Pastors ought not to be politicians. If they want to make political speeches they should do so at political rallies on political issues instead of turning their churches into partisan halls. Preachers are men ; men have politics; preachers have politics. Is it a coincidence that Dixiecrats and Republicrats like Rev. W. A. Criswell of Dallas and Rev. Harold Lindsey of Waco are the very preachers who have led the ostensibly religious attack on John Kennedy? It should surprise no one, either, that the opponents of the use of Catholicism as an issue against Kennedy are most often liberals for Kennedy politically. We do not like this special issuewe wish it had not been necessary. It is idle to lament the virulence of the religious question in Texas this fallbut we are also well past the time when the political ministers mounting the issue against Kennedy are entitled to the deferences and immunities strictly religious clerymen are accord&. Some of themnot all, and not all of those concerned abot, he religious issuebut some of them have become politicia, misleading their followers in the name of religion, and only the fullest truth can illuminate this depressing fact. They are now no more sacrosanct against public resentment and rejection than other politicians. In this their religions will suffer a loss of standing; they chose their roles. Rev. Criswell, minister of the largest Baptist church in the world and a Christian, blithely says John Kennedy is lying. W. A. Criswell, an American, dogmatically strikes 40 million Catholic Americansall of themoff his roster of citizens fit for public office. On what grounds did he say Kennedy was lying? By reasoning from his general idea about Catholics to a particular idea about Kennedy, with nothing more than that to go on. His general idea was that no Catholic can stand up under the fear of excommunication. When asked about Kennedy’s ‘The Little Children’ Smith’s Defense The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth. Thoreau ,\\A T…,s ,,,,, , ,0, p e ri,.. , ..o >,,,2, a v ,52a .. We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it: An Ink .\\1\\?` ,kt Weekly Newspaper .,tdow to the South Vol. 52 TEXAS, SEPTEMBER 30, 1960 15c per copy No. 26 AN EDITORIAL: PoliticianJ the pulpit East Texas Sojourn Allegiance and Dissent in a Baptist Town AUSTIN , Why has Dr. Blake Smith, the pi -ofessorial pastor of University Baptist Church in Austin, chosen to do public battle with those he calls “apostles of discord” in his own Baptist denomination ? In declaring last Sept. 11 his position that Catholicism is no proper issue in the presidential campaign, Dr. Smith diverged from the strong-running tide among Baptists and other fundamentalist denominations. “It’s because of the little children,” he explained to the Observer. Years ago Smith and his wife lived in New England across the street from a family of Jews. “I remember the agony during Holy Dr. Blake Smith Week when their little children were being subjected to the jeers of their playmates … ‘Christkillers!’ “I swore battle against that.” Also many years ago, he said, a Negro mother who had a Ph.D degree came to him and said she had tried to raise her two children to feel they were not different from others, but had had to tell them they could not go to a movie they wanted to see because it was segregated. “What shall I tell my children?” she had asked. “I swore battle against that,” Smith said. He integrated his Austin church in 1946. In his sermon Sept. 11 \(printed clearly included Rev. W. A. Criswell, Dallas, and Rev. Harold Lindsey, Waco, both important Baptist ministers, among “apostles of discord” he said were speaking as though they were the voice of God or were “speaking untruth.” Advised and asked for comment about Criswell’s remarks to the Observer about him and about Sen. John Kennedy’s “lyin’,” Smith was visibly shocked but would not say anything, He showed the Observer a letterone of many he has received since his sermon, “nine out of ten” of them favorablefrom a Texas Catholic parent. “The thing that hurts me the most about the present campaign,” the writer told Smith, “is the effect it is having on my JACKSONVILLE Halfway between Dallas and Shreveport, in the rugged hills and pine forests of East Texas, is this city of 10,000. If there is any small town in the American South with a more pronounced Baptist character, it would be exceedingly hard to find. Jacksonville has the usual retinue of Baptist churches; the two largest ones are housed in sprawling brick buildings in the town center, opposite one another across the street. The town has its share of laymen prominent in community business and finance. It is bone dry. It has, moreover, a Baptist seminary and a Baptist junior college. “This is the East Texas syndrone of culture, where people are shocked by anything out of A SPECIAL ISSUE on Religion and Politics the ordinary,” Don Stone, a young lawyer here, describes it. “You may have Catholics over in Louisiana, for instance, but once they cross the state line they’re foreigners. The Baptists in East Texas are as influential as the Catholics in Quebec.” In 1928, when Al Smith’s Catholicism and his anti-prohibition sympathies were towering double obstacles, Jacksonville went for Herbert Hoover by approximately eight to five. In 1960, the same strong anti-Catholic sentiment is being reinforced among many of the townspeople by a professed distaste of Democratic “socialism”: where the one hostility ends and the other begins, as in 1928, is a confused proposition, but the juxtaposition is definitely there. Since 1928, when .the borderstate South deserted the Democratic Party for the first time, it has become considerably less unusual for towns like Jacksonville to embrace a national Republican ticket. Jacksonville and Cherokee County both went Republican in 1956, Jacksonville in 1952. Around the courthouse squares and along the main streets of hundreds of Southern towns like this one, the local merchants and bankers, doctors and realtors, may be becoming more alienated from the party of their grandfathers than ever before. Sprawled out around the town park, with its broad magnolias and cedars, the library and the +concert podium, and the memorial to the First World War dead, are the chain stores and local shops, the movie houses and the office buildings, all the accouterments of a thriving town on the make. The occasional unpaved street is deep red, the color of the earth and hills. A railroad slices through the park; when the train comes through, the earth shakes and trembles. The oldtimers sit DALLAS Rev. W. A. Criswell, pastor of the largest Baptist church in the world, believes John Kennedy is a liar and all 40 million American Catholics should be barred from public office. He said these and other things in an interview with two Observer reporters in Dallas. His First Baptist Church of Dallas has 12,000 members. Questioned about his politics, Criswell said he is a Democrat who supported Eisenhower and did not like Truman. Had he voted for Roosevelt? “Yes and no,” he replied. The church, with its various cffices and meeting rooms, covers a block area at Ervay and San Jacinto and sprawls into nearby buildings. Criswell’s office is on the third floor of one of the annexes, at the end of a maze of corridors. He is an intense, forthright man. His manner is open and friendly. He was asked by the Observer to comment on a sermon delivered by Dr. Blake Smith of Austin’s University Baptist Church, who indirectly attacked Criswell and his stand on the religious issue. “Do you remember the story of the young man in the army who was out of step in the parade?” Criswell asked. “His mother said, ‘my son is the only one not out of step’.” Smith might thing he is the only Baptist not out of step, Criswell said, “but he doesn’t represent an infinitesmal percentage it,”the religious issue in the \\campaign. The talk has “simmered down” since then, he believes. He thinks Sen. John Kennedy’s statement before the Houston ministers September 12 has helped keep the situation “under control.” In cities like Tyler, he explains, and in the conservative precinct three of Jacksonville, opposition to the Democratic candidate is “more social than religious. The reaction is more aristocratic, a kind of class struggle.” Of the Baptists in Jacksonville, Broiles said, “I love ’em all, and I regret they’re taking the viewpoint they have” on the Catholic issue. In his September 2 paper, he wrote an editorial entitled, “Let’s Hope Hate Campaigns of Bigots Stay Clear of Our Area.” … There has been some circulating of the bogus Knights of Columbus oath in Jacksonville, he said. A Special Plea He published a letter in his September 13 issue, signed by four Protestant ministers in the town: Robert Matheny of the Christian Church,. Jim McKeown of the Episcopal, Joseph Dolman of the Presbyterian, and Douglas * of our Baptist preachershe does not ‘any more represent our people, our faith, our churches, our religion, our background, our foreground, than the Pope in Rome.” Asked about Smith’s remark, that Criswell’s sermon sounded like it was intended to be the voice of God but was not, Criswell replied, “That’s because he has an inferiority complexto me, to my church, and my congregation.” Is Sen. Kennedy’s Catholicism the major issue in this campaign? ”It is,” Criswell said, “and you’ll not escape it. I don’t care what Nixon, Kennedy, and most of all Lyndon JohnsOn say about it. If you were a Baptist minister and lived in Spain, or a Dr. W. A. Criswell ting on the benches go on talking, louder and more animated than before. Last week, in mid-afternoon just before a violent rainstorm, eddies of dead leaves whirled and spun on the sidewalks and thoroughfares, and the streets were suddenly deserted. Town Editor The Jacksonville Daily Progress is quartered in a pink building just across from the park. Barnes Broiles, the editor, came to the town ten years ago. His paper is liberal Democratic, something of a rarity in East Texas. Willie Morris Broiles speaks with pride of the progress of the town: its industries, its schools, its rate of growth. He realizes his political views make him something of a community iconoclast. When he bought the daily paper in Gladewater back in 1936, he recalls telling the people there, “We’ll be fair on all subjects except Franklin Roosevelt and Gladewater. As far as we’re concerned, they can do no wrong.” Back in the summer, Broiles says, “You couldn’t walk down the street without hearing about ‘Kennedy is Lying’ Criswell’s Attack
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