In this year of 1958, when the world is so rent by divisive forces, America stands in great need of spiritual guidance. The country as a whole must draw from its great heritage of religious freedom, justice and liberty to meet the challenge of the future. Ministers of America are truly on the front lines of the battle for freedom. On their shoulders, in large measure, depends the future of our nation.

The Crime Wave

The threat of crime still looms heavily. After World War II there were hopes—now dispelled—that crime rates would subside. Many people thought: “Just wait until normal conditions return and then we’ll see life settling back in the good old ways.” This has not happened. In 1957, for example, major crimes jumped 9.1 per cent over the comparable figures for 1956! This is an extremely high increase and merits the careful attention of every individual interested in a better society. In 1957, over 2,700,000 major crimes were committed, representing a 23.9 per cent increase over the average for the previous five years.

The great tragedy, moreover, is the evil effect of crime on young people. Persons under the age of 18, for example, in 1957 represented 53.1 per cent of all arrests reported for robbery, auto theft, burglary and larceny. Here lies a most potent danger to law and order. The adult criminal is the product of the juvenile offender. The criminal habits which create the hardened, veteran criminal are formed very frequently in the years of youth.

Guidance Of Youth

That is one of our great challenges today—to make American youth into productive citizens of tomorrow. Young people are full of energy, initiative and talent. They are looking for something to do. They need guidance. The key lies here. If that guidance comes from evil minds, from men and women interested in exploiting youthful energy for criminal pursuits, then that youth’s life will be blighted. So often juvenile delinquency is actually adult delinquency—older persons through neglect or lack of interest allow youth to drift into illegal activities.

Neglect Of Family Life

The family is so important to the proper rearing of young people. Often today, unfortunately, the family is more a name than a fact. The home is merely a place to sleep, to catch a hurried meal or to display fine furniture. Frequently, for example, family members do not eat together—life is so busy! Often the remark is heard, “This is the first meal we have all eaten together for a week.” That is a terrible commentary on our way of life. A gathering of the family around the dining table should be encouraged as often as possible. There the saying of a blessing before the meal, giving thanks to Almighty God, is a tie which binds the family. This custom, often neglected today, is an essential ingredient in the rearing of young children. The conversation at the family dining table is vital to the shaping of growing minds. Here members of the family express their opinions, tell their experiences of the day and exchange information. To miss this fellowship is to deprive boys and girls of part of their rightful heritage.

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Most important are family worship services. Here the reading of the Bible, the discussion of stories from Scripture, and prayer are invaluable in the developing of youthful character. Many men and women today remember these devotional services in their own family circle. Other facets of their early life have faded from memory, but that picture of father or mother reading the Bible remains bright.

The Minister’S Influence

We must all work together for a common aim. Ministers, in their contacts with young people and adults, are doing invaluable service in fighting crime. You, as ministers, probably do not realize the great help you can render in molding the career of a young man or woman. Time after time criminals, often with tears in their eyes, tell our special agents that they should have followed the advice given to them years before by their ministers.

What is needed are men and women willing to take the time to work with young people. How many times in churches, schools and civic organizations do you find this complaint: “We simply can’t find anybody who’ll work with our young people.” Why? Because many people plead they are too busy, that they have too many other things to do, to lend a helping hand.

Such an attitude is wrong. Our youth merit the very best of our attention. We are dealing with the leaders of tomorrow’s society. These youngsters need religious training; they need to know the Bible. Adults simply must take the time to work with them. The alternative is an ever-increasing crime-rate.

The Communist Challenge

Another challenge is that of Communism—the evil appeal of an atheistic doctrine which would destroy our way of life. The clergymen of America can make a great contribution to defeating this menace. Communism is evil. It is anti-God. It seeks to demean the human personality.

Under Communism the human being becomes a slave of the state. He is told what to do. He must think the way the state and party want him to think. Never must he question why.

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Communism would destroy our system of free government. In a communist society the Church would be one of the first targets of secret police. Clergymen would be silenced or liquidated. No room exists in Communism for the free play of the human spirit. That is the experience of slave states behind the Iron Curtain.

The clergymen of America have a vital role in meeting this challenge of the future—to defeat crime and subversion. The Church is the heartbeat of America. By urging members to rededicate their lives to God, clergymen are striking against these evil enemies.

This nation was founded on religious freedom. Religions have guided us in years past. They must continue to be our guide in the future. An America faithful to God will be an America free and strong.

Carrying His Plea To The People

By varied means, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s crime appraisals have a way of consistently penetrating to grass roots. His interpretations of trends in lawlessness, which serve to arouse the citizenry, have been attracting ears, eyes, and minds for many years. This month, for example, news media are giving wide publicity to Mr. Hoover’s analyses in the two areas of “challenge” presented in the Christianity Today article—influences among youth and Communism. In a message to law enforcement officials, he called for public pressure to halt “ominous trends of crime glorification” in movies and television. In congressional testimony made public he warned that the Communist party in America has renewed and intensified its program of infiltrating mass organizations in order to disguise its operations.

“In the face of the Nation’s terrifying juvenile crime wave, we are threatened with a flood of movies and television presentations which flaunt indecency and applaud lawlessness,” Mr. Hoover wrote in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. “Film trash mills, which persist in exalting violence and immorality, spew out celluloid poison which is destroying the impressionable minds of youth.”

“No standard of decency or code of operations can justify portraying vile gangsters as modern-day Robin Hoods,” he added. “Not since the days when thousands filed past the bier of the infamous John Dillinger and made his home a virtual shrine have we witnessed such a brazen affront to our national conscience.”

One of the few immediate public reactions to the FBI chief’s charges came from Harold E. Fellows, president of the National Association of Broadcasters, who said: “To the best of my knowledge, and that of the members of the Television Code Review Board, there have never been released any authoritative studies, made by accepted scientific methods, supporting the contention that television contributes materially to juvenile delinquency.”

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Industry expert Fellows thus implied disagreement with the considered opinion of a respected psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Kubie, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University. Mr. Kubie said in a CBS symposium a few weeks ago: “Quite frankly, I think the movies, TV, comics, the constant confrontation with killing, bloodletting in a form so realistic that to a child it’s as real as life itself, cannot fail to have an effect not on the impulse to rebel but on the form that your rebellion will take and what your standard then is of how you express the fact that you are rebelling.”

As for Communism, the threat is not waning, Mr. Hoover told a House subcommittee. “We now have approximately 150 known, or suspected, Communist-front and Communist-infiltrated organizations under investigation,” he said.

Here is a portion of his testimony:

“Certain organizations obviously dedicate their efforts to thwart the very concepts of this nation’s security programs.… They protest they are fighting for freedom, but, in reality, they seek license.

“They hypocritically bar Communists from their membership, but they seek to discredit all persons who abhor Communists and communism … they launch attacks against Congressional legislation designed to curb communism.

“Sadly, the cult of the pseudo-liberal, which is anything but liberal, continues to float about in the pink-tinted atmosphere of patriotic irresponsibility.… Every pseudo-liberal in this country should look inside his heart and give heed to the destruction he may be bringing upon the very country that permits him to enjoy this very freedom of thought.”—ED.

J. Edgar Hoover has been Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation since 1924. He holds the LL.B. and LL.M. degrees from George Washington University. Seventeen universities and colleges have conferred honorary degrees on him. Mr. Hoover first entered the Department of Justice in 1917.

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