FOR RELIEF OF DISTRESS: A MYTH TO STIR THE SOUL
Henry A. Murray, author of Explorations in Personality and professor of clinical psychology at Harvard, proposes in a recent issue of the Saturday Review that we adopt a “mythology of adulthood” to get America on toward world government. This “testament” would be compiled by selections from the vast libraries of the world, and would include narratives, legends and myths, songs and poems, codes, premonitions, psalms of praise and history. It would be a parable expressive of the need for peace, and its mythology would extol forces and functions within human nature. It would be inspiring, but would “be always susceptible to revisions, additions and subtractions.”
If we are not mistaken, this is the same Dr. Murray who testified in behalf of Alger Hiss at his trial several years ago. It was Murray’s contention that the writings of Whittaker Chambers in Life Magazine (on the subject of Satan) indicated that he was rather eccentric. Having discarded the “fiction” of Satan, the doctor now proposes a new kind of fiction and wants to base our moral imperatives upon it. Thus he becomes the latest in a long line of those who want to rewrite the Bible. Any legends, anyone? Send them to Harvard.
GOVERNOR BROWN COMPOUNDS THE CARYL CHESSMAN TRAVESTY
If the Caryl Chessman case thus far has proved somewhat of a travesty of California justice, Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown’s latest 60-day reprieve has compounded the errors. Spurred by opponents of the death penalty, Chessman has escaped the San Quentin gas chamber since 1948. When his latest appeal was denied by the California Supreme Court, Governor Brown said he could not intervene. But the Governor did intervene, admittedly deferring to foreign concerns despite a legal and proper determination of the American courts.
The Chessman case has become a show window for mounting propaganda against the death penalty. The Vatican press has voiced criticism of capital punishment, and the U. S. State Department indicated that Latin American demonstrators might seize upon President Eisenhower’s visit to Uruguay to stage a protest. Domestic policy was thus influenced by two unfortunate determinants: federal expression in state affairs, and overresponsiveness to foreign pressures. The concession by Governor Brown, it may be added, gives scant comfort to Protestants who are concerned about pressures upon government policy should a Roman Catholic (such as Governor Brown) be nominated and elected to the presidency.
There are lessons for the debate on the death penalty in Chessman’s extended imprisonment. The repeated delays of execution were encouraged by opponents of capital punishment, who then argued that the convict-author had suffered enough to satisfy justice. Emotional considerations were exploited while the moral and juridicial dimensions faded. California authorities have created this predicament for themselves. Delayed justice does not satisfy justice, but soon makes injustice seem respectable. A defeat for the death penalty (for reasons of excessive delay) in the case of a rapist who used perversion on his victims would deal a heavy propaganda blow against the death penalty for any convict on any charge under any circumstances. We prefer not to see our President exposed to the kind of thing that happened when the Vice President visited Venezuela, but is that a constitutional reason for turning justice into expediency in California? Fortunately, the California legislature seems to be prodding Governor Brown to show greater concern for an expediting of justice, and less concern for external pressures.
NCC WINS A SKIRMISH ON SUBVERSION IN THE CHURCHES
The National Council of Churches has won a skirmish with the U.S. Air Force, but may lose a major battle.
An Air Force manual which warned of left-wing sympathizers in NCC’s core of ecumenical leaders and workers (citing institutions, projects, organizations, and persons) drew heated NCC reply. Armed with photocopies, a three-member NCC press corps swept into Washington. In statements made to news services, Congressmen, and the Pentagon, the Air Force manual was deplored because it implied that the American people are not always entitled to all the facts, and also because it cast rather general suspicion upon Protestant churches as a Communist target. Its main weakness was its hasty “guilt by association” motif, without note of the fact that sincere men may unwittingly join red-front movements without thereby becoming Communists. Air Force Secretary Sharp and Defense Secretary Gates promptly repudiated the manual as unrepresentative of Air Force views. Sharp extended an apology to the NCC, prodded by a paid NCC secretary.
NCC promptly relayed this news to the nation. The Air Force manual had warned of subversion in church groups; now James Wine, NCC associate general secretary, after attending the General Board meeting in Oklahoma City, countercharged that the manual (with its reflection on NCC) may be itself subversive.
Throughout this maneuver NCC issued only general denials, but refuted none of the manual’s specific charges. This gave little assurance to a grass roots Protestant constituency already uneasy over the General Board’s evasive attitude on the Cleveland World Order study conference, whose “softness” toward Red China stirred wide criticism. NCC’s repudiation-in-general, alongside failure to refute the manual’s specific claims (only partly reflected to the nation), relied on an attitude of “shock” and swift propaganda counterattack. This provoked the movement’s perennial critics to reiterate the manual’s statements about subversion, and to insist on the truth of its contentions. They noted in the National Council protest a failure—alongside the demand for retraction and apology—to declare that the ministers who joined left-wing movements did so inadvertently. Adequate explanation is needed for the fact that so many names of prominent ministers appear as supporters of so many organizations on the left. If these names were used without authority, individuals involved should demand redress; if through an honest misunderstanding as to the nature of these movements, a withdrawal of ministerial support would be appreciated by the bewildered public. President Edwin T. Dahlberg did not touch this issue in his announcement that NCC “repudiates communism and all its works in full awareness of the treachery, duplicity and materialistic atheism of the whole Communist regime.”
Secretary Sharp was quoted as telling the House Un-American Activities Committee that the Air Force manual contains “statements of fact concerning Communist infiltration of churches” which he does not dispute. He explained that the manual is being withdrawn simply “because of the general impropriety of treating so important a subject, including the naming of specific individuals and organizations [particularly NCC; meanwhile NCC Board Leaders assailed Dr. Carl McIntire and the American Council of Christian Churches—ED.] without thorough review and approval at highest levels.” Chairman Francis Walter of the House Un-American Activities Committee, noting that the manual contains numerous quotations derived from hearings conducted by his own committee, remarked: “It is a fact supported by the record that Communists have duped large numbers of the clergy as well as lay leaders of the church into supporting Communist fronts and causes which masquerade behind a deceitful facade of humanitarianism. This is not to say that these persons are necessarily consciously supporting Communist enterprises, but the net result is for all practical purposes the same.”
With that, NCC was back where it was before. The General Board named former NCC president Eugene Carson Blake to get Defense Secretary Gates to “reaffirm” his rejection of the content of the manual as false, but this effort failed. When six leading NCC clergymen charged Chairman Walter with lying about “large numbers” of clergymen being duped into support of Communist causes, he invited them to challenge evidence before the House Unamerican Activities Committee, but they preferred another course. President Dahlberg and Former President Eugene Carson Blake said they would carry the matter to President Eisenhower “if necessary.” [In 1935, U. S. Naval Intelligence cited the Federal Council of Churches as “a large radical, pacifist organization.… It probably represents 20,000,000 Protestants.… However its leadership consists of a small radical group which dictates its policies.” Federal Council heads carried their plea to President Roosevelt, whose public approbation helped restore the movement’s declining prestige.]
The Air Force manual was not the root disease which NCC needed to eradicate, but only a symptom. A more troublesome symptom was the Cleveland conference. When surgery is necessary, the monthly issuance of “everything OK” bulletins will convince nobody. What NCC needed was self-examination, not self-justification. Until its leadership stops minimizing the vices of the Soviet sphere and the virtues of the West, no propaganda thrust will overcome a defect of proportion and principle.
Newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan, nationally known for his Sunday television variety shows, in his syndicated column (“Little Old New York”), appearing in the New York Daily News and more than 100 other papers, commented on CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S editorial “Bigotry or Smear” (Feb. 1 issue). Mr. Sullivan’s published remarks are reprinted below, and with them an “Open Letter to Ed Sullivan” by Dr. Glenn L. Archer, executive director of Protestants and Other Americans United.
“My distinguished neighbor, Dr. Ralph W. Sockman, pastor of Christ Church, Methodist, reacting to the inflammatory editorial against Sen. John Kennedy in the nondenominational Protestant magazine, CHRISTIANITY TODAY, says: ‘We must keep the forthcoming Presidential campaign above religious partisanship and vote for candidates on the basis of their proven records as Americans.’ Kennedy’s record in the Pacific was marked by conspicuous heroism when his PT boat was sliced in half by a Japanese destroyer. He saved one of his crewmen by swimming 5 miles, towing the raft with the badly burned sailor, IN HIS TEETH! I’m sure Kennedy didn’t ask the burned sailor his religion.
“The most offensive paragraph in CHRISTIANITY TODAY reads this way: ‘Can we be sure that a Catholic candidate, in the confessional booth, will not succumb to threats of purgatory and promises of merit, from the organization which he believes to hold the keys of heaven?’ … Contributing editors to the magazine, in which this appeared, include Billy Graham and the Rev. Edward Elson, pastor of the Washington church which President Eisenhower attends. I think both these ministers, as Americans, promptly should disavow any association with this type of hateful bigotry.”
Dear Mr. Sullivan:
Since you have used your syndicated column to attempt a smear attack on CHRISTIANITY TODAY, nationally known Protestant journal, and on some of the nation’s most distinguished Protestant clergymen, I should like to address this reply to you and to the citizens of the United States who need to be alerted to such tactics.
Protestants and Other Americans United, the organization I represent, has never attempted to apply any “religious test” for public servants. It has always refused to oppose, or to endorse, any candidate because of his religious faith. We do recognize, nevertheless, that many citizens do have honest reservations about a Catholic candidate for President and that these reservations are sufficiently strong to influence them to cast a negative vote. We cannot sit idly by while you impugn these Protestant citizens with the charge of bigotry.
In the first sentence of your comment you quote Dr. Ralph W. Sockman as saying: “We must keep the forthcoming Presidential campaign above religious partisanship and vote for candidates on the basis of their proven records as Americans.” Then you attempt to use the great prestige of Dr. Sockman as your stick to heat CHRISTIANITY TODAY and its editors. There is no indication that Dr. Sockman was “reacting to the editorial” as you assert. The only connection between the two was one conjured up in your mind and then used by you to mislead your readers.
Next comes your account of Senator Kennedy’s war heroism. This is wholly irrelevant to the issues in the CHRISTIANITY TODAY editorial. Men of many faiths fought with distinction in the war.
CHRISTIANITY TODAY defines a bigot as “one who is obstinately devoted to his own church,” and bigotry as “an unreasoning attachment to one’s own belief.” Will you not carefully appraise your behavior in the light of these definitions? Consider especially your attempt to impugn Billy Graham and Dr. Edward L. R. Elson, foremost Protestant clergymen whose names appear on the masthead of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. Apparently you are trying to sell the American people the propaganda line that it is “hateful bigotry” for anyone to say anything about any Roman Catholic aspirant for the Presidency in connection with his religion. I doubt whether any such transparent attempt to muzzle the citizenry in this simple fashion is going to succeed.
Recently Pope John XXIII asserted his church’s right to instruct Roman Catholics how to vote in political elections. According to The New York Times (Jan. 25, 1960), the Pope announced as “liable to excommunication” any Catholics who vote for or join political parties or persons that promote heretical principles, even though they may not go so far as apostasy and atheism. If the Pope can tell Roman Catholics how to vote without the charge of bigotry, why cannot CHRISTIANITY TODAY tell Protestants what the Pope is up to without the charge of “hateful bigotry?”
The more I think about your intemperate outburst against Protestant leaders, the more I am inclined to believe you may have unwittingly served the cause of freedom. You have called the attention of your many readers to a now famous editorial printed in the February 1, 1960, issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY. I hope all of them will get and read it (Protestants and Other Americans United will be glad to furnish a reprint copy free of charge). These informed persons will be our best protection against the disaster you are apparently trying to create—the suppression of honest, intelligent questions about Presidential candidates by smear tactics.
GLENN L. ARCHER
Protestants and Other Americans United
1633 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington 6, D. C.
[In its editorial CHRISTIANITY TODAY did not mention Senator Kennedy or any other candidate, but dealt with principles. In his statement to Mr. Sullivan, Dr. Sockman did not commit himself to any candidate, nor comment on the personalities of candidates, nor, he tells us, did he pass any judgment on CHRISTIANITY TODAY.—ED.]
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