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children and youth help create attitudes which make it easy to live in harmony with those of other races.
3. That Methodist Churches in changing neighborhoods, rather than seeking new locations, early prepare their people to welcome into their fellowship all races as they become a part of their community.
That our pastors, upon whom rests the responsibility of receiving individuals into church membership, discharge that responsibility without regard to race, color, or national origin.
4. That bishops, district superintendents, pastors, and lay leaders seek ways for the implementation of better fraternal relations between the central jurisdiction and other jurisdictions where they are adjacent, by closer cooperation at annual and district conferences, and at local church levels.
5. That Methodists at national and international meetings of the church make provision for equality of accommodations for all races, without discrimination or segregation.
6. That the many racial and national groups which make up our Methodist world fellowship be afforded the opportunity without discrimination to enjoy full participation in all the activities of the church.
A MESSAGE ON RACE RELATIONSHIPS
PROMPTED BY A RECENT DECISION OF THE SUPREME Court of THE UNITED STATES ON SEGREGATION IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Adopted January 14, 1955, by Board of Social and Economic Relations of the Methodist Church, A. Dudley Ward, Executive Secretary, Chicago, Ill.
A recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States on the subject of segregation in the public schools serves to direct the attention of Methodist people to the position and convictions of our Church on the Christian attitude in race relationships.
A STEP FORWARD
We realize that legislation and judicial interpretation are not the function of the church. The primary responsibility of the church is in the moral and spiritual areas of life. However, legislation and decisions of the courts are responsive to the changing moral convictions of the people. This is clearly illustrated by the recent decision of the Supreme Court in the school segregation cases. Despite the fact that for many years the courts of our land, including the Supreme Court itself, have held repeatedly that segregation in public schools is lawful (under the "separate but equal facilities" doctrine), the churches have carried on a continuing battle for complete and equal rights for all people without regard to race, creed, or color. The feeling abides that the decision of the Supreme Court is a step forward which reflects the oft-repeated position of the churches upon this subject.
THE ESTABLISHED POSITION
We point to the stated position of the Methodist Church upon this subject. Attention is especially called to the following statements, all of which were made some years before the Supreme Court decision was announced :
1. In 1948 the general conference of the Methodist Church stated: "The principle of racial discrimination is in clear violation of the Christian belief in the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and the Kingdom of God, the proclamation of which in word and life is our gospel. We therefore have no choice but to denote it as unchristian and to renounce it as evil. This we do without equivocation."
2. The Episcopal address delivered to the 1952 session of the general conference of the Methodist Church declared: "To discriminate against a person solely upon the basis of his race is both unfair and unchristian. Every child of God is entitled to that place in society which he has won by his industry, his integrity, and his character. To deny him that position of honor because of the accident of his birth is neither honest democracy nor good religion."
3. In 1952 the general conference of the Methodist Church stated: "Ours is a world church. As such its responsibility is to unite in one fellowship men and women of all races and nations. As Christians we confess ourselves to be children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ * * * it is
our imperative duty *** resolutely to set about achieving a Christian brotherhood in the Church that will be free from race discrimination and segregation." (The Discipline of the Methodist Church, 1952, page 651.)
THE DIFFICULTIES AHEAD
We realize that the carrying out of the Court's opinion in these cases will be fraught with difficulty and pain unless the steps taken to put it into effect are made with the moral support of Christian people of both the white and the colored races. We are mindful of the fact that the adjustments which now must be made present greater problems in some areas than others, but we are confident that our people in all areas of our country can and will face and solve these problems in a just and Christian manner.
THE PROGRESS MADE
The Methodist Church is keenly aware of these problems. They are not new. They have existed ever since peoples of different races have attempted to live side by side. Progress has already been made in producing understanding and good will between those of different racial origins. We are of many racial origins, yet we have learned to make the proud backgrounds of our various races part of our own heritage. This is the genius of America.
We are proud of the outstanding accomplishments of many of those of the colored races among us. We are prouder of the fact that no other race in history has made such progress in such a short period of time as has the American Negro.
THE BOARD RECOMMENDS
We recommend to our Methodist people, clergy, and laity alike:
1. That the decision of the Supreme Court be accepted graciously and gracefully with the realization that this decision is but a confirmation of our own church's position.
2. That our people in their individual lives, in their church activities, and in their communities practice the conviction that no one should be discriminated against on the basis of race or color.
3. That we actively support and continually strive to preserve and improve our public schools to the end that every child shall be afforded the best possible means which public education can provide to prepare him for responsible citizenship in a democratic community. We look to our people to help superintendents and boards of education who face the task of implementing the decision of the court.
4. That we create right attitudes in our homes and in our church schools as we work with children and youth so they may learn to live in harmony with those of other races.
5. That we practice and preach our belief that we are all children of the same Heavenly Father, that we all live under the same law, and worship the same God. Therefore, we encourage our churches everywhere to move resolutely forward toward the goal of full participation of the people of all races in the life of the church and the community.
THE BIBLE SPEAKS ON RACE
Adopted by board of social and economic relations of the Methodist Church, September 26, 1957
The general board of social and economic relations is happy to release to the church this statement on "The Bible Speaks on Race." The inspiration for this pamphlet came from the statement of a similar nature published by the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, whose willingness to cooperate with us in the use of their idea and material pleased us greatly. We commend this document to our church for careful study and discussion.
Throughout the Bible mention is made of national and racial groups. They re said to have a common origin and to form basically one family of men. Modern science agrees with the Biblical assertion of the essential oneness of all
mankind. The Bible affirms that it is God's purpose to unite all men in Christ and the Church.
There are passages in the Bible where suspicion and hatred of other peoples are expressed, as, for example, in Obadiah, Ezra, Nahum, and certain Psalms. But in the light of Jesus' life and teaching it is clear that the large-hearted attitudes expressed in Isaiah and Jonah and in the New Testament are more in harmony with the divine will.
The modern race problem is fundamentally moral and spiritual, not simply economic, political, and cultural. The Bible describes in terms that speak plainly to our modern racial tensions how men are to live together on this earth in obedience to the will of God. This will, as set forth in the Bible, is expressed in the following affirmations:
1. All nations of men have a common origin and in the eyes of God constitute a single family
Acts 17:24, 26: “God *** hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth *** " (AV) "And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth. * ** (RSV. Passages hereafter are from this version.)
Ephesians 3: 14-15: "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named * *
2. Man was created in the image of God and therefore every human being is of infinite worth
Genesis 1:27: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him."
Matthew 18: 14: "It is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."
II Peter 3:9: "The Lord
* is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
3. God shows no partiality
Acts 10:34-35: "God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."
Romans 2: 11: "God shows no partiality."
Ephesians 6:9: "* * * there is no partiality with him."
4. Jesus Christ came to redeem every man regardless of race or nationality The New Testament writers stress the universality of the gospel:
John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
Luke 24:47: "*** that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations *****
Hebrews 2:9: "*** that by the Grace of God he might taste death for every one."
Romans 10: 12-13: "There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. For, 'every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved."
Jesus showed a special interest in the Samaritans, who were despised by the Jews;
John 4:1-42: He offered the water of life to the woman of Samaria and her people.
Luke 10:25-37: A Samaritan was the hero in one of his greatest parables. Luke 17:11-19: He commented on the gratitude of the healed Samaritan leper who alone returned to give him thanks.
Acts 1:8: He included Samaria in his commission to his Disciples.
5. Persons who respond to the call of Christ in love and obedience enter a new kind of fellowship in the Church where racial barriers are transcended Galatians 3:26-28: "In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. ***There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
Ephesians 2:13-18: "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in this flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,
and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one spirit to the Father."
Colossians 3:11: "Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised, and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in
Luke 13: 29: "Men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the Kingdom of God."
6. The Church is called and empowered by God to reconcile a divided humanity and to unite all people into the one family of God
John 10:16: "I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd."
John 17:20-22: "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who are to believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one."
Ephesians 1:9-10: "He has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."
II Corinthians 5:17-20: "If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconcilation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconcilation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us."
7. Each member of the Church is summoned by God to work where he is toward overcoming misunderstandings and antagonisms that men may dwell together in unity
Romans 12: 16: "Live in harmony with one another."
I Peter 1: 22: "Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart.”
I John 4: 7-8, 19-21: "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. * * * We love, because he first loved us. If any one says 'I loved God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother
Psalm 133: 1: "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity."
Acts 10: 28: "God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean."
Acts 11: 9, 17: " 'What God has cleansed you must not call common.' * * If then God gave the same gift to them (the Gentiles) as he gave to us when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?"
BIBLE PASSAGES AND CONCEPTS SOMETIMES USED IN DEFENSE OF DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF RACE
Genesis 9: 18-27 is occasionally used as the basis for saying that God placed a curse on Ham and his descendants, turning them black and assigning them a place of inferiority and servility in society. It should be noted that the purpose of the passage is to explain why the Israelites came to a position of dominance over the Canaanites—not over the peoples of Africa. This is accomplished by appealing to the curse of Noah, a curse being thought by ancients to have pernanent effect. It will be noted in a careful reading of the passage that: (1) God placed a curse on no one; (2) Noah did the cursing after being awakened from a drunken stupor; (3) Canaan was the one actually cursed by Noah, not Ham; (4) There is no indication of God's having approved Noah's act or of
his having implemented it in any way; and (5) No reference is made to anybody's having been given a different color.
Genesis 11: 1-9 records the incident of God's confounding the builders of the tower of Babel by confusing their language and scattering them over the face of the earth. The passage can hardly be used to support the idea that God ordained separate "races." It should be noted: (1) That the scattering of men was a judgment of God on man's arrogance, not a part of his original intention for the human family; (2) that the story of Pentecost in Acts 2 clearly indicates that it is God's intention in the Messianic Age to reverse the disruption of Babel (representatives of "every nation under heaven" heard and understood the apostles, and all men were incited to join the Church of Christ). The tower of Babel story is evidence of what God does not want, rather than of what he intends!
Joshua 9: 23 cannot be used to support the concept of enslavement on the basis of race. The Gibeonites were not from a different race than the Hebrews. Both were Semitic peoples and would have to be classified as Caucasians. Furthermore, the story does not say that God told Joshua to make the Gibeonites "hewers of wood and drawers of water." Joshua did to them what was good and right in his own sight (verses 25-26).
Acts 17: 26 says that God "made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation"; but the reference is to distribution of nations, not races. Those who use this verse to defend segregation in America do not suggest that modern Americans move out of the United States.
It is occasionally argued that since God "chose" the Jews it is apparent that he favors certain races over other races. It is true that the Bible teaches that God finds and calls people to do special work for him in the world, people who for various reasons are peculiarly suited to his purpose. Originally God called a family, the family of Abraham, which grew into a nation. He never called a "race." The Hebrews were a nation, not a race. It should be noted further that God's call involves tremendous responsibility, and if the people called fail in discharging their obligation, they are rejected and others chosen. When many Jews failed God, he chose other Jews and at length even Gentiles. Titus, a Greek, for example, became one of the chosen because he responded to God's call in faith and obedience. God has no favorites; he works with those who will work with him.
If one reads the Bible as a whole, it becomes unmistakably clear that God is seeking to heal the divisions in humanity caused by human sin and to bring all peoples of the earth into a community of the redeemed. In this blessed community human barriers of every sort are abolished or transcended. "In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. *** There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3: 26-28). The first Christians found that with God's spirit within them they could overcome prejudice toward Samaritans and Gentiles and look on people who were in Christ as sons of God and brothers, not as white men, yellow men, or black men.
JUST, RIGHT, AND NECESSARY
The National Council, New York, N.Y., 1955
THE NATIONAL COUNCIL
The Right Reverend Henry Knox Sherrill, S.T.D., president.
The Very Reverend John C. Leffler, D.D., chairman.
The Right Reverend Lauriston L. Scaife, D.D.
The Right Reverend Howard R. Brinker, D.D.
Mrs. Roger L. Kingsland.
The Reverend Almon R. Pepper, D.D., director.