CHURCH AND STATE PROBLEMS
If the founding fathers of this country thought they had settled the perplexing and nagging problem of the relation between Church and State with the First Amendment to the Constitution, it is well they did not live to see the trouble this amendment has caused in our present age. We have repeatedly called attention to various aspects of this question in past columns. And the debate goes on. More recent developments include:
—The United States Supreme Court refused to accept jurisdiction in an appeal of a Kansas Amish who was convicted on the charge of failing to keep his daughter in school. As far as the man himself is concerned, this means only that he will have to pay a fine of $5.00 and court costs amounting to $64.25. But the decision has far-reaching implications for the more than 50,000 Amish living in this country. They have made the matter of the education of their children a religious matter and claim that the persistent interference of the courts in their affairs constitutes a breach of their freedom of religion. This involves not only the question of how longtheir children must go to school as in the above case; but also whether the schools established by the Amish are meeting state requirements. Already a group of Amish have moved to British Honduras in South America because their religious freedom is gradually being taken away. The question is, of course, whether the education of one’s children is a matter of one’s religious obligations or one’s political responsibilities. On this question we are on the side of the Amish. It is ironical, to say the least, that people are forced to flee from our country which was originally settled by those who themselves fled religious persecution.
—In Rhode Island a law was on the books which made legal the loan of textbooks purchased with state funds to private and parochial schools. This law was now declared unconstitutional. Five taxpayers brought suit against the law holding that it violated the First Amendment of the Constitution. The judge presiding in the case ruled that this kind of assistance is different in degree and perhaps in kind from the assistance given in transporting children of private and parochial schools with buses provided by the public funds. This kind of assistance has been declared constitutional by the United States Supreme Court. The judge ruling in the textbook case maintained such aid was unconstitutional. The decision will be appealed.
The whole issue of state aid to education in private and parochial schools has not by any means been settled. There is a great deal of such aid being given at present. In many instances the courts have refused to rule on the constitutionality of the issues involved. But such aid is still being challenged here and there, and the time will come when some definitive rulings will have to be made.
However, regardless of what the courts may ultimately decide, it becomes increasingly clear that state aid or federal aid means government control. The lesson of the Amish is an important one. Government control is gradually increasing. To stand with outstretched hands before the public coffers trying to obtain our share of tax monies will invite the disaster of increased control. There is no quicker way to lose our schools.
—A case of a different kind was recently heard before the Supreme Court of the State of Washington. There two Bible Presbyterian ministers brought suit against the University of Washington for teaching a course entitled: “English 390: The Bible As Literature.” The contention of the plaintiffs in this case was that public money was being used to support a course which openly attacked the Bible and discredited its divine and infallible inspiration. They maintained that such a use of public money constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution and that the University should be prohibited from teaching this course.
There is, of course, an element of truth in this contention. The bold and unbelieving attacks made on Scripture in secular colleges and universities are as much “religion” as the teaching of the truth of God’s Word. But what do these Bible Presbyterian ministers want unbelieving teachers to teach? No religion at all? This also is atheism. The problem is not, really all that simple. The miserable dilemma is found in the so-called “neutrality” which the government assumes is the correct interpretation of the First Amendment. It so happens that neutrality in religion is impossible. This dilemma makes any solution to the problem an impossible one. The best that can be done under the circumstances is “Let the dead bury their dead” and let covenant parents instruct their children in schools in which the truth is taught.
—An issue of another kind, but closely related to the above involves the recent “Fairness Doctrine” of the Federal Communications Commission, which controls radio and television broadcasting. This new rule has to do with attacks made against individuals or groups over the air waves. It is intended to give the one attacked an opportunity to defend himself. It requires that any station which carries such an attack must within one week provide the person or group attacked with 1) notification of the date, time and identity of the broadcast; 2) a script, tape or summary of the attack; and 3) an offer of a reasonable opportunity to respond over the station where the attack was first made. To fail to do this makes a station liable to fines up to $10,000 and may be grounds for refusal to renew a license of a station.
Broadcasters over the ‘whole nation are perturbed by this ruling and contend that it is unconstitutional because it involves a restraint on freedom of speech and the press. Appeals are presently filed with United States Court of Appeals. Stations fear that to comply will require censoring of programs, considerable time and outlay of money; that therefore it is much easier simply to refuse to carry controversial programs.
But no one is quite as alarmed as Dr. Carl McIntyre, who insists (with some justification) that this ruling is aimed at political conservatives and religious fundamentalists. in general, and his own “Twentieth Century Reformation Hour” in particular. This doctrine is an important consideration in the question of whether the license of station WXUR ought to be renewed. This station is owned by Faith Theological Seminary of which McIntyre is board president. Thus McIntyre makes the issue one of freedom of religion as well as freedom of speech. He is afraid that his program as well as other conservative programs will not be able, to find outlets anymore as stations refuse to carry controversial material.
While we have very little appreciation for McIntyre’s radio broadcasting, it is clear that this ruling could (and in some instances may already) be used as a tool to suppress any type of programming the government happens to dislike. This is dangerous. Opposition to the Fairness Doctrine ought to have our support.
VICTORY FOR THE C.L.A.C.
The Christian Labor Association of Canada recently won a favorable decision from the Supreme Court of Canada which may have far-reaching implications for the right to work in that country. Mr. D. Hoogendoorn was fired from a factory where he used to work because he refused to pay union dues to the United Steelworkers Union. As a member of the C.L.A.C. he claimed he was represented by them even though the majority of workers in the plant were represented by the Steelworkers Union. His case was appealed after two unfavorable decisions in the lower courts. The Supreme Court ruled that he was unjustly fired. While not establishing the principle of right to work as such, it was most emphatically a step in that direction. If this decision is followed by others, the time may come in Canada when a man may work in any plant without belonging to a union even though the majority of workers are represented by a secular union.
HEART TRANSPLANTS, BRAIN TRANSPLANTS, CREATION OF LIFE
The last few weeks have seen the eyes of the world turned on a couple of hospitals—one in South Africa and one in. this country—where doctors have performed heart transplants for the first time in history. At this writing, out of five such attempts, only one has been successful in that the patient is still alive, although he remains in the hospital.
The next kind of transplant of a major sort being contemplated is that of the human brain. Already studies are being made concerning its problems, and preparations are being hastened to accomplish this.
All this leads to another closely connected development in the field of biological science: scientists in Palo Alto, California claimed to have produced life although in very primitive form. They succeeded in manufacturing (according to their claim) an inner core of a virus from inert chemicals. Supposedly this “core of a virus” was able to perform as a virus; i.e., reproduce itself by invading living cells and altering normal functions to produce other viruses.
Not all were so ready to claim that life had actually been created. For one thing, it is questionable whether a virus is truly alive. One of the scientists himself is quoted by Christianity Today as saying: “Different people mean different things by life; if you grant a virus is alive or that naked DNA is alive, then this was a creation of life.” But the fact of the matter is that viruses are able to multiply only by infecting living cells whose reproductive powers are diverted to serve the end of the viruses.
Nevertheless, already some are claiming that these advances constitute proof that death can at last be overcome and life indefinitely postponed.
But several questions arise. For one thing: Is the transplanting of organs such as the heart and brain morally and spiritually permissible? It seems to me clear beyond refutation that the transplantation of the brain can only be justified on the basis of a materialistic conception of man. Man is what he eats. It is based upon a denial of the soul, Scripture teaches that man has a soul; that this soul of man is the seat of all the powers of man’s intelligence: reason, memory, conception, etc. of man’s will and of his feelings. Inasmuch as the soul is an integral part of man, it seems equally obvious that the soul of man functions through the brain. That indeed, the particular brain of a man is perfectly adapted in the wisdom of God to the particular soul which functions through it. To take a man’s brain out of his head and transplant it in the head of another whose brain has already been removed will be to create a monstrosity the functioning of which cannot even be predicted. All this, of course, if life can be sustained. The ethical implications surely prohibit this sort of thing.
But is it not just possible that the same thing is true of the human heart? I do not claim to have the answers to these questions. But they seem to me to be questions that need answering before approval can be given to such operations. The question that will not down is this: Is there any relation between this heart in my chest cavity which pumps blood and the heart referred to in Scripture which is the moral and ethical center of man? The question can be shrugged aside by saying that there is no relationship. The heart which pumps my blood is an entirely physical organ with no relation to the spiritual. To lose it is little different from losing a leg except that I can get along without a leg while I need a heart to maintain life. But this is somewhat evasive. If there is no relation between the physical blood-pumping organ and what Scripture calls a heart, why then the similarity in names? Is it not just possible that there is, after all, a relationship between them? That to transplant life may do something to a man’s moral and ethical life which will have nothing, but deleterious effects? At least the question needs answering—answering in the light of Scripture.
And then there is this matter of creating life. Whatever the scientists may or may not have accomplished, it seems to me highly improbable that life is capable of being created in a laboratory. Once again the supposition is thoroughly evolutionistic. The supposition is that life is nothing more than the proper combination of chemicals. This is not Scripture’s view of life. Scripture is abundantly clear on the point that life is given by God at the moment of creation. Not simply the rational-moral life which man possesses, but equally the life of the animals and plants.
At any rate, one thing is certain. Death cannot be vanquished in the test tubes of scientists with their white frocks in sterilized laboratories. Death is the voice of God in the midst of creation speaking in His wrath against sin. It is not a natural process, a vestige of the evolutionary ascent of man. It is punishment for sin, and judgment. It cannot be overcome no matter how hard man tries to escape God’s just judgment upon him. The advances of science in medicine are wonderful things; the Christian has every right to take advantage of them. But he does so in the awareness that all these advances on the frontiers of science are, finally, so many vanities ending in death after all. They may prolong existence in the world for a time. But even wicked men question whether this is always desirable and speak of “the right to die.” They may manipulate the human body to serve their own ends. But God will still punish sin. And death is the end. Except for God’s people through the power of the cross and resurrection.