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Right To Work 

The perennial problem of right to work laws is once again before our Congress. In the last pre-election campaign, President Johnson made his promise to labor to work for the repeal of section 14b of the Taft-Hartley Labor Law which guarantees legal standing to right to work laws enacted by the various states. 19 states have these laws on their books. The repeal of the right to work clause has already passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin and is now up for consideration in the Senate. 

If this section of the Taft-Hartley law is repealed, as labor unions fervently wish, the power of labor will once again be immeasurably increased, for in a union shop it will no longer be possible to work for more than sixty days without joining a labor union. And once again, those who are opposed to union membership on the grounds of religious convictions will suffer an infringement of their rights. 

There have been various reactions to this attempt on the part of the president to pay his debt to labor. Recently an ad appeared in Time magazine which reads in part:

Traditionally the laws of the United States have recognized and protected the principle that every person has the right to a good conscience before God and man. 

Through oversight, the Taft-Hartley Law omits recognition of the right of sincere religious conscience to the worker. American citizens have been discharged from employment because no provision is available for religious conscience in labor legislation . . . . 

The Holy Bible governs the consciences of believers on the Lord Jesus Christ. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”

II Corinthians 6:14

and “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.”

Deuteronomy 22:20.

Refer also to

I Corinthians 1:9, I Corinthians 12:27,

and

I Timothy 2:19.

Therefore, persons so governed cannot with good conscience belong to any associations, including trade unions.

This ad ends with an appeal to support a “conscience clause” in the Taft-Hartley law. 

Christianity Today has also commented on this issue. After mentioning various denominations which have conscientious objections to membership in labor unions (Mennonites, Amish, Seventh-Day Adventists, Christian Reformed, Protestant Reformed, and Plymouth Brethren), this magazine goes on to say:

. . . Moral arguments (raised by these churches) are neither dodges nor cheap attempts to reap the advantages of organized labor without accepting responsibility or paying membership dues. Many are willing to pay their share of labor-bargaining costs; others would donate the equivalent of membership fees and dues to a charitable organization . . . . Such attitudes and actions bespeak the moral earnestness that attends the question of membership in labor unions. 

But if these people differ in their reasons for refusing to hold membership in our national labor unions, all the reasons do fall into the basic category of the right and duty of a man not to act contrary to his conscience. The American government has long been very sensitive to the right of its citizens to live in terms of their consciences. It has not forced the conscientious objector to take up arms, nor has it forced the Jehovah’s Witness to salute the flag. This respect for the individual’s moral convictions is one of the profound ways in which American democracy differs from totalitarianism; totalitarian governments demand the ultimate loyalty of their citizens, whereas American democratic government recognizes that a man’s ultimate loyalty is to God, not the state . . . . 

Every American has a large stake in this issue. Not only the conscientious objector but also every lover of freedom should be concerned about this bold attempt to undermine the long American tradition that recognizes a man’s right to live by his conscience without sacrificing his right to work for a living.

An entirely different kind of reaction came from the National Council of Christian Churches. Testifying before a congressional committee which was holding hearings on the matter, Dr. Carothers, secretary of the NCC’s commission on the Church and Economic Life came out strongly in favor of repeal. By doing this, he brought the NCC once again into the arena of political debate and threw the weight of the NCC behind the attempts to deny many their right to work. 

This is, presumably, part of Johnson’s “Great Society.” And it is increasingly obvious therefore that in such a great society, carried to its final end, there will be no room for God’s people who live according to the convictions of their faith. 

It is perhaps impossible to predict at this point the outcome of all this. But one thing is certain: we are coming nearer all the time to the day when it will be impossible to buy or to sell for the people of God. 

Racial Riots—Whose Fault? 

The newspapers have brought to the attention of the citizens in this country the terrible rioting between the races that has recently been taking place within several of our large cities and especially in Los Angeles. Many attempts have been made to uncover the causes of this rioting in an effort to prevent them from happening in the future. Solemnly, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, negro and white leaders have made their ponderous pronouncements. The fault lies in too much or too little government relief. The root of it all is hatred of the police on the part of the negro. The difficulty can be traced to the hopeless poverty and ghetto conditions which breed crime and despair. Etc. 

There may be an element of truth in some of these diagnoses. Yet it is vain to look into these social conditions for the causes of the terror that stalked the streets during those awful hours of rioting. One must look elsewhere. 

And looking elsewhere, two things especially are obvious. 

In the first place, it can hardly be overlooked that the fault of it all lies precisely with the government which now bemoans these uprisings. 

After all, it has been constantly emphasized in the last years that civil disobedience is a perfectly legitimate means of gaining one’s end—provided that the end is justified. Thus, it has been repeatedly maintained, even by the highest authorities in our country, that to attain the goal of civil rights disobedience to law is permissible. There are, it has been said, times when the violation of law can be condoned and when the law can be set aside for the attainment of the goal of equal rights for underprivileged people. Is it any wonder, with such a comfortable philosophy, that there comes a time when civil disobedience breaks out in cold fury and uncontrollable mob action? Surely the negro himself, encouraged to break the law in one instance, will attempt to break the law in many more instances, and justify his conduct on the grounds that his motives are his own betterment. And so our country had better face the grim realities of life: our society is tottering on the narrow edge of anarchy and chaos. 

The Church claims to have a concern for negro rights and has entered the battle with arms swinging. They too have gone on record in many instances as favoring civil disobedience under the proper circumstances. This is the fruit of such rash and evil talk. And the Church had better be prepared to shoulder its measure of responsibility; for what we have witnessed this past month, and will witness again, is the grim harvest of seeds sown by agitation for civil disobedience by irresponsible church leaders under the guise of religion. 

The second thought that comes to mind is that also in this, one whose ears are attuned to Scriptures must surely hear the hoof beats of the running of the red horse of Rev. 6 which thunder out the loud cry that the Lord is coming back. Scripture, when it speaks of wars as being a sign of Christ’s coming, refer to far more than war between nations. There is war also between classes of people and between the races that people the earth. Another battle in this grim war has been fought. And in this war, as in all others, there is no hope for peace, for the causes of war are hatred, jealousy, envy strife, bitterness; or, in short, sin. And in this sorry world sin will never be universally eradicated, for this is not the purpose of Cod. For true peace comes through the cross to those redeemed in the blood of Christ and will be perfectly realized in the finally salvation of the Church elect and multiform and gathered in the everlasting kingdom of righteousness. 

A New Theory of Transubstantiation 

It is surprising what the ecumenical movement can do to churches, even to the church of Rome. Even the important doctrine of transubstantiation does not seem to be immune to the inroads and influences of ecumenicism. There is a growing discussion among Romish theologians, as reported by Time, about the old doctrine and the need to replace it with something more modern. This is not to say that the Church is officially ready for such drastic change. Indeed, whispers of heresy have been heard and warnings have sounded forth from the higher levels of church government which are directed towards those criticizing church doctrine. But the discussions go on nonetheless, and these have their significance. 

The old doctrine of transubstantiation was a major difference between the church of Rome and the churches of the Reformation—especially those of the Reformation of Calvin. By this doctrine Rome taught that the elements of’ the Lord’s Supper, while retaining their accidental properties of appearance and taste, were nevertheless actually changed into the real body and blood of Christ. 

The proposed new doctrine is not so easy to define.Time speaks thus of it:

In rethinking eucharistic doctrine, the theologians speak of the “sign change” that takes place in the elements in existential categories rather than sticking to the static, mechanistic terms of the Scholastics. Their basic point is that the change takes place amid what they call an “inter-person activity”: the encounter of man and God at the Mass. There Christ gives himself, makes himself present, to his people. Father Smits compares Christ’s giving himself to the gesture of a Dutch housewife who offers her guests tea and cookies. Just as the housewife offers not food itself but her Welcome “incarnated” in the gift, Christ also offers himself, incarnated in the bread and wine. Adds Jesuit Schoonenberg: “I kneel not for a Christ who is supposed to be condensed in the host, but for the Lord who through the host offers me his reality, his body.”

It is hard to wade through such hazy language and determine whether all this is a genuine change of thought on the doctrine or mere verbal camouflage which retains the old doctrine but leaves the impression as if a change is being made so that the doctrine becomes somewhat more palatable to churches outside the Church of Rome. But it seems as if all this is supposed to mean that the elements of the bread and wine are not actually changed into the body and blood of Christ, but that rather the celebration of communion serves as a means to give man an opportunity to accept Christ offered to him in the elements. 

Hardly an improvement though—to jump from one heresy into another. But it may serve to pave the road towards church union another mile or two.