Letter to our President

Our last Synod decided to address the President of the United States with regard to the matters of the increasing evil of the closed shop and of Sunday labor for national defense.

A copy of the letter, the composition of which is to the credit of the Rev. Vos, here follows:

Grand Rapids, Michigan May 23, 1941.

The President of the United States, Washington, D.C.

Sir:

The Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches, in session May 21-23, come to you with the following address and petition:

First, we would respectfully acquaint you with the twofold occasion for this address. They are what is commonly called the closed shop and Sabbath labor in the defense industries.

It is a matter of public record that during the years of your tenure in office, you have supported the continuation and the increase of what is commonly called the closed shop. It is also a matter of record that such support from the exalted and influential Head of our Republic has borne abundant fruit, because Unionism, with its resultant closed shop, is greatly on the increase. Especially in the great industrial centers of our nation, but also in cities of but moderate size, the pressure of the Union becomes increasingly insistent, so that the time seems to be not far distant when the entire class of men, called Labor, shall be marshalled into the organization, called the Union.

It has also come to our knowledge through the public press that you, Sir, are dissatisfied with the progress of the defense work and that you have demanded the discontinuation of the five- or the six-day week and their substitution for a seven-day week, every day of which to contain three 8-hour shifts.

Secondly, we would acquaint you with the sad fact that such action from the Head of our Government excludes many of us from earning our livelihood in certain definite avenues of employment, particular phases of craftsmanship, wherein we are skilled and wherein we have labored since our inception into the army of workers. Moreover, we see the calamity approaching where this situation will apply not only to some phases of labor and particular areas of industry but where it will apply to all of our membership, wherever employed and whatever their craft may be. We have reference to the tendency of you, Sir, as Head of our Government, to condone and support Unionism and Sabbath labor to such an extent that soon all of labor will be organized and we shall be able to find honest employment no more.

Thirdly, we would state the reasons why Unionism excludes earning a livelihood and why we refuse to labor on the Lord’s Day. It is because we are heartily convinced that both Unionism and unnecessary Sabbath labor are great evils in the sight of God.

We refuse to become members of the Union because we condemn the principles of utter materialism of the Union; because the Union demands in the required oath or pledge loyalty to itself even though this loyalty to the Union would bring us into conflict with the interests of the Church of Jesus Christ our Lord; and because the Union seeks to gain its ends by force, strikes and boycotts, all of which militates against the Word of God which we hold dear and which is the first and last criterion for our conduct on earth.

Concerning Sabbath labor we would say that it is our conviction and avowed purpose not to engage in same, The Lord God has from earliest times promulgated His Divine Law and this Law tells us in the 4th commandment that we shall keep His Sabbaths holy. Mr. President, we, as members of the Protestant Reformed Churches, have the earnest desire to so conduct ourselves on the Sabbath, in meditation, prayer and Divine worship, that we may have a foretaste of the heavenly Sabbath. We feel and are convinced that such is the injunction of the Almighty who is our Sovereign and therefore we refuse unnecessary Sabbath labor.

Fourthly, we would point out to you in all humility and profound respect that under the Constitution of the United States we may claim and do claim the rights of liberty to worship our God according to what we believe is agreeable to His precepts and you, Sir, as the Head of the Government of these United States, are duty bound to protect us- and so rule under this instrument that we may enjoy, among other good things, these two privileges, namely, the worship of our God according to our religious convictions and an opportunity to earn a livelihood which does not destroy, nullify or preclude such worship.

Therefore, Sir, we would humbly petition you, first, to cease condoning and supporting the closed shop, and, second, to cease advocating and demanding the unnecessary Sabbath labor in the defense industries.

And, closing, we would plead with you to consider this address and petition in the light of your high calling as expressed in the Word of God, found in Romans 13:3 and 4a: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good.”

Doing this you shall merit our profound gratitude and insure unto yourself our most hearty thanks.

We have the honor to remain, Sir, your most obedient servants,

The Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches;

(W.S.) H. Hoeksema, President;

(W.S.) Gerrit Vos, Secretary;

(W.S.) Geo. C. Lubbers, Asst. Secretary.

Stated Clerk of Synod:

Rev. D. Jonker, 924 Worden St., S. E.,

Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I understand that an answer was received by our stated clerk to the effect that the President had taken cognizance of this letter and had referred the matter of sending a reply to his secretary.