Future Of The American Worker
The investigation of racketeering and corruption in the labor movement raises several important questions of concern to the American worker. The immediate question is: In the event of guilt, what punishment of a union leader is proportionate to his crime? The broader question is: What legislation and enforcement are needed to prevent the repetition of such crime? The ultimate question is: Whither the labor movement?
Since no man is considered guilty in America until after trial, it is a bit premature to hang Dave Beck, even in effigy. The McClellan Committee, however, in its search for evidence of racketeering and corruption, has not lacked for serious charges, and its work is just begun. Already the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO has suspended Mr. Beck, its vice president (hence one of its most powerful officers) and president of its largest affiliate, the 1,400,000-member Brotherhood of Teamsters, an official who retreated to the Fifth Amendment with assembly-line monotony to avoid “self-incrimination” when his union deals came under scrutiny. Beck’s “million dollar public relations plan” to offset publicity of a possible $320,000 misappropriation of union funds has been blocked. On May 20 the Executive Council gives him a hearing—without benefit of Fifth Amendment, and without his being under oath—to determine if suspension should be turned into expulsion. In New York two former union officials, George Scalise and Sol Cilento, pleaded guilty to welfare racket charges in a $299,000 union fraud, and face maximum jail terms of three years.
The question of the relation between punishment and crime is an important one. In the event of misuse of union funds for personal gain, is mere dismissal from office a sufficient retribution? Is a stiff fine or a jail term proportionate punishment? Or ought union leadership to be required as well to make commensurate restitution for misappropriated assets?
If the labor movement itself does not “clean house” and insist upon punishment which fits the crime, the danger exists that reactionary legislation may hinder labor in its rightful pursuits, not simply with a view to reprisal but to discourage repetition of the offenses. Some labor leaders, on the other hand, tend to provoke such legislation when they seize the present period of union racket disclosures to propagandize against “right to work” laws, attacking them as a move to punish the unions. The fact is that the legitimacy of the closed shop has been long debated. A vote for right to work laws cannot be considered an effort to punish the unions, since its concern is to break the closed shop’s power of compulsion, which compromises the liberty of the individual worker.
The spotlight is now turned on the moral climate of the labor movement. Since neither the Senate Committee nor the AFL-CIO Executive Council has legal power to prosecute, the depth of dissatisfaction and ethical indignation in the ranks of the teamsters is being tested. It may be true that less than 5 per cent of labor union funds have been mishandled, but that is no slim bonanza. One misappropriated dollar would raise the ethical question.
Some locals have voted against contributions for Mr. Beck’s defense; others have requested his removal from office and the resignation of other leaders like Brewster and Hoffa as well. In one local, sentiment was said to run 50 to 1 against Beck. Since union members are often written off as interested only in higher wages and improved working conditions, and willing to tolerate corrupt bosses who take a generous slice of benefits if only the workers’ lot is bettered, these are hopeful signs.
But they must not be misread as an index to moral earnestness in the unions. Next to the church constituencies, the labor movement is the biggest movement in American life. Unless its moral concern is revived, the social outlook is dim. There are 1100 locals in the teamsters union alone, but only a pitiful minority show signs of moral revulsion. The vanished sense of righteous indignation on the part of the unionized American worker is, in fact, a bitter fact of our times. The union movement has not noticeably sharpened ethical sensitivities. Too many members respond to racketeering with a shrug and the reaction: “Look how well off we are!”
But there is another way of looking at this problem. The American workers have seldom aggressively participated in the union decision-making process. Except for meetings at which a strike was in prospect, or a raise in union dues, they have left the destiny of locals to their leaders. The present apathy reflects this characteristic temper of the worker.
For this indifference the union leadership is partly to blame. In the major labor conventions the leaders constitute an insuperable power bloc to which opposition has seemed futile. And in the locals many workers fear intimidation or reprisal if they challenge leaders from the floor.
But the churches too are culpable in some measure. It is true enough that many laborers avoid the Church. Some dismiss the churches as indifferent to the economic welfare of the workers, but more often they rationalize the discomfort that most unregenerate persons associate with the house of God. The fact remains, however, that the churches have too little attacked the problems of the laboring man. And where they have, labor leaders have tended to require endorsement of their own pronouncements and objectives as the evidence of economic earnestness.
The endorsement of the platform that labor has a right to organize is an example. Most denominational social action groups long ago approved “labor’s right to organize.” Yet the hesitancies of other church groups to lend ecclesiastical approval to this bare formula had some justification. There are some goals for which labor is illicitly organized; among them are the exploitation of the working man by a corrupt union boss and violence by the labor movement in its disagreements with management.
Nonetheless, if the churches include the largest grouping of American citizens, and the labor movement the next largest, there must be in many situations a generous overlapping of union member and worshipper. The lack of moral sensitivity and courage in the labor ranks indicates not only that the function of the labor movement has been conceived too narrowly in terms of higher wages, benefits, and standards, but that the churches themselves have not imparted to the worshipper as a worker the Christian view of the daily job as a divine calling. The labor unions are as much a part of the permanent structure of American society in the foreseeable future as any other grouping; it is high time that the local churches interpreted the meaning of work and the responsibilities of the economic sphere, to union and nonunion workers. For out of this conviction of ultimate spiritual responsibility can rise a new sense of moral integrity and earnestness in the workaday world.
It is easy, because of the secular current of our era, to underestimate the crucial importance of this spiritual-moral orientation of the economic life. Some observers will plead simply for a program of education emphasizing labor’s social responsibility; others will stress the necessity of additional legislation, or the enforcement of legislation already on the statute books; others will argue that the public and the worker will be best protected through a better implementation of democratic processes. There is something to be said for all these emphases, and a word of caution to be uttered in connection with them too. Important as they are, the real need today runs deeper.
The problem of the American worker today, like that of society in general, is the problem of false gods. The solution of his problem must therefore be a religious solution. He may blame the meaninglessness of work upon the monotony of the assembly lines, upon the disproportions of capitalism, or a hundred and one other things. Some of them, indeed may be contributory factors, but their rectification will not solve his problem. Deep down, the modern worker’s sense of estrangement in his job is due to his estrangement from God. He does not know the meaning of life, and hence he does not know the meaning of work.
In Great Britain, labor is more fully unionized than in the United States, yet corruption is quite foreign to labor. This should give pause to those who argue that racketeering is due to labor’s sheer bigness. What really accounts for the moral temper of the labor movement in Britain is its heritage from the days when labor unions were Christian in outlook. Britain still shares the lingering influence of the Methodist Revival on the trade union movement. A lapse in moral standards is always a reflection of spiritual defection, whereas the temperament of honesty which survives in society is to be explained by surviving spiritual supports.
Secularists may argue for the relativity of ethics, pointing out that the pattern of strict honesty and accounting pervades all aspects of British life. Those who invoke this line of argument aim to justify wrongs in the American unions as a sheer reflex of the relativity of business ethics generally. After all, they say, labor leaders are just doing what others are doing: politicians in their electoral campaign fund practices, business executives in their supplemental benefits. American corporation executives, they argue, often acquire marginal benefits, such as company airplanes and yachts; moreover, the highest paid labor executive gets $60,000 while management salaries go much higher. But labor leaders, at any rate, have condemned such benefits as immoral, whereas most management has not. A reliance on the relativistic ethics of our day will therefore hardly enhance the defenses of the labor movement. The retrogression in labor to self-justification of what it has condemned in management can only reflect on its moral earnestness.
There will be needed discussion in the days ahead over stricter enforcement of existing legislation, over the enactmnt of sterner laws, and over ways to insure the democratic process. Laws can and always will be broken in the absence of moral and spiritual integrity, but they provide at least an outward restraint and a rebuke to evil. Most crimes by which a labor leader is tempted to exploit his constituency are already prohibited by law, and the real problem is one of enforcement. But minimal codes of conduct within the unions need to be strengthened. The constitution of the Machinists union is worthy of emulation; it forbids loans of union funds to private individuals, and it requires certified public accountants to audit funds regularly, with a printed and publicly accessible statement showing each payment to every official by name, and approved by an audit committee of rotating membership from various locals. A full accounting of union welfare and pension funds and their use, with public disclosure of all transactions, will be widely demanded.
Alongside this emphasis on sterner legislation there is a growing insistence that the democratic process be strengthened within the unions. Already there is some clamor that boss control and union trusteeships be abolished; that free elections be guaranteed, with secret ballots to eliminate fear of loss of one’s job or other reprisal. In this “nod to democracy,” proper enough, three serious risks remain.
The first is the apathy of union members in regard to their union responsibilities. It is highly dubious that the labor movement can make good its claim to have involved more Americans in decision-making than any other social structure. The lack of participation reflected by society generally is compounded within the labor ranks, and this indifference allows labor leaders to take control. It was this situation in Britain, where an average of only 8 to 9 per cent of the members showed up at union elections, that provided Communists their opportunity, although small in number, to infiltrate strategic labor positions.
Another risk is that the elected union official tends to feel that the workers have given him a mandate to implement any policy that the labor leaders endorse. This pledges the conscience of workers in matters on which there has been no debate.
A third danger derives from the fact that an elected official is not necessarily the best qualified. Within the present structural setup, ostensibly democratic, the same leaders and officers are often elected and re-elected, and the rank and file seem incapable of effecting a change. There remains much to be said for appointed salaried leaders chosen on a competitive basis.
It is not democracy which guards the moral earnestness of the labor movement, but the Christian heritage which best guards the integrity of democracy and of all the social structures. Since the social problem is primarily a religious problem, it is the tragedy of our century that Christian influence upon the economic world has worn thin. In part, this deterioration came about through the liberal Protestant displacement of the gospel of personal regeneration by the social gospel; the task of the Church became that of organizing society, rather than of evangelizing it. But evangelical Protestantism was also at fault; in its concern for the purity of the gospel, it ironically gravitated toward social inactivism and neglected the exposition of Christian imperatives in labor and economics, and the state and culture.
The world of work today stands in need of Christian compass bearings. If these are concealed, the labor leader and the worker will not be challenged to grasp the significance of work as a divine vocation. And the labor movement itself will drift aimlessly, or run aground in the shallow waters of misguided ambitions. There are other ways than financial of exploiting labor. Leaders may also use it as a means of enhancing their public and political recognition through an ability to control votes. When mass movements are adrift, there is always the danger that leaders may use them simply as a political weapon, or carry them directly into politics. It is a time to cast anchor, and to be sure that the line reaches from the sphere of economic interests down to the changeless spiritual and moral world. A democracy that prizes a citizenry under God must learn to prize business and labor under God as well.
Neo-Universalism: A Threat To The Gospel
Within the Church today there is an ominous recrudescence of an old heresy, a line of reasoning that precludes eternal punishment and holds out assurance of the ultimate salvation of all mankind, regardless of whether Christ has been accepted or rejected.
Does the love of God preclude eternal punishment for the unrepentant sinner?
Are the holiness and justice of God incompatible with his love and mercy?
Shall we admit the scriptural reality of redemption from the guilt and penalty of sin and deny the scriptural reality of the dread alternative to faith in Christ?
Is the question of Job’s friend no longer relevant: “Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more purer than his maker?”
The many variants of Universalism are nothing new. Annihilationism, conditioned immortality, “second chance” and other theories have been held by individuals and groups down through the centuries.
The annihilationist believes that man is created immortal but loses immortality through sin and is therefore, by a positive act of God, deprived of immortality, his final state being devoid of consciousness and hence virtually devoid of actual existence.
A variation of this theory suggests that man has a conditioned immortality—the individual who accepts Christ gaining immortality, while the individual who rejects him ultimately ceases to exist.
In the nineteenth century a small group who advocated the theory of a second chance had a following. They believed that after death there is an intermediary state during which men may accept or reject Christ, the final state of man being determined at the judgment.
Universalism in America had its official beginning in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1779. Today the Universalist Church of America is comprised of about 400 congregations with a total membership of 75,000. That this group has grown so slowly reflects its lack of a vital Christian message. It seems certain that a similar blight will descend on wavering evangelical churches espousing doctrines inherent in Universalism.
It is one thing to magnify the love and mercy of God. It is an entirely different thing to do so to the exclusion of other attributes of God revealed in Scripture.
To affirm that “God is too loving and kind to damn anyone to eternal punishment” meets a responsive chord in the heart of each of us. But what it overlooks is the fact that man is already lost, that he is born in sin and that he continues to commit sin, and that the wages of sin is death. The love of God is evidenced in the sending of his Son into the world and confirmed by the sacrificial death on the Cross. The best known passage in all of the Scripture makes plain man’s lost condition and his sole basis for redemption. Even a cursory study of John 3:16 reveals these vital truths: God’s compelling love; the sending of his Son; the proffered gift of eternal life; and faith as a necessary factor.
Scripture depicts the ultimate state of the soul after death as fixed. In our Lord’s story of the rich fool, Abraham says to the one in torment: “… between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” The final words of this dialogue as recorded by Luke are deeply significant: “… If they hear not Moses and the prophets neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Could this not be prophetic as well as declaratory?
A study of the Scriptures will also reveal that the final judgment determines the soul’s ultimate destination on the basis of that which is done in the flesh. It is never in any way made to depend on what has occurred in an intermediary state.
Why then this new (yet old) universalism? On what is it predicated? A number of factors can be mentioned, the order of their importance and their particular appeal varying with individuals.
Probably the idea of ultimate salvation for all, regardless of man’s response to Christ, most frequently stems from a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the love of God. Regarding eternal punishment wrongly as contradictory of a loving heavenly Father, it argues that there can be no such end for an unrepentant sinner.
Another cause for this neo-universalism is man’s failure to understand the nature of sin itself. Sin is more than the commission of certain acts, and the failure to perform others. Sin is rebellion against God, an ingrained trait of character with which all men are born. Sin is infinitely deeper than maladjustment; it is broader than an unfortunate environment; it is not a matter of externalities but of the warp and woof of man’s heart and all that proceeds from it. Man is a sinner by nature and by practice and the fruits of the unregenerate life show themselves in the sins of the flesh and the sins of the spirit. Adultery and theft are sins; so are pride and jealousy. The awfulness of sin can be imagined only in the light of the price God paid to restore the sinner to fellowship with himself.
Undoubtedly one contributing cause to the increasingly popular belief in universal salvation is a false doctrine of the universal fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. That all men are God’s children by creation is obvious. But that this relationship was broken by man’s sin is also clear from Scripture. According to our Lord’s own statement, in this state of estrangement from God man is of his father the Devil. He also affirms that unless we are born again we shall never see the Kingdom of Heaven. This works havoc with man’s pride but it offers the only adequate remedy.
Unquestionably sincere Christians are troubled about those millions who have died and are dying without ever having heard of Christ and his love. Why not leave them to a merciful Father? The Bible affirms man’s responsibility in relation to the light he has. The possibility of rational faith in God is open to men everywhere through the works of creation. In all of this there is cause for redoubled incentive for witness rather than for wishful speculation. To affirm the universal salvation of all mankind, regardless of what man may do with Christ, places one in direct opposition to the volume of biblical truth. To cast aside God’s revelation of man’s destiny in the age to come inevitably jeopardizes the revelation of his redemptive love. To presume either annihilation, a second chance or some hoped-for universal work of redemption beyond the grave disregards revealed truth and replaces it with a hypothesis which is unscriptural and desperately dangerous. A comparative study of the spread of evangelical Christianity and historic universalism will reveal an abysmal difference in the two. The former is dynamic, living and evangelistic, carrying the message of salvation to the ends of the earth. The latter is static, listless and bogged down in a false optimism on the one hand and a lack of a missionary urge on the other. To the evangelical, faith is a burning message of eternal import which must be told. To the universalist, faith is a religion of options, not of imperatives.
According to the Scripture man’s eternal destiny depends on the answer to this question: “What will ye do with the Christ?” Does man know a better way?
Prayer And The Spirit The Door To New York
The pagan city of Rome became an immediate objective for evangelization on the part of the early church. Its capture for Christianity was no doubt due in large part to the zeal, prayers, sacrifices and efforts of devoted servants of Christ. The difficulty and seeming impossibility of evangelizing pagan Rome did not deter nor discourage. Much of the progress of Christianity in middle centuries was due to the strategic capture of the center of the Roman Empire.
When the seige of Rome started by the forces of Christ, it mattered not to true believers whether Peter, Paul or Apollos led the attack as long as God gave the increase. True—some were anxious that one or the other of the leaders be given prominence and honor, but this spirit was rebuked by the apostle. The great desire of the leaders was for supporting prayer.
Important in situation as Rome but not as pagan, stands the city of New York. In the name of Christ a gideon band of evangelists strengthened with local pastors will set seige to this cosmopolitan commercial city. Modern means of communication and publicity will facilitate and provide aid in the proclamation of Gospel. But the preaching of the Gospel and the effusion of the Holy Spirit are the two main requirements to overcome the largest city in the world.
Forgetting the conquest of Rome—as the Israelites forgot the miracle of Egyptian deliverance—timid Christians cry that the giants of indifference, worldliness, and commercialism are too strong and mighty for conquest. Surely the blessing of the Lord upon the Billy Graham campaigns in London and Glasgow should provide encouraging examples of what God has done and is able and willing to perform. Faith in the power and love of God is essential to-victory.
Faith must be mingled with sincere and constant prayer. Believing and importunate prayer should constantly ascend to the throne of grace, especially for the outpouring of the Spirit of God. New York City can no more be regenerated and sanctified, without the work of the Holy Spirit, than it can be redeemed without the blood of the Son of God. The difference between a spurious revival and a genuine one is the Holy Spirit.
Man must be blotted out. Billy Graham goes forth not in his weaknesses, imperfections and mistakes but in the name of the Lord. He proclaims the Word not as an infallible prophet but as a preacher of the infallible Word. Pray that God may lead him to preach the good news of salvation. Pray that God may send the Spirit with regenerating power. Pray that God may turn New York City upside down. Pray without ceasing.
Virtues And Weaknesses Of The Fifth Amendment
The significance of the Fifth Amendment as an element in the American tradition of liberty must not be missed. The law against self-incrimination, that is that no person shall be compelled to witness against himself, has been one of the great principles of Anglo-American jurisprudence, reaching back to the Twelfth Century.
In a recent article on “The Fifth Amendment and Its Equivalent in the Halakhah” in Judaism (Winter, 1956), Norman Lamm points out that in the Hebrew laws supplementing Scripture, the disqualification of the confessant as a bona-fide witness is required and not a matter of the defendant’s personal privilege. This religious formulation overcomes the presumption of guilt which often attaches in our day to the invoking of a privilege. Whereas the Fifth Amendment took its rise out of a humanitarian reaction against the use of torture in legal trials and hence has in view primarily a negative protest against compulsion, Mr. Lamm notes that biblical connections of the idea that the accused is not to be judged by the testimony of his relatives, or of himself but by the testimony of other witnesses.
The sad fact remains, however, that in our day the Fifth Amendment has been so much invoked as a means of obstructing the due processes of law that the term “Fifth Amendment Communist” has passed into the vernacular of the times. Those who invoke the Fifth Amendment repeatedly in the face of Congressional investigations into political and economic corruption have come to be regarded, and in many cases not without good reason, as invoking a privilege in order to frustrate the cause of justice rather than to facilitate it.
There is one court of justice, however, in which the resort to the Fifth Amendment is useless. The conscience of man hails him constantly before the judgment throne of God. In that great and awful day, when all men shall stand in his presence, it will be futile to raise a point of personal privilege.
Pleading the Fifth Amendment to frustrate justice cannot avail the sinner before the judgment seat. His life, his deeds, his words are written for the Judge to behold. No legal technicality can prevent access to the book of life written by each individual.
Acquittal from the charge of guilt can only be brought about by an appeal to the perfect work and merit of one whose righteousness is imputed to all who believe. The point of personal privilege can only be raised by those who are in Christ Jesus. Not the Fifth Amendment but Jesus Christ forms the protection and accomplishes the acquittal of the sinner.
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