« AnteriorContinuar »
STATEMENT OF RABBI IRWIN BLANK, SYNAGOGUE COUNCIL OF
AMERICA; ACCOMPANIED BY FATHER JOHN F. CRONIN, NATIONAL CATHOLIC WELFARE CONFERENCE; AND DR. EUGENE CARSON BLAKE, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST
Rabbi BLANK. Mr. Chairman, recognizing the limitations of time and the difficulties under which your committee is working, I will certainly be glad to summarize the major points of our statement and hopefully emphasize those aspects which we feel need particular emphasis.
Senator CLARK. Thank you, sir, and the formal statement with those appendices will be printed in the record at this point.
(The material referred to follows:)
STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC WELFARE CONFERENCE, THE SEXAGOGTE
COUNCIL OF AMERICA, AND THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Rabbi Irwin Blank, and I um chairman of the Social Action Commission of the Synagogue Council of America. Accompanying me are Father John F. Cronin, associate director of the Social Action Department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference and Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, stated clerk of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States and representing the National Council of Churches as vice chairman of its Commission on Religion and Race. It is an unprecedented and indeed historic event that I speak for the social action, and racial action departments of the National Council of Churches, the National Catholic Welfare Conference, and the Synagogue Council of America.
Racial discrimination and segregation still continue to deny persons basic human rights in this country 100 years after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. There is growing determination on the part of Negroes to achiere full rights and opportunities for all people regardless of color, race, or national origin, now. Negro people, as well as the religious groups submitting this testimony, are clearly aware of the disabilities upon Spanish-speaking Americans, Indian Americans as well as upon people of Asian background. The Supreme Court has indicated that civil rights are "present rights." The actual Of portunity to exercise these rights must be made available to all people now. There is growing dissatisfaction with gradualism and promises of future progress. The heroic courage and suffering involved in organized direct action in many parts of the country are indications of the firm resolve to achieve these goals now.
The Nation faces the challenge to make full justice and equal opportunity for all people regardless of color, race, or national origin, a reality now. This is the basis of achieving full freedom for all people. There can be no further delas in keeping faith with the responsibility to put the principles we profess and the obligations that we acknowledge into action. Racial discrimination and segregation continue to dim the hopes and to negate the promises set forth in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights." Now is the time to realize these hopes. Now is the time for fulfill these promises. This requires the Nation to engage all of its resources, religious, educational, political, industrial, economic, and social to deal creatively and constructively with the problem.
The religious conscience of America condemns racism as blasphemy against God. It recognizes that the racial segregation and discrimination that flow from it are a denial of the worth which God has given to all persons. We hold that God is the Father of all men. Consequently in every person there is an innate dignity which is the basis of human rights. These rights constitute a moral claim which must be honored both by all persons and by the State. Denial of such rights is immoral.
These beliefs have been repeatedly expressed by the religious leadership of our Nation. Major religious bodies hold simply that God created all
men regardless of color, race, or national origin, with equal rights and dignity. They affirm that differences among individuals stemming from such factors as heredity, education, cultural background and opportunities do not in any way affect basic buman rights. Thus they have specifically condemned racial discrimination, segregation, and prejudice as incompatible with the principles of faith in God. As supporting documents to this statement, I am attaching copies of declarations of principle by the national conferences or councils of religious bodies as well as by the general assemblies or conventions of individual denominations.
I call the attention of this committee to the National Conference on Religion and Race held in January of this year. The conference has no precedent in American history. Nearly 700 delegates from 67 major religious bodies, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish, united in endorsement of "An Appeal to the Conscience of the American People," which is also appended to this statement. These delegates left Chicago firm in the resolution that churches and synagogues stand as one in their determination to bring about full justice and equal opportunity for all people regardless of race in the United States of America. Since the conference, activities being carried on in more than 30 cities as well as expanded and intensified interracial programs being conducted by many church and synagogue organizations are indications that this determination is being implemented.
Those human rights which men look to Government to protect are called civil rights. The churches and indeed our free society as a whole, look to the State to incorporate these rights into its legal system and to insure their observance in practice.
As churches, synagogues, and religious leaders, our concern is with the purpose of civil rights legislation and with the moral principles that indicate the necessity of enacting such legislation. The knowledge and judgment of the Congress and particularly of the committees that have heard extensive testimony, will enable them to work out the details of legislation which will insure the civil rights of all people in the Nation. Therefore, we shall discuss the purposes and principles which we believe should underlie the enactment of the legislation guaranteeing full and fair employment without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin. Religious people are committed to the belief that in this Nation, local, State, and National Governments deriving “their just powers from the consent of the governed” are responsible to God and to the people to maintain the freedom of all men under their respective jurisdictions, to exercise human rights with due regard for the rights of others and for the public order.
The Federal Government has taken leadership in preventing discrimination against employees or applicants for employment because of race, color, religion, or national origin by Government contractors. Also it has assumed leadership in preventing the same type of discrimination in Government employment. Many church bodies recognize the importance of this leadership because one of the rights connected with the dignity of the human person is the right to work. They acknowledge that this leadership is important if the Nation is to make full use of all of its manpower resources to create a country in which all people may live best and serve most on a continuing and growing basis. Also many religious leaders are knowledgeable about the valuable work of the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity which was created by a Presidential Executive order. They believe that this work should continue and be expanded on a permanent basis. Therefore they support the enactment of legislation which would give the Commission on Equal Opportunity a statutory basis.
But many church and synagogue bodies go beyond this. They support the enactment of Federal legislation covering both employers and labor unions which provides for employment on the basis of ability and qualifications without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin. Some religious groups have given careful thought to many aspects of fair employment practices. Some of these groups believe that such legislation should cover upgrading or promotion on the basis of ability and apprenticeship training. They believe also that such legislation should provide counseling services and placement services as well as training and retraining in skills to people of minority racial and other economically deprived groups. This is necessary by virtue of long denial of such opportunity. Moreover the current critical situation indicates that such legislation must have adequate enforcement provisions if it is to be effective.
Gentlemen, we hope that this committee will report favorably on the proposals for guaranteeing full and fair employment without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin. We hope also that Congress will enact them into legislation as a necessary step in the process of securing for all people the opportunity to exercise the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States,
In conclusion we stress the urgency of legislative action now. It is both a moral and legal principle that once it is demonstrated that basic rights are being violated, the situation should be remedied at once. Equally clear is the demand that fundamental opportunities and privileges should be accorded to all without delay.
In spite of these principles, there have been times in history, when even men of good will were compelled to move slowly in securing rights and privileges. No such attenuating circumstances exist today. We are in the midst of a social revolution. Please God it will remain a social revolution and not degenerate into civil chaos. But let us not underestimate the demand for justice regardless of color, race, or national origin. What is right, both in terms of basic morality and in terms of our democratic ideals, must be granted without delay. The time is past for tokenism or demands for endless patience. We must move firmly. rapidly, and courageously toward goals which our consciences assure us are right and necessary. We can do no less for God and country.
This statement has been endorsed by the following denominations and religious organizations: American Baptist Convention
National Federation of Temple SisterBoard of Social Concerns and the De- hoods, Union of American Hebrew
partment of Christian Social Rela- Congregations tions of the Woman's Division of National Federation of Temple BrotherChristian Service of the Methodist hoods, Union of American Hebrew Church
Congregations Christian Methodist Episcopal Church National Federation of Temple Youth, Church of the Brethren
Union of American Hebrew CongreDisciples of Christ
gations Moravian Church in America
Union of American Hebrew CongregaThe Right Reverend Arthur C. Lichten- tions
berger, presiding bishop, Protestant National Women's League, United SynEpiscopal Church
agogue of America. United Church of Christ
United Synagogue Youth, United Syna.
Catholic Conference for Interracial Union of Orthodox Jewish Congrega-
tions of America National Catholic Social Action Con- Women's Branch, Union of Orthodox ference
Jewish Congregations of America National Council of Catholic Men
National Conference of Symagogue National Council of Catholic Women Youth, Union of Orthodox Jewish The National Council of Catholic Youth Congregations of America The National Federation of Catholic Central Conference of American Rabbis College Students
Reformed Church in America The Newman Club Federation
National Student Christian Federation
STATEMENTS BY RELIGIOUS BODIES
African Methodist Episcopal Council of Bishops, February 15–18. 1956 :
"* * * In this struggle for universal acceptance of an integrated society, the Negro church plays an increasingly vital role. We have witnessed instance after instance of sacrifice, toil, and even bloodshed by ordained ministers of the Gospel determined to make a reality out of the professions of democracy
"Our people must know that all men are created equal and that any divergence from this principle is hypocrisy, in fact, immoral. The people must likewise know that the law of the land is second only to the law of God and that to openly flout the dictates of the highest tribunal is flirting with tragedy
American Baptist Convention, May 17, 1963 :
"Recognizing that segregation and discrimination separate men, and aware that being reconciled to God we are brought close to all men in the fellowship of Jesus Christ, we urge local churches to attack all forms of alienation with courage and dispatch.
“We reaffirm our stand that not only should all American Baptist churches be open to all followers of Jesus Christ regardless of their race but that we should earnestly and actively seek to win all unchurched persons within our community to Christ and to the fellowship of the church. We reaffirm our belief that all persons should be given the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills neevied for church leadership and that all positions of leadership within the local church and on area and national levels should be open on the basis of qualification without regard to race * * *."
American Baptist Home Mission Societies, March 23, 1960:
“Ia obedience to the imperative of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which recognizes no barriers to fellowship, we oppose racial segregation in all forms, and in all places. We affirm our opposition to the denial of the rights of Negroes or any Dunority group in matters of voting, housing, library privileges, and the facilities of lunch counters. Wherever segregation appears, whether in the North or South, East or the West, in a church or at a lunch counter, there is a denial of Christian love and justice and of the democratic rights of citizens. To affirm this is to presume to judge others but to acknowledge a moral principle rooted in our Biblical faith by which all are judged * * *."
(hristian Methodist Episcopal Annual Conference, 1958:
***** Commitment to the conviction that the best form of government is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people and dedication to the determined effort to secure for every American citizen full political franchise and freedom from fear and want * * *.
"That every attempt be made to arouse the conscience of America to her responsibility of practicing at home the democracy she preaches abroad, of making possible and guaranteeing to all minority groups at home the freedom she offers the oppressed peoples of other lands, of assuring those victims of prejudices, discrimination, and oppression within her own borders the same opportunities she affords the refugees from the lands of the Iron Curtain * * *.
*That we use techniques based solely on passive resistance such as work stoppage, economic boycotts, slowdowns, sitdown strikes, picket lines, mass demonstrations, and political unity wherever there is a threat or attempt to deprive our people of enjoying their full rights as citizens of our Nation * * *."
Church of the Brethren General Brotherhood Board, March 24, 1960: “Therefore, we, the general brotherhood board, resolve:
"1. That we believe discrimination against racial, cultural, and religious minorities is morally wrong;
**2. That action to remove this discrimination is imperative, both in the light of the Christian ethic and in the spirit of our democratic tradition;
"3. That we see our first obligation to seek change through honest discussion and negotiation, but, such methods failing, we regard peaceful nonviolent direct action as an appropriate Christian witness for those whose consciences so lead them:
Disciples of Christ, United Christian Missionary Society, Board of Trustees, June 1960:
"FUNDAMENTAL JUSTICE VERSUS LEGALITY “The question is not one of mere legality, however. One must raise the question of the fundamental justice of the issue which lies beyond the sit-ins. Do not Negroes have the same right to be treated with the dignity and decency as whites? Are we not all, Negro and white, brothers and neighbors under God's creation and does not our Master say to us: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself'? Are we not then, as Christians, committed to the principle of equitable treatment of all people regardless of race? Must we not therefore, not only admit, but insist upon and work toward the rapid removal of the patterns of segregation which deny fundamental dignity as human beings to certain persons because of accidents of birth. The plain fact is, however, that Christians on the whole have done almost nothing to alleviate the situations in which Negroes have found themselves. We have, furthermore, by our own acquiescence and silence surported those who by restrictive legislation and intimidation have stood in the way of Negroes achieving equality of opportunity. One might wish, as some have, that this whole issue had never arisen—that Negroes had been content to accept an inferior status in our society—that they had not upset the even tenor of our privileged white existence. One might wish that they had never heard of nonviolent resistance to evil, but they have. Now Christians must face the issue where it is and decide whether the fundamental justice of their protest overrides possible questions of legality."
Evangelical United Brethren, General Conference, October 9–17, 1958 :
"As Christians we are ashamed of the treatment accorded minority races in our Nation. The New Testament teaches that God is no respector of persons, and men are to be treated with respect and dignity.
“We, therefore, unalterably oppose all practices of racial segregation.
"Christian love is more than sentiment. It is active good will, redemptive kindness, patient goodness. We desperately need this Christian love in this present hour of friction and distrust among the races * * *."
The Five Years Meeting of Friends, July 14-21, 1960:
"We humbly recognize that our society as a whole has not been true to this basic Christian belief. Too often pioneering in racial equality has been left to the few. But in this day of racial crisis every member of the Society of Friends should be concerned that all races have equal opportunity to participate with one another in worship, education, housing, employment and voting, and to join in our fellowship.
"The Christian way to combat injustice is to act in the spirit of love and forgiveness which Christ both lived and taught, admonishing us 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use and persecute you' (Matthew 5: 44). In recent months and years our Negro brothers in Christ have practiced to a remarkable degree these precepts of the Master as they have opposed injustice nonviolently and in the spirit of Christian love. We are grateful to them for their leadership in demonstrating the relevance of Christ's teaching in our time and in our own communities.
"Race prejudice and hatred are spiritual and moral diseases not confined to any one section of one country or to any one nation. In God's world there is no place for discrimination or prejudice because of racial or national origin, economic circumstance or religious belief. We believe that there is something in every man which can respond to the love of God, and that every man has the God-given right to walk over the earth in dignity and self-respect. We have the opportunity and the obligation to help secure this right for all."
The Methodist Church, General Board of Christian Concerns, Division of Human Relations and Economic Affairs, March 16, 1960:
"We believe that God is Father of all peoples and races, that Jesus Christ is His Son, that all men are brothers, and that man is of infinite worth as a child of God.
"To discriminate against a person solely upon the basis of his race is both unfair and un-Christian. Every child of God is entitled to that place in society which he has won by his industry and character. To deny him that position of honor because of the accident of his birth is neither honest democracy nor good religion.”
The Methodist Church, Women's Division of Christian Service of the Board of Missions, January 1962: “We believe :
"1. We believe that God is the Father of all people and all are His chil. dren in one family.
“2. We believe that the personality of every human being is sacred.
"3. We believe that opportunities for fellowship and service, for personal growth, and for freedom in every aspect of life are inherent rights of erery
individual." Moravian Church in America, Southern Province, Provincial Synod. 1939:
"THE CHURCH AS A BROTHERHOOD “The Church of Jesus Christ, despite all the distinctions between male and fe. male, Jews and non-Jews, white and colored, poor and rich, is one in its Lond. The Unitas Fratrum recognizes no distinction between those who are in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to testify that God in Jesus Christ brings His people into being out of 'every race, kindred and tongue,' pardons sinners beneath the cross and brings them into one body. We oppose any discrimination in