DECEMBER 4, 1953
NEW YORK, Thursday—I have just received from the American Friends Service Committee a statement approved by the executive board at its meeting, November 4, 1953, and I think it is the kind of statement which should be read and become a part of the thinking of every American citizen, so I give it to you here in full.
"It is our deep concern to help make clear that current attacks on civil liberties strike at the roots of both American political philosophy and Friends' basic concept of man's relationship to God.
"Democracy is based on respect for this supreme worth and uniqueness of every individual. It gains its strength and unity from the combined free contribution of the diverse talents and ideas of each of its citizens.
"Therefore, both Christian principle and democratic theory require that all men shall be free—free to think, free to speak, and free to follow the dictates of conscience.
"Our contemporary situation is enormously complex. We are faced with the demands of security in relation to freedom, of a reasonable balance between freedom and order, of the relative rights and responsibilities of the individual and the group.
"If we put self, narrowly defined, at the center of life, the result will be anarchy. If we consider the state as the center, the result may well be totalitarianism. Our guiding principle through this confusion is to understand the role of government in the light of the conviction that all men are endowed by their Creator with Certain unalienable rights.
"Fear is too often our response to uncertainty. Loyalty oaths, legislative abuses of investigatory power, assumption of guilt until innocence is proved, implications of guilt through association, and denials of the free platform are some of the products of this fear.
"The alternatives to fear are faith and courage: faith that in the free marketplace of ideas truth will prevail; courage to put the ideals of freedom into action.
"The American Friends Service Committee aims to promote discussion of the meaning of freedom and to put the ideals of freedom into action in all of its programs. We will encourage meetings where controversial issues can be discussed in an atmosphere of good will; where different views can be presented not to create conflict and recrimination, but to seek the truth.
"We join with others who have defended and increased the areas of freedom. We will support with new vigor those ways which dignify and enoble the individual."
Two things in this declaration stand out for me, the recognition of the complexity of the situation today and the need for balance. Fear is not the answer to confusion, and I think that never before have we needed faith and courage as we need them today. I pray that the Lord will give us wisdom to bring us back to faith and confidence in our fellow citizens and in our leaders.