RIGHT TO WORK
“Right to work” laws have had a long history in this country. And this history is of great concern to the people of God who are conscience bound not to join existing labor unions, and who are often forced to quit their jobs and take positions which offer lower pay because of these convictions.
When the unions first came to power in this country, they fought hard and long for what they called a “closed shop.” This law was also put into effect and required workers to become union members before they were ever hired. In 1947 the “Taft-Hartley Act” was passed, which banned the closed shop. The result was that “union shops” and “agency shops” became the order of the day. A “union shop” requires workers to join the union (usually after 60 days from the time workers are hired) and pay regular union dues, or be fired. “An agency shop” does not require a worker to join the union, but does require that an employee bay regular fees, usually equal to union dues, either to the union’s charity fund, or to some charity of its own choice.
There have always been groups in the country who have advocated “right to work” laws, however, and who have worked to get these adopted by the states. “Right to work” laws would give any man the right to work in any shop or factory regardless of whether there is a union there or not. There are at present twenty states that have “right to work” laws on their books. These states are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.
Recently the whole question of “right to work” laws came up in the courts. The unions have contended that the National Labor Relations Board had sole authority in deciding whether or not a state could have such laws, and whether or not the “Taft-Hartley Act” provided for them. The interest of the union in this question is clear. The National Labor Relations Board generally favors the union—especially since the Democratic Administration has been in power in Washington. And they would be inclined to side with the union also on the question of right to work. But the case went to the Supreme Court; and, surprisingly enough, the highest Court in the United States ruled that the States themselves have authority to make such laws and to enforce these laws if they have them. The States therefore have now the power to ban not only the “union shop,” but also the “agency shop” if they so desire.
This is considered quite a victory for those who have worked for “right to work” laws.
Yet there is politics also in the whole matter. The National Right To Work Committee has expressed its intention of waiting till after the 1964 presidential election to push for further legislation in other states because they are afraid that any intensive campaigns at this time will hurt Republican candidates—especially in Ohio and California. They point to the fact that unions are usually able to muster large blocks of labor votes when the issue of “right to work” comes up in an election year. So nothing more is likely to be done until next fall, when the November elections are over.
This highlights a rather general weakness in this country. Issues are not often decided on the basis of right and wrong; more often than not they are decided on the basis of political expediency—whether or not a particular issue will hurt a candidate and lose him votes.
It is ironic in the extreme that a country which boasts long and loud about being a land of freedom, and which even tries to export this “freedom” to other underdeveloped countries in Africa, Asia, and South America, does not even give its citizens the freedom to work at the job they desire without violating their religious principles. This is a very strange freedom indeed.
An interesting footnote is that our Synod has approved of working in an “agency shop” where an employee does not join the union but does pay an amount usually equal to union dues to a charity of his choice. The Synod, however, did not approve of paying an amount equal to union dues to the charity fund of the union. And it should not approve of this either. This is wrong.
MOCKERY AT THE WORLD’S FAIR
New York City is to be the host city for the World’s Fair to be held in 1964. Protestants plan to erect there a Protestant Church Center as a kind of testimony and witness of a religious character to those who come to visit the Fair. But recently plans were temporarily thrown awry, according to the Presbyterian Journal, because two men of the committee in charge of this Protestant Church Center resigned. The two who resigned were Emilio Knechtle, chairman of the steering committee, and J. Marshall Miller, coordinator. They resigned because they objected to a fifteen minute film that was to be shown in the center; but their objections were overruled. The film will show a circus with Christ presented as a clown, and certain problems in Christian ethics discussed by the action. The two men who resigned objected to the film on the grounds that they could not see any religious significance to the whole picture and that it did not present an evangelical witness to viewers.
It was wise for these men to resign, of course. If they had any love for the Word of God in their hearts, they could do nothing else. But it is not simply a matter of “religious significance” or “failure to present an evangelical witness”; it is a matter of the crudest and coarsest blasphemy imaginable. Isn’t there any respect any more for things holy? Must even the Lord of heaven and earth be subjected to the horrible desecration of men who hate God under the hypocritical banner of religion? One wonders that judgment does not strike from heaven in a moment against such godlessness.
TO STOP COMPETITION BETWEEN BAPTISTS
Baptists in this country are divided into many different denominations. Two of the largest are the Southern Baptist Convention and the American Baptist Convention, which is found predominantly in the north. These two groups have often been getting into each other’s hair because of attempts to establish new churches in each other’s territory. Especially the Southern Baptist Convention has been making deep inroads into the north in recent years, and has succeeded in establishing new congregations in cities where Northern Baptists are located, which include Northern Baptist members. But the Northern Baptists have also had some success in getting Southern Baptist congregations to join their Northern Convention.
In the Washington area there are Baptist Churches that belong to both conventions. Recently, in these churches, an unofficial group composed of clergy, laymen, and convention executives has been formed whose purpose is to merge these two bodies. One of the first actions of this committee has been to present a resolution to both bodies to quit this competition. They are asking both conventions to “distinguish between necessary territorial expansions on the North American continent” by approving an acceptable form of expansion—”the ministry to those who, lack a Baptist witness,” and disapproving an unacceptable form—”which results from the beginning of competing churches in the same immediate area.” This resolution is intended to pave the way for further discussions between the two bodies in the hope that in the future merger will become possible.
And so the mergers gal on and on and on . . .
ANOTHER ATTACK ON SCRIPTURE
The Roman Catholic Church has all but denied any miraculous elements in Scripture. A good example of how they do this is to be found in a recent question and answer appearing in the Catholic paper Our Sunday Visitor.
Can you run in your column the explanation of that which is found in the Book of Josue (Joshua),
where Josue commanded the sun and moon to stand still for the length of an entire day. Scientists claim it impossible for the earth to stop rotating. If it did the gravity of the sun would draw it to itself and it would be consumed.
Answer: I quite agree with you that the earth could hardly stop rotating, though I doubt that it would be drawn to the sun and consumed simply because it stopped turning on its axis. That would probably happen if the earth failed to stay in orbit. But it could stay in orbit without rotating. The moon does.
Anyway Josue never said anything about the earth’s ceasing to rotate. In those days no one ever thought of such silly thing. They hadn’t the slightest idea that it rotated at all. Just one turn and it would surely dump everyone off into the vast sea of waters under the earth.
No, Josue cried out to the sun that it should stand still in Gabaon, and to the moon that it should remain in the valley of Aialon.
“And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, while the nation took vengeance on its foes.”
Many years ago, when we studied the Book of Josue in the seminary, the usual explanation was that the Bible spoke in terms of appearances—of phenomena as they seemed to the people. So there must have been some massive refraction or reflection of light which gave the impression that the sun and moon were standing still, and that the day was vastly prolonged.
For the modem explanation I will quote Father Joseph J. De Vault, S.J., from his commentary on the Book of Josue in de Pamphlet Bible Series of the Paulist Press: “These pseudoscientific explanations (refractions, etc.) collapse of their own tortured weight. Happily, they are being replaced by a sane exegesis which recognizes the passage for what it is—a highly poetic version of an emotionally charged cry of Josue, who hoped for time, for daylight, in which to crush the enemy utterly. The enemy was crushed, so the time was granted and this is expressed poetically in verse 13a, (which I quoted above) prosaically in verse 13b (“Is this not recorded in the Book of Jashar? The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course.”)
I have added the parentheses.
Father DeVault then explains that the Book of Jashar seems to have been a collection of patriotic songs.
But there are many Protestants, Reformed among them, who, finding “scientific errors” in Scripture, would agree with this interpretation of Joshua’s prayer and the subsequent miracle. I recall that when I was attending Calvin College, this miracle then already was brought into question in the science classrooms.
But a denial of this miracle (as well as any other in Scripture) will result also in a denial of the virgin birth of Christ and the miracle of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. For all miracles recorded in Scripture are types and shadows of this central wonder of grace which God performed for our salvation.