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Mauldin MAti CD*5 in Post-Dispatch “All Present or Accounted for, Sir!” Oysters and Pearls Nixon in Arkansas BREMOND The Catholic Church, as I remember it and now understand it, is an autocratic institution without a semblance of democracy. Construing itself as the custodian of truth received from God, the Church regards the beliefs of individuals as irrelevant and impotent before its own revealed historical mission. I was born and raised a Catholic. Sometimes, when people ask me my religion, I tell them “ex-Catholicism.” Some of my friends take bets now and then on when I’ll go back to the church. When, not whether ; they assume I will. There is a kind of wisdom behind the assumption, for the Church so strikes into the soul of a child the fear of God, the sense of his daily sin, and the certainty of hellfire if he leaves the Church, it brings into being around him an emotional cast within which the rest of his life Occurs. SOMETIMES I believe that children raised as Catholics who later decide, with fear and trembling, to withdraw their submission and become individuals making all their own decisions, are luckier than those raised in a skeptical or permissive atmosphere. The Church took my youth and tangled me terribly within its strong springs of guilt, shame, humiliation, and forgiveness ; but when I was able to clamber to the top of the springs, they thrust me forward into competitive life like a shot, and to this day I am trying to refine the strong motives I have always had trying to give better direction to the tireless energies of my need. Like most ex-Catholics I feel very deeply about the Church. I suppose it is all right to write some about it, having warned you of my emotional debilities on the subject. Let me also declare the certainty that the experiences people have with the Church are as various as individuals within and outside it ; mine may be too particularly mine. Child-raising, it seems to me, is the work of giving to children, themselves ; of preparing them to own their own lives. With this simply humanist position the Catholic Church radically disagrees. The children submitted to its custody and discipline for that is what happens to children in Catholic schoolsare regimented dawn to evening in what to believe, what to do, what to be. The intellectual climate of Catholicism, a climate of dogmatism and doctrine, superstition Jesuitically refined, is oppressive and conformist, the very opposite of the liberal ideal of thinking freely for one’s self toward whatever conclusions one’s information and intelligence may produce. When, one afternoon while thumbing over books in the San Antonio public library, I came upon a book called Religions of Mankind by someone named Soper and read therein of the wonders of other religions, and realized, or felt, that they, too, had claims to meaning, and stood with my own in equivalent logical strength, I was thrown upon my resources as a human being, I was cast upon the elemental question, can a man decide for himself? I do not know what the Church would say it teaches to a doubting youth of 16, but I know what I think it taught to me : that having seen The Light, if I then left it, I would be damned and would burn forever in the merciless agony of hell. I wavered for years; three or four. Gradually, in a free university context, I stopped worrying. The thought which comforted me the most at first was that if God was watching, surely He would not want me to do what I thought was wrong, surely He would not condemn me to hell for believing what I had come to believe, surely if I was honest as a person I would do my best by Him. I remember yet those tormented years of youth when I was ashamed of the thoughts that came to me like thieves of virtue in the night and in the darkened box covered with euphemisms a multitude of venalities, submitting, bowing, hearing the necessity of repentance, trying, praying, and being again the boy I was. I do not forgive the Catholic Church for trying to make me a moral robot, for trying to destroy my natural identity, for twisting and shaming me away from who I was if I could find the courage for risk and growth. I do not forgive the Church today for taking the pliable young and teaching them things about which there is doubt as though they know they are sure. I do not forgive the Church for being what, it is and I guess must always be, pretender to the one truth, subverter of personal freedom and personal life. M ANY OF THE SAME criticisms of oppressions of individuality and possibility. will be entered against other religions, Christian and otherwise. Certainly the fundamentalists like Baptists and Church of Christ are reputed to be just as severe as the Catholics. And perhaps this is the main point. One’s hostilities toward the Catholic or any other church cannot be extended to individual members of them. What would that be but racethinking extended to religion? Individuals must be judged as individuals. We were not exercised against Truman because he was a Baptist because we believed he would be his own kind of president. The same should apply to Kennedy and Catholicism. We did not accuse Truman of violating church and state because Baptists in Texas fought to prevent all TexansBaptists or not from drinking, because Truman is not his church, nor his church him. Such obvious things! These things I wanted to say because being for John Kennedy, being not a Baptist for Kennedy, but an Agnostic for Kennedy, I am moved to revulsion by the attempts for some preachers to blame him for his Church. To him the Church may have meant something entirely different from what it seems here. He did not make it, and it should be a proof of his strength that in his public life, at least, he grants the Church no sovereignty over his responsibilities. Let us grant, as we have here be fore granted, that for many of us Catholicism is an enemy of personal responsibility for personal life, a conformer and oppressor of the soar ing human possibility, and therefore a threat to an enlightened human fu ture, but let us, also grant to Kennedy and to every individual person his own identityhis own realitywith out attributing to him either the mon olithic doctrines of the Church he was raised in or the weaknesses of those who when they come to the door of fear and death pall and turn again to the bosom on which they were nurtured in certainty and dread. R.D. Published by Texas Observer Co., Ltd. Entered as second-class matter, April 26,, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 18 .1b. OCTORBER 7, 1960 Ronnie Dugger Editor and General Manager Willie Morris, Associate Editor Sarah Payne, Office Manager Published once a week from Austin, Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $5 per annum. Advertising rates available on request. Extra copies 15c each. Quantity prices available on order. WEST MEMPHIS Vice-President Nixon gave Southerners their oyster last week, but the Negro got the pearl. He may have got some Southern votes for the trouble. It seems more likely that he picked up support in Detroit and New York City. In a visit to Memphis, in Tennessee, and West Memphis, in Arkansas, Nixon made it clear that he would take any votes he could get, but that his hopes were pinned more on the Negro than the states’ rights bloc. At Memphis, he kept thousands waiting in the rain at the rally site while he campaigned on Beale Street. As the motorcade came in from the airport, Nixon stopped it at Handy City Park, where a Dixieland band and hundreds of Negroes waited near the statue of W. C. Handy. Nixon’s eyes brighteded, his face flushed with pleasure. He was entirely surrounded by Negroes and pressed in against the band, which offered Handy’s St. Louis* Blues in a restrained by happy series of improvisations. At the Memphis and West Memphis rallies later, Nixon took the risk of alienating Southern conservatives by endorsing integration in general terms. He stopped, however, before he got specific. The vice-president said there was room for disagreement on the civil rights issue, but that he wanted equality for all Americans, and that he wanted this so Khrushchev would lose a propaganda weapon. He asked the South to make a concession toward winning the cold war. Nixon’s statements could have led a less well EDITORIAL and BUSINESS OFFICE: 504 West 24th St., Austin, Texas. Phone GReenwood 7-0746. HOUSTON OFFICE: Mrs. R. D. Randolph, 419 1A Lovett Blvd., Houston 16, Texas. We will serve no group or party but will hew hall to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of man as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. placed outsider to a couple of fractured ribs at any of many Memphis public places. He got applause for his civil rights talk in both Memphis and West Memphis, but it was hard to tell whether the crowd was endorsing the principle or racial equality, Nixon’s firm opposition to Khrushchev, or his forthrightness in bringing up the matter at all. Nixon talked much longer about the oyster, but on a similarly high and non-specific plane. He argued, as in Dallas, that the federal government should never intervene until necessary, leaving problems to state and local governments so long as they are able to cope with them. Because both Arkansas and Tennessee are naturally strong on the states’ rights principle, he was applauded vigorously. Yet there is an ambivalence in both states on the issuea visible schism between theory and practice. No one in either state has, to my knowledge, rejected any of the federal largesse. Arkansas plays the matching-money game with fervor, if not always with total efficiency, and there is hardly a hospital, a highway, or a sewage’ plant opened these days to which the federals have not substantially contributed. Gov. Faubus, possibly the South’s ranking states’ righter, is seldom among the hindmost in picking up a new federal bundle, for his state. In reality, what states rights means to the average Arkansan is not fewer federal fish hatcheries or continued poor conditions for the aged, but simply the right of the South to be left alone with its Peculiar Institution. Some of those Southerners who were so pleased to hear Nixon’s views are bound to have figured out by now that his proposition has a hole in it, so far as they were concerned. Arkansas Republicans are saying that Nixon may return to the state for a speech at a more central locationif “logistical” problems can be solved. However, about the only safe prediction veteran observers are making about the state’s unsettled political situation is that Arkansans will not give their eight electoral votes to the party that sent in the paratroops. PATRICK J. OWENS Let those flatter who fear, it is not an American art.Jefferson An Ex-Catholic Speaks Personal Freedom, Church, and Campaign THE TEXAS OBSERVER 4E9.7