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December 23, 1959, Vol. V, No. 9
Religion and the Missile, Part 2
By John Wilcock
“Thermonuclear missile war would be satanic. No possible rationalization could justify such a war or reconcile it with Christian ethics or pinciples of honor, justice and truth.”
The quotation above is from “This Is the Missile,” a factual booklet put out by Omaha Action, a pacifist group which warns that such a war is nearer than people realize.
Three weeks ago I marked this section in the booklet and sent copies to: Francis, Cardinal Spellman; Rabbi Julius Mark; Dr. Norman Vincent Peale; Bishop W.B. Donegan; Dr. Robert McCracken; and Dr. John S. Bonnell.
I sent along a covering letter saying that I felt many people lacked guidance these days on what had become the most significant problem of our times. Both they and I were unsure of where the churches stood on these matters, and I would appreciate hearing from these leaders on how organized religion was leading the way…
[The response] from Dr. Peale: “Of course,” he wrote, “I believe that the church should do all within its power to persuade man to avoid destroying civilization and themselves with it. The issue is acute. But apparently the magnitude of the problem causes everyone to take refuge in the false security that somebody will do something about it. The thought and action pattern of Jesus Christ, if even partially applied, could solve this problem. We must keep hammering on that theme.”
There was no reply from Cardinal Spellman, and a call to his office brought a statement from Msgr. Timothy Flynn: “The Cardinal is very busy at this time of the year and wouldn’t have time to comment on anything like that.”
A call to [Rabbi Mark] brought the comment: “War is selfish, there is no moral difference between killing one man and killing thousands.”
…The day after I had sent off the last of my stock of “This Is the Missile” booklets soliciting comments, I read in the Times that the Reverend Edward O. Miller, rector of St. George’s Protestant Episcopal Church on Stuyvesant Square, had preached a sermon complaining about Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, which he described as the “final triumph of commercialism over God.”
It occurred to me that such a stern moralist might have some significant comments about such a vital problem of our times as the possibility of another war – brought about at least in part by our own stupidity. I called him up and read the phrase at the beginning of this column.
“I don’t feel that I have anything to say on that subject,” he said.
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956. John Wilcock is still going strong at ojaiorange.com]