A major church-state incident this month involved the National Council of Churches in a stern rebuke of the U. S. Department of Defense.

At issue was a new, easy-reading Air Force training manual, one lesson of which taught non-commissioned reservists how to safeguard military information and how to recognize subversive techniques.

The manual quoted a newspaper editorial which criticized a Protestant church convention for urging that Red China be recognized by the United States and admitted to the United Nations.

“The implications of this editorial are clear,” the manual observed. “Communists and Communist fellow-travelers and sympathizers have successfully infiltrated into our churches. The foregoing is not an isolated example, by any means; it is known that even the pastors of certain of our churches are card-carrying communists.”

A reservist in Trenton, New Jersey, told his minister that he was disturbed at this and other parts of the manual. The minister notified the local council of churches, which in turn called NCC headquarters in New York’s Interchurch Center.

James Wine, an associate general secretary of the NCC, immediately fired off a strongly-worded letter of protest to Defense Secretary Thomas S. Gates.

Five days later Wine and two other NCC staff members came to Washington because, according to a spokesman, the Defense Department “was not treating the matter with the sense of importance we thought it deserved.”

The following day Air Force Secretary Dudley Sharp was quoted as having “categorically repudiated the publication” as representative of Air Force views.

Sharp also ordered the manuals withdrawn, only to learn that such an order had already been issued—six days before. The Air Force said the manual was brought ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: