Some forty-five clergymen from a dozen states assembled in Washington early this month in an organized effort to communicate their views about what the U. S. government should be doing in Viet Nam. Although they stopped short of specific proposals, they voiced “uneasiness” about the growing crisis.
A larger group of clergymen scheduled a march to the Pentagon and a “silent vigil” there the following week.
Both groups disclaimed a pacifist consensus, but a call to the “vigil” committee headquarters elicited the “educated guess”—and transparent understatement—that the “vigil” participants were against the $700 million appropriation overwhelmingly passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives for United States involvement in Viet Nam. In general, the “vigil” participants were reported to favor more active efforts toward a negotiated settlement of the crisis.
The earlier group of forty-five, who called their gathering a “visitation,” were less specific—especially after an hour’s talk with Vice-President Hubert Humphrey. The Vice-President spelled out the administration’s position in what a group spokesman called “persuasive” terms, apparently changing the views of some of the clergymen.
Before the meeting with Humphrey, the consensus was reportedly against continued bombing of North Viet Nam.
Although the “visitation” was billed as an inter-faith project, with Protestant and Jewish clergymen participating, the rendezvous point was the Washington office of the National Council of Churches. Much of the spadework, moreover, was done by Dr. Vernon L. Ferwerda, NCC assistant general secretary ...1
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