U. S. Protestant leaders are worried over their social welfare ties with government. Should federal money be used by Protestant agencies and institutions? What are the long-term effects on church-state relations? Such questions are provoking much soul searching at top denominational levels.

Issue Avoided In Atlantic City

Diversities in Protestant practice complicated a 1957 Atlantic City conference on the church’s role and function in social welfare. Attending delegates from 27 denominations of the National Council of Churches and some city and state councils recognized “dangers in centralized governmental action,” yet affirmed that “in a pluralistic society it is necessary that governmental agencies and voluntary services cooperate” on a non-discriminating basis “so that the needs of all people will be met.” Uncertain of the extent to which cooperation should be carried, especially when government funds are used by church-related services, the delegates requested further study and conference on church-state relations. Some critics fear the government’s use of the church to implement state programs of welfare, a progressive curtailment of voluntarism, and a free hand for “fund grabs” by Roman Catholic and Protestant groups which highly approve government aid for new building programs or “purchase of services” from voluntary agencies, or both.

Wide Range Of Discrepancy

Speaking to key Protestant churchmen interested in the social welfare dilemma, Dr. William J. Villaume, executive director of the NCC Department of Social Welfare, underscored extensive involvement in a review of major church and state relationships in the current execution of the welfare program ...

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