with sectional interest and atmosphere, the 
Negro churches were rejoicing in the Year of Jubilee and prais- 
ing the God of the nations and the generations. 

Certainly the Church has had a greater formative role in the 
Negro community since World War II— the only war that has 
been important to Americans— than in the white community. 
For this we may all be profoundly grateful. What would our 
situation be in America today, facing our most important in- 
ternal crisis, if the Negro leadership were at the level of Ross 
Barnett, Orville Faubus, Jimmy Davis, and Edwin Walker? 
Where would we be if the Negro community were as violent 
and undisciplined as many whites have shown themselves to be? 

Americans Are "New Christians" 

We have come upon one of the most critical issues of all: 
the tremendous statistical success of the churches during the 
nineteenth century was achieved by watering down the mem- 
bership standards. The increase itself was one of the greatest 
in church history, and must be symbolized geometrically rather 
than arithmetically. The figures on successful home missions, 
which made the American churches the morning star of the 
"Younger Churches" and no longer an extension of European 
Christendom, run as follows: 

1800 6.9% 

1850 15.5% 

1900 35.7% 

1926 50.2% 

1960 69.+%» 



Religion and Race 37 

Around 1900, however, one large church after another formal- 
ized the abandonment of church discipline. One result was 
that several dozen smaller churches broke off from the major 
bodies to reestablish some measure of internal integrity. An- 
other result has been that the white churches are today vir- 
tually incapable of maintaining the most elementary internal 
discipline to support fundamental theological and moral prin- 
ciples. 

Most Americans in churches are first or second or at most 
third-generation Christians. Racialism, which is the foremost 
issue confronting the churches, has precisely the same relation 
to our church life as polygamy in Africa or the bride-price in 
Africa and Asia. That is, it is a typical case of the carrying over 
into the Church of pre-baptismal practices which are contra- 
dictory to Christian norms. This is a typical problem among 
"new Christians," particularly in fields of extraordinary mem- 
bership expansion, and can be viewed in many places and 
periods of the past as well as in the present. 

For example, when Christianity crossed the Rhine from 
Gaul and in the 9th and 10th centuries hundreds of thousands 
of tribesmen submitted in mass baptism, the "new Christians" 
carried over into the Church their polygamy, their blood ven- 
dettas, their trial by combat, their brutality toward the weak 
and helpless. It took several generations of the most determined 
instruction, salted by the sacrifices and martyrdoms of many 
teachers, for the Church to consolidate the statistical gains into 
something which could be called (roughly) "Christian." This 
is precisely where we are, after a century and a half of mass 
acquisitions, in American Protestantism. And I suggest we look 
forward with hope rather than backward in despair. 

There are those who refer to our era as "post-Christian." 
Some come to this conclusion as romantic reactionaries, look- 
ing back to a "Christian America" which never existed except 
in the formal sense. Others come to this conclusion because 



38 DR. FRANKLIN H. LITTELL 

they confuse the crisis in European Christendom with the 
situation in America, whereas the present identity of the latter 
is much more with the other areas of successful mission — with 
the younger churches of Africa, Asia, and the islands of the sea. 
Our American society is not "post-Christian;" it is, if anything, 
"pre-Christian." 

Nevertheless, the Christians have been growing in clarity of 
mind on the matter of race.^*^ Although the surreptitious propa- 
ganda of the "faceless" ones still circulates like a lingering virus 
in the bloodstream of our churches, and although some mar- 
ginal sect-movements have attempted to cultivate popular 
support by attacking responsible churchmen, there has been no 
intellectually competent theological defense of racialism in 
America for generations. It is this which constitutes the funda- 
mental difference between the situation in South Africa and in 
the USA.^i As a matter of fact, the most sophisticated defense 
of racialism in recent decades has been made by anthropologists 
like Lathrop Stoddard^- and Madison Grant. ^^ American 
churches which practice racial discrimination do so with a bad 
conscience: they know that they are denying their own commit- 
ment to liberty, to missions, to Christian universalism. 

The official positions of the churches are now plain enough, 
as can be seen by use of the appendix to the Campbell and 
Pettigrew volume on Little Rock.^^ It is in the maintenance of 
a standard of practice to conform to their verbalizations that 
they are weak. As Kyle Haselden has shown, other major church 
bodies ha\'e in the last generation joined the Congregationalists 
and northern Baptists with uncompromising statements, but 
"there is little evidence that the local white churches are yet 
taking seriously the resolutions and pronouncements of their 
respective official bodies. "^-^ 

This brings us to the heart of the matter: where racialism 
today exists in the American Protestant churches it is a product 



Religion and Race 39 

of indiscipline. Racialism is a kind of heathenism, and its pres- 
ence among the baptized is above all a sign of lack of discipline. 
For that matter, the general failure of the Protestant churches 
to maintain a standard of civic excellence among their members 
is of the same order and points to the same problem. The 
churches were clear in condemning anarchy, mob violence, and 
the law of the jungle, long before they achieved clarity on 
racialism; yet they have shown themselves unable as yet to 
restrain or discipline the most arrogant effrontery to the Lord 
of the Church and disgraceful disloyalty to American political 
institutions by mobs of untrained "new Christians." 

Church Discipline 

We do not need, in short, many more general resolutions in 
the field of religion and race. What we need is disciplined wit- 
ness, backed by positions with binding quality. In dealing with 
this matter several Catholic prelates have shown more courage 
to date than any of the Protestant bodies. The Church is not a 
cave of all the winds of doctrine; neither is it an association of 
moral anarchists. Where salvation is involved— and nothing 
less is at stake on this front — the Church speaks and acts with 
integrity, or else it is not the Church of Jesus Christ at all. This, 
from a Christian point of view, is the basic question put by 
racialism. 

In the political arena, race is not the basic issue: it is only 
the precipitation point of controversy. The real controversy 
concerns just government, government representative of every 
citizen sharing our common destiny. Are we to have republi- 
can forms of government such as guaranteed by the U.S. Con- 
stitution (Art. IV, Sec. 4, Par. 1 )? Not long ago, a U.S. Sena- 
tor gained notoriety by commenting that he had not found 
an African nation capable of self-government. The Senator 
missed the point. The world awaits with anticipation the 



40 DR. FRANKLIN H. LITTELL 

future of young nations already capable of producing men 
like Chief Albert John Luthuli, Sir Francis Akame Ibraim, 
Julius Myrere, Leopold Senghor, John Karefa-Smart, Felix 
Houphouet-Boigny, Kenneth Kauanda. The problem over 
which the world agonizes, the particular problem of our 
country, is what to do with older states which can't come up 
with anything better than Mr. Ellender. 

In the religious arena, race is not the basic issue: it is only 
the moment of truth which exposes our nakedness. An indi- 
vidual once stood on the floor of the most powerful legislative 
body in the world, the U.S. Senate, and launched into a violent 
and obscene attack on American citizens whom he called 
"kikes," "niggers," "dagoes," etc. When decent men rose to 
protest, he asserted defensively that he was "a good Christian," 
"a good Methodist." This prompted the former president of 
the National Council of Methodist Youth to write in The 
Christian Century: 

The Church ought to have sufficient ethical sensitiveness 
and power to reprimand or to remove from membership 
persons who ideas and actions are totally contrary to Chris- 
tian standards. In some congregations people who drink, 
commit adultery, or are divorced suffer some penalties for 
their conduct. A more significant Christian ethic would be 
to somehow penalize men like Bilbo and Eastland and 
disavow the ideas which they expressed on the floor of the 
Senate. . . .^*^ 

In September of 1962 a faithful Christian shepherd at- 
tempted to restrain a mob leader and former military person 
who was bringing public disgrace on their church, on our 
country, on an old university. The mob leader turned on the 
pastor scornfully and proclaimed publicly that he was "ashamed 
to be an Episcopalian." Classical Christian practice, amply 
supported by Scripture and ecclesiastical law, would indicate 



Religion and Race 41 

how he could be reheved of that embarrassment! and the 
Church of Jesus Christ from the shame of pubhc sin. 

Foremost for the church is not racial justice or good citizen- 
ship, although both are important in the scales of history. The 
most important issue from a Christian point of view involves 
eternity itself: Are our churches truly the Church of Jesus 
Christ, the Prince of Peace?— of Him who gathers the peoples, 
and judges nations and generations? 

Whatever our fellow citizens of other religions or philoso- 
phies may think of our churches, and they are free to join or to 
abstain in good faith, they will understand the statement that 
at the bar of judgment are the sincerity and integrity of our 
religious commitments. The enormous popularity of religion, 
or at least of religiosity, has been bought by eliminating stand- 
ards of membership— both preparatory and full. As Rufus 
Jones once said, our churches have become so big they are like 
Robinson Crusoe's goat pasture: the fences are so distant and 
the fields are so big that the goats inside are as wild as the 
goats outside! 

The most useful and relevant contribution the churches 
could make to racial justice would not be a political act at all: 
it would be to become truly the Church— disciplined as a 
community of witness, loving in service to the Least Brother, 
intercessory for the helpless and defenseless. Nothing could 
contribute more to the resolution of our diffiulties than for 
the Church to mean what she says — maintaining an internal 
service which would do honor to her universal Lord, enforcing 
a standard of order which would civilize and cultivate some of 
the untamed jungles of our social existence. 

An early Father once explained how the Christians lived in 
anticipation of things to come: "Christians are better than 
the laws." Today, in many parts of the United States, the con- 
duct of the Christians is worse than the laws. 



42 DR. FRANKLIN H. LITTELL 

Protestants and Catholics 

This conference is unique for its sponsorship, and in binding 
the American people together, the fact that it represents 
Protestant-Cathohc and Christian-Jewish cooperation is al- 
most as important as the theme itself. 

During the colonial period the shape of American religion 
was largely given by the Congregational and Anglican estab- 
lished churches. In the founding of the new nation the Presby- 
terians played a particularly significant role. At the time of the 
Declaration of Independence, out of 3.6 millions in the 
thirteen revolting colonies only c. 20,000 were Catholics and 
c. 6,000 were Jews. The rest were officially Protestant. The 
origins of 85% of the population lay in the British Isles. 

During the nineteenth century, the shape of American 
religion was largely given by the revival churches — Methodists, 
Baptists, Disciples. The nineteenth century continuum of 
religious and cultural values ended in Europe with World 
War I, but it was not seriously undermined in the United 
States until World War II. In spite of the self-image, how- 
ever, which served to perpetuate the notion that America was 
a Protestant nation and Christianity part of the common law 
of the land, the home missions which actually won the people 
back to the churches on a voluntary basis operated on more 
realistic principles: America was missionary territory, just as 
truly as India or China or West Africa. Protestantism in 
America, if the gains in membership, attendance, and support 
can be consolidated and standards of disciplined witness re- 
established, has a far greater potential for good than ever in 
the state-church period. 

At the same time the shift to voluntaryism was being 
accomplished in Protestantism of English background, the 
foundations were being laid for an America pluralistic in 



Religion and Race 43 

religion, culture, and race. Since the newer arrivals— Catholic, 
Jewish, and foreign-language Protestant— were largely self- 
contained, they did not at first affect the major assumptions of 
the American society, with its Anglo-Saxon common law, its 
English language and Protestant common schools, its Unitar- 
ian and Episcopalian and Presbyterian presidents, and the like. 
Since World War II, however, we have entered into a third 
period of American church history. Several former foreign- 
language Protestant churches have flowered into prominence. 
And the Catholic community has emerged from its minority- 
consciousness to a status of parity in the new multi-faith com- 
plex. So have the Jews. The election of a member of the 
Catholic community, now the largest church in the country, 
as President in 1960 was in its own way as symbolic of the 
breakthrough as the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in May, 
1954 (school desegregation), and June, 1962 (legislative re- 
apportionment). The old America of white, rural, and Pro- 
testant dominance is dying. But in its death throes it has 
spawned some of the most wicked political movements and 
vicious personality tvpes which this bloody century has seen 
anywhere. 

The choice before the Protestant churches is clear: either 
they can accept the logic of a voluntaryistic and pluralistic 
situation, wherein lies their true genius and the appropriate 
area for their missionary and universalist drive, or they can end 
up as embittered and negative minorities which the course of 
history has passed by. Racialism has the same meaning where 
found among American Protestant churches as have the bitter 
anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism which so frequently 
accompany it. They mark and mar a religion which has lost 
faith in the Author of history, which is anxiously striving to 
retain old ways rather than re-tool to meet the challenges of 
the new age. 



44 DR. FRANKLIN H. LITTELL 

American Nativism was first violently anti-Catholic. Fifty 
years later it became anti-Semitic as well. With the rise of the 
grandchildren of the freed Negroes to political and economic 
significance, and now laying claim to the free American's right 
to fair play in education, housing, and job opportunities, 
Nativism has allied with the white supremacists. 

This is one of the chief practical arguments for the Pro- 
testant-Catholic dialogue, a dialogue without which this con- 
ference could not have been held. The Catholic communion 
is plainly a universal church, and fellowship with Catholics— 
which has gained such a great impetus under the leadership of 
Pope John XXIII— can help Protestants to avoid sinking back 
into racial and tribal religion. As a Catholic leader in Jamaica 
has put the basic premise, 

. . . the cross of Christ has created a new nation of men . . . 
This new nation, this sturdy race is unique in the history of 
mankind. It is a race created not by blood, but by grace." 

In the words of Pius XI's great encyclical against Nazi racialism 
[Mit brennender Sorge, 14 March 1937) : 

Only superficial minds can lapse into the heresy of speaking 
of a national God, or a national religion; only such can make 
the mad attempt of trying to confine within the boundaries 
of a single people, within the narrow blood stream of a 
single race, God, the Creator of the world. ^** 

More particularly, the type of Protestantism which has its 
chief strength in those areas most threatened by violence needs 
the attention to law and objective justice which is one of the 
strengths of Catholicism. The large churches of the Deep 
South stand in the tradition of sectarian Protestantism, which 
had, to be sure, a powerful sense of fellowship within the con- 
gregation; as for the affairs of the world, the Old Testament 
once sufficed these churches as a guide to righteousness and 



Religion and Race 45 

justice. This earlier appreciation of the majesty of the law 
rings, for example, through the messages of Abraham Lincoln. 
Consider these Biblically-formed words of the "Second Inaugu- 
ral Address": 

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty 
scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that 
it continue until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's 
two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be 
sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash 
shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 
three thousand years ago,— so still it must be said, that the 
judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.^^ 

However, with the later popularization of church member- 
ship, the abandonment of prophetic preaching, the surrender 
of standards of church discipline, the softening of theology 
and confession of faith, the Old Testament, too, was scuttled. 
The style of the community of grace was generalized, until at 
last we have a society without law and with no understanding 
that right is right though the heavens fall. The governor of a 
southern state asks the infantile question: How can a law be 
enforced if we don't like it? As though justice and righteous- 
ness in the social order, as though law, were conditional upon 
the subjective sentiments of the ill-disciplined and disobedi- 
ent! 

The Old Testament was the radical Protestant alternative 
to the tradition of natural law in Catholicism and the more 
conservative Protestant traditions. Without either, a society 
descends into anarchy. The strengthening of the Protestant- 
Catholic dialogue should bring to the fore the fact that the 
foundation of law is abiding, although men and nations may 
rise and fall. For my part, I am thankful that at this critical 
juncture we have a President of the United States who was 
raised to believe that law is law. 



46 DR. FRANKLIN H. LITTELL 

Christians and Jews 

Anti-Semitism is perhaps the surest seismographic measure- 
ment of totahtarian svstems and pre-totalitarian movements. 
The reasons are two-fold. In the first place, on the edge of the 
jungle the law is an especially wonderful thing! And those 
who represent an ancient tradition of law and order in societies 
where violence and anarchy are incipient are the special target 
of wicked men who live by chaos. More important, however, 
the Jews are the special objects of animosity when peoples are 
determined to revert to tribal religion, 

Totalitarianism appeals to the desire to return to the womb. 
The contrast between religion and culture imposes a strain: 
We escape from this strain by attempting to revert to an 
identity of religion and culture which prevailed at a more 
primitive stage; as when we indulge in alcohol as an 
anodyne, we consciously seek unconsciousness.-" 

Whether personally religious or not, the Jew by his very 
existence represents the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and 
His authorship of world history. This is what the baptized also 
stand for in their baptismal and confirmation vows. But when 
totalitarian movements arise, the Gentile can take on pro- 
tective coloration: he can apostatize, revert to a more primitive 
stage, betray his baptism. The Jew cannot. It can be truly said 
that those millions of Jews who suffered and died in Hitler's 
Europe were martyred for what the Christians would have 
been martyred for had they stayed Christian. In a mysterious 
way, both in disaster and in creativity, the Jews and the Chris- 
tians are united in a common destiny. 

It is not accident, but a dreadful portent, that precisely at 
the moment when White Citizens' Councils, Circuit Riders, 
Minutemen, John Birchers, and all the denizens of the politi- 



Religion and Race 47 

cal underworld are uniting to attack the Supreme Court, the 
President, and the remaining centers of free discussion among 
the churches, the universities, and the trade unions, synagogues 
should be bombed in our cities. 

Christians are "spiritual Semites." They know that tribal 
religion apart from the Biblical tradition is dangerous, because 
they understand their own true history. For that matter, many 
of us in the "Christian Israel" believe that God's providence 
for his "first Israel" is by no means exhausted. Reversions to 
pre-baptismal tribalism, whether "the southern way of life" 
or des deutsche Volkswesen of the Nazis, are rooted in hatred of 
the Church and her claims, even though the Jews are often 
the first victims of the revolt out of the abyss. 

Negroes and Whites 

Catholics, and even an occasional Jew, can sometimes be 
conned into embracing the reactionary legend of America's 
past. After all, Mr. Welch assures us half of the members of 
his conspiracy are Catholics! But there is one minority which 
cannot blind its eyes by backward-looking legends, a minority 
which knows that every leap in social progress and in self- 
realization must be suffered through as the distance runner 
fights through to his "second wind." "The American Negro," 
as Mr. James Baldwin has pointed out, "has the great advantage 
of having never believed that collection of myths to which 
white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom- 
loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the 
world has ever seen. . . ."^^ Our Negro citizens know, in short, 
that we are creatures, and not gods; and in a world where most 
of the wickedness toward persons had been inspired by pride 
[superbia, hubris) and committed under the "Jehovah com- 
plex," this is a precious wisdom. When America struggles 



48 DR. FRANKLIN H. LITTELL 

through to a mature self-reahzation, subduing regressive 
tendencies both rehgious and poHtical, it will be in good part 
thanks to the American Negro. 

At the present time the Negro citizen is the butt of most of 
the anxieties of our society, a society which has often demon- 
strated its buoyancy in the crusade but has not yet developed 
the steadiness for the long haul. When Germany regressed 
into heathenism in the Third Reich, anti-Semitism became 
the 

face of aggressive and chauvinistic nationalism turned in- 
ward toward the nation itself. . . . During the period of suc- 
cessful imperialism the face was turned outward, toward the 
British, French, Slavs, Chinese, Africans. When the march 
towards a place in the sun was stopped, anti-Semitism, the 
"twin brother" of extreme German nationalism, made the 
defeated nation itself the new battle-ground and re-defined 
the enemy.-- 

In America, the wickedness of the frustrated and insecure 
is directed primarily against the Negro. As an acute Negro 
observer has recently written : 

I do not know many Negroes who are eager to be "accepted" 
by white people, still less to be loved bv them; they, the 
blacks, simply don't wish to be beaten over the head by the 
whites every instant of our brief passage on this planet. 
White people in this country will have quite enough to do 
in learning how to accept and love themselves and each 
other, and when they have achieved this — which will not 
be tomorrow and may very well be never— the Negro prob- 
lem will no longer exist, for it will no longer be needed.-'^ 

If the miracle of agape, of brotherhood-love, were not to 
come, if Americans prove incapable of breaking out of their 
several ghettos, then the judgment has already been passed 
upon us. Then the "faceless" ones— the cowardly fashioners 



Religion and Race 49 

of the terrorists' plastic bombs, the organizers of anonymous 
campaigns, the conspirators who attack our fundamental insti- 
tutions, the nightriders with their shotgun assaults on citizens, 
the vile maggots which feed everywhere so that social and 
political putrefaction go unhealed— will inherit the wasteland 
and the jungle. 

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that 
I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: 
therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. 
(Deut. 30:19) 

The Great City 

The third age of religion in America is the Great City, 
beginning with a pluralism in religion, race, and culture. 

Seventy-five years ago, four out of five Americans lived on 
farms or in rural villages. Today, over 25% live in the twelve 
largest metropolitan areas and over 50% are concentrated in 
220 counties (out of over 3000) . Eighty percent of the popula- 
tion resides within twenty-five miles of cities of at least 25,000. 
"Religion today is challenged to create an urban civilization.''-^ 
Technologically, we can no longer live without each other. 
Our liberty, too, has become indivisible. The word on our wall 
is this: "Communicate, or perish!" 

Communication between real persons, persons with names 
and faces, persons freed from false images of themselves and 
of the others, is the necessary foundation for creative love— for 
the miracle to occur which transcends and transmutes all our 
natural impossibilities into the City Beautiful. By the same 
token, totalitarian movements can be identified by their hos- 
tility to full, free, and informed discussion. Beware the hooded 
riders, the anonymous tale-bearers; those without names 
and without faces! The faceless ones are the enemies of all 



50 DR. FRANKLIN H. LIT TELL 

free men. The problem is national, indeed international. But 
every local battle which is fought through to bring persons 
face to face who share a common destin\', which breaks some 
anxious group out of the sound-proofed room of fear and hate, 
is a victor\' for everyone everywhere— whatever his credal, cul- 
tural, or racial background — who looks hopefully to the day 
when every American may say with meaning: "I was born free!" 
(Acts 22:28) 



NOTES 

1. Dallas Morning News (12/16/62), Sec. 5, p. 1. 

2. Rev. Duncan M. Grav, Jr. (Protestant Episcopal), Rev. 
Murphv C. Wilds (Southern Presbyterian), and Rev. Wavne 
Coleman (Southern Baptist); New York Times (10/8/62), 

^ p. 15. 

3. Cf. the author's From State Church to Pluralism (New York: 
Doubledav & Co., 1962), Introduction. 

4. Ferlinghetti, Lawrence, "I am Waiting" from Coney Island 
of the Mind (New York: New Directions) . 

5. Smith, Timothy L., Revivalism and Social Reform (New 
York & Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 12. 

6. Smith, Elwvn A., "The Role of the South in the Presbyterian 
Schism of 1837-38," XXIX Church History (1960) 1:44-63, 
quotation On p. 57. 

7. Thornwcll, J. H.,'T/ig Rights and Duties of Masters (Charles- 
ton, S.C: Walker & James, 1850), p. 8. 

8. Ibid., p. 14. 

9. Cf. the author's The Free Church (Boston: Beacon Press, 
1957), p. 117. 

10. Haselden, Kvle, The Racial Problem in Christian Perspective 
(New York:' Harper & Bros., 1959); Maston, T. B., Segrega- 
tion and Desegregation: A Christian Approach (New York: 
Macmillan Co., 1959). 

11. Marais, Ben J., "The Race Question: The U.S. and South 
Africa," XXII Christianity a^d Crisis (1962) 18:187-89. 

12. Stoddard, Lathrop, The Rising Tide of Color (New York: 
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920). A representative "scientific" 



Religion and Race 51 

statement: "In the western hemisphere there are some 
25,000,000 persons of more or less mixed black blood, brought 
thither in modern times as slaves by the white conquerors of 
the New World. Still, whatever may be the destiny of these 
transplanted black folk, the black man's chief significance, 
from the world aspect, must remain bound up with the great 
nucleus of negro population in the African homeland." pp. 
87-88 

13. Grant, Madison, The Passing of the Great Race (New York: 
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1924), 4th revised edition. A leader 
in the New York Zoological Society, American Museum of 
Natural History, American Geographical Society, etc., Grant's 
fear of the "mongrelization" of the blue-eyed, blond-haired 
"Nordic race" led him to such representative statements as 
these: "The church assumes a serious responsibility toward 
the future of the race whenever it steps in and preserves a 
defective strain . . ." (p. 49) . "In mankind it would not be a 
matter of great difEcuty to secure a general consensus of public 
opinion as to the least desirable, let us say, ten per cent of 
the community. When this unemployed and unemployable 
human residuum has been eliminated. . . ." (p. 54). The 
Preface to Grant's book was written by a distinguished pro- 
fessor at Columbia University. Since Adolf Hitler, such views 
are encountered chiefly in the underbrush of the academic 
world; cf. John O. Beaty's The Iron Curtain Over America 
(Dallas: Wilkinson Publ. Co., 1951), or Stuart Omer 
Landry's The Cult of Equality (New Orleans: Pelikan Publ. 
Co., 1945). Nevertheless, such volumes as these — with their 
poor printing, careless footnotes, and wildly undisciplined 
speculation — still pass for learning in some circles. "In the 
kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." 

14. Campbell, Ernest G., and Pettigrew, Thomas F., Christians 
in Racial Crisis: A Sstudy of Little Rock's Ministry (Wash- 
ington: Public Affairs Press, 1959), pp. 137-70. 

15. Haselden, Kyle, op. cit., p. 33. 

16. Hayes Beall in LXII The Christian Century (1945) 29:840. 

17. LaFarge, John, The Catholic Viewpoint on Race Relations 
(Garden City, N.Y.: Hanover House, 1956), quotation on 
p. 111. 

18. Ibid., pp. 82-83. 

19. In Sandburg, Carl, Abraham Lincoln, III: The War Years, 
1864-6S (New York: Dell Publ. Co., 1959), pp. 771-73. 

20. Quoted from T. S. Eliot's Notes Towards the Definition of 



52 DR. FRANKLIN H. LITTELL 

Culture (p. 68), in Braybrooke, Neville, ed., T. S. Eliot: A 
Symposium for His Seventieth Birthday (New York: Farrar, 
Straus &Co., 1958). 

21. Baldwin, James, "Letter from a Region in My Mind," The 
New Yorker (11/17/62), pp. 59ff, 142. 

22. Massing, Paul, Rehearsal for Destruction (New York: Harper 
& Bros., 1949), p. 147, quoting Franz Oppenheimer. 

23. Baldwin, James, loc. cit., p. 60. 

24. Osman, John, "A City is a Civilization," in Lee, Robert, ed., 
Cities and the Churches (Philadelphia: Westminister Press, 
1962), p. 75. 



PART III 

The Religious Basis of 
Equality of Opportunity- 
The Segregation of God 



The Religious Basis of 
Equality of Opportunity— 
The Segregation of God 



Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel 
I 

At the first conference on religion and race, the main par- 
ticipants were Pharaoh and Moses. Moses' words were: "Thus 
says the Lord, the God of Israel, let My people go that they 
may celebrate a feast to Me." While Pharaoh retorted: "Who 
is the Lord, that I should heed this voice and let Israel go? I do 
not know the Lord, and moreover I will not let Israel go." 

The outcome of that summit meeting has not come to an 
end. Pharaoh is not ready to capitulate. The exodus began, but 
is far from having been completed. In fact, it was easier for the 
children of Israel to cross the Red Sea than for a Negro to 
cross certain university campuses. 

Let us dodge no issues. Let us yield no inch to bigotry, let 
us make no compromise with callousness. 

In the words of William Lloyd Garrison, "I will be as harsh 
as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject 
[slavery] I do not wish to think, to speak, or to write with 
moderation. I am in earnest— I will not equivocate— I will not 
excuse— I will not retreat a single inch— and I will be heard." 

Religion and race. How can the two be uttered together? 
To act in the spirit of religion is to unite what lies apart, to 
remember that humanity as a whole is God's beloved child. 

55 



56 RABBI ABRAHAM J. HESCHEL 

To act in the spirit of race is to sunder, to slash, to dismember 
the flesh of living humanity. Is this the way to honor a father: 
to torture his child? How can we hear the word race and feel 
no self-reproach? 

Race as a normative legal or political concept is capable of 
expanding to formidable dimensions. A mere thought, it ex- 
tends to become a way of thinking, a highway of insolence, as 
well as a standard of values, overriding truth, justice, beauty. 
As a standard of values and behavior, race operates as a com- 
prehensive doctrine, as racism. And racism is worse than idola- 
try. Racism is satanism, unmitigated evil. 

Few of us seem to realize how insidious, how radical, how 
universal an evil racism is. Few of us realize that racism is man's 
gravest threat to man, the maximum of hatred for a minimum 
of reason, the maximum of cruelty for a minimum of thinking. 

Perhaps this Conference should have been called Religion 
or Race. You cannot worship God and at the same time look 
at man as if he were a horse. 

Shortly before he died, Moses spoke to his people. "I call 
heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have set 
before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life." 
(Deuteronomy 30:19). The aim of this conference is first of 
all to state clearly the stark alternative. I call heaven and earth 
to witness against you this day: I have set before you religion 
and race, life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life. 

"Race prejudice, a universal human ailment, is the most 
recalcitrant aspect of the evil in man" (Reinhold Niebuhr), a 
treacherous denial of the existence of God. 

What is an idol? Any god who is mine but not yours, any 
god concerned with me but not with you, is an idol. 

Faith in God is not simply an afterlife-insurance policy. 
Racial or religious bigotry must be recognized for what it is: 
blasphemy. 



The Segregation of God 57 

In several ways man is set apart from all beings created in 
six days. The Bible does not say, God created the plant or the 
animal; it says, God created different kinds of plants, different 
kinds of animals (Genesis 1: 11-12, 21-25). In striking con- 
trast, it does not say, God created different kinds of man, men 
of different colors and races; it proclaims, God created one 
single man. From one single man all men are descended. 

To think of man in terms of white, black or yellow is more 
than an error. It is an eye disease, a cancer of the soul. 

The redeeming quality of man lies in his ability to sense his 
kinship with all men. Yet there is a deadly poison that inflames 
the eye, making us see the generality of race but not the unique- 
ness of the human face. Pigmentation is what counts. The 
Negro is a stranger to many souls. There are people in our 
country whose moral sensitivity suffers a black-out when con- 
fronted with the black man's predicament. 

How many disasters do we have to go through in order to 
realize that all of humanity has a stake in the liberty of one 
person; whenever one person is offended, we are all hurt. What 
begins as inequality of some inevitably ends as inequality of 
all. 

In referring to the Negro in this paper we must, of course, 
always keep equally in mind the plight of all individuals be- 
longing to a racial, religious, ethnic or cultural minority. 

This Conference should dedicate itself not only to the 
problem of the Negro but also to the problem of the white 
man, not only to the plight of the colored but also to the situa- 
tion of the white people, to the cure of a disease affecting the 
spiritual substance and condition of every one of us. What we 
need is an NAAAP, a National Association for the Advance- 
ment of All People. Prayer and prejudice cannot dwell in the 
same heart. Worship without compassion is worse than self- 
deception; it is an abomination. 



58 RABBI ABRAHAM J. HESCHEL 

Thus the problem is not only how to do justice to the 
colored people, it is also how to stop the profanation of God's 
name by dishonoring the Negro's name. 

One hundred years ago the emancipation was proclaimed. 
It is time for the white man to strive for self-emancipation, to 
set himself free of bigotry, to stop being a slave to wholesale 
contempt, a passive recipient of slander. 

II 

"I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. 
Behold, the tears of the oppressed, they had no one to comfort 
them! On the side of the oppressors there was power, and there 
was no one to comfort them." ( Ecclesiastes 4:1 ) 

There is a form of oppression which is more painful and 
more scathing than physical injury or economic privation. It is 
public humiliation. What afflicts my conscience is that my 
face, whose skin happens not to be dark, instead of radiating 
the likeness of God, has come to be taken as an image of 
haughty assumption and overbearance. Whether justified or 
not, I, the white man, have become in the eyes of others a 
symbol of arrogance and pretension, giving offense to other 
human beings, hurting their pride, even without intending it. 
My very presence inflicting insult! 

My heart is sick when I think of the anguish and the sighs, 
of the quiet tears shed in the nights in the overcrowded dwell- 
ings in the slums of our great cities, of the pangs of despair, of 
the cup of humiliation that is running over. 

The crime of murder is tangible and punishable by law. The 
sin of insult is imponderable, invisible. When blood is shed, 
human eyes see red; when a heart is crushed, it is only God who 
shares the pain. 

In the Hebrew language one word denotes both crimes. 
Bloodshed is the word that denotes both murder and humilia- 



The Segregation of God 59 

tion. The law demands: one should rather be killed than com- 
mit murder. Piety demands: one should rather commit suicide 
than offend a person publicly. It is better, the Talmud in- 
sists, to throw oneself alive into a burning furnace than to 
humiliate a human being publicly. 

He who commits a major sin may repent and be forgiven. 
But he who offends a person publicly will have no share in the 
life to come. 

It is not within the power of God to forgive the sins com- 
mitted toward men. We must first ask for forgiveness of those 
whom our society has wronged before asking for the forgive- 
ness of God. 

Daily we patronize institutions which are visible manifesta- 
tions of arrogance toward those whose skin differs from mine. 
Daily we cooperate with people who are guilty of active dis- 
crimination. 

How long will I continue to be tolerant of, even participant 
in, acts of embarrassing and humilitating human beings, in 
restaurants, hotels, buses, or parks, employment agencies, 
public schools and universities? One ought rather be shamed 
than put others to shame. 

Our Rabbis taught: "Those who are insulted but do not 
insult, hear themselves reviled without answering, act through 
love and rejoice in suffering, of them Scripture says: 'They who 
love the Lord are as the sun when rising in full splendor.' " 
(Judges 5:31) 

Let us cease to be apologetic, cautious, timid. Racial tension 
and strife is both sin and punishment. The Negro's plight, the 
blighted areas in the large cities, are they not the fruit of our 
sins? 

By negligence and silence we have all become accessory 
before the God of mercy to the injustice committed against 
the Negroes by men of our nation. Our derelictions are many. 



60 RABBI ABRAHAM J. HESCHEL 

We have failed to demand, to insist, to challenge, to chastise. 
In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "I tremble for my country 
when I reflect that God is just." 



Ill 



There are several ways of dealing with our bad conscience. 
1 ) We can extenuate our responsibility; 2 ) we can keep the 
Negro out of our sight; 3 ) we can alleviate our qualms by point- 
ing to the progress made; 4) we can delegate the responsibility 
to the courts; 5 ) we can silence our conscience by cultivating 
indifference; 6 ) we can dedicate our minds to issues of a far 
more sublime nature. 

1 ) Modern thought has a tendency to extenuate personal 
responsibility. Understanding the complexity of human nature, 
the inter-relationship of individual and society, of conscious- 
ness and the subconscious, we find it diflBcult to isolate the 
deed from the circumstances in which it was done. Our en- 
thusiasm is easily stunned by realizing the ramifications and 
complexity of the problem we face and the enormous obstacles 
we encounter in trying to implement the philosophy affirmed 
in the 13th and 14th Amendments as well as in the 1954 deci- 
sion of the Supreme Court. Yet this general tendency, for all 
its important correctives and insights, has often had the effect 
of obscuring our essential vision, aiding our conscience to grow 
scales: excuses, pretense, self-pity. The sense of guilt may dis- 
appear; no crime is absolute, no sin devoid of apology. Within 
the limits of the human mind, relativity may be true and 
merciful. Yet the mind's scope embraces but a fragment of 
society, a few instants of history; it thinks of what has hap- 
pened, it is unable to imagine what might have happened. 
The qualms of my conscience are easrily cured— even while 
the agony for which I am accountable continues unabated. 



The Segregation of God 61 

2 ) Another way of dealing with a bad conscience is to keep 
the Negro out of sight. 

The Word proclaims: Love thy neighbor! So we make it 
impossible for him to be a neighbor. Let a Negro move into 
our neighborhood and madness overtakes the residents. To 
quote a recent editorial in the Christian Century (12-26-62) : 

The ghettoization of the Negro in American society is in- 
creasing. Three million Negroes — roughly one-sixth of the 
nation's Negro population— are now congested in five of the 
greatest metropolitan centers of the north. The alienation 
of the Negro from the mainstream of American life pro- 
ceeds space. The Negro is discovering to his sorrow that the 
mobility which he gained in the Emancipation Proclama- 
tion and the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitu- 
tion nearly a hundred years ago merely enables him to move 
from one ghetto to another. A partial apartheid— economic, 
social, political and religious — continues to be enforced by 
the white people of the U.S. They use various pressures- 
some open, some covert — to keep the Negro isolated from 
the nation's social, cultural and religious community, the 
result being black islands surrounded by a vast white sea. 
Such enclaves in American society not only destroy the co- 
hesiveness of the nation but also offend the Negro's dignity 
and restrict his opportunity. These segregated islands are 
also an embarrassment to white people who want an open 
society but are trapped by a system they despise. Restricted 
housing is the chief offender. So long as the racially exclu- 
sive patterns of suburban America continue, the Negro will 
remain an exile in his own land. 

3 ) To some Americans the situation of the Negro, for all its 
stains and spots, seems fair and trim. So many revolutionary 
changes have taken place in the field of civil rights, so many 
deeds of charity are being done; so much decency radiates day 
and night. Our standards are modest; our sense of injustice 
tolerable, timid; our moral indignation impermanent; yet 



62 RABBIABRAHAMJ.HESCHEL 

human violence is interminable, unbearable, permanent. The 
conscience builds its confines, is subject to fatigue, it longs for 
comfort. Yet those who are hurt, and He Who inhabits etern- 
ity, neither slumber nor sleep. 

4) Most of us are content to delegate the problem to the 
courts, as if justice were a matter for professionals or specialists. 
But to do justice is what God demands of every man: it is the 
supreme commandment, and one that cannot be fulfilled 
vicariously. 

Righteousness must dwell not only in the places where 
justice is judicially administered. There are many ways of evad- 
ing the law and escaping the arm of justice. Only a few acts of 
violence are brought to the attention of the courts. As a rule, 
those who know how to exploit are endowed with the skill to 
justify their acts, while those who are easily exploited possess 
no skill in pleading their own cause. Those who neither exploit 
nor are exploited are ready to fight when their own interests 
are harmed; they will not be involved when not personally 
affected. Who shall plead for the helpless? Who shall prevent 
the epidemic of injustice that no court of justice is capable of 
stopping? 

In a sense, the calling of the prophet may be described as 
that of an advocate or champion, speaking for those who are 
too weak to plead their own cause. Indeed, the major activity 
of the prophets was interference, remonstrating about wrongs 
inflicted on other people, meddling in affairs which were seem- 
ingly neither their concern nor their responsibility. A prudent 
man is he who minds his own business, staying away from 
questions which do not involve his own interests, particularly 
when not authorized to step in — and prophets were given no 
mandate by the widows and orphans to plead their cause. The 
prophet is a person who is not tolerant of wrongs done to others, 
who resents other people's injuries. He even calls upon others 



The Segregation of God 63 

to be the champions of the poor. It is to every member of the 
community, not alone to the judges, that Isaiah directs his 
plea: 

Seek justice. 
Undo oppression; 
Defend the fatherless, 
Plead for the widow. 

Isaiah 1:17 

5 ) There is an evil which most of us condone and are even 
guilty of: indifference to evil. We remain neutral, impartial, 
and not easily moved by the wrongs done unto other people. 
Indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself; it is 
more universal, more contagious, more dangerous. A silent 
justification, it makes possible an evil erupting as an exception 
becoming the rule and being in turn accepted. 

The prophets' great contribution to humanity was the dis- 
covery of the evil of indifference. One may be decent and 
sinister, pious and sinful. 

The prophet is a person who suffers the harms done to 
others. Wherever a crime is committed, it is as if the prophet 
were the victim and the prey. The prophet's angry words cry. 
The wrath of God is a lamentation. All prophecy is one great 
exclamation; God is not indifferent to evil! He is always con- 
cerned, He is personally affected by what man does to man. He 
is a God of pathos. 

6) In condemning the clergymen who joined Dr. Martin 
Luther King in protesting against local statutes and practices 
which denied constitutional liberties to groups of citizens on 
account of race, a white preacher declared: "The job of the 
minister is to lead the souls of men to God, not to bring 
about confusion by getting tangled up in transitory social 
problems." 

In contrast to this definition, the prophets passionately pro- 



64 RABBI ABRAHAM J. HESCHEL 

claim that God Himself is concerned with "the transitory social 
problems," with the blights of society, with the affairs of the 
market place. 

What is the essence of being a prophet? A prophet is a per- 
son who holds God and men in one thought at one time, at all 
times. Our tragedy begins with the segregation of God, with 
the bifurcation of the secular and sacred. We worry more 
about the purity of dogma than about the integrity of love. 
We think of God in the past tense and refuse to realize that 
God is always present and never, never past; that God may be 
more intimately present in slums than in mansions, with 
those who are smarting under the abuse of the callous. 

There are, of course, many among us whose record in deal- 
ing with the Negroes and other minority groups is unspotted. 
However, an honest estimation of the moral state of our society 
will disclose: Some are guilty, but all are responsible. If we 
admit that the individual is in some measure conditioned or 
affected by the public climate of opinion, an individual's crime 
discloses society's corruption. In a community not indifferent 
to suffering, uncompromisingly impatient with cruelty and 
falsehood, racial discrimination would be infrequent rather 
than common. 



IV 



That equality is a good thing, a fine goal, may be generally 
accepted. What is lacking is a sense of the monstrosity of in- 
equality. Seen from the perspective of prophetic faith, the 
predicament of justice is the predicament of God. 

Of course, more and more people are becoming aware of 
the Negro problem, but they fail to grasp its being a personal 
problem. People are increasingly fearful of social tension and 
disturbance. However, so long as our society is more concerned 



The Segregation of God 65 

to prevent racial strife than to prevent humiliation, the cause 
of strife, its moral status will be depressing, indeed. 

The history of inter-racial relations is a nightmare. Equality 
of all men, a platitude to some minds, remains a scandal to 
many hearts. Inequality is the ideal setting for the abuse of 
power, a perfect justification for man's cruelty to man. Equality 
is an obstacle to callousness, setting a limit to power. Indeed, 
the history of mankind may be described as the history of the 
tension between power and equality. 

Equality is an inter-personal relationship, involving both a 
claim and a recognition. My claim to equality has its logical 
basis in the recognition of my fellow men's identical claim. Do 
I not forfeit my own rights by denying to my fellow men 
the rights I claim for myself? 

It is not humanity that endows the sky with inalienable 
stars. It is not society that bestows upon every man his inalien- 
able rights. Equality of all men is not due to man's innocence 
or virtue. Equality of man is due to God's love and commit- 
ment to all men. 

The ultimate worth of man is due neither to his virtue nor 
to his faith. It is due to God's virtue, to God's faith. Wherever 
you see a trace of man, there is the presence of God. From the 
perspective of eternity our recognition of equality of all men 
seems as generous an act as the acknowledgment that stars 
and planets have a right to be. 

How can I withhold from others what does not belong to 
me? 

Equality as a religious commandment goes beyond the prin- 
ciple of equality before the law. Equality as a religious com- 
mandment means personal involvement, fellowship, mutual 
reverence and concern. It means my being hurt when a Negro 
is offended. It means that I am bereaved whenever a Negrg is 
disfranchised. 

The shotgun blasts that have been fired at the house of 



66 RABBI ABRAHAM J. HESCHEL 

James Meredith's father in Kosciusko, Mississippi, make us 
cry for shame wherever we are. 

There is no insight more disclosing: God is One, and 
humanity is one. There is no possibihty more frightening: 
God's name may be desecrated. 

God is every man's pedigree. He is either the Father of all 
men or of no man. The image of God is either in every man 
or in no man. 

From the point of view of moral philosophy it is our duty to 
have regard for every man. Yet such regard is contingent upon 
the moral merit of the particular man. From the point of 
view of religious philosophy it is our duty to have regard and 
compassion for every man regardless of his moral merit. God's 
covenant is with all men, and we must never be oblivious of 
the equality of the divine dignity of all men. The image of 
God is in the criminal as well as in the saint. How could my 
regard for man be contingent upon his merit, if I know that 
in the eyes of God I myself may be without merit! 

You shall not make yourself a graven image or any likeness 
of God. The making and worshipping of images is considered 
an abomination, vehemently condemned in the Bible. The 
world and God are not of the same essence. There can be no 
man-made symbols of God. 

And yet there is something in the world that the Bible does 
regard as a symbol of God. It is not a temple nor a tree, it is 
not a statue nor a star. The symbol of God is man, every man. 
How significant is the fact that the term tselem which is fre- 
quently used in a damnatory sense for a man-made image of 
God, as well as the term demuth, likeness— of which Isaiah 
claims (48:18), no demuth can be applied to God— are em- 
ployed in denoting man as an image and likeness of God. Man, 
every man, must be treated with the honor due to a likeness 
representing the King of kings. 



The Segregation of God 67 

He who oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, 
He who is kind to the needy honors Him. 

Proverbs 14:31; cf. 17:15 



V 

The way we act, the way we fail to act is a disgrace which 
must not go on forever. This is not a white man's world. This 
is not a colored man's world. It is God's world. No man has a 
place in this world who tries to keep another man in his place. 
It is time for the white man to repent. We have failed to use 
the avenues open to us to educate the hearts and minds of men, 
to identify ourselves with those who are underprivileged. But 
repentance is more than contrition and remorse for sins, for 
harms done. Repentance means a new insight, a new spirit. It 
also means a course of action. 

Racism is an evil of tremendous power, but God's will 
transcends all powers. Surrender to despair is surrender to evil. 
It is important to feel anxiety, it is sinful to wallow in despair. 

What we need is a total mobilization of heart, intelligence, 
and wealth for the purpose of love and justice. God is in search 
of men, waiting, hoping for man to do His will. 

The most practical thing is not to weep but to act and 
to have faith in God's assistance and grace in our trying to do 
His will. 

This world, this society can be redeemed. God has a stake 
in our moral predicament. I cannot believe that God will be 
defeated. 

What we face is a human emergency. It will require much 
devotion, wisdom, and divine grace to eliminate that massive 
sense of inferiority, the creeping bitterness. It will require a 
high quality of imaginative sympathy, sustained cooperation 
both in thought and in action, by individuals as well as by 



68 RABBI ABRAHAM J. HESCHEL 

institutions, to weed out memories of frustration, roots of 
resentment. 

We must act even when inclination and vested interests 
should militate against equality. Human self-interest is often 
our Nemesis! It is the audacity of faith that redeems us. To 
have faith is to be ahead of one's normal thoughts, to transcend 
confused motivations, to lift oneself by one's bootstraps. Mere 
knowledge or belief is too feeble to be a cure of man's hostility 
to man, of man's tendency to fratricide. The only remedy is 
personal sacrifice: to abandon, to reject what seems dear and 
even plausible for the sake of the greater truth; to do more 
than I am ready to understand for the sake of God. Required 
is a breakthrough, a leap of action. It is the deed that will purify 
the heart. It is the deed that will sanctify the mind. The deed 
is the test, the trial, and the risk. 

The plight of the Negro must become our most important 
concern. Seen in the light of our religious tradition, the Negro 
problem is God's gift to America, the test of our integrity, a 
magnificent spiritual opportunity. 

Humanity can only thrive when challenged, when called 
upon to answer new demands, to reach out for new heights. 
Imagine how smug, complacent, vapid, and foolish we would 
be, if we had to subsist on prosperity alone. It is for us to under- 
stand that religion is not sentimentality, that God is not a 
patron. Religion is a demand, God is a challenge, speaking to 
us in the language of human situations. His voice is in the 
dimension of history. 

The universe is done. The greater masterpiece still undone, 
still in the process of being created, is history. For accomplish- 
ing His grand design, God needs the help of man. Man is and 
has the instrument of God, which he may or may not use in 
consonance with the grand design. Life is clay, and righteous- 
ness the mold in which God wants history to be shaped. But 



The Segregation of God 69 

human beings, instead of fashioning the clay, deform the shape. 
God needs mercy, righteousness; His needs cannot be satisfied 
in space, by sitting in pews, by visiting temples, but in history, 
in time. It is within the realm of history that man is charged 
with God's mission. 

There are those who maintain that the situation is too 
grave for us to do much about it, that whatever we might do 
would be "too little and too late," that the most practiced 
thing we can do is "to weep" and to despair. If such a message 
is true, then God has spoken in vain. 

Such a message is 4000 years too late. It is good Babylonian 
theology. In the meantime, certain things have happened: 
Abraham, Moses, the Prophets, the Christian Gospel. 

History is not all darkness. It was good that Moses did not 
study theology under the teachers of that message; otherwise, 
I would still be in Egypt building pyramids. Abraham was all 
alone in a world of paganism; the difficulties he faced were 
hardly less grave than ours. 

The greatest heresy is despair, despair of men's power for 
goodness, men's power for love. 

It is not enough for us to exhort the Government. What 
we must do is to set an example, not merely to acknowledge the 
Negro but to welcome him, not grudgingly but joyously, to 
take delight in enabling him to enjoy what is due to him. We 
are all Pharaohs or slaves of Pharaohs. It is sad to be a slave 
of Pharaoh. It is horrible to be a Pharaoh. 

Daily we should take account and ask: What have I done 
today to alleviate the anguish, to mitigate the evil, to prevent 
humiliation? 

Let there be a grain of prophet in every man! 

Our concern must be expressed not symbolically, but 
literally; not only publicly, but also privately; not only oc- 
casionally, but regularly. 



70 RABBI ABRAHAM J. HESCHEL 

What we need is the involvement of everyone of us as in- 
dividuals. What we need is restlessness, a constant awareness 
of the monstrosity of injustice. 

The concern for the dignity of the Negro must be an explicit 
tenet of our creeds. He who offends a Negro, whether as a 
landowner or employer, whether as waiter or sales-girl, is 
guilty of offending the majesty of God. No minister or layman 
has a right to question the principle that reverence for God is 
shown in reverence for man, that the fear we must feel lest we 
hurt or humiliate a human being must be as unconditional as 
fear of God. An act of violence is an act of desecration. To be 
arrogant toward man is to be blasphemous toward God. 

In the words of Pope John XXIII, when opening the 
Twenty-first Ecumenical Council, "divine Providence is lead- 
ing us to a new order of human relations." History has made 
us all neighbors. The age of moral mediocrity and complacency 
has run out. This is a time for radical commitment, for radical 
action. 

Let us not forget the story of the sons of Jacob. Joseph, the 
dreamer of dreams, was sold into slavery by his own brothers. 
But at the end it was Joseph who rose to be the saviour of 
those who had sold him into captivity. 

Mankind lies groaning, afflicted by fear, frustration and 
despair. Perhaps it is the will of God that among the Josephs 
of the future there will be many who have once been slaves 
and whose skin is dark. The great spiritual resources of the 
Negroes, their capacity for joy, their quiet nobility, their 
attachment to the Bible, their power of worship and en- 
thusiasm, may prove a blessing to all mankind. 

In the words of the prophet Amos (5:24) : 

Let justice roll down like waters, 

And righteousness like a mighty stream. 



The Segregation of God 71 

A mighty stream, expressive of the vehemence of a never- 
ending, surging, fighting movement— as if obstacles had to 
be washed away for justice to be done. No rock is so hard that 
water cannot pierce it. "The mountain falls and crumbles 
away, the rock is removed from its place— the waters wear 
away the stones." (Job 14:18 f.) Justice is not a mere norm, 
but a fighting challenge, a restless drive. 

Righteousness as a mere tributary, feeding the immense 
stream of human interests, is easily exhausted and more easily 
abused. But righteousness is not a trickle; it is God's power in 
the world, a torrent, an impetous drive, full of grandeur and 
majesty. The surge is choked, the sweep is blocked. Yet the 
mighty stream will break all dikes. 

Justice, people seem to agree, is a principle, a norm, an 
ideal of the highest importance. We all insist that it ought to 
be— but it may not be. In the eyes of the prophets, justice is 
more than an idea or a norm: justice is charged with the 
omnipotence of God. What ought to be, shall be! 



PART IV 

The Religious Institution 
and the Community 



The Role of Church and Synagogue 
in the Racially Changing Community 

Dr. Dan W. Dodson 

I. The Nature of the Change 

The most continuously significant confrontation to face or- 
ganized religion on the domestic scene during the past two 
decades is undoubtedly that of the racially changing com- 
munity. The last World War, the mechanization of agricul- 
ture, the use of rubber for transportation and the septic tank 
have produced a revolution in neighborhood design. Marginal 
populations have been drawn away from the farms and lo- 
cated in the heart of major cities. The suburbs have expanded 
enormously to accommodate the middle class, largely white 
population, which has withdrawn from cities. 

The need for cheap, unskilled labor, plus Castro's revolu- 
tion, has accounted for the emigration of large numbers of 
Spanish-speaking peoples from both the Caribbean coasts and 
from Mexico. Like the Negro population of rural America 
which has been the principal source of domestic migration to 
the cities, these newcomers have tended to settle in urban 
areas, with the exception of those who are seasonally employed 
as migrant laborers on farms. 

The extent of the revolution brought about by these changes 
can be estimated when it is understood that between 1950 and 

75 



76 DR.DANW.DODSON 

1960 the racial composition of the following states changed 
as follows: 

Table I 
Change in Negro Population of Select States 1950-1960 

1950 1960 Change 



New York 


918,191 


1,417,511 


499,320 


California 


462,172 


883,861 


421,689 


Michigan 


442,296 


717,581 


275,285 


Illinois 


645,980 


1,037,470 


391,490 


New Jersey 


318,565 


514,875 


196,310 


Ohio 


513,072 


786,097 


273,025 



New York State now has the largest Negro population of any 
of the fifty states, and Illinois is among the top five in rank of 
Negro inhabitants, exceeded only by New York, Texas, Georgia, 
North Carolina and Louisiana. The cities with the largest 
Negro concentrations by rank are; New York City ( 1,087,931 ), 
Chicago (812,637), Philadelphia (529,240), Detroit (482,223), 
Washington, D.C. (411,737), Los Angeles (334,916) and 
Baltimore (326,589). So it is evident that marginal popula- 
tions have moved away from rural into large metropolitan 
area, and from the South to the North, West and East. 

Within the cities this indicates that the trend has been for 
the middle income whites to move to the suburbs leaving 
such vacancies to be replaced by an influx of Negroes and 
Spanish-speaking emigrants. For the most part the former 
group is prominent because of distinctive color. Consequently 
it is not possible for them to escape detection by learning the 
manners and customs of the dominant group as did the 
previous minorities. Neither is it possible to conceal the plight 
of such persons among them who suffer the trauma of slum 
shock and degradation occasioned by the discrimination and 



The Role of Church and Synagogue 77 

prejudice evidenced toward them. The worst social problems 
America faces are now in the heart of her cities— the show 
places of the country. Social problems are no longer hidden on 
the plantations of the Mississippi Delta. 

This transformation of the city has also led to rapid, and 
sometimes cataclysmic changes within neighborhoods. One 
settlement house with which this speaker worked was located 
in such an area. Its leadership thought there might be as 
many as ten per cent Puerto Ricans within its environs. Our 
study indicated that actually it was already 45 per cent, so 
rapidly had the change come about. In the suburbs the change 
in racial composition has been more diffuse, but nevertheless 
pronounced. As Negroes acquire middle class status, they tend 
to migrate suburban ward also. The disturbances in Levittown, 
Pennsylvania, and Deerfield, Illinois, indicate the kinds of re- 
sistance which has been shown to this avant garde. 



11. Issues in Community Change 

An examination of the issues in change suggest some of the 
problems which confront churches in dealing with it. Among 
these are: 

( 1 ) All communities are constantly changing. What is re- 
ferred to here is either the rate of change or the nature of the 
change. Sometimes it is both. 

( 2 ) A community with a well-regulated rate of change de- 
velops a power structure; norms of behavior are achieved and 
newcomers are assimilated into this milieu. This means that 
the community moves to solve its problems through integrative 
processes rather than through conflict. However, when a com- 



78 DR.DANW.DODSON 

munity changes quickly or the change is radical in nature, the 
power group arms to defend itself, with the consequence that 
new arrivals must necessarily move through conflict to make 
their voices heard in decision-making processes. This is thought 
to be un-Christian and disruptive in most instances. 

( 3 ) The established churches of the communities-in-change 
were built and are operated by the power or status groups. 
These frequently feel that their institutions belong to the con- 
gregation rather than to God. Hence, the local congregation 
has difficulty in dealing with the confrontations which ac- 
company new viewpoints. The denomination or faith formu- 
lates inspiring statements relating to equality and spiritual 
fraternity. But these statements are ideals in the abstract and 
are difficult to apply concretely when the community is in 
crisis. Too often significant religious leaders are reduced to the 
position of the pastors who, in Little Rock, during the crisis, 
called a prayer meeting to pray that God's Will be done. A 
study of one denomination indicated that the stronger the 
statement prepared by the hierarchy of the denomination, the 
less it was subscribed to by parishoners! 

(4) When neighborhoods begin to alter, it is generally 
those with children which are most affected. Families with 
children are first to leave, and families with children the first 
to arrive. This exchange has two significant implications. The 
first is that erroneous impressions about the extent of change 
are gathered, simply because children are out and about more 
than are adults. Peak demands are placed upon institutional 
facilities for service, thus sharpening the contrast between 
those who have access to services and those who do not. 
Secondly, the differential of change leaves in a community 



The Role of Church and Synagogue 79 

those who are least adaptible to change, and who possess in- 
stitutional control to keep it from happening. Instances are 
numerous in which a church was not able to change its mem- 
bership policies until some patriarch who was extremely in- 
fluential was deceased. By this time, all too often, the insti- 
tution had declined too far ever to be resurrected. 

(5) Other things being equal, those populations who do 
not patronize public schools stay longer in a changing com- 
munity than those who depend upon these facilities. In a dis- 
pute in the Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn concerning 
sending white children to school in an all-Negro neighborhood, 
the district superintendent of schools reported that there were 
more white children attending non-public schools within walk- 
ing distance of the junior high school in dispute, than there 
were white children in all the public schools of the district. 
The same pattern was discovered in New Rochelle's Washing- 
ton and Columbus elementary schools. Whyte observed the 
same situation in the Rittenhouse Square section of Phila- 
delphia and the Bolton Hill district of Baltimore. It is not 
that these religious and private schools discriminate against 
Negroes, but rather that new residents are either not re- 
ligiously or economically attracted to them. 

(6) Another characteristic of rapid community change is 
that incoming groups bring their indigenous institutions with 
them. Great difficulty in sharing existing voluntary agencies, 
including the church, accompanies these attitudes. Many con- 
gregations have "opened their doors" and extended welcomes 
only to find that the in-coming group was not attracted to 
their kind of fellowship. This has been a source of disappoint- 
ment to many congregations. However, it should be no sur- 



80 DR.DANW.DODSON 

prise. One of the problems of such in-coming groups is their 
distrust of the motives of the dominant group. Too often 
proffered services and a welcome are really thinly veiled at- 
tempts to proselytize newcomers, using the resources of estab- 
lished services as "bait." Possibly, both evangelical faiths, the 
Protestant and the Roman Catholic, serve as valid illustra- 
tions. For example, the Roman Catholic group, which in the 
East has fewer Negro adherents, makes an all-out drive for the 
Negroes and neglects its Spanish parishoners, for whom it has 
a larger responsibility. The Protestants on the other hand, ap- 
pear anxious to serve the Puerto Ricans and Mexicans, and 
neglect their major constituency, the Negroes. Be that as it 
may, many of both persuasions are in conflict concerning how 
best to fulfill their Christian mandate without having their 
efforts misunderstood as attempts at conversion. 

(7) As neighborhoods become heterogeneous and the 
values of the dominant group become threatened, there is the 
tendency for such a group to withdraw. Some go to the 
suburbs. Others use voluntary associations as refuges in which 
to evade meaningful encounters with those of other races. 
Among these voluntary associations, the church has perhaps 
become the most respectable "escape" in America. It is not 
possible to equate such withdrawals or evasions with the moral 
and intellectual demands of the present Space Age of which 
we are a part. Suburban communities likewise attempt to shield 
themselves from newcomers whom they consider to be a threat. 
Not only are Negroes, but others of different heritages, ex- 
cluded from certain communities. In this regard, Jesus Christ 
—himself a Jew— would not be a welcome citizen of com- 
munities such as Crosse Pointe, Michigan, or Bronxville, New 
York. This attempt to escape responsibilities relates again to 
the problems of involvement and basic values. Studies indi- 



The Role of Church and Synagogue 81 

cate that the vast majority of the middle class group in an 
average community will attempt to sit on the side lines when 
controversy arises and not implicate themselves unless forced 
to do so. In fact, one of the most difficult problems in inter- 
group relations is how to maneuver such groups into positions 
where they must take a stand on controversial issues. This was 
the major issue in Little Rock, and it is the greater issue in the 
race relations of the average community. Tumin's study of 
Gaston County, North Carolina, indicated clearly that there 
was a small group of whites which was vefy much opposed to 
integration and a comparable group which was very much in 
favor. The vast middle group, however, was not about to get 
involved if it could avoid it. 

It is easier to move on to the suburb or hide in the church 
than it is to come to meaningful confrontation with differences, 
and make one's influence felt in the processes of conflict 
through which new relationships are forged. 

(8) Most communities in change feel that such change 
downgrades them. This is particularly true of suburban neigh- 
borhoods. Almost invariably the first settlers have more status 
than do the newcomers. A consideration of almost any well- 
known suburb such as Scarsdale, New York, Shaker Heights, 
Ohio, or Westport, Connecticut, reveals that when the Jews 
arrive, the neighborhood considers itself to be starting a down- 
hill slide. When the Negroes come, they are positive of it. 
In past years the same arguments were used concerning those 
of Irish, Italian or Polish backgrounds. 

The core problem of the discriminatory aspects of race rela- 
tions would seem to be contained in a single popular word— 
"snootiness." It is agreed that a community without a status 
ordering would flounder in dealing with its problems. However, 
this agreement leads us to pose the pertinent question, "What 



82 DR.DANW.DODSON 

are the criteria for status in America?" We should examine 
such pedestrian values as implied by length of residence in a 
given community, religious affiliation, racial background or 
social class, and ask ourselves if service to a community should 
not be the real measure of worth. The substitution of service 
for "snootiness" could immeasurably enrich the lives of all 
community members, both those with deep roots in its affairs 
and those who have had time to grow only tap roots. 

(9) The next of the issues posed is that of power. Most 
communities in change go through a power fight. In this 
writer's judgment this aspect of American life has been neg- 
lected. Could not evidence be gathered to support the hypoth- 
esis that it is impossible for a youth who is a member of a 
group which is powerless in a community to mature? Would he, 
in fact, experience some trauma to his individuality because of 
the anomalous position of his group in the community? With- 
out power one feels himself of little worth. One of the great 
attractions of our religion is that it teaches the humblest that 
he has power because he is a child of God. Hence, regardless of 
how impotent he is otherwise, there is some self-respect left. 
However, Adler's theory that people who feel compromised in 
their potency tend to overcompensate by aggression in order to 
overcome their limitations is, perhaps, only half correct. They 
also resign in apathy. The class apathy of the slum-dwellers to- 
day is mute testimony to the powerlessness they feel. 

It would not be hard to make a case that the great advances 
in race relations within the past two decades are not due to 
what we have done in the intergroup and religious fields, but 
rather due to the fact that Negroes have moved from the 
South and now hold a political balance of power in those 
states which rank high in Negro inhabitants. These are states 
in which the two political parties are about evenly divided and 



The Role of Church and Synagogue 83 

are key states in political elections. Hence the minority group 
holds veto power over who is going to capture and hold office. 
This is one way of securing leverages to power. Law is another. 
The great legal decisions have also shored up civil rights. They 
have strengthened the recognition of the change of power re- 
lations within the groups. If one believes, however, that peo- 
ple's rights are respected merely because they are human 
beings, but without power, he should look at the sad state of 
the migrant laborers. Without power, i.e., without the ballot, 
they are exploited and pushed from pillar to post. Residence 
laws discriminate against them in securing relief and harass- 
ment of them almost becomes the norm. Newburgh, New 
York, is perhaps the outstanding symbol of this in the North. 
Numerous evidences of it abound in the Southwest and West. 

It has already been indicated that the domniant group in a 
community tries to work through integrative processes. This 
integrative approach to the powerless in the past has been 
aimed at the more intelligent, alienating them in their senti- 
ments and sympathies from the groups of which they were a 
part, getting them to take stock in the great mythologies of 
the American Dream, and making them ashamed of their 
heritage. Ultimately they were to be transmuted into so-called 
Ideal Americans. This means the constant siphoning off of 
the bright ones, still leaving the residual group to stew in its 
own problems. Slums are a monument to this kind of action. 
They stand as an institutionalized part of every great American 
city. 

As another evidence of our great humanitarian motivations, 
we have moved out both at home and abroad to serve certain 
populations, reasoning that if they were sufficiently served in 
Egypt, as it were, they would not launch out in search of a 
Promised Land. But service creates dependency, and is in fact 
a tranquilizer. The great outpouring of service here and 



84 DR.DANW.DODSON 

abroad is a dominant power group's way of trying to hold 
tenable its position, and at the same time indoctrinate the 
world with its value system. 

With these vast concentrations of marginal population in 
the inner cities of the megalopolises, we are fast approaching 
the situation faced by many past civilizations. Today, there are 
estimated to be a million more people living in the city slums 
of America than on all of its farms. There are estimated to be 
a million more marginal people on farms who may yet migrate. 
Past civilizations found it easier to keep these marginal people 
amused rather than to integrate them purposively into the 
common life of their society. The lesson of history should be 
illuminating to us. Such attrition of resources brought about 
their downfall. Our future is yet to be determined. 

Integration into the common life of the community is dif- 
ferent for the Negro and certain of the Spanish-speaking pop- 
ulation than it was for past groups which have already been 
assimilated into American life. The difference is by color. 
When the intelligent Negro youth is caught up in these 
processes and is transmuted, his limits are still circumscribed, 
because his color stands out as a badge of identity. He finds 
himself rejected because of the way he looks, not because of 
what he is. For him other measures must be employed to take 
the place of this integrative process. One eflFective substitute 
lies in the process of taking power. It should be remembered 
that power has to be taken. It cannot be bestowed. When the 
powerless take power, conflict is inevitable. This is anathema 
to most religiously oriented people. Most of them believe that 
religion and love go together and that conflict is something 
evil. They find themselves to be ambivalent. They would like 
to see the "little man" succeed, yet they fear the threat to their 
own preferential position if too much power is wrested from 
them. 



The Role of Church and Synagogue 85 

The church is remiss in not making more demonstrable 
the fact that there is power in moral position, if based on 
thoughtful premises, as well as in being a human being. Church- 
related people could find true spiritual satisfactions in observing 
and being a part of this process. There is nothing more ex- 
hilarating than to see people taking the first fumbling steps 
toward freedom; they are reaffirming one of our greatest faiths, 
namely, that all men cherish freedom and chafe under op- 
pression. To witness groups taking power and forcing vested 
interests to take into account minority voices in communal 
decision-making is to watch democracy working at its best. Yet, 
most of us stand in the middle of such goodness and do not 
attempt to comprehend it. Some feel threatened, so oppose it. 

(10) Most communities in change are characterized by a 
high degree of physical mobility. One inner-city public ele- 
mentary school known to this author must enroll 106 children 
for every initial 100 on the roll in order to keep a constant en- 
rollment. Yet most agencies, including the church, operate 
programs for children and migrants in general, as if they were 
stable populations. 



in. Some Things to Do 

At the expense of being misunderstood, it seems worth men- 
tioning some efforts which dedicated people could make in 
meeting the challenges of changing communities. The follow- 
ing are suggested: 

( 1 ) The church must continue to try to bring society to 
judgment on this issue of racism. It is man's most dangerous 
myth. Sciences and morality are converging in their agreement 



86 DR.DANW.DODSON 

that no one race of the world has a superior capacity. Or stated 
more positively, "All groups have the capacities to become 
what any present group now is." From a spiritual point of 
view, the imperative is the recognition that all men are 
brothers, and not that one group constitutes a threat to 
another. 

This issue is pertinent not only to the problems of Negro- 
White or Oriental-Occidental. It includes theories of race 
which can be applied to whomever one decides to dislike, as 
Hitler demonstrated. In this regard Christians need to concern 
themselves more with this curious thread of anti-Semitism 
which runs like a low-grade infection in the body politic. It re- 
appears every time stress occurs and resistance is lowered. Where 
in our religion is this damnable virus carried? How can it be 
eliminated? Concern about the ideology of race should be a 
supreme anxiety to all religious denominations. 

(2) Show interest in the well-being of newcomers for 
reasons other than to entice them to join a particular fellow- 
ship. Every professing Christian, supposedly, is under obliga- 
tion to witness to the faith within him. How that faith is 
interpreted, however, can make a large difference. "Rice 
Christians" have demonstrated the inherent difficulties when 
people are made to compromise their values in order to re- 
ceive assistance from others. 

(3) Help congregations re-examine their prejudices. When 
communities are in change all members are brought to sig- 
nificant confrontation. This is a teachable moment. It is the 
time when interpretation can have the most meaning. There 
is little value in having nice study groups about race in middle 
class suburban ghettos which are "lily white." Values really 



The Role of Church and Synagogue 87 

emerge when a community is in conflict. Opportunities, even 
though they may be pregnant with discord, should be wel- 
comed as touchstones to test the validity of our committments. 
Will they prove to be of sufficient worth to produce fellowship 
across the lines of difference? 

(4) Try to strengthen the civil rights of all. One of the 
great undertakings facing our society is that of the completion 
of undergirding the so-called human rights with civil law, in 
this way creating stronger civil rights. Civil rights are ad- 
mittedly only the first mile, the forced mile, in intergroup rela- 
tions. It is the necessary first step, however. 

(5) Intervene in neighborhood panic. Many fine things 
have been done by different groups to try to prepare com- 
munities for change. Some undoubtedly have had a gainful 
impact. Many are of the belief, however, that it is impossible 
to prepare a community for change. Nothing significant hap- 
pens until the community is significantly confronted. Some 
groups have been effective in allaying the panic which has 
played a community into the clutches of the blockbuster real 
estate sharks. Every congregation can inform itself as to 
progressions through which communities go when they are in 
the throes of confrontation, and prepare itself for the even- 
tuality when it comes home to them. 

(6) The majority of communities have not been integrated 
by great petitions and consensus of large bodies, but rather by 
a small action group— the Gideon's dozen. One does not need 
the consensus of a large group to desegregate a community. 
All he needs is to find someone who wishes to sell his house 
and is willing to sell it to a Negro family, someone else who is 
Negro who wishes to buy, and the money with which to 



DR. DAN W. DODSON 



finance the deal. It is unrealistic to expect large bodies such as 
church congregations to make significant moves through con- 
sensus. The most that dedicated members can hope for is 
autonomy enough within the fellowship to act as described 
above, without ostracism from the fellowship. 

(7) Fight anomie. A significant aspect of the community 
in change is that the norms of behavior become blurred and 
equivocal. The controls of the old group are wavering and those 
of the new have not yet been established. The church has no 
more significant role than that of "shoring up" the perimeters 
of authority, in order that the youth of the community may at 
all times have a clear perspective of the norms. Surely this is a 
place where all religious groups have more in common than 
there are differences among them. The changing community, 
and especially the one in the inner city, is generally the older 
community. New groups with their differing population of 
children to be educated, their lower economic status, which 
frequently produces the greatest demands upon the communal 
facilities, find themselves taking second best. If people are ever 
to learn to live together amicably, it is going to be in these 
mixed neighborhoods. Yet it is precisely here that there is the 
tendency to have the poorest facilities available to make this 
satisfactory social compound. In such areas are found the oldest 
schools, the least able teachers (the novitiates and superan- 
nuates), antiquated street lighting, the fewest police per 
capita and spasmodic garbage collection. It is as if the city 
fathers anticipate a change to lower socio-economic status and 
consequently prod the neighborhood along the road to its 
prophetic destiny. 

How to keep firm, clear and unequivocal images of what the 
perimeters of authority are in a changing community is one of 
our chief challenges. 



The Role of Church and Synagogue 89 

(8) Emphasize more social action to complement service. 

In our era of conformity this is not easy. Social science, in 
recent years, has come to the realization that one cannot sep- 
arate personality from social structure. One of the most 
neglected aspects of social development is that we have pre- 
occupied ourselves with the changing personality of mankind 
and have not spent adequate time changing his afferent struc- 
tures. It may be more important to help an individual get out 
of a slum than it is to serve him in a slum. It is more useful 
to help the minority person get a job than it is to provide 
him with relief. It is more germaine to make certain that the 
child of minority people can use all public facilities than it 
is to provide counselors to "tinker with their psyches" in order 
to remove the trauma to self-perception stemming from pow- 
erlessness. It may be more important to break up de facto 
school segregation than it is to have more special services in 
the schools. All these are social action jobs. They are not chal- 
lenges of service in any traditional way. This the church must 
recognize and make proper provisions for. 

IV. The Prospect 

In the years ahead, the Church is to be confronted as at few 
times in her history. The issue is whether she is dynamic 
enough to hurdle the barriers of race and social class in order 
to effectively bind this nation together in one spiritual com- 
munity; or whether, lacking such impetus, these masses who 
are now congregating in our cities, who are rejected because of 
class and race, will despair that such identities can ever be 
achieved and turn to other ideologies. Already the Black 
Muslims have told them that the Christian philosophy of love, 
forbearance and patience provides the rationale for their servi- 
tude. Now churches have the choice of either bringing their 



90 DR.DANW.DODSON 

memberships to judgment on these aforementioned issues or 
being brought to judgment themselves by a world segment 
anxious for definitive action. Changing communities offer 
concrete testing grounds for such action. 



The Responsibility of Church and 
Synagogue as Institutions 
in the Community 

Very Rev. Msgr. John J. Egan 



If there is one underlying theme which unites CathoHcs, 
Protestants, and Jews, it is the behef in a personal God to whom 
we all have the obligation to give witness; and in the essentially 
related belief that all men, as special creatures of God, possess 
a unique dignity by virtue of their creation. This notion of 
kinship in God is so deeply embedded in the tradition of all 
our faiths that it cannot be rejected without at the same time 
rejecting our place in the community of the Judaeo-Ghristian 
faithful. 

It is precisely this aspect of the Judaeo-Ghristian tradition 
which has been under persistent and successful attack for well 
over a century. 

Undoubtedly the most spectacular of the attacks was 
launched by Marx and Engel. The infamous dictum that "re- 
ligion is the opiate of the people" is well expressed in the 
totalitarian systems which explicitly reject unique individual 
dignity and which relate the entire meaning of the individual 
to the progress of society. 

Yet if the dialectic of Das Kapital is the most spectacular 

91 



92 VERY REV. MSGR. JOHN J. EGAN 

rejection of the kinship in God, it is for the American scene at 
least, probably not the most significant. 

In actual practice Das Kapital utilized a view of the nature 
of man which took a different form, but the same substance, in 
the Anglo-American philosophy of Herbert Spencer and Wil- 
liam Graham Sumner. Spencerian philosophy enjoys the dis- 
tinction of being the most pervading and enduring of all the 
philosophies of man ever proposed on the American continent. 
It is, indeed, so pervading that it has influenced, subtly but 
effectively, the Judaeo-Christian tradition in America. And 
that is the source of our difficulty. 

What is this Spencerian view? Drawing an analogy from 
the purely biological findings of Darwin, the English philoso- 
pher, Herbert Spencer, in a series of volumes entitled Synthetic 
Philosophy published in the early 1860's, proposed that man is 
a social organism in evolutionary process toward perfection; 
and that at the social level, the same processes of natural selec- 
tion are in play as Darwin found in the biological world. Man 
evolves toward a more perfect strain as the unfit, the misfits, 
and the weak die off from their lack of competitive ability. 
And, Spencer holds, this is good. The weak die off so that the 
race becomes perfected. It is their function in life; and if we 
interfere with the process, or permit the weak to live and breed, 
we merely impede the progress of society.^ 

Spencer's thesis, which came to be known as Social Darwin- 
ism, was popularized on the American scene by the prolific 
William Graham Sumner. His own words are quite succinct: 

Many ... are frightened at liberty, especially under the 
form of competition, which they elevate into a bugbear. 
They think it bears harshly on the weak. They do not per- 
ceive that here "the strong" and "the weak" are terms which 
admit of no definition unless they are made equivalent 
to the industrious and the idle, the frugal and the extrava- 
gant. They do not perceive, furthermore, that if we do not 



The Responsibility of Church and Synagogue 93 

like the survival of the fittest, we have only one possible 
alternative, and that is the survival of the unfittest. The 
former is the law of civilization; the latter is the law of 
decay.2 

With hindsight, it is easy to see that the Spencerian dictum 
and the dictum of Das Kapital are remarkably similar. In each, 
the individual is meaningless except as he serves as a cog in 
the perfection of the race. The specific difference between 
Marx and Spencer is that the former rejected capitalism and 
free enterprise; while the latter provided a most accommodat- 
ing rationale for its abuses. 

As a coherent theory. Social Darwinism was discredited in 
the cataclysm of the Great Depression. But it has never been 
completely rejected in the American ethos. As late as World 
War II, for instance, textbooks being used at the Harvard 
School of Business were direct and detailed interpretations of 
Spencer's thesis. Most of the present leaders of the American 
business community were educated in a system which explicitly 
taught the Spencerian thesis as the ultimate philosophical 
rationale for the free enterprise system. 

It is, however, a deteriorating point of view. As a coherent 
philosophy, it need not overly concern us. But its residual ef- 
fects on American society bear a direct relationship to the prob- 
lem of race relations. 

The most obvious of these residual effects is in our attitude 
toward the poor. Americans admit, if grudgingly and with one 
eye on the tax bill, that it is a good thing to give aid to the 
deserving poor— to those who through no fault of their own 
are unable to make their way in society. But the emphasis is on 
"deserving." The man who will not work, or the man whose 
personality apparatus prevents him from being competitive, or 
the lazy man, or the shiftless man, is not deserving of our help. 
If we must help him in order to keep him from practicing 



94 VERY REV. MSGR. JOHN J. EGAN 

violence against the good order of the state, at least we need 
keep him no more than alive and submissive. 

This habitual distinction between the "deserving" poor and 
the "unfit" poor is the most compelling evidence that we do 
not really implement our primal religious belief in the God- 
related diginity of man. We are still dominated by the 
Spencerian dictum that man is worthy of our attention only as 
he actively contributes to society; only as he has a utilitarian 
purpose. 

Thus, while our American ethos gives lip service to the no- 
tion of the dignity of man, the practical customs by which a 
society implements its ethos deny this notion. The apparent 
contradiction between our juridical assent to the rights of man 
and our treatment of minorities is more easily understood 
against this background. In reality, our allegiance to the rights 
of man is juridical only. It has not been accompanied by the 
only concept which gives it meaning and ultimate rationality: 
Kinship in God. 

For both history and logic compel us to believe that unique 
individual dignity is inconceivable except as the individual re- 
lates to the Judaeo-Christian God. The Greek city-state of 
Aristotle and Plato gave us perhaps the highest expression of 
a civilization ordered outside the framework of God the Father. 

Yet Aristotle's concept of the poor is not far different from 
that of Spencer. Extreme poverty, Aristotle holds, "lowers the 
character of a democracy" and therefore the poor should be 
given means to help themselves. But let the help be only in the 
form of means to better themselves. If the poor do not better 
themselves, then aid to them is wasteful.^ 

Historically, it is in the Jewish and Christian tradition that 
the poor possess a dignity which rises above their utility and the 
good order of society— precisely because their dignity, as well 
as the dignity of all, is based upon a relationship with God 
that transcends the proximate purposes of society. 



The Responsibility of Church and Synagogue 95 

Thus it is the specific mission of the churches and syna- 
gogues to infuse into our society that understanding of the 
unique dignity of each man which comes from his status as a 
creature of God— a dignity so unique that he deserves our per- 
sonal commitment whether he be rich or poor; a dignity so 
unique that, if poor, he deserves our help whether he be 
ambitious or lazy, moral or immoral, grateful or belligerent; 
a dignity so unique that he deserves our understanding re- 
gardless of his skin, his temperament, or his cultural tradi- 
tions. 

For there is a direct and vital relationship between the 
problem of dignity in God and the problem of race relations. 
As there is no intelligible basis for aiding the poor and unfit 
outside of the concept of a God who is Father, there is no 
intelligible basis for racial tolerance outside of the concept 
of God who is Father. Given the assumption that there is no 
God of Israel, that men are left to their own devices, both 
the extinction of a race and the extinction of the poor are 
rational, economical, and humanitarian approaches to the per- 
fectability of man. Hitler was no less rational than Spencer; 
and neither was less rational than the rabid southern (or 
northern) racist. All either explicitly or implicitly reject the 
fundamental basis of belief in the God of Israel. 

I have examined the problem of our attitude toward the 
poor, not only because it illustrates the gap in our mores of in- 
dividual dignity ( upon which any sound race relations must be 
built), but also because, in the present crisis, the poor and the 
racial minorities are often and extensively identified with each 
other. Or perhaps in a larger sense, the question of wealth and 
poverty has been intertwined with all minority relations in 
America. All immigrant groups, all minority groups, in Amer- 
ica, have been at first poor. To be at once poor and a minority 
has been the lot of all our "strangers in the land," as the 
studies of John Higham and Oscar Handlin demonstrate.* It 



96 VERY REV. MSGR. JOHN J. EGAN 

has not been an easy lot. Historically, American antipathies 
toward the poor have blended with American antipathies to- 
ward minorities, and the stereotype still prevails. Indeed, once 
an immigrant group has ceased to be predominantly poor, it 
has ceased to be regarded as a minority in the general Ameri- 
can consciousness. Thus, although residual and often painful 
prejudices still work against Catholics and Jews, the public 
consciousness does not place them in the same minority cate- 
gory as Negroes, Southern Whites, Puerto Ricans, and Mex- 
icans. 

This intertwining of identification (and hostility) towards 
the poor and towards minorities has profound implications for 
contemporary race relations. 

For it is all too easy for the latent racist to rationalize his 
hostility toward minorities on the basis of their poverty. It is 
all too easy to ask, "Why don't they help themselves?" It is 
all too easy to assume, with Spencer, that the Negro ( for in- 
stance) is poor; and poor because lazy; and because lazy, not 
worthy of concern. 

While on the one hand we argue for racial tolerance on the 
ground that all men are creatures of God and thus possessed of 
their unique dignity, we permit ourselves to apply Spencer's 
test of fitness to the poor. We thus perpetuate a moral double 
standard which is not lost to our people. We cannot expect to 
be taken seriously on the question of race relations if we do 
not insist on being taken seriously on the question of the poor. 
The point is that we will never be successful in eliminating the 
cancer of racial intolerance from our society until we also 
eliminate the cancer of intolerance of the poor. 

In the next two days we need to keep clearly in mind that 
whatever educative value our institutional practises take on — 
whether they be primary, as in the case of our educational 
forms, or secondary, as in the case of the example of our ad- 
ministrative actions— their image must reflect the totality of 



The Responsibility of Church and Synagogue 97 

our belief in the dignity of man— a dignity which extends to 
the poor as well as to the minority; a dignity which does not 
ask, "What good are you?" or "What are you?" but a dignity 
which asks, in fact, no question at all. 

We must keep clearly in mind that race relations rest on 
the same basis as all other human relations: the notion of man's 
dignity in God. When we practice unjust wage policies we 
violate the same principle as when we practice discriminatory 
hiring policies. When we gear our welfare institutions to serve 
predominantly the middle class we repudiate human dignity 
as much as when we restrict our welfare programs according to 
race. When we approve, in our educational schema, the moral 
status of wealth, we display the same contempt for the 
creatures of God as we do when we approve the teaching of 
theories of racial inferiority. What is more important, we must 
keep clearly in mind that love of neighbor, love, especially of 
the poor, is neither an intellectual position nor an elevating 
sentiment. It is an action. Here Martin Buber's insight is com- 
pelling, and I quote: 

The Bible knows that it is impossible to command the 
love of man. I am incapable of feeling love toward every 
man, although God Himself command me. The Bible does 
not directly enjoin the love of man, but by using the dative 
puts it rather in the form of an act of love. ( I must love 
"to Him.") 5 

Love of the poor, then, rests on Buber's dative. It is an act. 
The Sacred Books abound with concrete injunctions to feed 
the hungry, clothe the naked, do kindness to the stranger, 
comfort the brethren. Why? God answers: "What if he cries 
for redress, and I, the ever merciful, listen to him?" (Exod. 
22:25). "Remember what God you worship." (Lev. 19:9-10). 
Love of the poor is an act; it is enjoyable because we are all of 
God, and God is the God of all. 

If then, love of the poor is the open manifestation of man's 



98 VERY REV. MSGR. JOHN J. EGAN 

dignity in God; and if love of the poor is in the first instance 
an act of dative — it necessarily implies involvement. An essen- 
tial element of love, of charity, of almsgiving, of the giving of 
comfort, is an empathy that can come only from involvement 
and identification. God calls upon his people to love by recall- 
ing to their minds their own historical experience: "You were 
alien once, in the Land of Egypt" (Lev. 19:34); "Do not forget 
that thou wast once a slave in Egypt" (Deut. 24:19)— injunc- 
tions that are directed as much to the Christian as to the 
Hebrew community. 

Love of the poor, as a matter of fact, is related to human 
dignity only insofar as it involves empathy. Then, says Leo 
XIII, "It neither connotes pride in the giver nor inflicts shame 
on the one who receives. The disposition to ask assistance from 
others with confidence, and to grant it with kindness, is part of 
our very nature."*^ 

The spirit of empathy and understanding, the reverence for 
human dignity, which is an essential part of charity and love 
for the poor, is a value in itself: one of the prime sources of 
human enrichment, and a marvelous example of the way in 
which Divine Providence draws good out of evil. For the spirit 
of empathy implied in a true love of the poor, as Pope Pius 
XI points out in a memorable passage, goes far beyond the 
simple alleviation of physical want: 

But even though a state of things be pictured in which 
every man receives at last all that is his due, a wide field 
will nevertheless remain open for charity. For justice alone, 
even though most faithfully observed, can remove indeed 
the cause of social strife, but can never bring about a union 
of hearts and minds. Yet this union, binding men together, 
is the main principle of stability in all institutions, no matter 
how perfect they may seem, which aim at establishing social 
peace and promoting mutual aid.'^ 



The Responsibility of Church and Synagogue 99 

Thus it is necessary not only to reshape our attitudes toward 
the notion of poverty, but to regear our involvement with the 
poor. We have had sufficient conversation about the dignity of 
man; what is required of us, as religious institutions, is to be- 
come involved with the man whose dignity we preach. 

We need to ask ourselves whether our institutions have 
abandoned the poor, both formally and symbolically. Do we 
seek energetically to find the poor? To serve them? To become 
one with them? Or are we, as institutions, becoming as middle- 
class as the majority of our people? 

Moreover, our institutions must be concerned not only with 
the people they formally serve, but also with the neighborhoods 
in which they are located. For a church, a synagogue, a school, 
or a hospital is not merely an institution— it is a religious insti- 
tution. It is a symbol — an image, if you will — of religion and of 
God. The religious institution which remains aloof from its 
neighborhood, and whose administrators do not involve them- 
selves with the aspirations, causes, and organizations of the 
neighborhood, are by virtue of their symbolic role denying God 
in that neighborhood. This is as true of an orphanage, for 
instance, which does not normally serve the immediate neigh- 
borhood, as it is true of a settlement house. 

Finally, we need to beware of the trap of putting religion 
in the role of a tool toward better race relations. As religious 
men, we reject racial intolerance not primarily because we are 
useful in removing it, but because it is a denial of the God of 
Israel. It is the people of God who alone bear the responsibility 
for racial intolerance. This is an awesome responsibility. 
Neither the Jew nor the Ghristian can escape it. He can only 
fulfill it, or fail at it; and failing at it, he bears false witness 
not only to his neighbor, but to God. 



100 VERY REV. MSGR. JOHN J. EGAN 



NOTES 

1. For a thorough discussion of the impact of the Spencerian 
thesis on America, see Richard Hofstadter, Social Darwinism 
in American Thought (American Historical Association, 
1944); also available in a revised paperback edition: Beacon 
Press, 1955. For a trenchant criticism of Spencerian views by 
a native American philosopher who was hardly in the tradition 
of conservative theology, see "Lecture One" in William 
James, Pragmatism (Meridian Books edition, 1955), esp. p. 
24 ff. 

2. Essays, II, 56, cited in Hofstadter, ibid. (Beacon Press edi- 
tion), p. 57. 

3. Politics, Bk. VI, Ch. 5 (1320a, 28-40). 

4. John Higham, Strangers in the Land (Rutgers University 
Press, 1955). Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted (Atlantic — Little 
Brown, 1951). 

5. Martin Buber, essay on "Herman Cohen," The Writings of 
Martin Buber, ed. Will Herberg (Meridian Books, 1956), p. 
103. 

6. Leo XIII, encyclical letter "Christian Democracy" (Graves 
de Communi), Jan. 13, 1901, par. 16, Paulist Press edition. 

7. Pius XI, encyclical letter, "Reconstructing the Social Order," 
(Quadragesimo Anno), May 15, 1931, p. 137, America Press 
edition. 



Relation of Church and Synagogue 
to Other Community Forces 

Rabbi Morris Adler 



The theme of this paper deals with several of the new 
dimensions of tension and dilemma in which organized religion 
finds itself involved, as it seeks to sustain itself in a free and 
pluralistic society. To be sure tension is nothing new to religion. 
It may even be said to be the condition most congenial to its 
growth and vitality. Tensions inhere in religion and stimulate 
that dynamism of restless quest which its most creative spirits 
reflect. The peace that is sometimes spoken of as the harbor and 
goal of religious striving is marked neither by quiescence nor 
inertness. It is rather a glimpse into or a calming recognition 
of an effulgent wholeness which embraces without resolving the 
polarities of religion's tensions. 

When the prophet described himself as a "man of strife and 
a man of contention to the whole earth," he was referring to his 
relations with his contemporaries. His words, however, describe 
just as truly the inner stresses under which the man of religion 
lives, and help to suggest the fierce inquietude which subsisted 
at the center of the prophet's life. The Talmud observes that 
the man of religious feeling and learning will experience rest 
neither in this world nor in the world beyond. Immortality 

lOI 



102 RABBI MORRIS ADLER 

would be a doubtful boon were it merely to substitute for physi- 
cal death, that inert tranquility which approaches spiritual 
death. The incessant and futile attempt to bridge the unbridge- 
able, absolute gap between God and man; the agonizing yearn- 
ing for the divine, a yearning which can never know fulfillment 
or satiety; the inexpressible that one senses which cannot be 
communicated and yet clamors for expression; the contrasting 
claims of reason and faith; the universal out-reaching midst the 
embodiments of one's tradition in numerous particularities; 
the eternity that knocks at the windowpanes of the moment 
one occupies in history; the consciousness of one's mortality 
coupled with one's hunger for everlasting life; the ultimates to 
which religion bids us raise our eyes and the urgencies which 
crowd us at every move; the grace of inherited forms and the 
creative need for the freshness of new responses — these con- 
stitute part of that unceasing inquietude which the religious 
enterprise stimulates. 

A faith which seeks to dissolve this perpetual restlessness by 
eliminating one or another of the elements in tension not alone 
shallows the deeps and reduces the intensity of the religious 
experience, but also may be said to pervert it. The opposing ele- 
ments in the tension are needed for the completeness of a faith 
which aims to embrace all of life as well as for the correction of 
any tendency to an exclusive emphasis which would do violence 
to the multifaceted character of human needs and capacities, 
for, as Emerson said in another connection, while each is a great 
half, it might be an impossible whole. These dilemmas integral 
to the nature of the genuine religious experience are increasecj, 
as we have said, in the case of religious bodies functioning in a 
democratic order. The three new stresses to which we will here 
make reference are implied in three divisions of the subject, 
namely, the relation of religion to voluntary groups in society, 
relationships between religious groups, and lastly, relationships 



Relation of Church and Synagogue 103 

on the part of religious groups to government and political 
forces. 

Religion in our free society is surrounded by a secularity 
which dominates substantial areas of that society. No longer is 
church or synagogue set in a climate of universal acceptance of 
fundamental religious attitudes and beliefs. However the reli- 
gious of Western civilization differed among themselves, they 
were in agreement upon such basic ideas as the existence of 
God, Whose Will governs the world and Whose reality is the 
foundation of all moral law; the divine imprint which gives 
man his most authentic character; the unity of mankind which 
in the long run is more decisive than the conflicts and divisive- 
ness which now fragmentize it; the moral purpose underlying 
the social order. The authority of religion, at least in the realm 
of theory, informed society, however far behind that theory it 
habitually lagged in practice. This condition persisted till mod- 
ern times. But then there "arose a new king . . . who knew not 
Joseph," and religion was removed from its social predom- 
inance. The assumptions of religion are not explicit or acknowl- 
edged in the cultural and intellectual life outside of it. Its views 
of life and of man are no longer the common heritage of society. 
Man has, as Joseph Wood Krutch expresses it in his The Mod- 
ern Temper, "put off his royal robes." The temper of modern 
life is secular. This secularity is not so much an ideology as a 
fact; not so much a rationale as a force, enabling America to be 
at once, as Reinhold Niebuhr points out, both secular and 
pious. 

We are not here dealing with a secularism which is a philos- 
ophically organized denial of religious premises and concepts 
and which functions in the life of its faithful as a religion of 
anti-religion. The secularity we have reference to is the product 
of a complex of historic factors which have united to bring the 
modern period into being and which have helped shape it. It 



104 RABBI MORRIS ABLER 

is the common ground of those who are members of one of the 
diverse rehgious creeds of our society and those who are aflRH- 
ated with none. It is independent, certainly in its palpable and 
overt forms of religious motivations and imperatives. It does 
not take the position of embattled repudiation or explicit 
denial. It is neutral not because its believes in the equal validity 
of the options of religion and non-religion, but because it does 
not invoke either the forms or doctrines of faith. Many of the 
most influential centers of power and authority in a free society 
operate in just such an atmosphere of neutrality, in which reli- 
gion as a recognized and affirmed commitment is wholly 
absent. One may trace streams of rehgious influence that, in 
greater or lesser measure, have entered these institutions of 
secularity, but these streams now flow on such a deep subter- 
ranean level that they go unobserved even by those who are the 
beneficiaries of their enriching impact. Such powerful and in- 
dispensable agencies as government, the press, public educa- 
tion, industry, labor are instances of a secularity which in their 
essentials do not reflect a religious character. 

The dilemma is bold and vivid. Religion which seeks to 
interpenetrate all of life with its truths and values must not 
only do its work in an area apparently unclaimed by religious 
commitment, but must relate itself negatively or positively to 
a wide-ranging secularity. The dilemma is whether it should 
turn its back upon this broad arena of human interest and en- 
deavor and read itself out of the crucial and powerful centers 
of effectiveness or should it cooperate with the secular arms of 
society and run the risk by such cooperation of implying that 
religion is not a prime necessity for the performance of good 
acts and the promotion of moral policies. 

A second dilemma born of the new circumstances of modern 
life is that raised by the presence of many differing religions in 
a free society. Religions as we have known them in the Western 
world are the bearers of an absolute idea. They view themselves 



Relation of Church and Synagogue 105 

as charting the way to salvation, the secret of which has been 
entrusted to them alone. They address themselves to the ulti- 
mate questions of life with such an inflexible intensity of con- 
viction about the vahdity of their answers as to confer upon 
them undupHcated singularity. Absolute truths are after all 
non-negotiable and he who holds to them, limits the area of 
dialogue and denies a basis of parity. Contending absolutes 
leave no room for mutual accommodation. Yet the sovereign 
facts of life in a free society force upon religion the inescapable 
necessity of recognizing de facto if not de jure the presence of 
other creeds with equally insistent claims to authority and ab- 
soluteness. To fuse one's convictions of theological exclusive- 
ness with the practice of a broad social inclusiveness touching 
other religious orientations represents a new challenge for 
which the historic experience of the faiths of the Western world 
has not prepared him. The contingencies of past history have 
either allowed them to be dominant and established in a given 
period or subordinate and suppressed. They have not had the 
opportunity (would any say "the misfortune"?) of living on a 
basis of social equality with other faiths. How does one resolve 
a dilemma, one of the horns of which is a theory of absolute 
right and the other an interaction which in conferring equality 
on many faiths implies or seems to imply the relativity of each 
of them? 

A third dilemma is crystallized by the tripartite formulation 
of our subject. How does religion relate itself to government 
and the political life in a free society: For in a democracy, gov- 
ernment is not a Caesar apart from and over us, but a collec- 
tivity of which we are a constituent. However imperfectly the 
political machinery serves as an instrument of "we the people," 
there is present a corrective for the perversion of the power that 
belongs to the people, and this constitutes a distinguishing 
characteristic of the free society. 

But in more immediate ways we are involved in the work 



106 RABBI MORRIS ADLER 

and activity of government. Government today not alone 
reaches into those areas in which it gives poHtical and social 
expression to values long cherished by religion (such as human 
welfare, human dignity, peace, equality, justice), but also by 
its pervasiveness colors the entire climate of society. Govern- 
ment today is far more than a political instrumentality. It helps 
give unity and direction to the group-life of its people and in- 
deed in many instances to their life as individuals. 

What should be the relation of religion to the political life 
of its times? This is not an identical problem with that sug- 
gested by the terms Church and State. American tradition and 
law oppose the harnessing in any formal way of the machin- 
ery with the institutions of religion or with the public or private 
exercise of religion by an adherent of religion. This does not 
mean the removal of religion from the public domain. For 
religion is more than a cult, an agency, an institution. Its un- 
restricted scope is suggested by the comment of Dr. William 
Temple, the late Archbishop of Canterbury, that "it is a great 
mistake to suppose that God is only or even mainly concerned 
with religion." Religion is a system of concepts about life and 
the nature of man — a complex of sensitivities, a bearer of a 
divine mandate and a fellowship of men dedicated to a purpose 
in history and beyond history. It places or should place these 
ideas and purposes above its institutional interests and con- 
cerns. This dynamic purposefulness will not permit it to in- 
sulate itself behind the ramparts of its formalism and stay aloof 
from the currents of our time. Yet to enter these currents ex- 
poses it to many hazards. There is a degree of involvement 
beyond which it may not venture, since in its entanglement 
with the immediacies it may become estranged from ultimates. 
Politics by its very nature is concerned with expendiencies, with 
the possible rather than the good, the urgent rather than the 
important, the popular rather than the ideal. Prudence and 



Relation of Church and Synagogue 107 

compromise are attributes of political life, and not improperly 
so. Can religion enter the political realm and not be infected 
by that which, though it is acceptable and even proper in 
political action, is fatal when absorbed into the religious life? 
If religion is to be effective, it must be involved. If it becomes 
involved, it may cease to be religion and become yet another 
pressure group. Here we have the third of the dilemmas which 
our subject highlights. 

A detailed program is beyond the scope of this paper. We 
limit ourselves to some of the cautions and restraints which 
should guide religion as it enters the public arena in which 
voluntary secular organizations and the government function 
and as it relates itself to other faiths, impelled as it is by an 
earnest desire to advance in some degree in contemporary social 
life the purposes which it projects for all history and all man- 
kind. 

For involve itself, religion must, else it will remain neutral 
in crucial areas which so desperately need something of its 
passion, perspective and purpose and will become increasingly 
irrelevant in an age aquiver with apprehension and confounded 
by perplexity. It may mean abandoning society to haphazard 
influences of social circumstance and political contingency. It 
may have an even worse consequence in that its abdication may 
contribute to the development of a civic religion which by the 
standards of the Judeo-Christian tradition can only be ac- 
counted as a modern idolatry. 

It can be maintained with much force that no society is 
secular. Every society inherits or fashions a religion. A non- 
religionist like John Dewey speaks of "A Common Faith" 
emerging out of the structure and pursuits of American society. 
Its forms are presently borrowed from the dominant Christian 
faiths in our country. But even as it appropriates these forms 
it is disassociating them from their original traditional context 



108 RABBI MORRIS ABLER 

of ideas and values. What is happening to Christmas is only 
the most dramatic symptom of an entire process. Between the 
invocations with which we begin and the benedictions with 
which we close many of our public functions, the sessions of 
Congress and the legislatures of our several states, are programs 
of activities which are untouched by the religious frame in 
which they are formally set. They are basically non-religious in 
substance and quality despite their obeisance to a religious 
form. 

Where the ultimates are business or the state or an economic 
system or a political party or any phase of life which true 
religion views as relative, the end result must be idolatry. The 
civic religion of the Roman empire was the worship of the 
Roman emperor. While a civic religion need not become em- 
bodied in a state or an established church, it must perforce 
lead to a deification of the collective purposes, ideals and other 
relativities of its society and its age. In a transitional period, 
since symbols are not easily improvised, the civic religion may 
lean for these on the historic religions. The content of the 
Judeo-Christian tradition becomes muted, even though its 
external forms are stressed and imposed upon public life. It 
becomes more important to put up a creche in a public place 
than to teach and interpret the doctrine of Incarnation. It 
seems to be a paradox, yet it is nonetheless sober fact, that the 
multiplication of prayers and observances taken into our public 
life from historic religions may represent both a dilution of 
and a substitution for the religions from which they were 
adopted. Unheralded are the doctrines which give substance 
and meaning to the forms. Eliminated are the deeply rooted 
particularities of experience, belief and mood which give to 
religious expression its passion and vitality. 

Hence I believe it to be of singular importance that the his- 
toric religious traditions of America enjoy high visibility on 



Relation of Church and Synagogue 109 

the scene of America's social strivings, struggles and planning. 
The effect as I see it will be twofold. First it will check the 
growth of a civic non-denominational, non-traditional religion 
which must inevitably culminate in a national idolatry. Sec- 
ondly, I believe that it will reinforce the effort to establish 
racial justice, for example, with an authority and an impetus 
no non-religious institution can equal. One of the painful 
ironies of our time is that religion, whose social concerns flow 
from deep sources of belief and commitment, has not been in 
the vanguard of the fight for racial justice. A few years ago. 
Dean Liston Pope of the Yale University Divinity School 
spoke these words, "The Church has lagged behind the Su- 
preme Court as the conscience of the nation on the question 
of race and it has fallen far behind trade unions, factories, 
schools, department stores, athletic gatherings and most other 
major human associations, as far as the achievement of inte- 
gration in its own life is concerned." 

Even the adherents of religion often feel that it is necessary 
to work through secular agencies to achieve desirable social 
goals since their own Church organizations have either con- 
tented themselves with innocuous pronouncements or have 
not evidenced any concern at all. Religion should welcome the 
support of every secular group whose motivations are sincere 
and whose social goals coincide with its own. There is a pro- 
found sense in which nothing human is secular. But even as 
religion enters into such a partnership, it should not relinquish 
its role as a critic, since in perspective and purpose it ranges far 
beyond the immediate goals. For religion, the achievement of 
racial justice is not an element in a foreign policy, a factor mak- 
ing for a good image abroad; or the fulfillment of the implica- 
tions of a political system or doctrine, nor yet the price for 
domestic tranquillity. It represents an objective transcending 
all these. It is part of a program that is grounded in a cosmic 



110 RABBI MORRIS ADLER 

scheme of things, arising out of a mandate of God to man. It 
should impart to its partnership with secular agencies the assur- 
ance and the compelling power of a divine imperative which 
animates the believer. 

Recognizing a judgment above and beyond history, religion 
can deepen our social programs with the vision and insight that 
derive from it. Religion's solicitude embraces not only the vic- 
tim of racial injustice but also its perpetrator. It can thus with- 
out sacrificing intensity and resolve help make our social strug- 
gle one that not only combats evil but upholds and articulates 
the larger good. Religion can focus upon the social scene the 
wholeness which Martin Buber intimated is lacking when he 
said, "Individualism understands only a part of man, collec- 
tivism understands man only as a part. Individualism sees man 
only in relation to himself— but collectivism does not see man 
at all; it sees society." Religion by working alongside of secular 
agencies devoted to racial justice need not be reduced to the 
status of an agency or a social work program, as long as it holds 
before it the high sights of its own purpose and nature. Religion 
is more widely professed than respected among us. Can it truly 
hope for the respect of modern men if it affirms in rhetoric the 
dignity of man and is blind in fact to the misery of man? If 
there are dangers to religion in its alliance with the variety of 
secular agencies working in the field of racial justice, it seems 
to me there is greater danger to it if it refrains from such 
cooperation. 

Religion however must be armed not only with resolve and 
faith but what may be equally essential in this context— the 
rich and sovereign quality of humility. William Temple once 
remarked that on some social questions religious people have 
no more reliable judgment than atheists. There are technical 
matters involving the knowledge of facts for which faith, how- 
ever pure and lofty, cannot be a substitute. Religion must 



Relation of Church and Synagogue 111 

therefore realize its limitations and speak with proper diffi- 
dence on many occasions. It must not throw the full weight of 
its claims and prestige to a detail of a program which was in all 
likelihood not contained in any divine revelation which it en- 
joyed. Religion is often likely to win a degree of respect for its 
reserve that it could never win by any pretension to undeserved 
authority or omniscience. 

We have alluded to the dilemma with which the diversity 
of the religious life of a free society confronts each of the faiths 
comprising that diversity. The problem succintly put is how a 
religion can retain its sense of theological uniqueness and yet 
work with other religions in the concord which can be main- 
tained only through a recognition of equality. It may not be 
possible to resolve this dilemma in theory. But there is a syn- 
thesis which life rather than philosophy can effect. Joint efforts 
can take place without a theoretic resolution of the dilemma. 
Whitehead once pointed out that a contradiction may be fatal 
in logic and yet operate in life with creative power. As religions 
work side by side in the common cause of racial justice, psycho- 
logical forces will be released which will not overthrow the 
theological doctrine of uniqueness but by a miracle of the 
human spirit overcome it as a barrier to cooperative enterprise. 
The existence of the doctrine does not weaken the mutuality 
which grows out of joint endeavor, participated in by men of 
diverse faiths. Since religion accepts responsibility for social 
betterment, it must realize that this responsibility can best be 
discharged by the pooling of the religious strength of the land. 
The logic of life in a free society is that theological apartness 
need not be accompanied by social ghettoization and untouch- 
ability. 

The story is told that during World War II a Commanding 
Officer in receiving a new Chaplain assigned to his base, said, 
"Chaplain, you take charge of their souls, I'll take over every- 



112 RABBI MORRIS ADLER 

thing else." The Commanding Officer, it is hoped, knew more 
of mihtary organization and strategy than he did of rehgion, 
the nature of man or of hfe. The rigidity of division of function 
which he sought to impose on his Chaplain broke down the 
first time he issued an order to his men. For it is obvious that 
what he thought of the souls of men would not only determine 
the way he spoke to them, but also how he would treat their 
bodies. A Chaplain who, when asking of one of the G.I.'s in his 
charge "how are you?" would refer only to the state of their 
souls, would render himself incapable of understanding their 
spiritual needs. The ways in which we earn our livelihood in- 
fluence deeply the spiritual life we lead. An economy reflects 
and imposes a value-system, a moral code — I almost said a 
theology. I have already mentioned the ever widening scope 
of governmental activity. It legislates for and supervises a far 
vaster portion of our common and individual life than ever 
before. It renders decisions and organizes programs which em- 
body ethical values and principles. Social projects and policies 
have moral consequences. Religion without claiming special 
privilege in the arena of public and political aflfairs should not 
on the other hand suffer a disenfranchisement in a free society 
which is not demanded of any other voluntary collectivity. Re- 
ligious belief does not make one less of a citizen and when be- 
lieving citizens are joined in a believing body, they should not 
be deprived, nor ought they deprive themselves of their in- 
alienable rights to participate in the normal processes of dis- 
cussion, political action and pressure. 

Secondly, religion in the fulfillment of its own nature should 
bring to bear upon the social ills and needs of our time its 
unique concern, sensitivity, and experience. Here too, as in the 
other relationships we have discussed, religion should wisely 
practice a number of proper and necessary restraints. I have 
already indicated that it should not seek preferment in any 



Relation of Church and Synagogue 113 

form. It should avoid any appearance of seeking control. In 
favoring any type of social program, it must not expect nor 
should it receive, immunity from criticism and opposition 
which are part of the "free trade of ideas" in a democracy. It 
must never, in dealing with a specific issue or problem, draw its 
ecclesiastical robes about it and shout "Sanctuary" when it is 
challenged or refuted. But far and beyond all this it must not 
abdicate its role as a critic of the illusions, inadequacies, and 
errors of the political life of its times. It should not seek to 
impose upon a society comprising diverse faiths and viewpoints, 
laws which mirror only its own specific doctrinal beliefs and 
principles. Its universality must come into full play even when 
it acts in its capacity as a particular church or religious body. 
Its public stance must not only derive from its general religious 
orientation but also from the study and knowledge of con- 
temporary life and of the particular issue on which it expresses 
itself in word and action. I can visualize no type of customary 
and legitimate action in the sphere of political life which is to 
be denied to organized religion short of promoting the can- 
didacy of a particular candidate. Its responsibility is to ideas 
and ideals; to the humanization of our technological society, 
to the enhancement of human welfare and to those principles 
of justice and truth which government no less than other 
agencies should seek to embody and advance. 

There are no limits to the sacrifice and devotion which those 
whose ultimate loyalty is to God can attain. When religion 
draws upon its own deepest resources, it will not stop in its 
pursuit of the right even when its prestige, safety, institutions 
or its very life are endangered. It can have no vested interest in 
its struggle for justice other than in the truths it affirms and 
the purposes to which it is dedicated. It will be awed neither by 
majority opinion, governmental power, or the resignation of 
many of its own adherents. It will speak out though the voices 



114 RABBI MORRIS ABLER 

of others have been muted, and will act when fear has paralyzed 
university, press, and every other secular agency. It will not 
hesitate to stand alone midst torrents of enmity and scorn. That 
religion can act in this heroic manner in the midst of the great- 
est peril and the darkest crisis is evidenced by the testimony of 
one who himself was not a faithful communicant. Albert Ein- 
stein wrote these words— "Only the Church stood squarely 
across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing the truth. 
I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church has 
had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth 
and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once 
despised, I now praise unreservedly." 

No preachment or doctrinal exposition will as fully reveal to 
our time the scope and power of religion as this capacity for 
independence and commitment in the midst of contingencies 
and relativities, which no other phase of life can in equal meas- 
ure manifest. To fulfill this singular potentiality is both the 
responsibility and privilege of religion. 



PART V 



Perspectives on the Challenge 



Interracial Justice and Love: 
Challenge to a Religious America 

Albert Cardinal Meyer 
J. Irwin Miller 

Dr. Julius Mark 

Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, New York City 
President of the Synagogue Council of America 

The great religious communions of our country— Catholic, 
Protestant and Jewish— have affirmed on many occasions their 
conviction that all men are created in the image of God and 
are equally regarded as His children by our Heavenly Father. 
They have expressed their abhorrence of every form of prejudice 
and bigotry on the grounds of differences in racial background. 
They have vigorously condemned as evil and unjust discrimina- 
tion in employment, housing, schooling, transportation and the 
use of public facilities which have been established to serve the 
entire community. 

Now the three major religious bodies of our country have 
come together to speak out with one voice, in the name of the 
one God Whom we all worship, in an effort to impress not 
only our own congregants but the entire American people with 

117 



118 DR. JULIUS MARK 

the urgent necessity of translating into daily practice the noble 
concepts of human equality which we have many times indi- 
vidually proclaimed. 

The equality of all men is a basic principle of the American 
way of life. The Declaration of Independence proclaims that 
"all men are created equal" and "are endowed by their Creator 
with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, 
Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." The Emancipation 
Proclamation, issued by the immortal Abraham Lincoln a cen- 
tury ago on the first of this month, outlaws human slavery and 
the famed Supreme Court decision of 1954 declares unconstitu- 
tional the practice of segregation of the races in schools main- 
tained by the people. 

Laws enacted by legislative assemblies are, to be sure, impor- 
tant. Their mere passage, however, is not enough. The wide- 
spread resistance to these man-made laws in the North as well 
as the South— we must not forget that our problem is not 
sectional, but national— is a challenge to all of us who believe 
in God's Fatherhood and man's brotherhood to stress and 
proclaim anew the higher, God-made laws proclaiming the 
precious worth of every human being and at the same time to 
humbly confess our failure to implement them in our own 
lives. 

It appears to me that if we are to make a meaningful and 
concrete contribution to the resolution of the shameful and 
humiliating condition known by the evil word "racism," we 
must first have a clearer concept of the relation of religion to 
the social, political, educational and economic problems of life. 
Is religion a way of looking at certain things or is it a certain 
way of looking at all things? To some, religion either by defini- 
tion or by the way they react to life's problems, is a way of 
looking at certain things. To them religion's sole or principal 
function is to be concerned with such matters as God, church 



Interracial Justice and Love 119 

attendance, retreats, ceremonials, observance of Holy Days and 
festivals, immortality, sin, repentance, and so forth. They 
maintain that areas and problems such as business, industry, 
race relations, slums, poverty, child labor, social security, social 
justice, civil rights, segregation are all outside the purview of 
religion. To them religion has no relevance to everyday living. 
They would agree with the 19th century statesman who re- 
marked: "Things have come to a pretty pass if religion is going 
to interfere with private life." They lustily sing "God is in His 
Holy Temple" and then make sure that He remains within the 
confines of the saijctuary instead of taking Him with them into 
the highways and byways of everyday living. 

There are others, however, who insist that while prayer, 
ritual and ceremony play an important role in religious living, 
these by no means constitute the totality of religion. To them, 
religion in its truest and finest sense is a certain way, based 
upon man's awareness of God and God's requirements of His 
children, of looking at all things. For them religion is only 
partly concerned with enabling souls to enter heaven. Its 
principal purpose is to help create a little more heaven on earth 
for all the children of God as taught by the prophets of the 
Bible. That is why the prophets preached against corrupt 
politics, land monopoly, social injustice, racial bigotry, na- 
tional arrogance. Micah summed up his concept of religion in 
the famed utterance wherein he declared that walking humbly 
with God constitutes just one-third of our Heavenly Father's 
requirements of man. The other two-thirds consist of doing 
justly and loving mercy. 

It is, of course, one thing to proclaim lofty teachings which 
envisage a society wherein all human beings live together as 
brothers. It is quite something else to implement these prin- 
ciples of simple justice. When a priest, minister or rabbi exer- 
cises his right, as a teacher of religion, to denounce not alone 



120 DR. JULIUS MARK 

evil but evil-doers and speaks out forthrightly in defense of 
those who are denied the elementary rights which belong to all 
human beings, he is likely to share the experience of Amos, who 
was told in so many words by Amaziah, the priest of Beth-El: 
"Go peddle your radicalism somewhere else, where the over- 
head isn't so high." 

In the minds of many laymen— and some ministers of reli- 
gion—there appears to be a dichotomy between religion and 
life. They insist that preachers confine themselves to purely 
"religious" matters, which have little or nothing to do with the 
practical affairs of life. Several years ago a young rabbi expressed 
both amusement and sadness when he learned that an impor- 
tant member of his congregation vigorously objected to a pas- 
sage in one of his sermons wherein he expressed svmpathy for a 
young Negro who had been brutally murdered by a mob. His 
congregant objected on the grounds that his rabbi "had no 
business mentioning politics" in his sermon. The pulpit of this 
rabbi, by the way, is not in Mississippi or in some other South- 
ern communty, but in enlightened California. Basically, race 
prejudice is not a political or an economic problem but a moral 
and religious problem. 

We must make it crystal clear that while we are all uncom- 
promisingly loyal to our respective religious convictions, prac- 
tices and ceremonials, we are united as sons and daughters of 
Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism in our equally uncom- 
promising affirmation that God "hath made of one blood all 
nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts 
17:26), and that all human beings are descended from one 
common ancestor, proving thereby that no man is racially 
superior or inferior to his fellowman. Created in the image of 
the Divine, all men enjoy equal spiritual dignity. They are 
entitled to the same rights and upon all alike devolve the same 
responsibilities. 



Interracial Justice and Love 121 

It is well known that proponents of racism and segregation 
have quoted the Bible to prove the existence of superior and 
inferior races as a manifestation of God's will. Thus, shortly 
before the outbreak of the Civil War a distinguished rabbi of 
New York City, Morris J. Raphall, delivered a scholarly address 
which brought comfort to believers in human slavery. Rabbi 
Raphall was only one of numerous ministers of religion 
throughout the centuries and even to our day who pointed to 
many biblical ordinances and laws as evidence that the Bible 
condones slavery. That the Bible also condones polygamy 
seemed to have escaped their notice. The fact is that a great 
many customs and practices to be found in the Bible merely 
reflect the mores of ancient society. Rabbi Raphall's far more 
scholarly contemporary, Rabbi David Einhorn, then of Balti- 
more, was forced to flee from his city when a mob threatened 
him with lynching after he had called slavery "the greatest 
possible crime against God." 

The fact is that the Bible, while recognizing slavery, con- 
stantly tries to humanize the institution. Thus, while as late 
as 1854 the Congress of the United States passed a law making 
it mandatory to restore fugitive slaves to their master, the book 
of Deuteronomy (23:16-17) commands 

Thou shalt not deliver unto his master a slave that is escaped 
from his master. He shall dwell with thee ... in the place 
which he shall choose within one of thy gates, where it liketh 
him best; thou shalt not wrong him. 

Even more significant is the experience of Miriam, sister of 
Moses, as recounted in the book of Numbers (12:1-9), when 
she and Aaron "spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian 
woman whom he had married." She is punished by being 
stricken with leprosy. Aaron pleads with Moses that she be 
forgiven. Moses prays to God on her behalf and after seven 
days she is healed. 



122 DR. JULIUS MARK 

Like all peoples, ancient and modern alike, the Hebrews of 
Biblical times regarded themselves as the chosen of God. As 
proof of their superiority, they would point to their miraculous 
deliverances from Egypt by God's mighty hand an outstretched' 
arm. The prophet Amos reminds his people that all races and 
peoples are equally loved by God when he cries: "Are ye not 
as the Ethiopians unto Me, O children of Israel? saith the 
Lord" (9:7) . Yes, God brought Israel out of Egypt, but he also 
brought the Philistines out of Caphtor and the Syrians out of 
Kir. 

The glorious and undying message of the book of Jonah is 
oft obscured in the minds of many by reason of the unimpor- 
tant and inconsequential incident of the whale or, as the story 
has it, the "great fish" which God had especially prepared. 
Jonah is commanded by God to journey to Nineveh, "that great 
city," and plead with the people to mend their ways lest they 
be destroyed by the corruption and wickedness into which they 
had fallen. The prophet flatly refuses to obey God's command, 
boards a ship and begins his journey westward toward Tarshish 
rather than eastward in the direction of Nineveh. Why? Be- 
cause he feels himself superior to the people of Nineveh, has no 
pity for them and is quite content for them to be destroyed. 
Whereupon God again orders him to go to Nineveh and this 
time he obeys. He preaches to the people and mirabile dictu, 
they hearken to him, repent and are saved from destruction. 

Now one might think that the prophet would have rejoiced 
over his successful preaching mission. But not Jonah! He is 
exceedingly displeased and downright angry over the outcome, 
even to the point of wishing that he were dead. Then he is 
again filled with anger when a gourd which God had caused to 
grow out of the earth to shield him from the sun withers the 
next morning. The sublime lesson of God's concern for all His 
children, whatever be their race or creed or nationality, is driven 
home in the last two sentences of the book of Jonah. 



Interracial Justice and Love 123 

And the Lord said: "Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for 
which thou hast not labored, neither madest it grow, which 
came up in a night and perished in a night; shouldst thou 
not have pity on Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more 
than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between 
their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle? 

In view of its significant and enduring challenge to human- 
kind throughout the ages and even to our own times, it is not 
surprising that the ancient Rabbis ordained that the book of 
Jonah should be read in all Synagogues on the Day of Atone- 
ment, the most sacred Holy Day in the Jewish religious calen- 
dar, a practice which is observed to this very day. 

Racial discrimination has been defined as "the unjust separa- 
tion of people from things and circumstances" and segregation 
as "the immoral separation of people from people" (Kyle 
Haselden ) . Many organizations are dedicated to breaking down 
the cruel walls and barriers which divide people from people. 
They demand that the right to vote, to equal educational 
opportunities, to equal employment opportunities and to ade- 
quate housing shall be denied to no man on account of differ- 
ence in race. In this battle to build a society and a world in 
which the dignity of every human beings is jealousy guarded 
and the equality of all men taken for granted, the forces of 
religion, if they are true to their purpose, must, both by precept 
and example, be in the forefront— leading and not following, 
courageously fulfilling their prophetic mission of being the 
conscience of humankind. 



124 ALBERT CARDINAL MEYER 



Albert Cardinal Meyer 

Archbishop of Chicago 

At the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclama- 
tion we find ourselves seized with the nation's unfinished busi- 
ness. We have not yet completely bridged a deep cleft that two 
centuries of slave economy have inflicted upon our society. The 
deepest cleft, the distance between master and slave, was not 
just the distance between the rich and the poor, between the 
civilized and uncivilized, the learned and the unlearned, the 
fortunate and the unfortunate. The gulf that separated master 
and slave under the regime abolished by President Lincoln's 
proclamation was none other than the difference between 
human personality, with all its rights and privileges, and the 
condition of a being — human in appearance, form, emotion and 
spiritual capacities — but totally deprived of any inherent rights, 
or dignities save those which were gratuitously accorded to him 
by his master. 

It was the difference between a human being, however poor, 
however degraded, and that of a mere chattel. In many cases 
this being was honored, even loved, yet he remained stripped of 
those elementary rights which are the mark of our humanity 
itself. 



Interracial Justice and Love 125 

The history of Negro people in the United States in the 
hundred years that have elapsed between the Emancipation 
Proclamation and the present day is one of gradually and pain- 
fully shaking off persistent remnants of those shackles with 
which they were once shamefully bound. Great progress has 
been made. There exists today not a single vocation or profes- 
sion in the United States in which some men and women of 
the Negro people are not found. Yet despite all progress, the 
process of liberation remains partially unfulfilled. 

We do not need to travel to any particular part of our coun- 
try in order to verify the truth of the last assertion. We need 
only look at the racial problems which confront us in the cities 
of our Northeast, of the Great Lakes, and of the Far Western 
regions, to realize the extent of the work that still confronts 
us. The unresolved race question is indeed a pathological infec- 
tion in our social and political economy. It is also an obstacle to 
a right conscience before God. Our whole future as a nation 
and as a religious people may be determined by what we do 
about the race problem in the next few years. Careful and re- 
sponsible thinkers refer to racism as the core of many of our 
problems today. What we do about it is the ultimate test of our 
vaunted democratic way of life. More than this, however, it is 
the ultimate test of our understanding of Christianity, as ex- 
pressed in the words of the Divine Master: "By this will all 
men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one 
another" (John 13:35). 

This unfinished business, therefore, is the gravest kind of 
challenge to all who believe in a loving Creator, to all who 
honor His revelation through the ages, to all who feel a deep 
moral concern for the human person whose integrity He has 
committed to the conscience of the struggling human race. 
How can any of us claim to possess a deep love of the human 
family, and yet be unconcerned about prevailing racial atti- 



126 ALBERT CARDINAL MEYER 

tudes that directl\- militate against the family, and against its 
ven' existence as a basic institution of our human society? 

Nothing is more foolish or illogical than to take the difficulty 
or complexity of our unfinished business as an excuse for in- 
action. To take this attitude, would be, indeed, to tempt the 
Lord. Our Heavenlv Father Himself, so familiar with our in- 
consistencies and weaknesses, must wonder when He sees the 
almost infinite skill, resourcefulness and delicacy of operation 
by which our astronauts succeed in launching and guiding tiny 
capsules through boundless space; yet apparently we are unable 
to banish prejudice and gross ignorance and cruel racial injustice 
from our communities. 

On the contrar^•, the presence and the complexity of our 
difficulties are a call to action, to concrete and determined 
action. No action, however, can be divorced from the principles 
which inspire it. Indeed, in the words of the late Pope Pius XII: 
"There are occasions and times in which onlv recourse to high- 
er principles can establish clearlv the boundaries between right 
and wrong, betw^een what is law^ful and immoral, and bring 
peace to consciences faced with grave decisions." Let us, then, 
franklv acknowledge that we are dealing here with a moral and 
religious issue, as the Catholic Bishops of the United States 
said in their statement of 1958: "The heart of the race question 
is moral and religious." 

The Holy Bible, though it centers in the record of God's 
call to man and man's response to God, sheds a guiding light 
on the investigation of man's action in human societv and on 
the principles which must go\"ern all men in their human deal- 
ings with one another. Sacred Scripture, therefore, sheds white 
light on the principles of human relations. Men are equal in 
God's plan and all can participate in the fulness of His bless- 
ings. Human nature is to be fulfilled di^■inelv in membership in 
God's own family. This plan of God, as described in the Scrip- 



Interracial Justice and Love 127 

tures, is the gratuitous fulfillment of man. In it all men are 
called to an exalted, divine dignity, and all men are equally im- 
potent to fulfill themselves. God fulfills man, and men are to be 
united in charity as brothers in the family of God. In this light 
man's nature contains a potency for equality on the divine 
level, which consecrates a natural right to equality on the hu- 
man level. For the Christian, both in the Old and the New 
Covenants, God has envisioned the unity and equality of all 
men in His plan of salvation. 

I shall not attempt here to spell out the biblical passages 
which illustrate this statement. Suffice it to say that we are 
committed to the proposition that all men are equal in the 
sight of God; that is, they are created by God, and in the faith 
of Christian life, they are redeemed by His Divine Son; they 
are ennobled by the Law of God, and God desires them as His 
friends in the eternity of heaven. This fact confers upon all 
men human dignity and human rights. Men are unequal in 
talent and achievement; they differ in culture and personal 
characteristics. Some are saintly, some seem to be evil, most are 
men of good will, though beset with human frailty. On the 
basis of personal differences we may distinguish among our 
fellow-men, remembering always the admonition: "Let him 
who is without sin cast the first stone." But discrimination 
based on the accidental fact of race or color, regardless of per- 
sonal qualities or achievement, is as such injurious to human 
rights and cannot be reconciled with the truth that God has 
created all men with equal rights and equal dignity. 

It is easy to proclaim moral issues, but experience teaches us 
that mistaken or misguided attempts to deal with such issues 
can land us ultimately in a situation precisely the opposite of 
that first intended. 

Marxism and communism presented themselves originally 
as attempts to deal with grave moral problems that were raised 



128 ALBERT CARDINAL MEYER 

by a glaring inequality between the rich and the poor in a grow- 
ing nineteenth-century industrial civilization: by the grievous 
abuses created by the wealthy, powerful man's exploitation of 
the workingman and his toil, by shamefully inadequate wages, 
by wretched living conditions, and, in short, by the situation 
presented in a new type of master and slave. Yet the measures 
proposed resulted not in greater freedom for the individual or 
society but in the most brutal and absolute tyranny the human 
race has ever seen. 

So, too, in the field of interracial relations. White Citizens' 
Councils, Black Muslims movements, and all such separatist 
efforts lead not to man discovering his own true nobility, not to 
man raising his head in equality, but rather to man raising his 
fist in inequality, in terror, in demoralizing antagonism. 

But the business of religious leaders is not that of registering 
merely some kind of instinctive reaction against the grave dis- 
orders and injustices, the social and racial antagonisms that are 
growing up in our communities. Nor is it the business of merely 
uttering some kind of an eloquent protest, valuable as such a 
protest may be. Our great work is to lay the foundation for that 
kind of reaction which will achieve lasting benefits. It is the 
kind of action called for by Pope John XXI II in his memorable 
encyclical letter, Mater et Magistra, when he wrote: "It is not 
enough merely to publicize a social doctrine; it has to be trans- 
lated into action. This is particularly true of Christian social 
doctrine, whose light is truth, whose objective is justice, and 
whose driving force is love." What is needed is the kind of 
action which takes into account the whole nature of man, the 
demands of his personality, and the necessary integrity of his 
social institutions, and is determined to spare no effort that 
this personality and these institutions may be honored. Our 
homes, our hospitals, our professional organizations and prac- 
tices, our schools and colleges, our real estate operations, our 



Interracial Justice and Love 1 29 

police protection, in short all forms of public association and 
activity are involved. 

For this reason I point out now two massive questions which 
face us, and certain types of action which seem to me to be the 
most effective in order to handle them. The two particularly 
urgent, massive questions that face all who attempt to foresee 
the future of our large city communities are: first, the future of 
our urban youth in the matter of employment and training for 
useful, honorable careers, and, secondly, the vexed question of 
residential segregation, with all its implications in the field of 
home life, family morals, and community peace and friendship. 

We observe today an ever growing number of minority 
group youth who are dropping out of school at an alarming 
rate. In which direction are these young people headed? Are 
they to swell the ranks of those who congregate upon our street 
corners and are merged into the nameless mass of the dis- 
affected, discouraged, and criminal? Are they to be the ready 
victims of the narcotics peddler? 

Or are they to avail themselves of an ever growing demand 
for talent, in the field of technological employment? Are their 
talents to be salvaged, as the current phrase goes? 

Is there more that we can do to end unfair job discrimina- 
tion based on race, religion, national origin? Have we done all 
that we could even within our own institutions to open up 
employment opportunities to qualified minority group per- 
sonnel, to go out of our way to create incentive for those who 
need it most, and thus build up in youth a desire for learning 
and technical skills? 

Again we observe the spread of urban neighborhoods that 
have been abandoned by their former owners—either through 
fear of minority groups or various types of economic and social 
pressure. We see the consequent growth of the segregated 
Negro area, as the old neighborhoods are solidly populated by 



130 ALBERT CARDINAL MEYER 

Negroes. We know the tension, and sometimes violence, that 
accompanies this transition— and the difficulties of maintaining 
peace, law, and order in the community. 

Are we to continue to see fear and panic seize the white 
community in areas facing racial change? Will we see home- 
owners continue to yield to the professional manipulators of 
the panic button and to the ruthless blockbusters? 

Or can the force of religion be used more effectively to pre- 
pare for change, to help create community organizations which 
grow, not from fear, but from pride and stewardship over prop- 
erty, as well as from the spirit of neighborliness and openness 
to all who will maintain community standards? At the same 
time can religion help more effectively to establish the spirit 
and practice of open occupancy for an entire metropolitan area 
such as our own— because this is the only good atmosphere for 
our young people, white and Negro alike— and because this 
will relieve the pressures that generate panic, flight, and des- 
peration? 

The types of action which suggest themselves as most effec- 
tive are not something startlingly new or original. Rather, they 
represent a brief summary of what experience has already 
taught in the matter of race relations and interracial coopera- 
tion, and is most likely to lead to definite results in the near 
future. For, we are not dealing with abstract propositions, but 
with living, suffering, and hoping human beings; with parents 
and children, with husbands and wives, with the young and 
the aged, with the healthy and the sick, with old-line Amer- 
icans and recent immigrants. 

First of all, we have to work together. The problems that 
now confront us in our great cities are too manifold and too 
deep-rooted in human passions and misunderstandings for any 
one of our great religious bodies to deal with them alone. 

Certainly each of the many organizations represented in this 



Interracial Justice and Love 131 

conference can operate and should be expected to operate- 
wherever conditions permit — among those of one's own faith 
and spiritual allegiance. No one can honestly point to others 
for action if one's own record is incomplete. Nevertheless, this 
matter of combating racial prejudice and its bitter fruits, and 
of establishing a really integrated community is by its very 
nature a task for us all : not separately and alone, but jointly as 
well. To this common task each of us brings his own store of 
experience and wisdom. 

Indeed, I think it is only fair to expect that by our joint 
action we shall learn better to understand one another. There 
is no surer way for the various religious bodies who love a com- 
mon Father than to unite in studying and meeting our com- 
mon responsibilities and the needs of our troubled fellow 
citizens. 

For a similar reason a work of this kind should, it seems to 
me, be undertaken by the generous cooperation of all elements 
concerned: by the cooperation of the different racial groups 
quite as well as of the different faiths. A joint meeting such as 
that in which we are engaged would mean little if it were con- 
fined to the leaders of any one group or race. The Catholic 
Archdiocese of Chicago has undertaken to emphasize as funda- 
mental this principle of racial cooperation, through its various 
agencies and through its Catholic Interracial Council, where 
intelligent and public-spirited men and women unite in frank, 
across-the-board discussions of the sources of racial conflicts and 
the best way of dealing with them. 

The love of God, our heavenly Father, and the love of neigh- 
bor as a child of God cannot in action be a one-way street. 
Rather, love seeks a common footing and leads to joint efforts, 
in which mutual difficulties and obstacles are laid openly upon 
the table, and dealt with in a manner devoid of narrow self- 
interest or of timid human respect or mere political conniving. 



132 ALBERT CARDINAL MEYER 

It is difficult to exaggerate the critical nature of the present 
hour. I am not referring to the dangers from abroad, grievous 
as these are, but to the situation at home. 

Are the various racial groups to waste their energies and dis- 
locate the nation itself in a fruitless, hopeless struggle between 
despair on the one hand and unreasoned fear on the other? Or 
are we all, of every national or ethnic or racial origin, deter- 
mined to work together for the good of our communities and of 
our nation, and for the glory of our God and Father? 

The choice is ours: the responsibility of example and initia- 
tive falls upon the shoulders of our country's religious leaders. 

The unfinished business of the Emancipation Proclamation 
demands that we remove the last vestiges of injustice, legal 
inequality, and discrimination from our communities, our 
parishes, our schools and other public institutions. We shall 
not relax in that task until the work is completed, and the stain 
of racial inequality removed from our nation and our cities. 

But we can speak of unfinished business in a much deeper 
and wider sense, which is that of setting free the constructive, 
creative power of the Negro people of the country. It is a ques- 
tion not merely of avoiding and banishing racial injustices. Our 
goal is a much higher one: to set free, for the glory of God, as 
well as for the good of our nation and of the world, the gifts, 
the talents— as yet hardly plumbed— spiritual and cultural of 
all sections of our human community. Only God our Lord 
knows what spiritual forces are waiting to be released, if we 
have but the faith and the love to do. The coming of in- 
migrant or immigrant racial groups to our local communities 
often poses problems, but the problems are not agonizing and 
overwhelming if the newcomers are our brothers. The newcom- 
ers bear gifts, if we have the intelligence and the imagination 
to help them develop them. 

As you are well aware, it is my privilege to take part in the 



Interracial Justice and Love 133 

world-wide Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, that is meet- 
ing in Rome. The "Message to Humanity" with which this 
Council opened its first session last October, seems to me 
peculiarly appropriate for the very task in which we have jointly 
engaged. 

"In the performance of our earthly mission," said the 
Fathers of the Council on that occasion, "we take into account 
all that which pertains to the dignity of man and all that con- 
tributes toward the real brotherhood of nations." The conciliar 
assembly alluded to its own "admirable diversity of races, na- 
tions and tongues," and urged every effort "to unite all peoples 
and to create among them a mutual esteem of sentiment and 
of works." 

"We proclaim," said the assembled bishops, "that all men 
are brothers, irrespective of the race or nation to which they 
belong." 

But, following the principles of Pope John, they were not 
satisfied with mere high-sounding declarations. They urged all 
conscientious men and women to work for social justice, and 
declared that "the Church is today absolutely necessary to the 
world, to denounce injustice and shameful inequalities, to re- 
store the true order of goods and things so that, according to 
the principles of the Gospel, the life of man may become truly 
human." 

"Therefore," said the Council, "we humbly invite all to col- 
laborate with us to establish in the world a more ordered way 
of living and greater brotherhood. We invite all, not only our 
brothers of whom we are the pastors, but all our brothers who 
believe in Christ and all men of good will whom God wishes to 
have saved and led toward the knowledge of the truth. 

"It is in fact the Divine will that the kingdom of God, 
through means of charity, shine even now, in certain sense, 
upon the earth, almost in anticipation of the eternal kingdom." 



134 ALBERT CARDINAL MEYER 

These words are inspired by a great hope. They are a reflec- 
tion of the religious-motivated optimism of the beloved Pope 
John XXIII, who after describing the virtues of St. Martin de 
Porres, recently declared a saint, concluded with this ardent 
wish: "May the light of his life illumine all to walk in the way 
of Christian social justice and universal charity without dis- 
tinction of color or race." 

The words of the Council Fathers are not only words of 
hope. Thev are a challenge to our love and sense of justice, a 
call to heroic painstaking eflfort on the part of all people of good 
will. The evil spectre of racial hatred in our midst cannot be 
banished by mere high-sounding words. It cannot be banished 
bv court action. It cannot be banished even by the application 
of legal justice or the exercise of the virtue of justice alone. It 
can only be conquered by love— true, genuine love of God and 
love of neighbor. This is the supreme commandment written 
in large letters in the Law of Moses, as we read in the Book of 
Deuteronomy: "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord 
alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all 
your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength" 
(Deut. 6:5). And in Leviticus: "You shall love vour neighbor 
as yourself. I am the Lord" (Lev. 19:18). 

This is the supreme commandment in the teaching of 
Christ, who repeating the words of Deuteronomy and Leviti- 
cus, added: "On these two commandments depend the whole 
law and the prophets" (Matt. 22:39). 

The evil spectre of racial hatred, I repeat, can be banished 
from our midst, can be conquered, only by the prolonged, 
patient intelligent effort to consecrate ourselves to the service 
of the theme of this Conference, which is: "Interracial Justice 
and Love" — a theme which I might paraphrase by saying: 
"Interracial justice through love" for it is love alone which 
truly unites. This is a joint work and a glorious work. May our 
common Father in Heaven bless our efforts. 



Interracial Justice and Love 135 



J. Irwin Miller 

President, National Council of the Churches of Christ 

A great deal of embarrassing material is written on the sub- 
ject of religion and race and not the least of it by persons like 
ourselves. We understand with our minds the perfectly clear 
truth that all humans are equally children of one God, the 
Father of us all, and, as such, have no business making distinc- 
tions which God Himself does not make. This really ought to 
be all that is necessary to say about religion and race. Having 
said this (which can be classed among the most obvious 
truths ) , we should easily secure general assent to it and be able 
to address ourselves to other and more difficult moral tangles. 
But it does not turn out to be this simple, and the reason that 
so much that we (who class ourselves as the "good guys" in this 
matter) say must still be labelled nonsense in that in those 
secret and hopefully undetected areas of our action and be- 
havior, even we often find ourselves not practising what we 
preach. 

Racial discrimination and injustice in our society is at this 
moment a highly visible evil, but in attacking it I think we do 
well to remember that it is only the visible projection above the 
surface of society of a total problem which may have the same 



136 J.IRWINMILLER 

relation to the visible portion that the whole mass of an iceberg 
bears to that small part which can be seen above the surface of 
the sea. 

Shall I mention portions of the invisible bulk? If I do, they 
will seem "little" things to you. You will be surprised that I 
note matters like these and in an important way try to con- 
nect them with this great evil to which we are called to address 
ourselves. Most of the portions relate to individuals. You know 
the families who wonder if their daughter is marrying "be- 
neath" her. As an employer, I notice that almost never can a 
person bring himself to recommend for employment a man he 
considers a better man than himself. You see persons anxiously 
seeking election to a club or society, who turn out to be the 
most vigorous wielders of the blackball, once they are in. As 
men, we have to suppress (and not always with success) our 
desire to exclude women from preserves that have been tradi- 
tionally ours. As women, if you are honest, you will confess 
that sometimes there is more pleasure in deciding whom not 
to invite to a party, than whom to invite, and so on. This list 
can be very long and is limited only by our capacity for honest 
self-examination. There is not a person in this room who will 
not somewhere score on it several times. 

What is the significance of these hidden portions of our- 
selves? It lies I think in the recognition that the motives which 
urge us to racial discrimination and injustice are constantly 
working to produce great and small acts of discrimination daily 
and hourly, in both our group and our individual lives. 

Now why do we feel thus driven to deeds which we are em- 
barrassed to admit, which we hope to conceal? Does not this 
urge at its deepest level arise from the fact that every man in 
some degree always feels alone and more than any other thing 
dreads actually being cut off from the rest— alone? To this dread 
and this fear he instinctively has a twin response? The first is 



Interracial Justice and Love 1 37 

that he will not be alone if only he can persuade the group to 
take him in. The other is that he will be safely in only if he can 
keep others out. 

Once when I was at sea in World War II, I found myself 
standing the mid-watch on a calm Pacific night with a gun- 
nery officer who was a career man in the Navy. Discussing 
what he might like to do when the war ended, he said he had 
thought of entering civilian life. What he liked about civilian 
life what that a man had there more freedom of movement, of 
speech, of action. What made him hesitate, however, was that 
he didn't know whether he could stand having those who 
worked for him always free to talk back to him and disagree 
with him. He would have liked a society democratically organ- 
ized from him on up, autocratically organized from him on 
down. He was an egotist. And "egotist"— in its most useful 
sense— describes a person who is so generally unsure of himself 
that he is unable to contemplate any situation except in terms 
of its supposed effect on himself. Every one of us knows that in 
this sense he too is an egotist— more at some times under some 
circumstances (and these are not our best moments), happily 
less at other times under other circumstances. It is this fright- 
ened concern about me which gives rise to our preoccupation 
with "in" and "out," and which prompts the host of petty acts 
of discrimination and injustice that pock-mark our lives. 

Now, for a moment, let me change the subject and return 
to the direct theme of religion and race. It is very clear that this 
nation cannot continue to preach to the whole world (with a 
certain smug self-righteousness ) the brotherhood of man and 
equal opportunity to every citizen in a free society, and at the 
same time continue to deny the fruits of that brotherhood and 
true opportunity wherever it is convenient and pleasing to the 
majority to do so. And perhaps the real danger of allowing our 
present state to persist lies not so much in possible loss of 



138 J.IRWINMILLER 

national prestige and world leadership as it does in the dread 
effects of what is truly a malignancy of spirit, a sort of national 
insanity comparable to that possessing the individual who 
allows himself to split, trying to harbor in himself side by side 
grossly inconsistent aims and standards of behavior. 

It is clear that we cannot continue as we are. I think it is 
also clear that we are determined not to do so. And it is to our 
great credit that we as a nation have gained the moral courage 
to face up to this evil before it is too late. Visibly we are attack- 
ing it by means of laws, ordinances, policy changes, and pro- 
gram alterations, involving matters of employment, education, 
transportation, voting rights, opening of stores and restaurants 
and hotels and housing. The religious institutions of our land 
are generally committed to the support of every one of these 
goals in words and statements— and somewhat less generally 
committed in terms of action. An important part of the pur- 
pose of this conference is to help the churches and synagogues 
of America to discover and to embark upon those paths of 
specific program which will speed accomplishment of each of 
these needed changes in our law and practice. 

But the purpose of my remarks, and the reason for my seem- 
ing detour at the beginning, is to caution that this undertaking 
—difficult and even perilous though it be— is not enough and is 
even not the most important part of our calling today. Another 
part— again often stated— is for our churches and synagogues 
to provide society with an invariable example of that which we 
preach, an example not only in their manner of welcome to 
new families, but in their finances, their community witness, 
their total involvement in society. Yet neither of these goes far 
enough. We can abolish every system and practice and custom 
and regulation which now offends, and, if we do not at the same 
time work with equal vigor and determination to eliminate the 
spirit which embraces and supports all these, then we will find 



Interracial Justice and Love 1 39 

that little has been accomplished and that somehow all the 
new regulations and programs have become themselves the 
new servants of the old spirit. It is to this mortal sickness of 
man that religion must address itself, without neglecting its 
programs of immediate action. 

Our common tradition has warned man for centuries that a 
preoccupation with self, a surrender to all the fears to which the 
self is prey, is suicide — the ultimate tragedy. Our experience 
confirms the truth of this, for a society composed of persons 
concerned only for self is a jungle, with every man looking over 
his shoulder in fear, no man free, and possessing none of the 
achievements in which we take greatest pride. This is not a 
question of unpleasant duty or of right response to conscience. 
It goes far beyond that: It is simply a matter of Life and Death. 
You die to the extent that you are preoccupied with yourself; 
you live, and you are free to the extent that you can lose your- 
self in concern for others. The Old Testament said, "You shall 
love your neighbor as yourself." The New Testament: "The 
Commandments 'you shall not commit adultery, you shall not 
kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet' and any other 
Commandment are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall 
love your neighbor as yourself.' " 

The religious institutions of this country have the clearest 
duty to aid and to encourage each practical move and program 
which they feel works for good toward the removal of remain- 
ing areas of racial discrimination and injustice; to instruct and 
to make clear to all our people the cancerous nature of this 
evil and its threat to our society if it not be eliminated; to 
examine their own customs and practices; to make certain that 
no traces exist therein to nullify the example of their preach- 
ing and to give the lie to their sincerity. But all this is not 
enough; neither is it the most difficult portion of the role they 
are now called to play. They must also minister with love and 



140 J. IRWIN MILLER 

understanding to those very individuals whose practices and 
ideas they reject and seek to destroy, finding ways which will 
speak to them in convincing terms, showing them that by per- 
sisting they are destroying society, but, even worse, they are 
most surely destroying themselves. It is not enough to win the 
battle in the law courts. Unless we are able also to win over the 
hearts and minds of those who stand on the other side, we have 
accomplished nothing for certain. No one stands in greater 
need of an effective ministry than these persons. How do the 
churches and synagogues minister with convincing, compelling 
love and concern to those whose most cherished convictions 
they reject and oppose? This is a question that must concern 
every actively religious man if we are to contribute in a solid 
manner to a final lasting solution. 

There is another ministry too: And that is the ministry to 
those who bear in their lives the great burden of this evil— those 
discriminated against, those dealt injustice. Their cause is so 
right, the evil done them so manifest, the hurt so sharp that it 
is the greatest wonder they have not responded with hate and 
retaliation wherever they could. Our churches and synagogues 
have a ministry here, too, to comfort, but equally to make cer- 
tain that, in winning a righteous struggle, those discriminated 
against preserve themselves from hatred, and throughout are 
able to see those with whom they are locked in conflict as chil- 
dren of the same Father, persons toward whom they must act 
only in love, understanding that to surrender to anything less 
within oneself is to lose all. 

Finally, we have a ministry to the young, to each new gen- 
eration. The churches and synagogues must assume a great 
share of blame that our problem is still with us. The laws that 
govern man's behavior are as inexorable as the laws of physics 
and mathematics. And the peril of violating the law of love of 
neighbor is as great and as certain as the peril of flying in an 



Interracial Justice and Love 141 

airplane whose wing design violates the laws of aerodynamics. 
This is true, and because generation after generation has been 
unconvinced, has thought it could choose those laws of God 
which it would obey, we have been endlessly killing ourselves 
in body and spirit. The task of religion to expose this great error 
is never ended. Each new generation must be convinced all 
over again, and in each succeeding age we must find new under- 
standing, new language appropriate to new times, new ability 
to convince, and we must never think that the job can be done 
once and for all. 

I wish to affirm that the problem immediately before our 
people is desperately urgent, and that it requires our coura- 
geous attention. But also the manner of our solutions is impor- 
tant. We must take care not to arrive at solutions or programs 
which leave beneath an apparently healed surface remaining 
germs of the old evil. Man being what he is, persistent in his 
foolish hope that he can please God by lending Him half an 
ear only, we must remain aware that this danger will never 
pass, and that the task of religion has to be undertaken all over 
again with each new generation and age. 

As always, the task begins with you and me, who are not 
ourselves free from guilt, nor ever without need of rediscover- 
ing God's truth in our own lives. 



America, Race and the World 



R. Sargent Shriver 
Director, The Peace Corps 



In a powerful and moving essay the Negro author, James 
Baldwin, has described an incident which happened to him 
only a few miles from here— at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. He 
and two Negro friends— all well over 30— were refused service 
in the airport lounge on the pretense they were too young. 
After a long, noisy altercation, and after calling the manager, 
they were finally served. During the entire affair not one of the 
many white people said a word to help. When it was all over 
one of the Negroes, a Korean War veteran, turned to the 
young white man beside him and said, "You know, that fight 
was your fight too." The young man turned to him saying "I 
lost my conscience a long time ago" and turned and walked out. 

The purpose of this meeting is to reawaken that conscience; 
to direct the immense power of religion so as to shape the con- 
duct and thoughts of men toward their brother in a manner 
consistent with the compassion and love on which our spiritual 
tradition rests. 

In so doing you follow in a great tradition. From the time of 
the ancient Hebrew prophet and the dispersal of the money- 
changers, men of good will have taught us that social problems 

142 



America, Race and the World 143 

are moral problems on a huge scale, that a religion which would 
struggle to remove oppression from the world of men would 
not be able to create the world of the spirit. This tradition, one 
which is also deeply imbedded in our own country's history, was 
never more evident then in the years preceding the proclama- 
tion of the emancipation whose centennary we celebrate now. 
At that time men of God, men of all faiths, men of the North 
and men of the South took to pulpit, to the press and to public 
squares to demand an end to the moral evil of slavery. 

Many religious leaders who followed this path suffered for 
it. Many were condemned by their congregations and deprived 
of their positions. Churches were burned and physical violence 
was often the reward of those who spoke freely. But their efforts 
were a significant force in ending slavery and reshaping our 
society. And by their actions they not only helped to restore dig- 
nity and hope to millions of Americans, they immeasurably 
elevated and strengthened the churches which they served. 

Today, a century later, we are given the same great oppor- 
tunity. Today again, the problem of racial wrongs and racial 
hatred is the central moral problem of our republic. Today 
again, hostility and misunderstanding, and even violence, 
awaits the man who attempts to translate the meaning of God's 
love into the acts and thoughts of man. Today again, the hope 
for happiness of millions of Negro Americans can be pro- 
foundly affected by your efforts. And today again, religion has 
one of the rare historical opportunities to renew its own pur- 
pose, enhance the dignity of its social role, and strengthen its 
institutions and its heritage by pitting itself against vast and 
powerful social forces which deny the role of God in the affairs 
of man. It is, of course, difficult for me to speak of these matters 
to an audience of scholars and teachers. 

I am not a theologian. 

I am not an "expert" in race relations. 



144 R. SARGENT SHRIVER 

My only credentials are my experience here in Chicago with 
the Interracial Council, my work with the Peace Corps, and a 
layman's strong interest in making faith personally meaningful 
in a disturbing world. 

As an official of the government I am encouraged by a meet- 
ing like this. Justice for men is a common objective of religion 
and government and the exclusive domain of neither. 

I hope the traditional American regard for the separation 
of church and state will never be interpreted as an excuse for 
either to preempt— or ignore— the vigorous pursuit of human 
dignity and freedom which are the legitimate concerns of both 
church and state. 

But laws and government are at best coarse and inefficient 
instruments for remolding social institutions or illuminating 
the dark places of the human heart. They can deal only with 
the broadest and most obvious problems: guarding against 
segregation in schools but not against the thousands of inci- 
dents of discrimination and hatred which give the lie to what 
is learned in the schoolroom. They can proclaim sweeping 
mandates, but the process of their enforcement is so ponderous 
that it takes the entire energies of the nation to secure en- 
trance of a single Negro into an unwilling white university 
while thousands more are without hope of entering. 

They can call for the highest standards of moral conduct, 
but those standards are only tortuously and imperceptibly 
imposed upon a community which does not accept them, veri- 
fying the dictate of Walter Raushenbush that "laws do not 
create moral conviction, they merely recognize and enforce 
them." 

For even though law can compel and perhaps even educate, 
in the last analysis, the rule of law depends upon a legal 
order which embodies the convictions, decisions and judgments 
of the men it governs. 



America, Race and the World 145 

If we recognize that laws alone are inadequate, that legis- 
latures and presidents cannot impose moral convictions, then 
we must look to those institutions whose task it is to teach 
moral values, to restate eternal principles in terms of today's 
conflicts, and to conform the daily conduct of men to the 
guiding values of justice, of love and of compassion. Pre-emi- 
nent among those institutions is religion and the church. 

Henry Ward Beecher once wrote, "That man is not a 
shepherd of his flocks who fails to teach the flock how to apply 
moral trust to every phase of ordinary practical duty." This is 
one of the great lessons of the history of religion. It is a lesson 
of scriptures and tradition. And it is also a lesson taught by 
Abraham, Moses and Christ. 

I find it alarming, therefore, when the government looks to 
religious community for its share of the task and encounters, 
too often, a bland philosophy of laissez-faire. 

As a layman, for example, I wonder why I can go to church 
fifty-two times a year and not hear one sermon on the practical 
problems of race relations? I wonder why a conference like this 
does not lead to a continuing exchange of views and ideas and 
to a coordination of efforts to solve specific problems through- 
out the year. I wonder, furthermore, why each minister, rabbi, 
and priest does not map a specific program for his congrega- 
tion—a program which will produce concrete gains over the 
next twelve months. Such a program could do many things. 

It could bring to an end segregation in those churches and 
church schools where it exists. 

It could include a pledge to double the number of Negro 
families in the congregation where Negroes now attend. 

It could include the establishment of interracial councils 
where none exists. 

It could introduce Negroes to every social and community 
event which the church sponsors or participates in. 



146 R. SARGENT SHRIVER 

It could train lay Negro teachers and leaders to participate 
fully in congregational affairs. 

If such a program intended finally to bury religious laissez- 
faire in racial problems where instituted, it would encourage 
each member of the congregation to pledge a tithe of his time 
to removing racial barriers at work, at play, and at worship. 

I wonder why an appeal requesting every church member 
to give a tithe of his time has not been made already. Just a few 
Sundays ago a Catholic weekly newspaper, The Sunday 
Visitor, devoted the whole front page to this subject of tithing, 
but the discussion was focused primarily on the financial aspect. 
George Romney, the new Republican governor of Michigan, 
impressed me with his recent statement acknowledging quite 
openly that he was accustomed to giving a tithe of his income 
to the Mormon church. But isn't it easier to give a tithe of 
your money than to give a tithe of your time? Isn't the time 
when you give yourself more important than the money? 

Let me be more specific. The Peace Corps has shown what 
Americans will do when they are challenged by a high purpose. 
They respond enthusiastically no matter what the personal 
cost. 

Thousands of them volunteered to serve, even in the days 
when the sceptics and cynics were ridiculing the Peace Corps 
as "a children's crusade," "a beatniks' boondoggle," and a 
"Kiddy Korps." 

They deliberately chose a hard— and to some an unpopular- 
course because first, it is voluntary; second, it demands their 
utmost; third, it is worthwhile. 

These volunteers have already written the moral to a story 
that is still being told. That moral: "A nation cannot require 
too much of its citizens if the cause is right." 

Do our churches expect too little of their members in solv- 
ing race problems? 



America, Race and the World 147 

Suppose 5,000 congregations in America were to set up 
volunteer groups to combat racial prejudice and eliminate 
racial tensions in 5,000 religious precincts throughout Amer- 
ica. And suppose 5,000 were to become 10,000 or 20,000? 

In thousands of communities religiously inspired volunteers 
would be inviting Negro families to personal social functions. 

They would be organizing and joining interracial councils, 
securing entrance of Negroes into previously all white neigh- 
borhoods, insuring enforcement of constitutional rights to 
equal opportunity, and improving living conditions in segre- 
gated neighborhoods. 

A profound new force would be at work in America, emanat- 
ing from the deepest wells of religious inspiration and reaching 
for the noblest summits of human experience. That combina- 
tion would be invincible. 

There will be those who scoff at so pointed an effort by 
organized religion to deal with the major social disorder. 

Some will cry "Busybodies," but they will not be the first. 
When a group of English bishops tried to mediate the bitter 
British coal strike of 1926, Prime Minister Baldwin retorted 
by asking how they would like it if he referred the revision of 
the Athanasian Creed to the Iron and Steel Federation. 

Some critics will want to ignore the church's word on the 
thesis that it is irrelevant— like the corporation president who 
said, "Of course, segregation is wrong from the Christian point 
of view. Let's not discuss it from that point of view." 

Still others will argue: "So what? Go ahead. You won't be 
any good but you won't do any harm either." 

Few people read much history, as William Temple re- 
minded us, otherwise they would know that history abounds 
with dramatic examples of the impact made by the spirit of 
religion upon the life of mankind. 

The abolition of the slave trade, for example, was carried 



148 R. SARGENT SHRIVER 

through by Wilberforce and his friends in the inspiration of 
their Christian faith. Other faiths can point to similar 
accomplishments. 

More recently, efforts by churches and synagogues have 
illustrated what can be accomplished. After his school system 
was desegregated, one Kentucky superintendent said, "I believe 
ministers and lay church leaders made the greatest contribu- 
tion in getting the general public to accept desegregation." 

You may be familiar with the inspiring experience in Saint 
Louis. The 600-member Church Federation set aside a Sunday 
for thanksgiving prayer for public school desegregation. It 
challenged pastors and members to take an open stand for 
integration. The Cardinal called in a general letter for all 
Catholic pastors to influence their hundreds of thousands of 
parishoners to cooperate. The Rabbinical Association urged 
all citizens to work and pray for its success. 

On the other end, we know what can happen when re- 
ligious leadership is absent. Remember Clinton, Tennessee? 
Ugly violence flared there when desegregation was attempted. 
It took 650 National Guardsmen and 39 state highway troopers 
led by a burly 290-pound commander to restore order after 
days of tension. 

When a special report was written to analyze what had 
happened in Clinton this significant sentence appeared: 
"Churches were not utilized to any extent in Clinton, 
Tennessee." 

During the crisis a Baptist minister escorted Negro stu- 
dents through the howling crowds. He was beaten by the mob 
but his courage was unshaken. What might have happened at 
Clinton had the religious community rallied to support him? 

One man is not enough. 

There must be others. 

I said earlier there is no reliable justice without the 
machinery of justice: the Government. But the machinery of 



America, Race and the World 149 

justice cannot be effective without men and women who have 
the will and character to make it work. 

There is where we come again to religion. What is it that 
produces men and women with the will and character to make 
the machinery of justice work if it is not religious faith? 

The maxim is true that politics is the art of the possible. 
The constant challenge we face in politics is to enlarge the 
area of the possible— "to lengthen the stakes" in biblical 
language. 

But to do that requires that men change their objectives. 
But they can't change their objectives unless they change their 
prejudices and that requires changes in men's attitudes, and 
that requires changes in men's minds, and that requires 
changes in men's hearts— that the human heart is the business 
of religion. 

So I ask: "Is there any way of creating a social order of 
justice if religion does not do its work in the minds and hearts 
of men?" 

I don't think so. 

Is there any way of winning racial equality if religion does 
not permeate its adherents with its urgent sense of personal 
responsibility for the injustice of our present system? 

I cannot stress this too much. We believe the success of 
the Peace Corps is due to the fact that thousands of Ameri- 
cans are willing to take personal responsibility for bringing 
peace to the world. 

They have seen their task and have set forth to do it. 

In race relations there is a strong tendency to blame 
"society" for our errors. We pass the blame on to any one of a 
number of impersonal causes— environment, education, etc. 
Shakespeare was right: "This is the excellent sophistry of the 
world, that when we are sick in fortune, often in surfeit of 
our own behavior, we make guilty of all disasters the sun, the 
moon, and the stars, as if we are fools by heavenly compulsion, 



150 R. SARGENT SHRIVER 

knaves, thieves and teachers by spherical predominance." But 
he was also right when he went on to say: "The fault, Dear 
Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." It is the province 
of religion to instill a sense of personal responsibility into 
mankind: "If you want to cleanse the stream," so the old 
proverb goes, "get at the source"— the attitudes and con- 
cepts, the prejudice and hate which pollute the stream of 
political life. Government can deal with their symptoms, re- 
ligion must deal with their source. I think that this is what 
the Presbyterian General Assembly had in mind a hundred 
years ago when it declared: "The sphere of the church is wider 
and more searching than the sphere of the magistrate." Re- 
ligion reaches into the sanctuary of human experience where 
attitudes are formed. 

We can agree government has its business, religion has its. 

The important thing is to get on with the job. We have 
tried in the Peace Corps to try to deal positively with the 
problem. For example, we set out deliberately to recruit as 
many representatives of minority groups as possible for jobs 
in every echelon. We knew that members of these groups 
would not ordinarily seek out these jobs, so we decided to seek 
them out. Today 7.4 per cent of our higher echelon positions 
are filled by Negroes. Other government agencies employ .8 per 
cent Negroes in similar grades. 24 per cent of our other posi- 
tions are filled by Negroes. The figure for other agencies is 
five and a half per cent. 

We made another breakthrough. In the beginning we were 
told that the Peace Corps would never get invited to the 
Muslim countries because our policies require that our volun- 
teers be recruited without discrimination, that they be assigned 
without discrimination and that they be received without dis- 
crimination. 

The truth of the matter is the Peace Corps is operating in 
three Muslim countries. Some of our volunteers are Jewish and 



America, Race and the World 151 

I am proud to report that every one of them has been well 
received by their Muslim hosts. 

When I told this to high officials of the government of 
Israel, they found it almost impossible to believe that Jewish 
volunteers had received a hospitable welcome from Muslim 
hosts. 

We sent a Chinese- American doctor to Ghana. When he 
rose to speak to his students they could not believe he was 
from the United States— "that place across the sea where no 
colored man can go to school." They thought he was a Chinese 
Communist. 

In Nepal we sent four volunteers to teach in a small college. 
Three of them were visited one night by a young Marxist stu- 
dent who had studied in Peking and who had already won a 
scholarship to Lumumba University in Moscow. This student 
had also just been elected to a place on the important "pan- 
chayat" council which runs the city government. 

He came to rib the volunteers about discrimination in 
America. "Just a minute," they interrupted him, "we will let 
Carl Jorgenson talk about that." And they called for a fourth 
volunteer who was studying in his room. Carl Jorgenson 
walked in, a tall young Negro, a top graduate of Harvard, the 
son of a leader of the NAACP in Washington. "Sure let's 
talk about it," he said. And they did. The young Marxist- 
stunned that America would let a Negro in the Peace Corps, 
that a Negro could graduate from Harvard, that he would be 
living with three white Americans— has come back time and 
time again to discuss America with the volunteers. 

In the first days of the Peace Corps we were told that 
Protestant volunteers would never be accepted in the villages 
of Latin America. We heard that the campesinos had been told 
that if they talked to a Peace Corps volunteer their souls 
would be in danger of hell. 

The truth is that we have volunteers all over Latin America 



152 R. SARGENT SHRIVER 

—many of them Protestant young men and women — and there 
has not yet been one incident of discrimination. 

I might add that the first two volunteers killed in service 
died in a plane crash in Columbia with 32 Columbians. One 
was a Jewish boy from Chicago. The other was a young 
Baptist from Missouri. They died in a Catholic country. El 
Tiempo, the principal newspaper of Bogota, editorialized, 
"They were the first to fulfill the Rite of Blood which united 
them (with Columbians) in an undissoluble tie . . . their 
bodies . . . have fallen with those of our fellow countrymen. 
The sacrifice of blood is truly consumated. Two races were 
forged together in this dramatic incident. That this be not in 
vain is the ardent hope of millions of human beings." 

Tliere is only one real explanation of our success in the 
field of race relations. We made a deliberate effort to change 
old patterns. If I have any justification to speak to this august 
body, it is to encourage you to make a conscious deliberate 
assault on racial barriers. From our experience in the Peace 
Corps I know those barriers are vulnerable. 

Let me close with a pledge and a request. 

We in government will continue our efforts. We will move 
with all the instruments at our command to achieve justice 
among men. That is our pledge to you. My request is simply 
this: Help us. If there is to be a social order allowing the 
fullest possible development of individual personality, if there 
is to be the widest and deepest fellowship among men of dif- 
ferent races, we need what Maritain has called Democracy 
of the Person. You can bring it about. 

Help us to see what is our task, inspire us with the faith 
that God is above us and with us and that He will help us. 
We will try to do what is right. Stir our consciences. Strengthen 
our wills. Inspire and challenge us to take our principles into 
the toughest walks of life and make them work. 



PART VI 

A Challenge to the 
Churches and Synagogues 



A Challenge to the 
Churches and Synagogues 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 



America has brought the nation and the world to an awe 
inspiring threshold of the future. Through our scientific and 
technological genius we have built mighty bridges to span 
the seas and skyscraping buildings to kiss the skies. We have 
dwarfed distance and placed time in chains. We have carved 
highways through the stratosphere. Through the marvelous 
advances of medical science we have been able to cure many 
dread plagues and diseases, alleviate our pain, prolong our 
lives, and make for greater security and physical well-being. 
This is a dazzling picture of America's scientific progress. 

But when we turn to the question of progress in the area of 
race relations, we face one of the most shameful chapters of 
the American scene. In spite of the jet like pace of our scienti- 
fic and technological development, we still creep at horse and 
buggy speed in human relations. We must face the melancholy 
fact that one hundred years after the Emancipation Proclama- 
tion, the Negro is still dominated politically, exploited econ- 
omically, and humiliated socially. Negroes, North and South, 
still live in segregation, housed in unendurable slums, eat in 
segregation, pray in segregation and die in segregation. How 

155 



156 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. 

much of our national life can be summarized in that percep- 
tive phrase of Thoreau: "Improved means to an unimproved 
end." Through our scientific genius, we have made of our 
nation (and even the world) a neighborhood, but we have 
failed to employ our moral and spiritual genius to make of it 
a brotherhood. The problem of race and color prejudice re- 
mains America's chief moral dilemma. 

This tragic dilemma presents the Church and Synagogue 
with a great challenge. As the chief moral guardians of the 
community these institutions must work with passionate 
determination to solve the problem of racial injustice. It has 
always been the responsibility of the Church and Synagogue to 
broaden horizons, challenge the status quo, and break the 
mores when necessary. They are "set over nations and over 
kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to 
overthrow, to build anew and to plant." 

Honesty impels us to admit that religious bodies in America 
have not been faithful to their prophetic mission on the ques- 
tion of racial justice. In the midst of a nation rife with racial 
animosity, the Church too often has been content to mouth 
pious irrelevances and sanctimonious trivialities. Called to 
combat social evils, it has often remained silent behind the 
anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows. Called to lead 
men on the highway of brotherhood and to summon them to 
rise above the narrow confines of race and class, it has often 
been an active participant in shaping and crystallizing the 
patterns of the race-caste system. It has so often cast the 
mantle of its sanctity over the system of segregation. In some 
communities of the South many churches are the ready lackeys 
of state governments. In defiance of the Supreme Court's 
desegregation decisions, they allow their religious education 
buildings to be used for private segregated schools. Nothing so 
completely reveals the pathetic irrelevancy of the Church and 



A Challenge to the Churches and Synagogues 1 57 

illustrates the eclipse of its spiritual power as its failure to take 
a forthright stand on the question of racial justice. How often 
the Church has been an echo rather than a voice, a tail light 
behind the Supreme Court and other secular agencies, rather 
than a headlight guiding men progressively and decisively to 
higher levels of understanding. 

If the Church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will 
become little more than an irrelevant social club with a thin 
veneer of religiosity. If the Church does not participate actively 
in the struggle for economic and racial justice, it will forfeit 
the loyalty of millions and cause men everywhere to say that it 
has atrophied its will. 

Of course, there are always those who will argue that 
churches and synagogues should not get mixed up in such 
earthly, temporal matters as social and economic improvement. 
There are still all too many religious institutions following a 
theology which stresses the total and hopeless depravity of all 
mundane existence and which admonishes men to seek salva- 
tion in escape from social life and in preparation for a hereafter 
wherein all wrongs will be automatically righted. They make 
an undue dichotomy between souls and bodies, love and justice, 
the sacred and the secular. They end up with a religion which 
operates only on the vertical plane with no thrust on the hori- 
zontal. But however sincere, this view of religion is all too con- 
fined. 

Certainly, otherworldly concerns have a deep and significant 
place in all religions. Religion, at its best, deals not only with 
the relations of man to his fellowmen, but with the relations of 
man to the universe and to ultimate reality. But a religion true 
to its nature must also be concerned about man's social condi- 
tions. Religion deals not only with the hereafter but also with 
the here. Here— where the precious lives of men are still sadly 
disfigured by poverty and hatred. Here— where millions of 



158 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. 

God's children are being trampled over by the iron feet of 
oppression. Here— where millions are consigned to degradation 
and injustice and where the habitation of men is filled with 
agony and anguish. Here— where social evils have trapped mul- 
titudes of men in dark and murky corridors where there is no 
exit sign and plunged others into a dark abyss of emotional 
fatalism. Any religion that professes to be concerned about 
a future good "over yonder" and is not concerned about the 
present evils "over here" is a spiritually moribund religion only 
waiting for the day to be buried. 

Now let us turn to some of the specific things that the 
Church and Synagogue can do to face the challenges of this 
day. 

First, they must make it palpably clear that segregation is 
morally wrong and sinful. It is established on pride, hatred and 
falsehood. It is unbrotherly and impersonal. Two segregated 
souls never meet in God. Segregation denies the sacredness of 
human personality. Deeply rooted in our religious heritage is 
the conviction that every man is an heir to a legacy of dignity 
and worth. Our Judeo-Christian tradition refers to this inher- 
ent dignity of man in the Biblical term the image of God. The 
image of God is universally shared in equal portions by all men. 
There is no graded scale of essential worth. Every human being 
has etched in his personality the indelible stamp of the Creator. 
Every man must be respected because God loves him. The 
worth of an individual does not lie in the measure of his intel- 
lect, his racial origin, or his social position. Human worth lies 
in relatedness to God. An individual has value because he has 
value to God. Whenever this is recognized, "whiteness" and 
"blackness" pass away as determinants in a relationship and 
"son" and "brother" are substituted. Immanuel Kant said in 
one formulation of the Categorical Imperative that "all men 
must be treated as ends and never as mere means." The tragedy 



A Challenge to the Churches and Synagogues 1 59 

of segregation is that it treats men as means rather than ends, 
and thereby reduces them to things rather than persons. To 
use the words of Martin Buber, segregation substitutes an "I— 
it" relationship for the "I— thou" relationship. 

But man is not an "it". He must be dealt with, not as an 
"animated tool," but as a person sacred in himself. To do other- 
wise is to depersonalize the potential person and desecrate 
what he is. So long as the Negro, or other member of any 
minority group, is treated as a means to an end, the image of 
God is abused in him and consequently and proportionately 
lost by those who inflict the abuse. 

Segregation is also morally wrong because it deprives man 
of freedom, that quality which makes him man. The very 
character of the life of man demands freedom. In speaking of 
freedom I am not referring to the freedom of a thing called the 
will. The very phrase, freedom of the will, abstracts freedom 
from the person to make it an object; and an object almost by 
definition is not free. But freedom cannot thus be abstracted 
from the person, who is always subject as well as object and 
who himself still does the abstracting. So I am speaking of the 
freedom of man, the whole man, and not the freedom of a 
function called the will. 

Neither am I implying that there are no limits to freedom. 
Freedom always operates within the limits of an already 
determined structure. Thus the mathematician is free to draw 
a circle, but he is not free to make a circle square. A man is free 
to walk through an open door, but he is not free to walk 
through a brick wall. A man is free to go to Chicago or New 
York, but he is not free to go to both cities at one and the same 
time. Freedom is always within destiny. It is the chosen fulfill- 
ment of our destined nature. We are always both free and 
destined. 

With these qualifications we return to the assertion that 



160 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. 

the essence of man is found in freedom. This is what Paul 
Tillich means when he affirms, "Man is man because he is free" 
or what Tolstoy implies when he says, "I cannot conceive of a 
man not being free unless he is dead." 

What is freedom? It is, first, the capacity to deliberate or 
weigh alternatives. "Shall I be a doctor or a lawyer?" "Shall I 
vote for this candidate or the other candidate?" "Shall I be a 
Democrat, Republican, or Socialist?" "Shall I be a humanist 
or a theist?" Moment by moment we go through life engaged 
in this strange conversation with ourselves. Second, freedom 
expresses itself in decision. The word decision, like the word 
incision involves the image of cutting. Incision means to cut 
in, decision means to cut off. When I make a decision I cut off 
alternatives and make a choice. The existentialists say we must 
choose, that we are choosing animals, and if we do not choose, 
we sink into thinghood and the mass mind. A third expression 
of freedom is responsibility. This is the obligation of the person 
to respond if he is questioned about his decisions. No one else 
can respond for him. He alone must respond, for his acts are 
determined by the centered totality of his being. 

From this analysis we can clearly see the blatant immorality 
of segregation. It is a selfishly contrived system which cuts off 
one's capacity to deliberate, decide and respond. 

The absence of freedom imposes restraint on my delibera- 
tions as to what I shall do, where I shall live, or the kind of 
task I shall pursue. I am robbed of the basic quality of man- 
ness. When I cannot choose what I shall do or where I shall live 
it means in fact that someone or some system has already made 
these decisions for me, and I am reduced to an animal. The only 
resemblances I have to real life are the motor responses and 
functions that are akin to human-kind. I cannot adequately 
assume responsibility as a person because I have been made the 
party to a decision in which I played no part in making. 



A Challenge to the Churches and Synagogues 161 

Now to be sure, this may be hyperbole to a certain extent, 
but only to underscore what actually happens when a man is 
robbed of his freedom. The very nature of his life is altered and 
his being cannot make the full circle of person-hood because 
that which is basic to the character of life itself has been 
diminished. 

This is why segregation has wreaked havoc with the Negro. 
It is sometimes difficult to determine which are the deepest— 
the physical wounds or the psychological wounds. Only a 
Negro understands the social leprosy that segregation inflicts 
upon him. Like a nagging hound of hell, it follows his every 
activity, leaving him tormented by day and haunted by night. 
The suppressed fears and resentments, and the expressed 
anxieties and sensitivities make each day of life a turmoil. 
Every confrontation with the restrictions is another emotional 
battle in a never ending war. He is shackled in his waking 
moments to tip-toe stance, never quite knowing what to ex- 
pect next. Nothing can be more diabolical than a deliberate 
attempt to destroy in any man his will to be a man and to 
withhold from him that something that constitutes his true 
essence. 

The churches and synagogues have an opportunity and a 
duty to lift up their voices like a trumpet and declare unto the 
people the immorality of segregation. We must affirm that 
every human life is a reflex of divinity, and every act of injus- 
tice mars and defaces the image of God in man. The under- 
girding philosophy of segregation is diametrically opposed to 
the undergirding philosophy of our Judeo-Christian heritage 
and all the dialectics of the logicians cannot make them lie 
down together. 

Another thing that the churches and synagogues can do to 
make the ideal of brotherhood a reality is to get to the idea- 
tional roots of racial prejudice. All race hate is based on fears, 



162 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. 

suspicions, and misunderstandings, usually groundless. The 
Church and Synagogue can do a great deal to direct the popu- 
lar mind at this point. Through their channels of religious 
education, they can point out the irrationality of these beliefs. 
They can show that the idea of a superior or inferior race is a 
myth that has been completely refuted by anthropological 
evidence. They can show that Negroes are not innately inferior 
in academic, health, and moral standards, and that they are 
not inherently criminal. The churches and synagogues can say 
to their worshippers that poverty and ignorance breed crime 
whatever the racial group may be, and that it is a tortuous 
logic to use the tragic results of segregation as an argument for 
its continuation. 

A third effort that the Church and Synagogue can make in 
attempting to solve the race problem is to take the lead in 
social reform. It is not enough for religious institutions to be 
active in the realm of ideas; they must move out into the 
arena of life and do battle for their sanctities. First, the 
Church must remove the yoke of segregation from its own 
body. Only by doing this can it be effective in its attack on 
outside evils. Eleven o'clock on Sunday morning is still 
America's most segregated hour and the Sunday school is still 
the most segregated school of the week. The unpardonable sin, 
thought the poet Milton, was when a man— like Lucifer— so 
repeatedly says, "Evil, be thou my good," so consistently lives 
a lie, that he loses the capacity to distinguish between good 
and evil. America's segregated churches come dangerously 
close to being in that position. 

The churches and synagogues must become increasingly 
active in social action outside their doors. They must take an 
active stand against the injustices and indignities that the 
Negro and other non-white minorities confront in housing, 
education, police protection, and in city and state courts. They 



A Challenge to the Churches and Synagogues 163 

must support strong civil rights legislation and exert their in- 
fluence in the area of economic justice. Economic insecurity 
strangles the physical and cultural growth of its victims. Not 
only are millions deprived of formal education and proper 
health facilities, but our most fundamental social unit— the 
family — is tortured, corrupted, and weakened by economic in- 
sufficiency. There are few things more thoroughly sinful than 
economic injustice. 

The Church and Synagogue are also challenged to instill 
within their worshippers the spirit of love, penitence and for- 
giveness as we move through this period of transition. This is 
necessary for both oppressor and oppressed alike. Those who 
have been on the oppressor end of the old order must go into 
the new age which is emerging with a deep sense of penitence, 
love and understanding. They must search their souls to be 
sure that they have removed every vestige of prejudice and 
bigotry, and that they have moved away from the deadening 
idea of white supremacy. 

But those of us who have been on the oppressed end of the 
old order must be equally determined to go into the new age 
with love and understanding. We must also add the dimension 
of forgiveness, realizing that the forgiving act must always be 
initiated by the person who has been wronged, the victim of 
some great hurt, the recipient of some tortuous injustice, the 
absorber of some terrible act of oppression. The wrongdoer 
may request forgiveness. He may come to himself, and, like 
the prodigal Son, move up some dusty road, his heart palpitat- 
ing with the desire for forgiveness. But only the injured 
neighbor can really pour out the warm waters of forgiveness. 

This is why it is my personal conviction that the most 
potent instrument the Negro community can use to gain total 
emancipation in America is that of non-violent resistance. 
Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impracti- 



164 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. 

cal and immoral. It is impractical because it ends up creating 
many more social problems than it solves. It is immoral be- 
cause it seeks to annihilate the opponent rather than convert 
him. It destroys community and make brotherhood impossible. 
Non-violence makes it possible for one to rise to the noble 
heights of opposing vigorously the unjust system while loving 
the perpetrators of the system. 

In speaking of love at this point, I am not referring to some 
affectionate emotion. It would be nonsense to urge men to 
love their oppressors in an affectionate sense. Love is not 
emotional bosh. It is not spineless sentimentality which refuses 
to take courageous action against evil for fear someone might 
be offended. Love is treating fellowmen as persons, under- 
standing them with all their good and bad qualities, and treat- 
ing them as potential saints. It is helping people with no 
thought of receiving anything in return. It is a willingness to 
go the second mile and to forgive seventy times seven in order 
to restore the broken community. It is facing evil with an in- 
finite capacity to take it without flinching. 

I believe that this is the type of love that must guide us 
through this turbulent period of transition. It will cause us to 
enter the new age which is emerging without the fatigue and 
poisonous drain of bitterness. We will not seek to rise from a 
position of disadvantage to one of advantage, thus subverting 
justice. Nor will we seek to substitute one tyranny for another. 
We will be imbued with the conviction that a philosophy of 
black supremacy is as injurious as a philosophy of white 
supremacy. God is not interested merely in the freedom of 
black men, and brown men, and yellow men; God is interested 
in the freedom of the whole human race— the creation of a 
society in which all men appreciate the dignity and worth of 
the individual. 

I am happy to say that the non-violent movement in 



A Challenge to the Churches and Synagogues 165 

America has come not from secular forces but from the heart 
of the Negro church. This movement has done a great deal to 
revitalize the Negro church and to give its message a relevant 
and authentic ring. The great principles of love and justice 
which stand at the center of the nonviolent movement are 
deeply rooted in our Judeo-Christian heritage. 

A final challenge that faces the churches and synagogues is 
to lead men along the path of true integration, something the 
law cannot do. Genuine integration will come when men are 
obedient to the unenforceable. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick 
has made an impressive distinction between enforceable and 
unenforceable obligations. The former are regulated by the 
codes of society and the vigorous implementation of law- 
enforcement agencies. Breaking these obligations, spelled out 
on thousands of pages in law books, has filled numerous 
prisons. But unenforceable obligations are beyond the reach of 
the laws of society. They concern inner attitudes, expressions of 
compassion which law books cannot regulate and jails cannot 
rectify. Such obligations are met by one's commitment to an 
inner law, a law written on the heart. Man-made laws assure 
justice, but a higher law produces love. No code of conduct ever 
compelled a father to love his children or a husband to show 
affection to his wife. The law court may force him to provide 
bread for the family, but it cannot make him provide the 
bread of love. A good father is obedient to the unenforceable. 

In our nation today a mighty struggle is taking place. It is 
a struggle to conquer the reign of an evil monster called segre- 
gation and its inseparable twin called discrimination— a mon- 
ster that has wandered through this land for well-nigh one 
hundred years, stripping millions of Negro people of their 
sense of dignity and robbing them of their birthright of free- 
dom. 

Let us never succumb to the temptation of believing that 



166 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. 

legislation and judicial decrees play only minor roles in solving 
this problem. Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can 
be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but 
they can restrain the heartless. The law can not make a man 
love me, but it can keep him from lynching me. The law can- 
not make an employer love an employee, but it can prevent 
him from refusing to hire me because of the color of my skin. 
The habits, if not the hearts of people, have been and are being 
altered everyday by legislative acts, judicial decisions, and 
executive orders. Let us not be misled bv those who argue that 
segregation cannot be ended by the force of law. 

But acknowledging this, we must admit that the ultimate 
solution to the race problem lies in the willingness of men to 
obey the unenforceable. Court orders and federal enforcement 
agencies are of inestimable value in achieving desegregation, 
but desegregation is only a partial, though necessary, step 
toward the final goal which we seek to realize, genuine inter- 
group and interpersonal living. Desegregation will break down 
the legal barriers and bring men together physically but some- 
thing must touch the hearts and souls of men so that they will 
come together spiritually because it is natural and right. A 
vigorous enforcement of civil rights will bring an end to segre- 
gated public facilities which are barriers to a truly desegregated 
society, but it cannot bring an end to fears, prejudice, pride, 
and irrationality, which are the barriers to a truly integrated 
society. These dark and demonic responses will be removed 
only as men are possessed by the invisible inner law which 
etches on their hearts the conviction that all men are brothers 
and that love is mankind's most potent weapon for personal 
and social transformation. True integration will be achieved 
by men who are willingly obedient to unenforceable obliga- 
tions. 

Here, then, is the hard challenge and the sublime oppor- 



A Challenge to the Churches and Synagogues 167 

tunity: to let God work in our hearts toward fashioning a 
truly great nation. If the Church and Synagogue will free 
themselves from the shackles of a deadening status quo, and, 
recovering their great historic mission, will speak and act fear- 
lessly and insistently in terms of justice and peace, they will 
enkindle the imagination of mankind and fire the souls of 
men, imbuing them with a glowing and ardent love for truth 
and justice. They can transform dark yesterdays of hatred into 
bright tomorrows of love. Men everywhere and at all times 
will know that our Judeo-Christian faith transformed the 
jangling discords of America into a beautiful symphony of 
brotherhood. In a real sense this conference has been a blessing. 
Never before have the major faiths come together to grapple 
with the tragic problem of race and color prejudice. The fact 
that such an historic conference is being held may be indica- 
tive of a greater sensitivity to racial injustice on the part of the 
Church and the Synagogue. For four days now, we have dwelled 
in this sun-lit mountain of transfiguration. We have listened 
to eloquent words flowing from the lips of Christian and Jew- 
ish statesmen. We have analysed with painstaking care the 
broad dimensions and deep complexities of this haunting prob- 
lem. And now the valley of injustice, with all of its ghettos, 
economic inequities and demoralized children of God, stands 
before us in grim, stark, and colossal dimensions. Will this 
conference end like all too many conferences on race? Will we 
end up caught in the "paralysis of analysis"? Will this confer- 
ence end with a high blood pressure of words and anemia of 
action? Well, this is the real temptation. If our thoughtful and 
serious deliberations do not issue forth into thoughtful and 
serious action, we will have assembled here in vain and all of 
our words will have been as sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. 
There is a need for more religious leaders and laymen like the 
seventy-five who came to Albany, Ga., and the courageous ones 



168 DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. 

who joined the Freedom Ride, to move out into the Freedom 
Ride, to move out into the arena of positive action and make 
their witness real. This will do much to save the church from 
what Reinhold Niebuhr has recently called the "sin of trivial- 
ity." 

Any discussion of the role of the Church and Synagogue in 
race relations must ultimately emphasize the need for proph- 
ecy. May the problem of race in America soon make hearts 
burn so that prophets will rise up saying, "Thus saith the 
Lord," and cry out as Amos did, "let justice roll down like 
waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream." The 
prophet must remind America of the urgency of now. The 
oft-repeated cliches, "the time is not ripe," "Negroes are not 
culturally ready," are a stench in the nostrils of God. The 
time is always right to do what is right. Now is the time to 
realize the American dream. Now is the time to transform the 
bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man into 
a glowing daybreak of justice and freedom. Now is the time to 
open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. St. 
Augustine's words speak to us as never before: "Those that sit 
at rest while others take pains are tender turtles and buy their 
quiet with disgrace." 

Honesty impels me to admit that this type of forthright 
stand is always costly and never altogether comfortable. It may 
mean walking through the valley of the shadow of suffering, 
losing a job, having a six-year-old daughter ask, "Daddy, why 
do you have to go to jail so much?" But we are gravely mis- 
taken to think that religion protects us from the pain and 
agony of mortal existence. Life is not a euphoria of unalloyed 
comfort and untroubled ease. Christianity has always insisted 
that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To be a 
Christian one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties 
and agonizing and tension-packed content, and carry it until 



A Challenge to the Churches and Synagogues 1 69 

that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that 
more excellent way which comes only through suffering. We 
as Christians and Jews face today that haunting statement of 
Whittaker Chambers: "At the heart of the crisis of our times 
lies the cold belief of millions, avowed and unavowed, that 
the death of religious faith is seen in nothing so much as in the 
fact that, in general, it has lost its power to move anyone to die 
for it." Every minister, priest and rabbi must continually sub- 
mit himself to that test. 

We must make a choice. Will we continue to bless a status 
quo that needs to be blasted and reassure a social order that 
needs to be reformed, or will we give ourselves unreservedly to 
God and His kingdom? Will we continue to march to the 
drum beat of conformity and respectability, or will we, listen- 
ing to the beat of a more distant drum, move to its echoing 
sounds? Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, 
risking criticism and abuse, march only to the soul-saving 
music of eternity? More than ever before we are today chal- 
lenged by the words of yesterday, "Be not conformed to this 
world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds." 



An Appeal to the Conscience 
of the American People 



We have met as members of the great Jewish and Christian 
faiths held by the majority of the American people, to counsel 
together concerning the tragic fact of racial prejudice, dis- 
crimination and segregation in our society. Coming as we do 
out of various religious backgrounds, each of us has more to 
say than can be said here. But this statement is what we as 
religious people are moved to say together. 

I 

Racism is our most serious domestic evil. We must eradicate 
it with all diligence and speed. For this purpose we appeal to 
the consciences of the American people. 

This evil has deep roots; it will not be easily eradicated. 
While the Declaration of Independence did declare "that all 
men are created equal" and "are endowed by their Creator 
with certain unalienable rights," slavery was permitted for al- 
most a century. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, 
compulsory racial segregation and its degrading badge of racial 
inequality received judicial sanction until our own time. 

We rejoice in such recent evidences of greater wisdom and 

171 



172 An Appeal to the Conscience 

courage in our national life as the Supreme Court decisions 
against segregation and the heroic, non-violent protests of 
thousands of Americans. However, we mourn the fact that 
patterns of segregation remain entrenched everywhere— North 
and South, East and West. The spirit and the letter of our 
laws are mocked and violated. 

Our primary concern is for the laws of God. We Americans 
of all religious faiths have been slow to recognize that racial 
discrimination and segregation are an insult to God, the Giver 
of human dignity and human rights. Even worse, we all have 
participated in perpetuating racial discrimination and segrega- 
tion in civil, political, industrial,' social, and private life. And 
worse still, in our houses of worship, our religious schools, hos- 
pitals, welfare institutions, and fraternal organizations we have 
often failed our own religious commitments. With few excep- 
tions we have evaded the mandates and rejected the promises 
of the faiths we represent. 

We repent our failures and ask the forgiveness of God. We 
ask also the forgiveness of our brothers, whose rights we have 
ignored and whose dignity we have offended. We call for a 
renewed religious conscience on this basically moral evil. 

II 

Our appeal to the American people is this: 

SEEK a reign of justice in which voting rights and equal 
protection of the law will everywhere be enjoyed; public facili- 
ties and private ones serving a public purpose will be accessible 
to all; equal education and cultural opportunities, hiring and 
promotion, medical and hospital care, open occupancy in 
housing will be available to all. 

SEEK a reign of love in which the wounds of past injustices 
will not be used as excuses for new ones; racial barriers will be 
eliminated; the stranger will be sought and welcomed; any man 



An Appeal to the Conscience L73 

will be received as brother— his rights, your rights; his pain, 
your pain; his prison, your prison. 

SEEK a reign of courage in which the people of God will 
make their faith their binding commitment; in which men 
willingly suffer for justice and love; in which churches and 
synagogues lead, not follow. 

SEEK a reign of prayer in which God is praised and wor- 
shiped as the Lord of the universe, before Whom all racial 
idols fall, Who makes us one family and to Whom we are all 
responsible. 

In making this appeal we afErm our common religious com- 
mitment to the essential dignity and equality of all men under 
God. We dedicate ourselves to work together to make this 
commitment a vital factor in our total life. 

We call upon all the American people to work, to pray and 
to act courageously in the cause of human equality and dignity 
while there is still time, to eliminate racism permanently and 
decisively, to seize the historic opportunity the Lord has given 
us for healing an ancient rupture in the human family, to do 
this for the glory of God. 



Notes on Contributors 



Rabbi Morris Adler, rabbi of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, 
Detroit, since 1938, is the author of Selected Passages from 
the Torah and The World of the Talmud and a contributor 
to leading Jewish publications. 

A graduate of the College of the City of New York, Rabbi 
Adler was ordained, and graduated with highest honors, from 
the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1935. He has 
been chairman of the Public Review Board of the UAW-CIO 
since its founding, is a vice-president of the Jewish Community 
Council, and a member of the State Cultural Commission of 
Michigan. 

The Rev. Will D. Campbell is the author of Race and 
Renewal of the Church and executive director of the Southern 
Project, Department of Racial and Cultural Relations, Na- 
tional Council of Churches. 

Born in Amite County, Mississippi, Rev. Campbell received 
his A.B. degree at Wake Forest College, studied sociology and 
psychology at Tulane University, and received his B.D. degree 
at Yale. He has been a race relations specialist with the Na- 
tional Council of Churches since 1956. 

Dr. Dan W. Dodson, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Edu- 
cational Sociology, is a professor in New York University's 

175 



176 Notes on Contributors 

School of Education and director of NYU's Center for Human 
Relations and Community Studies. 

Dr. Dodson received his B.A. degree from McMurry College 
in Abilene, Texas, in 1931; his master's from Southern Method- 
ist University in 1936; and his Ph.D. from NYU in 1941. From 
1945 to 1948 he helped the Brooklyn Dodgers in their prepara- 
tions to break the 90-year-old color line which kept Negro 
baseball players out of the Big Leagues. 

The Very Rev. Msgr. John J. Egan is Director of the 
Archdiocesan Conservation Council of Chicago, to which 
position he was appointed in May of 1959 after serving for 
thirteen years as Director of the Cana Conference of the 
Chicago Archdiocese. 

Monsignor Egan is a member of the Board of Directors of 
the National Housing Conference, and a member of the 
Board of Governors of the Metropolitan Chicago Housing and 
Planning Council. He is Chairman of the Interreligious 
Council on Urban Affairs of Chicago. 

Professor Abraham Joshua Heschel, professor of Jewish 
Ethics and Mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of 
America, is internationally known as a scholar, author, and 
theologian. Dr. Heschel's major work in two volumes, Man 
Is Not Alone and God in Search of Man, has been acclaimed 
for its profound and creative approach to religious philosophy. 

He was born in Warsaw, the descendant of a long line of 
Hassidic scholars. Professor Heschel received his Ph.D. in 1933 
at the University of Berlin. He returned to Warsaw, but in 
1939 departed for London. There he established the Institute 
for Jewish Learning. He came to the United States in 1940. 

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King., Jr., has gained national 
recognition for his leadership in the struggle to secure civil 
rights for all United States citizens. Dr. King is president of the 



Notes on Contributors 177 

Southern Christian Leadership Conference and co-pastor with 
his father of the Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. 

He is the author of Stride Toward Freedom and The Mea- 
sure of Man. Dr. King received a B.A. degree from Morehouse 
College, Atlanta, in 1948; a B.D. degree from Crozer Theologi- 
cal Seminary, Chester, Penn., in 1951; and his doctorate in 
systematic theology from Boston University in 1955. 

Dr. Franklin H. Littell, professor of church history at 
Chicago Theological Seminary, has written numerous scholarly 
and religious articles, and written or edited nine books. 

He received his B.D. from Union Theological Seminary in 
1940, and his Ph.D. in 1946 from Yale. Dr. Littell is a con- 
sultant to the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 
the area of religion in higher education and to the Association 
of Coordinators of University Religious Affairs. 

Rabbi Julius Mark is Senior Rabbi of one of America's lead- 
ing Reform Jewish congregations, Temple Emanu-El in New 
York City. He is president of the Synagogue Council of 
America, national co-ordinating agency of all three branches 
of American Jewry. 

For many years he has been active in the leadership of the 
National Conference of Christians and Jews. Dr. Mark was 
graduated from the University of Cincinnati and was ordained 
at the Hebrew Union College. 

Albert, Cardinal Meyer was appointed in 1959 to the 
College of Cardinals, and has since been named by Pope John 
XXIII, to the Pontificial Commission for Biblical Studies for 
the Second Vatican Council. Cardinal Meyer is a former pro- 
fessor and rector at St. Paul's Seminary in Milwaukee, where 
in 1903 he was born and in 1953 was named Archbishop. 

The 59-year-old prelate is widely known in Roman Catholic 



178 Notes on Contributors 

educational circles as a past president general of the National 
Catholic Educational Association, and former Episcopal Chair- 
man of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, Depart- 
ment of Education. 

J. Irwin Miller was the first layman ever elected to the presi- 
dency of the National Council of Churches in 1960. He holds 
this office through 1963. 

A noted industrialist, Mr. Miller is chairman of the board of 
the Cummins Engine Company, and a member of the boards 
of a number of other major corporations. A member of the 
Christian (Disciples of Christ) denomination, he makes his 
home in Columbus, Indiana. 

R. Sargent Shriver was appointed director of the United 
States Peace Corps in April, 1961. During the past two years 
he has traveled thousands of miles on behalf of this agency of 
international assistance. 

Mr. Shriver has years of experience in civic, social and edu- 
cation work. He has served as president of Chicago Board of 
Education and for five years as president of the Catholic Inter- 
racial Council of Chicago. Mr. Shriver is a lawyer and received 
both his B.A. and LL.B. degrees from Yale University. 



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