By focussing attention on the principle of freedom of speech, the General Board of the National Council of Churches endeavored to divert the storm of protest directed at political pronouncements of the Cleveland Conference on World Order. At the regular board meeting, held last month in Hartford, Connecticut, the 91 delegates took no action on the Red China issue.
It had been a foregone conclusion that the board would follow the recommendation of its Executive Committee that the report of the Cleveland Study Conference be received and transmitted to the Department of International Affairs for action. The report may or may not be brought before the board at its next meeting in Seattle, Washington.
During the brief and informal discussion on the portion of the Cleveland report recommending United States recognition of Red China and its admission to the United Nations, the board expressed its mind in “The Hartford Appeal.” This document stated, “The issue is the right of the citizen of whatever race or creed, and of any peaceable organizations he chooses to form or join, to discuss freely and to express judgments, without exposure to attacks upon motive or integrity for daring to exercise the right to do so.” A portion deleted from the original draft revealed what to many critics were the issues: “Red China is not the issue. Pacifism is not the issue. Whether the recent Cleveland Conference spoke for itself, or whether the National Council properly speaks for its 38,000,000 constituents is not the issue.” These, however, were the issues that had been raised by thousands of ministers and laymen of constituent churches. The board was but following the example of left-wing organizations who raise the question ...1
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