American Presbyterian Church
By Lorraine Boettner
The Parochial School
The Roman Church Claims the Right to Supervise All Education
Webster’s New International Dictionary defines “parochial” as “(1) of or pertaining to a parish…; (2) confined or limited to a parish; as of parochial interest; hence limited in range or scope; narrow; local; as a parochial mind or point of view. …”
When we apply this term to a school we mean one created and governed by a church organization. Such a school may be created because the parent body does not consider the existing school system adequate (in most cases because it omits or gives unsatisfactory religious instruction) or because no other school is available. In the United States the motive for parochial schools is clearly the former.
One of the totalitarian claims made by the Roman Catholic Church, as professedly the only true church and the only organization on earth that has a right to speak for God, is the right to control all education, outside as well as inside its membership. Its ideal is that education should be the exclusive monopoly of the priesthood. Repeatedly it has denounced public education, that is, education organized and controlled by a public authority such as a local, state, or national government. Pope Pius IX, in his Syllabus of Errors, in 1864, condemned the public school system in these words:
“The direction of public schools in which the youth of Christian states are brought up… neither can nor ought to be assumed by the civil authority alone, or in such a manner that no right shall be recognized on the part of any other authority to interfere in the dispositions of the schools, in the regulation of the studies, in the appointment of degrees, and in the selection and approval of masters. … It is false that the best conditions of civil society demand that popular schools be open to the children of all classes, or that the generality of public institutions should be free from all ecclesiastical authority. Catholics cannot approve a system of education for youth apart from the Catholic faith, and disjointed from the authority of the church” (Propositions 45, 47, 48).
In another statement Pope Pius IX declared: “Education outside of the Catholic Church is heresy.” But we may well ask, just what has education in the Roman Church done for the masses of Italy, France, Spain, and Latin America? And again we ask: If the direction of the public schools, which are paid for with tax money, should not be in the hands of the community which pays for it, where should it be? Certainly it should not be in the hands of a foreign pontiff of a different faith, nor should it be turned over to a totalitarian church which is under foreign control.
Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical, On the Education of Youth (1929), declared:
“In the first place, education belongs pre‑eminently to the Church for two supernatural reasons. … As for the scope of the Church’s educative mission, it extends over all people without any limitations, according to Christ’s command: ‘Teach ye all nations.’ Nor is there a power which can oppose or prevent it.”
Pope John XXIII, on December 30, 1959, reiterated the papal claim in substantially the same words.
Rev. J. A. Burns, president of Holy Cross College, Washington, D. C., in his book, The Growth and Development of the Catholic School System in the United States, says:
“We deny, of course, as Catholics, the right of the civil government to educate, for education is a function of the spiritual society. … It [the state] may found and endow schools and pay the teachers, but it cannot dictate or interfere with the education or discipline of the schools” (p. 223).
In these statements we have the claim of the Roman Church that it is the only rightful educator in the world. It denies the right of the state even to establish secular schools for its own order. According to this teaching the sole right and duty of the state in this field is to collect taxes for the establishment and maintenance of Roman Catholic schools.
It does not hesitate to claim openly, even in the Protestant and democratic United States, that education is exclusively a function of the Roman Catholic Church—as indeed it also claims that preaching and the administration of the sacraments are functions of the Roman Church only. This claim implies that education should be denied to all those outside the Roman Church. And indeed that is the policy that the Roman Church puts into effect in areas where she is in control—another means by which Rome seeks to maintain her control over the people.
What the Roman Church really wants is a concordat between the Vatican and each nation, such as that under which Italy, Spain, Portugal, and various other nations have been or are governed, through which a large part or perhaps all of the educational process is turned over to the Roman Church while being paid for by the state. Her aim is to dominate public and private schools to the exclusion of all other churches and religions. The teaching of the Roman Catholic religion in the public schools becomes compulsory, even for Protestant children, as in present day Spain, if the Roman Church has her way. The first step in that process in a country such as ours is to undermine the public schools by making her parochial schools tax supported, while at the same time placing as many Roman Catholics as possible in the public schools as teachers. But such a condition destroys the very foundation of democratic and representative government. Concerning this problem MacGregor says:
“A country such as America cannot expect to come to any reasonable terms with the Roman Catholic hierarchy on the subject of education. The Church is avowedly opposed not only to public schools but also to independent schools and universities that are not under the control of the Roman Catholic Church, to which alone, it is affirmed, belongs the right to teach anything.
“In practice, however, in a country such as the United States, the Church is unable, for obvious reasons, to enforce this principle. So the hierarchy has to content itself with the more practical aim of securing Roman Catholic parochial schools at the public expense.”
After saying that the Roman Church thus seeks “to make its own educational system a charge on the American public,” he adds:
“Financially it would hardly be better news to the hierarchy if Congress were to pass a bill appropriating money from the Treasury for the payment of mass stipends to all Roman Catholic clergy throughout the country. …
“It is by means of censorship and boycott, and above all, educational indoctrination at public expense, that it is hoped to transform America into a country that is predominantly Roman Catholic in spirit; that is to say, one in which it would be very imprudent to speak openly against anything uttered by a Roman Catholic bishop, and exceedingly dangerous to speak even privately in favor of anything uttered by anyone who was explicitly under the ban of the Church” (The Vatican Revolution, pp. 148‑150).
It is important to remember that historically the American system of free, universal public education was exclusively a product of Protestantism. Practically all of the people in colonial America were Protestant. The Puritans of New England contributed most toward developing the ideal that all classes should have equal educational opportunities. Having come to America to secure religious freedom for themselves, it was only natural that they should turn to education as one means of promoting their faith.
Our first college, Harvard, was established in 1636, just 16 years after the landing at Plymouth Rock, and it was intended primarily as a school to train those preparing for the ministry. The first elementary schools were in the homes and churches, usually with the local pastor as the instructor. So keenly was the need felt for grammar schools that in 1647 a legislative act provided that every town having as many as fifty householders should appoint a teacher and provide for his wages, and that every community having as many as one hundred householders should provide a grammar school.
The next colleges of earliest origin, William and Mary (Episcopal) in 1693, Yale (Puritan) in 1701, Princeton (Presbyterian) in 1746, as also Dartmouth, Brown, Rutgers, and the University of Pennsylvania, were established through church influences during the colonial period, before the Constitution was written and before those generally recognized as the champions of our American way of life were born. Those schools were not the product of government but of the church.
Parochial Schools Compulsory for Roman Catholics
The First Plenary Council of Baltimore, in 1853, called upon all bishops to establish parish schools in every church in their dioceses. The Second Plenary Council of Baltimore, in 1866, repeated that call and took steps to make it effective.
Canon Law 1374 denies freedom of choice to Roman Catholic parents in regard to schools, and says that they must send their children to parochial schools under pain of mortal sin unless excused from doing so by the bishop. Canon Law 1381 decrees concerning the school setup:
1. “In all schools the religious training of the young is subject to the authority and inspection of the Catholic Church” [i.e., the priest or bishop].
2. “It is the right and duty of the Bishops to take care that nothing is taught or done against the Faith or sound morals in any school in their territory.”
3. “The Bishops have also the right to approve the teachers of religion and the textbooks and further to require that texts be dropped or teachers removed, when the good of religion or morality demands this action.”
Thus the curriculum, staff, and operation of the parochial school are under the complete domination of the bishop. Parents have no choice, no rights at all, as regards teachers, texts, or methods of instruction, as over against the bishop, if he chooses to exercise his authority. Nor has any school board or committee any choice in the management of the school except as that choice may be delegated to it by the bishop.
The fact is that the parochial school has been promoted primarily by the priests and bishops as a means of keeping the children of their church separate from Protestant children and from public school influences during their formative years, the better to indoctrinate and control them. If left to themselves most Roman Catholic parents would send their children to the public schools, and many do so in spite of the pressure from the priests. After more than one hundred years of effort by the hierarchy to impose the parochial school system on their people, less than half of their children attend those schools.
In the United States there are some 10,760 parochial grade schools with an enrollment of approximately 4,700,000, and some 2,432 high schools with approximately 900,000 students.1 The National Department of Health, Education, and Welfare has indicated that the total grade and high school enrollment in all schools is approximately 35,000,000. That means that the parochial schools enroll approximately one out of seven, or about 15 percent. And that of course includes some who are not Roman Catholics. Also there are about 330,000 students enrolled in 278 Roman Catholic colleges and universities. The parochial school enrollment has risen from about 5 percent in 1900 to the present figure, with the primary increase having come since the close of the Second World War in 1945. All of these students, of course, are taught Roman Catholic polity (political, economic, and social) as well as Roman Catholic doctrine. Approximately 90 percent of all parochial and private elementary and high schools in this country are under the control of the Roman Catholic Church. Less than half of those high schools are accredited.
Let it be clearly understood that we do not object to church related schools as such, as they are conducted, for instance, in the Lutheran and some other churches, but only to that form of parochialism that is found in the Roman Catholic Church.
1 In contrast with developments abroad, Roman Catholic parochial schools in the United States in recent years have declined. According to a report of the National Catholic Educational Association, enrollment in the elementary and secondary schools dropped from 5.6 million in the 1964‑65 school year to 4.6 million in 1969-70.
Parochial School Indoctrination
In view of the fact that some 5,600,000 Roman Catholic children at the grade and high school level are being trained in the parochial schools, what is the hierarchy teaching these future Americans? It is well known that such schools do not confine their indoctrination to religion. History books are rewritten to present a “Catholic version.” Roman Catholic schools do not share a mutual pride and appreciation with the public schools in setting forth the problems and difficulties and progress of the early Colonists, such as the Pilgrims, Puritans, Quakers, etc., practically all of whom were Protestants. Protestant national heroes, such as Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Roger Williams, William Penn, and others are minimized, and comparatively unimportant Roman Catholics are glorified and their deeds presented as accomplishments of Roman Catholicism. The struggles that our forefathers went through and the sacrifices they made to establish freedom of religion, freedom of speech and of the press, the right to vote, etc., are minimized or omitted. What we consider a victory and a great step forward, they consider a defeat and a step backward. We point with pride to the constitutional provision for the separation of church and state; they brand that a mistake and say that this and other nations should have remained under the authority of the pope. A few years ago the government of Mexico by constitutional provision closed all papal sectarian schools in that country, to the end that every boy and girl should be given a true statement of the history of Mexico as taught in the public schools. Certainly every boy and girl who is to become a good American citizen should be taught a fair and truthful account of American history.
In the parochial schools Roman Catholic indoctrination is included in every subject. History, literature, geography, civics, and science are given a Roman Catholic slant. The whole education of the child is filled with propaganda. That, of course, is the very purpose of such schools, the very reason for going to all of the work and expense of maintaining a dual school system. Their purpose is not so much to educate, but to indoctrinate and train, not to teach Scripture truths and Americanism, but to make loyal Roman Catholics. The children are regimented, and are told what to wear, what to do, and what to think.2
Most of the teaching in the parochial schools is done by the nuns. They teach the children to revere and worship the Virgin Mary and to trust in images and rosaries whether they know anything about faith in Christ or not. All nuns are under solemn vows to promote their religion in every course they teach. They work year in and year out without receiving anything more than their board and keep, and without the personal freedom that every American has the right to enjoy. They are kept in abject poverty, while money flows freely to the priests, bishops, and especially to the Vatican in Rome.
2 This paragraph… was quoted in a concurring opinion by justices Douglas, Black, and Marshall as the Supreme Court of the United States, in two cases, June 28, 1971, held by decisions of 8 to 0 and 8 to 1 that State aid to parochial and private schools was unconstitutional.
As regards the content of the curriculum at the high school and college level, in the textbook, Christian Principles and National Problems, by Ostheimer and Delaney, under the imprimatur of Cardinal Spellman, we read:
“The doctrine of the Church… is that the State must profess and teach not any religion, but the one true form of worship founded by Christ and continuing today in the Catholic Church alone” (p. 98).
“The non-Catholic and the non‑baptized should be permitted to carry on their own form of worship as long as there would be no danger of scandal or perversion of the faithful. In a country where the majority are Catholics, the practice of Protestantism or paganism by an inconspicuous minority would be neither a source of scandal nor perversion to the adherents of the true faith” (p. 99).
Here we have the threat that freedom of worship will be denied to Protestants if the Roman Church gains the ascendancy. Only as long as the Protestant minority remains small and “inconspicuous” will it be allowed to exist peacefully, and even then it must not seek to carry on evangelistic work among Roman Catholics and others. But just how small and how inconspicuous it would have to be to receive this tolerance is not stated. Presumably that would rest with the individual Roman Catholic leaders. Judging by the active persecution that still is carried on against an inconspicuous minority of Protestants in Spain, it would have to be near the vanishing point. That the rising generation of Roman Catholics should be taught that when their church reaches an anticipated majority in the United States they are to start oppressing and persecuting other churches is monstrous and diabolical. And yet this is set forth under the imprimatur, and therefore with the approval of, the most prominent American Roman Catholic, Cardinal Spellman.
A similar view is taught in another widely used text, Living Our Faith, by Flynn, Loretto, and Simeon, also with Spellman’s imprimatur. It says:
“The question of union or separation of Church and State has perplexed men since the Protestant revolt. The ideal situation exists when there is perfect union and accord between Church and State, with each supreme in its own field. … In a Catholic country, when a dispute arises and settlement is unattainable the rights of the Church should prevail, since it possesses the higher authority” (p. 247).
This book also tells the students that “non‑Catholic methods of worshiping must be branded counterfeit”—and the inference is that the state should assist the church in making the brand effective.
A widely used college and seminary text, with the official nihil obstat (nothing objectionable) of Arthur J. Scanlan, S.T.D. (Censor Liborum ), and the official Imprimatur of Archbishop (now Cardinal) Francis J. Spellman, says:
“Suppose that the constitutional obstacles to proscription of non-Catholics have been legitimately removed and they themselves have become numerically insignificant: What then would be the proper course of action for a Catholic State? Apparently, the latter State could logically tolerate only such religious activities as were confined to the members of the dissenting group. It could not permit them to carry on general propaganda nor accord their organization certain privileges that had formerly been extended to all religious corporations, for example, exemption from taxation” (p. 320; from Catholic Principles of Politics, by John A. Ryan and Francis J. Boland. Copyright 1940 by the National Catholic Welfare Conference. Used by permission of the Macmillan Company).
The general thrust of that book is that the Roman Catholic Church must establish itself as the state church in the United States, that it must be made to prevail and eventually to eliminate all other churches.
Thus the rising generation of Roman Catholics is being indoctrinated with the belief that church‑state separation is unwise and un‑American in principle, that the Roman Church is the only true church, and that it is the right and privilege of that church to suppress others by force as it has opportunity. And we are even asked to subsidize such teaching with tax money! This same teaching is also being given more or less directly to three million other students in various public schools through this nation that are staffed in part with nuns and brothers.
When these millions of students are being trained in that kind of mental climate, how can we doubt that if and when the opportunity comes they will attempt to put those ideas into practice? The bigoted and shocking teaching that goes on in schools using such textbooks as the above mentioned is a betrayal of American freedom and democracy. It is treasonable, and it certainly should not be allowed by any group or in any schools in this nation. If such teaching were being given in a set of schools established by the Communists there would be an immediate outcry against it. But when given in Roman Catholic schools it attracts little attention, and indeed some are even willing to assist in promoting it with tax money.
Roman Catholics often pretend to Protestants that their schools for all practical purposes are the same as the public schools except that at certain periods religion is taught. But as we have shown by quotations from their own texts, the facts are quite the contrary. We particularly warn Protestant parents against sending their children to such schools. The training given can have no other effect than to undermine the faith of Protestant children. And for parents who send their children to such schools the time surely will come when they will regret their decision with bitter tears. Many Protestant parents who pay little attention to school affairs have suddenly been amazed to find their children praying to the Virgin, crossing themselves, and attending Roman Catechism classes. And when that stage is reached it may be too late to reclaim them.
The secret of the success achieved by the dictators such as Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, in leading a majority of their countrymen to accept ideologies that were detrimental even to their own interests, was to concentrate on the training, or the so‑called education, of youth. Each sought to control the schools and youth organizations, and both Hitler and Mussolini, although Roman Catholics themselves, had sharp disagreements with the Roman Church concerning that problem. Each of the dictators realized that if he could control the youth of the land, the nation soon would be under his control. The Roman Church had operated on that principle for centuries, and the dictators simply took that method over as a part of their own system.
Some Roman Catholic leaders say that a school in a community is more important than a church. And indeed that is the principle on which the hierarchy is now working in Japan, Korea, Formosa, in Lutheran Sweden and Finland, and in various other places where their people are few in numbers. In various places it is now putting the building of schools ahead of the building of churches. And that policy apparently pays off since it trains a group of followers who in time form the nucleus of a church. In established communities Roman churches usually do not bother to separate church and school finances but treat them as one operation. The parochial schools, with their intense indoctrination of the young are, in a word, the “secret weapon” by which the Roman Church hopes to control the nation’s future citizens and so to win the victory over Protestantism.
Narrow Viewpoint of the Parochial Schools
One feature of the Roman schools that calls for comment is the very narrow outlook presented. This applies particularly to schools at the high school and college level. While Protestantism encourages free investigation, Romanism restricts the investigative process and is concerned primarily with its own advancement. It suppresses truth as does any totalitarian power. In the ages before the Reformation free inquiry was prohibited and men were even put to death for possessing the Bible translated into their own tongue. The Index of Forbidden Books3, still in effect as rigidly as ever, proscribes all the controversial books, magazines, and other publications of Protestants and others who oppose Romanism, and so makes it impossible for Roman Catholics to know both sides of a question.
3 See footnote [#1], [chapter 4].
Graduates from parochial high schools who enroll in state colleges or universities are surprised to find, for instance, that their history books do not agree with the ones they have been studying. They read instead about the decadence and moral corruption of the papacy during the Middle Ages, the cruel tyranny of the Inquisition, and, on the other hand, the accomplishments of Protestant leaders and nations, and many other embarrassing facts. The Roman Church wants obedience, and to that end it withholds from its people that broader knowledge and outlook on the world that makes for a well-informed and well‑rounded personality. Many Roman Catholic laymen, as well as some priests, resent the narrow, un-American atmosphere of the parochial schools. But few have the courage to express their views openly or to do anything about it. Those who expect to stay in the Roman Church simply accept the situation and keep their mouths shut.
Throughout the entire Roman Catholic system of “education,” from the parochial schools to the colleges and seminaries, the teachers, who for the most part are nuns and priests, have studied practically nothing except what has borne the official Imprimatur (“Let it be published”) of the church. The Index of Forbidden Books limits and controls their libraries. The most important qualification for teachers and professors is not knowledge and teaching ability, but indoctrination and loyalty to the church. Roman Catholic students, therefore, in a real sense are forbidden to think. They let the priests think for them. But the fallacy of that system is that the priests too are forbidden to think. They too are limited by the Imprimatur and the Index. Freedom of thought and research have very little place in such schools. And the students in such schools are, for the most part, not educated but merely trained.
Various instances can be cited showing how this narrow attitude toward learning has worked out in the past. Copernicus, a Polish‑born astronomer who died in 1543, wrote a book, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies, in which he set forth the view that the sun was the center of the solar system and that the planets including the earth revolved around it. But the Roman theologians were bitterly opposed to that view. The idea that the earth was not fixed at the very center of all things was more than they could stand, and they were not open to demonstration. To make the earth a mere satellite, indeed only one among several satellites, seemed to diminish the importance of the pope, who allegedly was the ruler of the earth. Copernicus was excommunicated, and his book was put on the Index where it remained for centuries. But his scientific discoveries later proved to be true.
Thomas Aquinas, most prominent of all Roman theologians, taught that the earth was fixed in its position, and his writings tied up that false doctrine with the doctrines of the Church of Rome. In 1633 Galileo, another brilliant astronomer who supported the views of Copernicus and who discovered the telescope, was brought to trial by the Jesuits before the Inquisition. His work was examined by a committee and was condemned as dangerous to the church. He was forced to recant. But it is said that as he rose after the recantation he reiterated his views concerning the earth, saying, “Nevertheless it does move.” The Inquisition sentenced him to the dungeon for three years. Later this was changed to house arrest, under which he spent the remainder of his life. The church put an end to his scientific investigations, but the learned man was right. The Roman Church persecuted Harvey who discovered the circulation of the blood, and it anathematized Pascal, the famous French mathematician and scientist, because he dared to question some of its doctrines.
Public Schools Sometimes Taken Over by the Roman Church
In some communities in the United States where Roman Catholics are in a majority they have taken control of the public schools. This usually is accomplished by gaining a majority on the school board. In view of the fact that so few people vote in school elections, it frequently is easy for pressure groups to elect their candidates. The schools are then staffed with nuns, or in some cases with priests or brothers, the study of Roman Catholic doctrine is introduced and is practically made compulsory, and all the while the school remains on the public payroll. Pupils who object are subjected to social and economic reprisals, and sometimes are told that if they cannot adjust to the school they should go elsewhere.
Such schools are known as “captive schools.” A report in The Christian Century, July 15, 1959, said there were at least 281 such schools in 21 states. The report also said that at least 2,055 nuns were teaching in these schools. Conditions of this kind exist in Ohio, Maine, Connecticut, Illinois, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas, and Arkansas, with the worst conditions in Indiana, Kansas, and Kentucky. In some of these states nuns teach in their church garb, and the classrooms display religious pictures, crucifixes, and other symbols of the Roman Catholic Church which by no stretch of the imagination can be called legitimate teaching devices. Salary checks of the nuns, who have taken vows of poverty and who therefore cannot own property, and who have no family obligations, are commonly made payable to the religious orders to which they belong, even without being subject to withholding tax deductions. But the salaries of Protestants teaching in the same or similar schools and with family obligations are subject to all of the tax deductions. This same situation has also been found to exist in regard to chaplains in the armed forces. This practice means that in reality the nuns’ salaries and those of the chaplains are paid to the Roman Catholic Church, which in turn merely furnishes them with living expenses. For all practical purposes such schools are parochial schools supported by public taxation. This illustrates again the relentless drive of the hierarchy to get tax money for its private institutions. This practice of turning the nuns’ and chaplains’ salaries over to the order to which they belong, even without tax deductions, is permitted through a special ruling by H. F. O’Connell, Chief of Technical Reference Branch, U. S. Treasury Department, which seems to have been made for the special benefit of the Roman Catholic Church. His ruling reads:
“Members of a religious order who have taken vows of poverty, are not required to report as income, for federal tax purposes, their earnings which, in accordance with their vows, they turn over to their orders.
“Members of a religious order who have taken vows of poverty are bound absolutely to obey the commands of their superiors and have no discretion as to where they will perform their duties and in what capacity; and they are further bound to turn over their entire compensation (or the amount less living expenses), to the order. By reason of the stringency of these requirements and the lack of discretion on the part of the members, such members are considered agents of the order they represent. … This is the general rule applicable where one person performs services and receives compensation as agent for another” (ruling issued December 19, 1956).
We point out first of all, however, that the restrictions under which the nuns and priests work are merely Roman Catholic Church regulations for which the government has no responsibility whatever. The nuns and priests accept those restrictions willingly and are responsible for them. In the second place, how can nuns and priests who are so completely under the control of their church organizations that they have no discretion as to where or in what capacity they perform their duties be considered free agents fit to teach in our public schools? In the third place, while the government can legitimately contract with private companies for such things as construction projects, carrying the mail, etc., under our constitutional provision for the separation of church and state it has no right to hire the religious orders of a church to provide teachers for the public schools or chaplains for the armed forces. And in the fourth place, in view of the official doctrines of their church, how can these nuns and priests be expected to teach the true principles of American freedom and democracy? How can they be expected not to teach their religion?
C. Stanley Lowell reported the following situation as existing in 1956:
“In Indiana more than two million dollars in tax funds went to ‘public schools’ that were in effect parochial schools of the Roman Church. There are 152 garbed nuns teaching in the public schools of Kansas with their salaries going to their church” (Christianity Today, January 7, 1959).
In some states long and expensive legislation has been instituted to clear up abuses of this kind. Much more is needed. Schools such as those just mentioned—public in name but parochial in purpose and operation—patently violate the religious rights of Protestant and other children who do not belong to the Roman Church. Such schools are an affront to our Constitutional principle of separation of church and state.
Glenn L. Archer, executive director of Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State, cites the following as a typical example of church‑state abuse:
“In Bremond, Texas, the ‘public school’ is conducted in a parish‑owned building with six nuns and two priests as teachers. A suit filed there recently charged that public funds were being illegally used in support of this sectarian institution. The Bremond school is only one of 22 such ‘public schools’ in Texas that are being supported by tax funds” (The Convert, November, 1959).
In numerous instances school boards friendly to Roman Catholicism or under Roman Catholic domination have sold school buildings and grounds to the Roman Catholic Church for a mere fraction of their true values, sometimes for only $1.00, a mere token sale. At Rome, New York, an old school was “abandoned” by the city, sold for $25,000, and reopened as the Transfiguration parish school. Catholic sources admitted that the true value of the property as “estimated by experts” was not $25,000 but $300,000. In St. Louis, Missouri, publicly acquired property was resold to St. Louis University, a Jesuit institution of the Roman Catholic Church, at an alleged loss to the public in excess of $6,000,000.
Even when nuns in a public school are instructed by the school board not to teach their religion, it is vain to expect that they will not do so either directly or indirectly. They are under vows to teach their religion to all who come before them. Indeed that is the very purpose of their confession, and they will refrain from it only to the extent to which they are restrained. Protestants justly protest teaching which seeks to make Roman Catholics out of their children in the public school classrooms.
As just indicated, in several states nuns are even allowed to wear their religious garb while teaching in the public schools. In 1960 a ruling was handed down in Ohio permitting this practice. And the Roman Church pushes this practice just as far as it can without arousing too much opposition. Such symbolism inevitably has its effect on the impressionable young minds, identifying the teachers with the Roman Catholic Church and turning the pupils in that direction. Even if religion is not mentioned, even if the name “Roman Catholic” is never spoken, the church garb in itself carries the message: “This is Roman Catholicism; this is what the Roman Catholic Church teaches.” The pupils grow up looking up, perhaps unconsciously, to the nuns and priests as their mentors and guides. As a rule children tend to admire what they see in their teachers, and under normal conditions it is proper that they should do so. But it is most highly improper for the Roman Church to take advantage of this situation and to propagandize in schools that are paid for at public expense and which contain children from Protestant and other homes.
We oppose the employment of nuns in the public schools under any conditions, for the simple reason that they are not free agents. Their allegiance to their church is stronger than their allegiance to any school board. At the very least they should be required to exchange their church garb and insignia for dress that is without distinctive suggestion and which does not in itself propagandize in behalf of their religion. But even this is less than a halfway measure toward correcting the problem.
Roman Catholic Opposition to Public Schools
The Roman Church not only promotes her own school system, but is strongly opposed to the American system of free public education. She would like nothing better than to see it destroyed. This is true first of all because the Roman Church claims for herself and as a matter of right the privilege of supervising all education, so that the youth of the land can be effectively directed toward that church. Typical of this attitude are the words of Paul L. Blakely, S.J., in an article, May an American Oppose the Public School, which bears the imprimatur of the late cardinal Hayes:
“Our first duty to the public school is not to pay taxes for its maintenance. We pay that tax under protest, not because we admit an obligation in justice. … The first duty of every Catholic father to the public school is to keep his children out of it. … For the man who sends his children to the public school when he could obtain for them the blessing of a Catholic education is not a practicing Catholic, even though he goes to mass every morning. … ‘Every Catholic child in a Catholic school,’ is the command of the church.”
In the late 19th century the Roman Church began a vigorous campaign to drive Bible reading and all discussion of religion out of the public schools. The real objection, of course, was not to the teaching of religion as such, but to the fact that the Roman Catholic religion was not taught. And now that the Bible and religion have been driven out of the public schools the Roman Church denounces them as “godless,” “pagan,” “socialistic,” “immoral,” “un‑American.”
C. Stanley Lowell writes:
“Roman Catholics undertook to drive religion out of the schools not because they were atheistic or secularistic people, but because they were not powerful enough to determine the kind of religion to be taught. They preferred no religious teaching at all if they could not have Roman Catholic dogma. The provincial council of the Roman Catholic Church in Baltimore, 1840, imposed on priests the responsibility of seeing to it that Catholic children attending public schools did not participate in any religious exercises there. They were also to use their influence to prevent any such practice in the public school. The ‘secular public school’ was in substantial part an achievement of the Roman Catholic Church” (Christianity Today, January 7, 1957).
In some places, however, where Roman Catholics are able to dominate the public school moral and spiritual teaching with their own dogma, as in New York City, or where they have been able to secure public funds for their own schools, they have done an about‑face and now call for a return of religion in education.
Another practice, we may even say a standard procedure, of the parochial schools is that of “dumping” delinquent, problem children on the public schools. Acknowledgment of such practice, even from a Roman Catholic source is found in an article in the Paulist magazine Information, November, 1959, by Louise Edna Goeden, a public school administrator in an un‑named American city. She says:
“As a teacher and administrator in a large public high school I am constantly dealing with pupils the parochial school expels or refuses to enroll or re‑enroll. From experience, I know without looking that a large percentage of these entrants will be from parochial schools. From experience I also know that many will become our problem cases—because of poor scholarship or conduct or both.
“I call in the parents, and the story is always the same. The students were ‘asked’ to leave the parochial school because they had poor grades or didn’t follow directions or were behavior problems. Or they were ‘advised’ not to enroll in any Catholic school.
“As a teacher and a Catholic, I take exception to the parochial schools dumping the dullards, the sluggards and the delinquents on the public school doorstep. When my non‑Catholic colleagues say about problem students, ‘These are the very ones the Catholic schools should keep; they need religious training,’ I agree.”
The Two Systems Compared
Far from being “godless,” or “immoral,” or “un‑American,” as the Roman Catholics charge, the public school, in which all students meet as equals regardless of race, color, or creed, is uniquely designed to be a bulwark against narrow sectarianism, bigotry, intolerance, and race prejudice. The record is clear that an undue proportion of the gangsters, racketeers, thieves, and juvenile delinquents who roam our big city streets come, not from the public schools, but from the parochial schools. The Roman hierarchy must be aware of the preponderance of malefactors among their own people, and evidently they are attempting to hide their guilt behind the “godless school” smoke screen. It is time that the American people wake up to the fact that the real godless schools are the parochial schools that are turning out more than their proportionate share of the moral misfits.
C. Stanley Lowell, writing on this subject, has well said:
“Our public school system has been the keystone of democracy. It is the one place where Protestant, Catholic and Jew meet on common ground and get to know and understand each other. Very early the Romanists began to establish their own sectarian schools, although millions of Roman Catholic youth continued to attend public schools. In an endeavor to correct this situation, Romanist leaders have launched a campaign to undermine and discredit the public school. Father Francis P. Le Buffe has declared: ‘Thanks to our godless American public school… we have a generation today which does not know God.’ The Rev. Robert I. Gannon, president of Fordham University, has charged the public school is responsible for juvenile delinquency and suggests that there would be none if Roman Catholic moral teaching were given to all. Unfortunately, it just happened that at the time Dr. Gannon was making this speech in New York City, three fifths of all the juvenile delinquents being arrested in that area were Roman Catholics (Roman Catholics make up only one fifth of the population of New York City). It just happens, too, that Roman Catholics supply more than twice their proportionate share of the prison population of this country” (pamphlet, A Summons to Protestants).
And to the same general effect Dr. Walter M. Montano says:
“Let me disabuse those Protestants who send their children to Catholic schools in the fond belief that they ‘receive a better education.’ Actually, the education in Catholic schools is poor to a degree that would shock our educational authorities if they were ever permitted to find out about it. The deficiencies of our public schools, over which we are concerned, do not compare for a moment with the abysmal ignorance which passes as Catholic education.
“Many American Catholic children are being taught by ignorant European peasants in this country solely through the connivance of Catholic politicians. Too often their teachers are nuns who know nothing of American democracy or American institutions, who cannot speak grammatically even in their own tongue. Add to this the suppression and distortion of facts which constitute history, literature, and such little of the arts and humanities as are ‘taught’ in the Catholic schools, and you have the quality of Roman Catholic education.
“For instance, the word ‘Inquisition’ is hardly known to Catholic students. If mentioned at all, the Inquisition is represented as a political project in which Holy Mother Church’s office is merely to turn over troublesome political undesirables to the proper authorities. The same explanation is given of the burning of Joan of Arc, with the church’s responsibility played down to nullity and that of the political participants played up.
“This policy is also followed in dealing with current Colombian persecutions. Never is it revealed that the political authorities in all those cases held or hold their posts only by sufferance of the Roman Church and only as long as their decisions reflect her will.
“While whitewashing Rome, Catholic education loses no opportunity to vilify Protestants and Protestantism in a way calculated to engender resentment and hatred, even in the trusting heart of a child.
“Turning from the social to the natural sciences, we find them faring as poorly. It is no accident that the United States fails to boast a single major Catholic scientist. The fact is that the Roman Church is afraid of science and would suppress it if she could as in the days of Galileo’s recantation. Her justified dread is based on the fact that science has so often proved her wrong. The need of private tutoring before they are able to meet matriculation requirements at standard colleges and universities is a common experience for Catholic students” (Christian Heritage, May, 1959).
One of the set purposes of the parochial school is to erect a wall between Roman Catholics and the other people of the community, not only the students but the parents as well, and so to isolate them to some extent from the liberalizing tendencies in American life. Children in a parochial school are taught that only the Roman church has the “truth,” that all others are in “error,” and that it is “a sin against faith and a rebuff to God” even to attend another church (see Living Our Faith, p. 114). They are also taught that any marriage ceremony involving a Roman Catholic is “null and void” unless performed by a priest, and that the marriage of a Roman Catholic before a minister or an official of the state is only “an attempt at marriage” (p. 290). Such teaching is bigotry of the worst kind. Add to this the fact that 90 percent of the teaching in the parochial school is done by brainwashed nuns and priests who throughout their lives are kept in a rigid mental strait jacket in which they are forbidden to read books or magazines not approved by the hierarchy, or to attend or listen by radio to religious services other than those of their own church, or even to carry on an ordinary conversation with people from other churches concerning religious matters, and that these teachers are not under a school board but under the absolute authority of one man, the bishop of the diocese, and the narrowness of the parochial school becomes so evident that it cannot be denied.
Since the Roman Catholic Church is so opposed to the public schools, the question arises: Should Roman Catholics—laymen, nuns, or priests—be allowed to teach in the public schools? Our answer is that they should not as long as they maintain their allegiance to the hierarchy. Protestants are not allowed to teach in the schools in Spain. In the other Roman Catholic countries it is very difficult, if not impossible, for Protestants to secure teaching positions. But the fact is that many Romanists are allowed to teach in this country. And not only that but in some places they are given a preference. In 1933 a law was passed in New York State making it an offense, punishable by a fine or imprisonment, even to inquire concerning the religious affiliation of applicants for teachers’ positions! Thus the citizens of that state were deprived of one of the safeguards of civil and religious liberty, that is, the right of free speech and inquiry and the way opened for teachers who are opposed to the public school system to be forced upon a community contrary to the wishes of the majority of the people of that community. Concerning this general subject Dr. Zacchello says:
“The Roman Church—popes, bishops, priests, and laymen—do not hesitate in opposing and denouncing our public schools. Then why should the followers of Romanism be allowed to teach in public schools? Would you employ in your business a man who would tell your customers that your merchandise is rotten and that they should buy from his relatives’ store? And would you want to finance that rival store?
“No business man in his right mind would do this. Yet our government is not only employing teachers who are deliberately and publicly against our educational system, but is considering the financing of private Roman Catholic schools.
“If the public schools of this country are not good enough for the children of Roman Catholic parents, then the true American parents should consider their children too good to be taught by Roman Catholic teachers. I am referring, of course, to Roman Catholics who take orders from the Vatican (Ins and Outs of Romanisrn, p. 170).
In most states there is no requirement that private or parochial schools:
1. Meet the standards of the public schools;
2. Meet any minimum requirements;
3. Report their attendance;
4. Make annual reports to the department of public instruction;
5. Be inspected by state officials;
6. Be licensed or registered under state regulations;
7. Require the teachers to have the same qualifications as those in the public schools; or,
8. Require the teachers or their teaching qualifications to be registered with the department of public instruction.
State and Federal Aid for Parochial Schools
As the Roman Church has grown in this country the parochial schools also have grown. Often they have been staffed with poorly equipped nuns who served without pay, and often they have been conducted in inferior buildings with inferior equipment. In recent years, however, the Roman Church has made a considerable effort to improve its schools, particularly in the larger cities. In fact the aggressive actions of the hierarchy indicate that their ultimate goal is to take over the public school system here as they have done in the predominantly Roman Catholic countries. But before they can do that they must undermine it. This they attempt to do, first by securing fringe benefits. Usually they begin by asking for bus transportation. In some places this is now provided, sometimes through state or local law, oftentimes without benefit of law if there is no public protest. But free bus transportation does not satisfy them. Instead it only serves as a springboard for further demands. So consistently has this plan been followed that it has been appropriately termed “the school bus wedge.” The next step is to ask for free lunches, free text books, free equipment, etc. The plan then calls for state or federal aid in erecting school buildings and in paying teachers’ salaries, but never with state supervision, so that eventually the state pays for the schools and the Roman Church operates them.
Regarding the school bus problem the magazine Church and State recently said:
“One in three children in school today must be transported to and from the institution. The bill for public school transportation is $417 million annually. On the basis of the claimed attendance at parochial schools, and the national transportation average cost of $37 per pupil for those who need transportation, the subsidy to the [Roman] Church for transportation to its schools would run in excess of $61 million.”
In various communities efforts to vote bonds for the erection of badly needed public school buildings have been defeated by an organized Roman Catholic vote, with the purpose of forcing equal appropriations for parochial schools. The hierarchy has made it clear to the U.S. Congress that it will oppose any federal aid to education bill unless aid to parochial schools is included. It is interesting to notice that in Puerto Rico, in the summer of 1960, the failure of the Roman Church to get legislation giving it the right to conduct classes in religion in the public school as well as certain other benefits was the occasion for the launching of a new Roman Catholic political party as a direct means to achieve those goals. But the new party fared rather badly in the 1960 election.
The campaign to shift the cost of Roman Catholic schools to the American taxpayer has been vigorously pushed, but up until now it has met with only minor success. Most Protestant denominations are strongly opposed to the use of public funds to aid parochial schools, and it has been particularly galling to the Roman hierarchy that it has not been able to put its hands into the public treasury in the United States as it is so accustomed to do in many other countries. To provide federal aid for parochial schools would mean that a nation which is four‑fifths non-Catholic would build private religious schools for about one seventh of the children who attend those schools. But the never-ending campaign for tax money goes on.
The Supreme Court of the United States has quite consistently upheld the principle of separation of church and state as set forth in the first amendment to the Constitution. Free bus transportation has been permitted, but only by a divided opinion, the judges voting five to four to permit it. In this connection we think that logic is on the side of Judge Ralph M. Holman, in a Circuit Court, in Oregon, who in a suit regarding the furnishing of textbooks to parochial schools, ruled against such aid and indicated that in his opinion the five Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of the constitutionality of parochial school bus appropriations were wrong, and that the four who constituted the minority were right. In that decision he said:
“Anything that assists a religious sect to conduct a separate school where all instruction is permeated with religious overtones is an aid to religion. The proof in this case is conclusive that the sole purpose in maintaining the private school is to promote religion.
“It makes no difference whether books, teachers, equipment, transportation, or buildings are furnished, nor does it make any difference to whom they are furnished. In truth, all are an integral part of the whole which makes up the school and the educational process. You cannot logically distinguish one from the other. They constitute the elements of an educational process permeated with religious purpose” (Church and State, April, 1960).
It should be clear to all that a Roman Catholic parochial school is an integral part of that church, as definitely so as is the service of worship. A parochial school is usually developed in connection with a church. In many cases the church and school monies are not even separated. Such a school is in no sense a public school, even though some children from other groups may be admitted to it. The buildings are not owned and controlled by a community of American people, not even by a community of American Roman Catholic people. The title of ownership in a public school is vested in the local community, in the elected officers of the school board or the city council. But the title of ownership in a parochial school is vested in the bishop as an individual, who is appointed by, who is under the direct control of, and who reports to the pope in Rome.4
4 This paragraph was quoted by justices Douglas, Black, and Marshall in a dissenting opinion as the Supreme Court of the United States, on June 28, 1971, by the narrow margin of 5 to 4, held constitutional the Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963, which permits within certain limits the granting of federal funds to church-related colleges and universities.
Another contrast is that in the public school the selection of a faculty and the administration of the school usually rests with a school board which is subject to election and recall by the voters, but in the parochial school the selection of a faculty and the administration of the school is in the hands of the bishop alone, and usually is administered through the local priest. If a faculty member in the public school believes that he has been treated unjustly in being disciplined or dismissed, he can seek redress through the civil court and he is guaranteed a hearing. But if a faculty member in a parochial school is disciplined or dismissed he has no recourse whatsoever. The word of the bishop or priest is final, even without explanation if he so chooses. The taxpayers have a voice in the way their money is used in the public school, but the people who support a parochial school have no voice at all in such affairs.
The argument is often made that Roman Catholic parents are the victims of double taxation since they pay the regular levy for public schools and also the cost of the parochial schools. But it is hardly accurate to call this double taxation. They pay the regular levy as does everyone else, and they have the privilege of sending their children to the public school. There is no discrimination against them. But if instead they choose to use the parochial school where the principal course is Roman Catholic polity and doctrine, that is their privilege, and they should be willing to pay for it. That is entirely a matter between them and their church. If they have any protest it should be made to their priest or bishop who orders them to build and maintain such a school. The other side of the picture, of course, is that if those of us who pay taxes to support the public schools are also required to support the Roman Catholic schools, that would constitute a double burden on us.
Furthermore, many people who have no children at all, or whose children are not ready for school or are past school age, are also required to pay the regular levy. And usually they do so gladly as a service to the community. If the Roman Catholic objection were valid, then only those families who have children in the public school should be required to pay the school tax, and they should pay in proportion to the number of children they have in school.
To use a simple illustration: Suppose the state builds a road. It is paid for with state funds. It is open to the public, and anyone may use it. But if another group does not like the public road and wants to build their own private road parallel to the public road, they may do so. But they have no right to expect the rest of us to pay for it. It is their road. Let them pay for it or use the public road.
In the United States we have “freedom of religion.” In many other nations the people do not enjoy this high privilege. But freedom of religion has always had a price tag attached to it: Pay the bill.
Let us have public funds for public causes and private funds for private causes, whether it be for roads, schools, libraries, swimming pools, or anything else. And let Roman Catholics remember that in their country of Spain they do not allow Protestants to have private schools even though the latter would gladly pay all the costs.
The Detroit News has commented concerning the school problem:
“All the states decree… that all children shall be educated at public expense because an educated citizenry is essential to our form of government. … No one is being taxed for the education of his own children; all are being taxed for the education of everyone’s children, to everyone’s ultimate benefit. They decree as well that what the community pays for on such a vast scale it must control. … Like it or not, that is what our state constitutions provide. No child is a ‘second class citizen,’ for no child is barred from these schools.”
Cardinal Spellman recently demanded that federal aid for education be extended to parochial as well as public schools, and argued that the government would be guilty of “coercion” and “discrimination” if it denied federal funds to Catholic schools. This was promptly and effectively answered by Glenn L. Archer, who said:
“Actually the government would be guilty of coercion and discrimination if it compelled the 140 million non‑Catholic people of the United States to pay for schools which are maintained primarily to promote the doctrines of one church. … The Catholic people of the United States have been offered free access to the schools of all the people without religious discrimination. If they choose under the pressure of their bishops to decline this invitation, they should not ask the taxpayers to pay the bill for their own separation” (The Evening Star, Washington, D. C., January 19, 1961).
If the Romanists achieve a breakthrough at the parochial school level, it can be confidently expected that that will be followed by demands for bigger and better Hill‑Burton Hospital Construction Acts, G. I. Bills with generous tuition grants to sectarian schools, National Defense Education Acts, and, in the not too distant future, sectarian political parties and candidates at state and local levels.
Under our American system of separation of church and state, all Protestant churches have financed their own projects by voluntary gifts from their adherents. The Roman Catholic Church should be willing to do the same. It is manifestly unfair for it to claim federal and state subsidies for its private projects. If such appropriations were granted, then Protestants, in proportion to their numbers, should receive similar appropriations, to be used in their church programs as they see fit. But Protestants do not want such help, and in most cases do not take it even if it is available. They are opposed on principle to government support for any denomination.
On repeated occasions in recent years programs providing for federal aid to education have been blocked by Roman Catholic spokesmen because parochial schools were not included. Whether federal aid to education is in itself a wise or an unwise policy we do not here attempt to say, although we think that as a general rule educational problems can be handled more economically and more efficiently by local communities or at most with state aid. But in any event the fact of the matter is that throughout the nation more than half of all Roman Catholic children attend public schools. Roman Catholics are represented on school boards, often out of proportion to their numbers in the community. And the percentage of Roman Catholic teachers in public schools often is in excess of their proportion in the community. So they are benefiting quite materially from our public school system.
The argument that the parochial school saves the community money is also largely false. In the first place, the community does not ask the Roman Church to aid in this matter. Secondly, the Roman Church develops such schools, not as an aid to the community, not to teach American principles of citizenship, but strictly to serve its own purpose. And thirdly, many people would rather pay the tax to provide an adequate and unprejudiced education for all of the young people than to experience the divisions and rivalries that almost invariably result from such schools. Usually they feel that the Roman Church is doing the community a disservice in restricting the children to the kind of training that they receive in the parochial schools.
Something is to be learned by observing the school situation in Britain, which is quite different from that in the United States. The British government has agreed to provide up to 75 percent of the funds needed for the building and maintenance of Anglican and Roman Catholic schools, and up to 95 percent of certain other school expenses. But even so the hierarchy is not satisfied. It is demanding complete financial equality with the public schools. In France, under President De Gaulle, a Roman Catholic, the Roman hierarchy, early in 1960, precipitated a governmental crisis by demanding full school aid without governmental supervision, and with De Gaulle’s assistance received most of what it asked for. The ideal toward which the Roman Church strives is found in Spain where, under a concordat with the Vatican, the schools are financed by the government while the Roman Church supervises the curriculum, selects the teachers, and directs the administration of the schools. Protestant schools are prohibited. Why should anyone believe that the Roman Catholic Church in the United States would be satisfied with anything less?
An interesting light is thrown on this problem of state and federal aid to parochial schools in a recent issue of Church and State magazine. Under the title, Do They Need The Money?, we read:
“The spectacle of the hierarchy of the mighty Roman Catholic Church pleading poverty is one to give us pause. This church is, by its own admission, the largest and wealthiest of all Christian bodies. It is literally richer than Croesus.
“The Roman Church has assets so vast that it has never dared to make a public report of them. This is the organization which now comes pleading that it must have Federal grants or credit if it is to carry on. …
“The credit rating of the Buffalo diocese provides financial information about the Roman Church that is rarely disclosed. The Church’s assets in this one diocese alone are placed at $236,000,000. Its average gross income is $24½ million. Taking the Buffalo membership of 860,000 in ratio with the claimed total American membership of 40 million, a total wealth close to 11 billion is indicated.
“When one adds to this the income producing potential of the 40 million contributors of Roman Catholic faith, we are confronted with a financial power that can be discussed in the same breath with the United States government itself. This is the organization which claims to stand in desperate need of government aid. … Why does the hierarchy insist on Federal aid to its denominational schools? We think we know the reason. And that reason is not financial” (May, 1961).
A more recent and exhaustive study of the finances of American churches is The Churches: Their Riches, Revenues, and Immunities, by Martin A. Larson and C. Stanley Lowell (301 pages; 1969. Robert B. Luce, Inc., Washington, D.C.). The wealthiest church by far is the Roman Catholic, with assets, largely hidden, approximately as follows: Stocks, Bonds, Investment Real Estate, $13 billion; Business Property, $12 billion; Personal Property, $900 million; Religiously used real estate, $54 billion; total, about $80 billion. Much of that is held by the various orders, which number 521. Annual Estimated Income is: Contributions, $5 billion; Business, $1 billion 200 million; Dividends, Interest, $650 million; Wills, Community Chest Funds, Bingo, etc., $1 billion 500 million; total, over $8 billion—largely immune from income tax. To that must be added a bewildering series of government projects funded in part through the churches and which in effect are subsidies, such as the Hill‑Burton Hospital Act, Higher Education Facilities Act, Vocational Education Act, Economic Opportunities Act, Research Programs, Distribution of Foreign Aid, and many others—total, over $4 billion.
What vast holdings and reserves those are, particularly when the spiritual and material needs of so many even of their own Roman Catholic people in many parts of the world are so great! Their expenses for parochial schools have scarcely touched that reservoir of wealth. Some Protestant churches also have wealth beyond their needs. But most evangelical churches maintain a fairly close balance between income and expenses, and many are seriously handicapped by lack of funds.
Education in Romanist Dominated Countries
It is not by accident that the people in countries that have been dominated by Roman Catholicism for centuries have an abnormally high percentage of illiteracy. Some 50 percent of the Portuguese cannot read or write. Spain, which is the most Roman Catholic nation in Europe, is also the most backward and has the lowest standard of living of any nation in Europe. In Italy illiteracy is high, and Roman Catholic domination of education has been so oppressive that it has been almost impossible to establish even a primary school apart from the Roman Church. In Mexico, Central and South America, where the Roman Church has been dominant and practically without religious competition for four hundred years, the illiteracy rate until very recently was from 30 to 60 percent and in some places as high as 70 percent. Brazil, for instance, with 58 million people has more than 30 million who are illiterate. Only 42 percent of the people of Colombia, according to a government survey, can read and write, and most of those have not had schooling beyond the fourth grade. In Canada the Roman Catholic province of Quebec has lagged far behind the other provinces in education. Even primary education was not compulsory in Quebec until 1943. A program is now under way to remedy the lamentable conditions that were exposed by Life magazine in the issue of October 19, 1942. Throughout these countries we see the practice, so typical of all Roman Catholic countries, of gathering large sums of money for the building of magnificent cathedrals to overawe the people and for the enrichment of the priesthood, while leaving the people in indescribable ignorance and poverty.
Through the centuries the Roman Catholic Church has found that illiterate and superstitious people are much more obedient to her rule, and until she was forced by Protestant competition to make a change, her deliberate policy seems to have been designed to keep them in that condition. But thanks to the mission work that has been carried on in Latin America and to the generally enlightening influences that have come from the Protestant nations, the illiteracy rate in that area is now decreasing. Nevertheless the record of the Roman Church in Latin America remains one of miserable and undeniable failure so far as the general enlightenment of the people is concerned, and Rome must take full responsibility for that condition. Many of her leading men in the governing classes and many of her priests have been distinguished for learning and logical skill, for “knowledge is power.” But she has not entrusted that knowledge to the masses of her followers. Instead, she has reserved it for her office holders that they might use it to her advantage. It is important to keep in mind that the Roman Catholic Church the world over is one solid, monolithic organization, all closely knit and under the absolute power of the pope in Rome, and that the same pope who appoints all of the cardinals and bishops in the United States also appoints all of the cardinals and bishops in Latin America, and that the church, working through the hierarchy in Rome, has perfect freedom to send men and money and to promote or to refrain from promoting schools in any area under its control.
In Protestant countries the Roman Church has been driven, partly by shame and partly by a spirit of rivalry, to follow quite a different policy from that in Latin America. In the United States, which already possessed the most efficient system of universal education to be found anywhere in the world and where we might suppose that a parochial system was least needed, the Roman Church has been prompted to engage in extensive educational work. Much the same policy has been followed in Britain. In these countries her people cannot be kept in darkness, and she is forced to minister to them or lose them. In these countries her people are demanding high schools and colleges, and she is giving them what she does not give her people in Spain or Italy or Latin America.
In the United States she has established hundreds of hospitals, colleges, and various special institutions such as Dismas House in St. Louis, and Boys Town in Nebraska (built to a considerable extent with money solicited indiscriminately from Protestants). But we do not find comparable institutions in the typical Roman Catholic countries. Hence we must to a considerable extent label these “showcase religion,” designed to meet Protestant competition.
To discover what a system really is, what its true fruits are, we must look at countries where it is fully established and where it has been in operation for long periods of time. And when we apply that test to the Roman system we find the invariable products—ignorance, superstition, poverty, and immorality.
10 The Christian School
Many Christian people are disturbed because the Bible cannot be read and Christianity cannot be taught in the public schools, and because in many instances the texts used present an anti‑Christian viewpoint. This condition in the schools represents a radical departure from that which prevailed in the early days of our country and which in fact was common until comparatively recent times. The state, however, is a secular institution, and in a free society such as ours in which church and state are separate, the state cannot promote any particular religion in its tax supported and politically controlled schools. Hence it follows that whenever the government undertakes to provide education, whether at the local, state, or national level, it tends to secularize the schools. The result is that today most of the schools tend to ignore the subject of religion with many of them assuming a completely secular attitude, as if God did not exist, while others are actually irreligious, teaching an evolutionary philosophy in a man‑centered world.
One of the privileges enjoyed by the people of the United States is that of establishing and operating private or parochial schools if they so wish. This right has been affirmed by the United States Supreme Court. While we strongly disapprove of the parochial school as conducted by the Roman Catholic Church, there is another type of school designed to provide a Christian atmosphere and course of instruction of which we approve most heartily. This is generally known as the “Christian School.” It is supported and controlled not by a church or by a group of churches, but by an organization of Christian parents in the local community. It is usually interdenominational in nature, designed to serve the children of all of the evangelical churches in the community and such others as are given permission to attend. Since no church has any official connection with the project no compulsion is put upon any families in those churches to send their children to the Christian school if they prefer the public school.
The first schools in America were private, usually in the homes or in the churches. Often they were organized and taught by the local minister as a service to the community. The Bible was the most important book studied, sometimes almost the only book. As it came to be realized how valuable such training was, the local communities, and later the states, took over the work, broadened the course of study, and in time such education was made universal and compulsory.
We believe that Christian training is the most important thing in a child’s life. Responsibility for such training rests first of all upon the parents in the home. Early in the Old Testament the command was given that there should be oral teaching of the Scriptures in the home by the parents: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). The command is that the home shall be literally saturated with the Word of God.
But because many parents are so poorly equipped to give that training, perhaps never having had it themselves, it is a very great blessing if it can be given in the schools. The ideal situation would be a Christian state in which true Bible teaching could be given as a part of the regular school course. But that condition does not now prevail, and it cannot be realized in the foreseeable future.
While we insist that there must be separation of church and state, that does not mean that we acknowledge any area of life in which Christianity should not play a dominant role. It only means that it is better that neither the government nor the schools should be dominated by any religion than that they should be dominated by a false religion, better that they not aid any religion than that they aid a false religion. Due to the fact that in the United States most communities are composed of Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews, and other minority groups, in order not to offend any the public schools are forbidden by law to give any type of religious training.
But it is not enough merely to educate children in the arts and sciences. They must also be trained in things relating to the spirit if they are to fulfill their true mission in life. To leave religion out of the curriculum is to omit the most important subject, and tends to give students the impression that religion is of little value or importance.
In order to meet this need various plans have been suggested. One is that in the public schools a certain number of Scripture verses be read each day without comment, followed perhaps by the Lord’s prayer or some other suitable prayer. But such teaching can only be most elementary. And a further difficulty arises as to which version of the Bible should be used, and to whom or in whose name the prayer should be offered. Another plan that has met with fairly wide support is that of “released time,” in which perhaps once each week the children are excused for a part of the school period in order to attend Christian training classes usually held in their own churches. The Supreme Court, in a case brought before it in 1952, gave the legal “go ahead” to released time religious classes, provided they are not held on school property. In accordance with that ruling approximately 4,000,000 children of all faiths are released from the public schools each week to attend such classes.
This latter plan, however, still leaves much to be desired, particularly if other courses in the school are taught from a non‑Christian or anti-Christian viewpoint. Much the best plan, we believe, is that of the Protestant Christian school. For that purpose an organization of Christian parents builds or leases its own buildings, hires its own teachers, teaches in general the same courses and seeks to meet the same academic standards as does the public school. Such schools may include only the grades, or the high school, or both. All courses are taught from the Christian viewpoint. And in addition they also have courses in Bible study, in which the Bible is presented as the inspired and authoritative Word of God.
But the question naturally arises: Can the “private” school survive? The answer is: Yes, it can, if the people of a community are genuinely interested in its success. In numerous communities such schools are proving remarkably successful. The Christian Reformed Church, with headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has done much to promote this type of school. We need only point out that for long ages it was generally thought that the churches in the various countries could not survive if they were cut off from state funds. But in those nations in which they have been “dis‑established” they have gained new vitality and perspective and have prospered much more than where they still are dependent on state aid. In like manner Christian schools can be productive of true scholarship and can develop with more freedom and originality if Christian people take their work seriously. R. J. Rushdoony, who has made a special study of this problem, points out that, “The school society, as a voluntary organization, operates on a radically more economical basis than the public school in building, operational, administrative, and maintenance costs. On this basis it can still produce superior results” (Intellectual Schizophrenia, p. 24; The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., Philadelphia, 1961. )
The hundreds of Protestant colleges with their splendid buildings and large endowment funds show what Protestant people can do when they set their minds to it. Such schools have rendered a most valuable service over the years.
There are valid reasons for establishing Christian schools at the elementary and high school levels. First of all there is the teaching of Christian truth and the building of Christian character. That, of course, can be done much more effectively in schools in which the Bible is honored rather than in those in which it is ignored or even attacked and ridiculed. In the second place a dedicated Christian faculty leaves an indelible impression on the lives and characters of the students who attend such schools. And in the third place fellowship with other students whose background and purpose in life is Christian does much to inspire students to better ways of living.
Ministers and laymen usually find a place in such schools as principals, teachers, and members of the school boards. Many teachers prefer the atmosphere of the Christian school to that of the public school. And the evangelical churches of a community usually give moral and sometimes financial support, although as churches they have no control over the schools. But if we demand federal or state aid merely to compensate for our own lack of conviction, such schools probably will not manifest much Christian zeal. Let no man be compelled to pay for another man’s religion. That only arouses resentment, and it cannot accomplish any lasting good. Certainly the world will never take seriously our professed concern for Christian education if our Christian schools have to be maintained at public expense.
It should be emphasized that the Christian school is not designed to operate as a rival of the public school but rather to cooperate with it in a friendly way for the benefit of the entire community. It was never the wish of the Protestant churches that Bible reading and Christian training should be excluded from the public school. But the fact must be faced that that condition now exists, and that remedial measures are needed. We insist that the public school with its secular viewpoint must not claim the right to teach every child under all conditions, nor the exclusive right to teach any child—that education is primarily the responsibility of the parents, and that the parents may provide that education privately if they wish.
(For assistance in starting and operating Christian schools contact: National Union of Christian Schools, 865 28th St., S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49508.)
By What Moral Standard?
One of the strong contrasts between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism is found in the moral codes which distinguish the two systems. In Protestantism this code is taken directly from the Bible. Nothing can be laid on men as a moral requirement unless it can be shown to be contained in the Bible. Such requirements thereby become a matter of conscience for the Christian.
But in Roman Catholicism the moral code is based primarily on Canon Law and only secondarily on the Bible, and in the main is imposed on the person from without. The authority of the church as interpreted by the priest is what counts. The result is that the Roman Church has developed a standard of morality that is designed, not to stir the conscience, but to maintain papal power. Many of the dogmas and rites of Romanism are antagonistic to the teachings of Scripture and directly or indirectly conducive to immorality. Drinking, gambling, and other habits considered as vices by Protestants are not counted as evil by Romanists except when indulged in to excess.
In the study of morals the Roman Church takes the teachings of the theologian Alphonsus Liguori as authoritative. Liguori was canonized among the saints in heaven by the pronouncement of Pope Gregory XVI, in 1839, and was declared a doctor of the universal Roman Church by Pope Pius IX. Thomas Carlyle, the famous British author, who said that the Jesuits had “poisoned the well springs of truth,” wrote concerning Liguori:
“More terrible still is the ‘moral theology’ of Alphonsus Liguori, who is counted a saint and ‘doctor’ of the Church—of equal rank with Augustine, Chrysostom and others—whose textbooks are standard on moral questions in all Roman Catholic seminaries. The ‘moral’ teachings of Liguori, if they could be read in their original Latin, would fill every right‑minded person with horror. For there he outlines the ways in which falsehood can be used without really telling a lie; the ways in which the property of others can be taken without stealing how the Ten Commandments can be broken without committing deadly sin.”
Samples of Liguori’s “moral” teaching are:
“A servant is allowed to help his master to climb a window to commit fornication” (St. Alphonsus, 1, 22, 66).
“It is not a mortal sin to get drunk, unless one loses completely the use of his mental faculties for over one hour” (1, 5, 75).
“It is lawful to violate penal laws” [hunting, fishing, etc.].
“It is asked whether prostitutes are to be permitted. … They are to be permitted because, as a distinguished priest says, ‘Remove prostitutes from the world, and all things will be disordered with lust.’ Hence in large cities, prostitutes may be permitted” (3, 434).
In this connection it is interesting to note that legalized prostitution was not abolished in the city of Rome, the very city which is headquarters of the Roman Church, until September, 1958, and that even today almost every city of any size in South America has its legalized houses of prostitution. Dr. Walter Montano, returning from a conference of Protestant leaders in Colombia, reported that, according to information given him, the city of Cali, which has a population of 520,000, has 2,600 houses of prostitution and 13,000 registered prostitutes. He adds that the Roman Catholic Church in that country has done practically nothing to lift the morality of the people or to bring a solution to the country’s problems (Christian Heritage, February, 1960).
Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), another famous teacher in the Roman Church and founder of the Jesuit order which today so largely controls Roman Catholic policy, wrote some rules for his order which he commended as conducive to complete obedience and as a “help in attaining the right attitude toward the Church.” One of them reads:
“Laying aside all private judgment the spirit must be always ready to obey the true doctrine and therefore, if anything shall appear white to our eyes which the Church has defined as black, we likewise must declare it to be black. … If you receive from your superior a command which appears to go against your own judgment, your own conviction, or your own well-being, then you must fall on your knees, putting off all human principles and considerations and renew, when you are alone, your vow of obedience.”
In accordance with this it is not uncommon in the Roman church to refer to one as a “good priest” if he does his work efficiently, even though it may be known that his moral character is bad. He is a “good priest” in the same sense that one may be a “good doctor,” or a “good mechanic,” entirely apart from his moral character. Under such a standard obedience to the church becomes the supreme virtue and takes precedence even over conscience. But for the Protestant such action does not make sense. The Protestant can not force his will to believe that which he knows to be irrational, nor his conscience to approve that which he knows to be wrong.
We do not need to belabor the point that the Roman Catholic Church fights almost every movement throughout the nation that is designed to restrict the use of alcoholic liquors. The big cities, in which the Roman Catholic population is concentrated, are notoriously “wet.” The three things that appeal most to the weakness of human nature and that bring large profits to those who control them, are drinking, gambling, and prostitution. Protestants are often regarded as “killjoys,” because they oppose even a limited license for any of these. The Roman Church, however, holds that drinking and gambling are not sinful in themselves, but that they become so only when carried to excess. And who is to say at what point they become excessive? Why, the priest, of course. It is he who, in the confessional, decides for Roman Catholics at what point a man or woman is to be considered as drinking to excess, and how much may be spent on gambling without committing a sin.
A case in point occurred in Steubenville, Ohio, in the fall of 1946. It was public knowledge that drunkenness, gambling, and prostitution were rampant in that city and that a “clean up” was needed. A group of Protestant ministers undertook the job. But the Roman Catholic bishop openly opposed the cleanup and issued a pastoral letter to be read in all of his churches, condemning the campaign of the ministers. According to The New York Times of November 28, of that year, the bishop called the ministers “narrow little people,” and declared that “Drinking and gambling are not in themselves sinful or evil.” The bishop then proceeded to lecture the ministers on the proper interpretation of the Christian moral code as follows: “These so‑called leaders simply do not know the moral structure of Christianity. As a result they make themselves pitiable objects in a community.” A Steubenville judge, apparently under the bishop’s influence, backed him up and condemned the ministers as “fanatics insistent upon senseless arrests” (L. H. Lehmann, booklet, The Secret of Catholic Power, p. 7).
We have called attention to the De La Salle Institute, at Napa, California, which is only one of several church owned properties in the United States producing commercial wine or brandy or both.
According to Liguori, a Roman Catholic can lie. Says he:
“Notwithstanding, indeed, although it is not lawful to lie, or to feign what is not, however, it is lawful to dissemble what is, or to cover the truth with words, or other ambiguous and doubtful signs, for a just cause, and when there is not a necessity for confessing. These things being settled, it is a certain and a common opinion among all divines, that for a just cause it is lawful to use equivocation in the modes propounded and to confirm it [equivocation] with an oath” (Less. 1, 2, c. 41).
The right to hold a “mental reservation” is claimed by Roman theologians. The Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas, on which Roman theology relies so heavily, says that when the interests of Holy Mother Church require it, one may make a statement while holding a mental reservation which qualifies it into nullity.
The Roman Catholic Dictionary, 15th edition, published in London, in 1951, with the imprimatur of the cardinal of Westminster, under the subject Oath, says that the Roman Church has the right to dispense anyone from the provision of an oath: “Though generally speaking, no earthly power can dispense from keeping an oath made in favor of another, still in other cases a dispensation may be valid.”
Under Canon Law 1320 the pope can dispense from any oath (see the authoritative book, Canon Law: Text and Commentary , by Bouscaren and Ellis, p. 679). A Roman Catholic judge who obtains a papal dispensation in order to violate his judicial oath in case of conflict between church law and civil law is considered blameless by the Roman Catholic theologians. The most notable examples of papal release from oaths were the attempt of Pope Pius V, in 1570, to “uncrown” Protestant Queen Elizabeth I, of England, by releasing her court officials and all subjects from civil allegiance to her—which attempt failed because the British people in the main remained loyal to their queen—and the attempt of Pope Gregory VII to depose Henry IV of Germany, which attempt succeeded to the extent that Henry was forced to do obeisance to the pope, although he later regained his power and drove the pope out of Rome.
The principle to which the Roman Church resorts in freeing men from their oaths is that it does so in obedience to a “higher law.” On the grounds that no man can justly bind himself to do that which is sinful, the church may decide that an oath of allegiance to a ruler who is disobedient to the pope, or a pledge made to a “heretic,” is sinful and need not be kept.
It is Roman Catholic doctrine that the conscience is subject to the teaching of the church and is to be determined by that teaching rather than by private judgment. A pledge made during a political campaign, or an oath of office, is secondary to Canon Law. A Roman candidate for office may declare himself in favor of separation of church and state, or against federal and state aid to parochial schools. But even though he does so in all good conscience, the Roman Church teaches that in the final analysis his conscience must be governed by and be subject to its authority.
Edwin F. Healy, in his book, Moral Guidance, published by the Loyola University Press, declares: “A promise under oath to do something sinful does not bind at all.” The Roman Church sets itself up as the judge to determine what things are sinful; hence an oath to perform some action that is later judged to be against the best interests of that church may be abrogated by a Roman Catholic office holder. What the church holds to be right, e.g., things which promote its welfare, restrict heretics, etc., are judged to be right. When personal judgment of conscience conflicts with the dictates of the church, personal judgment must be set aside. We have seen this principle set forth by Loyola for the members of his Jesuit order. The same general principle holds throughout the Roman Church.
Under the subject of mental reservation Healy says:
“For sufficient reason we may thus permit others to deceive themselves by taking the wrong meaning of what is said; and this remains true though the listener, because of his ignorance, does not know that there is another meaning to the word that is employed.”
In other words, a Roman Catholic is not necessarily bound to the strict form of the words spoken. If the person to whom a promise is made, or before whom an oath is taken, does not know that the one making it may attach a different meaning to the words, that is his fault, and the promise or oath is not necessarily binding.
In regard to theft, Liguori teaches that a Roman Catholic may steal, provided the value of the thing stolen is not excessive. He says:
“If any one on an occasion should steal only a moderate sum either from one or more, not intending to acquire any notable sum, neither to injure his neighbor to any great extent, by several thefts, he does not sin grievously, nor do those, taken together, constitute a mortal sin. However, after it may have amounted to a notable sum by detaining it, he can commit mortal sin, but even this mortal sin may be avoided, if either then he be unable to restore, or have the intention of making restitution immediately of those things which he then received” (Vol. 3, p. 258).
This doctrine has been interpreted for American Roman Catholics to mean that it is not a mortal sin if one steals less than $40.00 worth at any one time. Msgr. Francis J. Connell writes as follows in The American Ecclesiastical Review, official magazine of instruction for priests, published at Catholic University, Washington, D.C.
“Question: What would be regarded nowadays as the absolute sum for grave theft in the United States?
“Answer: By the absolute sum for grave theft is meant that amount of money, the stealing of which constitutes a mortal sin, irrespective of the financial status of the individual or corporation from which it is taken, however wealthy they may be. Naturally this sum varies with the fluctuation of the value, or the purchasing power, of money. In a country like ours it is quite possible that this sum might be different in different sections. To lay down a general norm, in view of actual conditions and the value of money, it would seem that the absolute sum for grave theft would be about $40.00” (January, 1945, p. 68).
The condoning of theft and robbery under certain circumstances is known among Roman Catholic theologians as “secret compensation,” and is contained in catechisms and textbooks used in Roman Catholic schools. In The Manual of Christian Doctrine, which has gone through many editions, and which bears the nihil obstat of M. S. Fisher, S.T.L., censor librorum, and the imprimatur of Cardinal Dougherty of Philadelphia, the Preface states: “This book is intended as a manual of religious instruction not only in the novitiate and scholasticate of teaching congregations, but also in the classes of high schools, academies and colleges.” On page 295 this textbook discusses the problem of theft, its nature and various forms, including larceny, robbery, cheating, fraud, and extortion, and on page 297 we find theft condoned in the following words:
“Q. What are the causes that excuse from theft?
“A. 1. Extreme necessity, when a person takes only what is necessary, and does not thereby reduce to the same necessity the person whose property he takes. 2. Secret compensation, on condition that the debt so cancelled be certain that the creditor cannot recover his property by any other means, and that he take as far as possible, things of the same kind as he had given.”
L. H. Lehmann comments very appropriately on such conduct:
“Moral conduct can be no better than the moral principles upon which it is based. Most crimes are distinctly connected with thievery and robbery. If a Roman Catholic youth, for instance, can persuade himself that he has ‘extreme necessity’ for an automobile, he will consider himself justified in stealing it legitimately according to the above teaching, provided he knows that the owner will not be thereby impoverished. The doctrine of ‘secret compensation’ applies mostly to employees who consider they are being underpaid for their labor. A twenty‑dollar‑a‑week cashier in a side street cafeteria may consider herself underpaid and apply this principle to justify her pilfering of odd dimes and quarters from the cash register whenever she can safely do so. Many a cashier in a large bank or commercial business corporation has done just this until he found himself in jail for large‑scale embezzlement. A desperate man could also easily argue himself into thinking that he is justly entitled to some of the surplus money of a rich victim and will go after it with a gun. Likewise grafting politicians seize upon the argument implicit in this teaching to justify their conviction that they are worth much more to the community than their elected offices pay them. [And it surely does not take much imagination to guess how this principle might be applied by judges and clerks whose duty it is to count votes at the polling places. Just how many votes might be stolen in order to aid one’s candidate without committing mortal sin? We should like to know.]
“This doctrine of ‘secret compensation’ was, of course, unheard of in Christianity, even in the Catholic Church, prior to the Jesuit casuists of the seventeenth century. It was invented by them along with other unethical doctrines such as ‘mental reservation,’ ‘the end justifies the means,’ ‘the end sanctifies the means,’ etc., to make Catholicism popular among the masses. It also helped to rationalize their own exploits. Thus Catholic textbooks of moral theology today make no pretention of showing that these principles of conduct take their origin from the Ten Commandments or from Christian revelation. They merely propound them as accepted Catholic doctrine and trace them back to Gury, the Jesuit fountainhead. …
“The blunt fact, confirmed by countless cases, is that many Catholics get the one idea from this teaching, namely that stealing is not essentially evil at all times, but, on the contrary, fair and reasonable if one needs something badly enough and the owner does not. How this conviction can be stretched to cover untold cases is easy to imagine. It is limited only by the envy and self‑prejudice of the individual circumstances—which varies immeasurably from person to person.
“All in all, it is most unfortunate that any religion is permitted to teach such a principle as part of the curriculum of American school education, much more if it should ever be taught in the public schools on the pretext of helping to lessen crime among the youth of America” (booklet, Catholic Education and Crime).
Another very serious defect in the moral armor of Roman Catholicism is its penchant for games of chance, particularly its strong defense of bingo as played in the churches, which, in whatever light it may be viewed, is a form of gambling. The primary feature about gambling, bingo, raffles, etc., is that each is a game of chance in which the ownership of money or some other article of value is decided by a lucky number, a turn of a wheel, a throw of the dice, or some such device. And gambling is gambling, no matter what form it takes. Basically, it is an attempt to get something for nothing, an attempt to live not by honest toil but at the expense of others. As such it is a moral disease, a covetous greed or lust to get possession of what another has. Just because other equally covetous people agree to the arrangement does not make it moral. Even when a gambler wins he realizes that others have lost. Anything that induces people to take money needed for food and clothing and risk it on games of chance is wrong in principle. And the “easy come, easy go” principle involved seldom leaves anyone permanently enriched. It is notorious that gamblers almost invariably end up broke. And usually bingo, under the guise of charity for a church or school, is an opening wedge for the more professional types of gambling. But whether gambling takes the form of bingo, raffles, lucky numbers, or the more outright forms with dice, cards, or roulette, it surely is unworthy of a Christian, who should always be ready to give a comparable value in return for what he seeks.
The fact that the article may not be of great value, and that the “chances” cost only a few cents each, does not change the principle involved, nor make it right to participate. The principle is the same and the practice is sinful whether one gambles for thousands of dollars at roulette or whether he participates in the raffle of a $1 box of candy for “chances” sold at 5 cents each. Sin remains sin, whether committed outside the church or inside. The righteous robes of religion do not cover it up in the sight of God.
Historically, organized gambling has meant organized crime. Recently a top federal prosecutor, Malcolm Anderson, assistant U. S. attorney general in charge of the criminal division of the Justice Department, speaking before the National Association of Attorneys General, declared that gambling is the life-blood of organized crime, and that if gambling could be wiped out syndicated crime would die for lack of sustenance. Organized gambling flourishes in a twilight zone of society where the muscle man is boss and where threats, coercion, and corruption are the methods of doing business. An evil atmosphere envelopes such a community and eats into the fabric of law and order. Bribery and corruption of officials with attendant social abuses is a common result. Yet the Roman Church, which receives substantial revenues from gambling games, has not only failed to oppose legalized gambling but frequently has itself run afoul of state anti‑gambling laws. On the other hand Protestant groups, which believe that it is a sin to gamble, have taken the lead in a great many places and have succeeded in having bingo, and particularly professional gambling, outlawed. In the bingo‑pinball devices commonly found in taverns, the millions of nickels flow into millions of dollars. Usually these devices return the tavern owners 50 percent of the take, and the operators greedily reach for the profits. So the foundation for the underworld is built.
Gambling is a violation of one of God’s first commands to man: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Genesis 3:19). It is also a violation of other Scripture commands and of the general spirit of Scripture teaching: “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15); “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17); “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 19:19); “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not?” (Isaiah 55:2). “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31); etc.
The ideal constantly held before us in Scripture is that we should earn our property by honest labor and fair exchange. To try to give gambling an aura of respectability, and even a certain kind of spirituality through church sponsorship, is at once a sign of spiritual degeneration and of abysmal ignorance or deliberate disregard of what the Scriptures really teach.
In 1958 the state of New York legalized bingo by a constitutional amendment, primarily because of pressure brought to bear by the Roman Catholic Church and a few other groups. A news dispatch from Albany, New York, May 31, 1960, reported that New York residents had spent more than 40 million dollars playing bingo since the game was legalized. It added that the state lottery control commission reported that of that total, 29 million was returned to the players in the form of prizes and that the non‑profit sponsoring organizations retained 9 million.1
1 In the year 1966 the gross from bingo in New York State was mere than 93 million dollars, with 53 million returned to the players and 24 million profit to the sponsoring organizations.
Bingo is illegal in Pennsylvania. Interestingly enough, the magazine Church and State, April, 1960, carried this report: “Philadelphia police have stepped up their campaign against bingo games in Roman Catholic churches. Latest to feel the hand of the law were St. Agatha’s and Church of the Gesu. … St. Agatha’s budget is $90,000 a year; $50,000 has come from bingo.” Interesting, too, is the fact that Pennsylvania’s long ban on legalized gambling was broken in December, 1959, when the Roman Catholic governor signed a bill which permitted betting on harness races, subject to county option. An outright ban on bingo‑pinball in Ohio was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 1958. And the United States Post Office Department has ruled that the game of bingo is a lottery and that as such it cannot be promoted through the mails. The mailing of periodicals or circulars containing advance notice of lotteries is banned under postal regulations. Postal officials have ruled that bingo has all the classic elements of a game of chance as set forth in the Supreme Court’s lottery definition, and, though legal in some states, the state laws do not affect the federal laws under which the department operates.
If there ever was a travesty on the Christian religion it is that of a church raising money by encouraging its people to engage in a form of gambling. Such practice cannot give stability to a church, and the effect on its spiritual and educational program is bound to be detrimental. Morally it is no better than was the sale of indulgences during the Middle Ages, which was one of the religious corruptions that brought about the Protestant Reformation.
6 The Roman Church and the U. S. Prison Population
When we mention prison statistics it must be acknowledged, of course, that men and women in all denominations occasionally go wrong, that no denomination is above criticism, and that good and bad people are found in all denominations. There are, however, certain points of contrast between the Roman and the Protestant churches, points which, we believe, arise primarily because of their different moral codes.
Various studies indicate that of the white prison population Roman Catholics constitute a higher percentage than do those of any other church operating on the American scene, and that while the Roman Catholic percentage in the general population is about 22 percent, their percentage in the jails and penitentiaries and in juvenile delinquency is approximately twice that.
An examination of the crime records of any large city in the United States shows that the gangster type criminal turns out with surprising frequency to be Roman Catholic or to have a Roman Catholic background. The Annual Reports of the Commissioner of Correction of the State of New York, for the years 1940 through 1946, shows that a consistent 50 percent of the criminals committed to New York’s two largest prisons, Sing Sing and Dannemora, year after year, were Roman Catholic, while the Roman Catholic population in the state was approximately 27 percent. An analysis of criminal records in Sing Sing, which was made by a Roman Catholic chaplain and published in the magazine Commonweal, December 14, 1932, revealed that of a total of 1,581 prisoners no less than 855 were Roman Catholics.
Emmett McLoughlin says concerning his work in Phoenix, Arizona:
“As chaplain of the local jail, I was shocked at the percentage of Roman Catholics among the unwilling guests. Wondering if the same incidence prevailed in other jails and penitentiaries, I found a study written by a Franciscan, the Roman Catholic chaplain of Joliet Penitentiary in Illinois. He discovered that the Catholic percentage among prisoners in America is about twice their percentage in the total population.
“If the Roman Catholic Church is the mother of learning and of holiness, how could this be? Priests answer that these prisoners and gangsters do not represent American Catholicism but mostly Irish, Polish, Italian, Spanish, and Mexican—unfortunate immigrants from backward countries. This is the stock answer to the question of Roman Catholic crime and illiteracy in America. It will be found routinely in the ‘question boxes’ of the hierarchy’s publications” (People’s Padre, p. 86).
We would point out that the countries mentioned in the above paragraph are Roman Catholic countries par excellence, that for centuries they have been almost exclusively Roman Catholic, and that they are precisely the countries in which we expect to find the true fruits of Romanism.
Paul Blanshard, in another bestseller, his well documented American Freedom and Catholic Power, says that the Roman Catholic Church as a denomination “has the highest proportion of white criminals in our American prisons of any denomination” (p. 105). And in a footnote he says:
“This has been established by many studies of crime and juvenile delinquency, but it would be wrong to say that Catholicism is primarily responsible. Poverty and bad housing affect the lives of Catholic workers as well as others in our large cities. … Catholic pre‑eminence in the field of crime and juvenile delinquency is notable in our northern cities, especially in New York. A study, Crime and Religion, by Father Leo Kalmer, Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago, 1936, showed that the rate of Catholic criminals committed to prisons in forty‑eight states was about twice that of the Catholic proportion in the population. See Leo H. Lehmann, The Catholic Church and Public Schools, Agora Publishing Co. Bishop Gallagher of Detroit declared in 1936, according to The New York Times of December 8, 1936, ‘It is a matter of serious reproach to the Church that more Catholic boys in proportion to the total number, get into trouble than those of any other denomination. One fifth of the people of Michigan are Catholics, but 50 percent of the boys in the Industrial School for Boys at Lansing are Catholics.’”
The New York Times, March 13, 1947, published an amazing admission by bishop John F. Noll, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, as given before the National Catholic Conference on Family Life, in Chicago the previous day. In this “chastening” confession, as the Times called it, this crusading bishop of the Roman hierarchy acknowledged that “Nearly all the evils of society prevail where we [Roman Catholics] live, and not where Protestants live,” that Roman Catholics are concentrated largely in the big cities of America where they constitute from one third to two thirds of the population, while the rural communities “where family life is most wholesome,” are “eighty percent Protestant.” He said:
“There are only 7,000,000 members of Protestant churches in the fifty biggest cities of the country, but 20,000,000 Catholics. Eighty percent of Protestantism is rural. And it is in rural America where family life is most wholesome and where the divorce rate is still low. On the other hand, where the bulk of Catholics live, one half of the marriages end in divorce. It is where they live that the big motion picture houses are located, the filthy magazine racks, the taverns and the gambling halls.”
Arthur Tenorio, staff psychologist of the New Mexico Boy’s School, reports that 85 percent of the boys committed to that institution are of Spanish-American background, and that 71 percent are Roman Catholics, while only 41 percent of the state’s total population is Roman Catholic (Christian Century, September 4, 1957).
In Britain the Sunday Times recently dealt with the subject of crime and its causes. An article declared frankly that “In this country [England] Roman Catholics, who have the most intensive religious training, have also the highest delinquency rates.” To support that statement it was pointed out that the proportion of Roman Catholics population‑wise was no more than ten percent, but that the proportion in boys’ Borstal institutions of correction was 23 percent, and in Holloway prison about 26 percent. It was further declared that during the war delinquency rates among Roman Catholics were approximately twice as high among those of other faiths, and that in Scotland in 1957 the 15 percent of Roman Catholics in the population provided 35 percent of those committed to Borstal institutions, and 40 percent of those committed to prison.
Chief among the devices used by the Roman Catholic Church in its policy of isolating its youth from childhood contacts with non‑Catholics is the parochial school. In order to justify in the eyes of Roman Catholics the necessity for supporting these “hothouses of Catholicism,” as they have been appropriately called, the Roman hierarchy condemns as godless the public school system which makes no distinction of race or creed. Surely the above statistics are at one and the same time a cause for alarm and a grave indictment of Roman Catholic education. They should be seriously considered by the Protestant people of this nation who are constantly being called upon to provide more and more support, through taxation and government handouts, for these Roman schools. Here we have a church making pretentious and bigoted claims about being “the only true church,” yet turning out a product that is responsible for approximately twice its proportionate share of juvenile delinquency and adult crime. Tolerant Americans would like to avoid this subject. No one likes to connect crime with a specific system of church training. Yet if it could be proved that crime is more prevalent, say, among the Presbyterians, or Baptists, or Methodists proportionately than among other religious groups, certainly the Roman Catholic authorities would not hesitate to point out that fact and to use it in justification of their church and their schools. But since the facts are so clear we should not hesitate to question the value of the parochial school, and to insist that the Roman Church must stand responsible for the influence that it exerts. And surely the above facts should make any open‑minded Roman Catholic want to inquire more carefully into the real nature of his church and the effect that it is having on society at large.
We must point out that the Mafia, probably the most notorious of all crime organizations, had its origin hundreds of years ago in Italy where for centuries the Roman Catholic Church almost exclusively has provided the religious background. It originated in Sicily in the late 13th century, as a semi‑vigilante, semi‑patriotic organization, designed to free Italy from French rule. Its rallying cry was: “Death to the French is Italy’s Cry!” In Italian the words were: Morte Alla Francia Italia Anela!, and the initials of these words spell MAFIA.
With the passage of time the Mafia became a secret criminal organization, preying on its own countrymen, specializing in murder, robbery, extortion, blackmail, and arson. It turned up in the United States as early as 1860, but not until the end of the century did it become a serious threat in this country. It found easy entrance because of the extremely lax immigration laws which made little effort to strain out criminal elements. It spread across the country from New York to California, being centered primarily in the big cities, working through organized gangs, and specializing in big money crime, such as narcotics, gambling, prostitution, bootlegging, murder, and robbery. In 1959 a book, Brotherhood of Evil, by Frederic Sondern, Jr., was published which goes into considerable detail concerning its origin, history, international workings, and recent activities.
The recent Senate crime investigation committee, headed by Senator McClellan, of Arkansas, and the earlier committee, headed by Senator Kefauver, of Tennessee, sought to show that the Mafia was the main support of organized crime in the United States. With a monotonous regularity the witnesses who were called for questioning turned out to be Italians of Roman Catholic background.
The underworld convention which met at Appalachin, New York, November 14, 1957, was alleged to have Mafia connections and resulted in an intense drive by law enforcement officials to suppress that organization. A lengthy editorial in the Kansas City Times, December 16, 1959, gave some interesting facts concerning that meeting. Among other things it said:
“A singular fact about the 60 men surprised at what turned out to be the best publicized barbecue in history is that all were of Southern Italian birth and ancestry, most of them Sicilian… the royalty of the underworld. Chief among the Mafia leaders who gathered at Joe Barbara’s $150,000 mountain top mansion that fateful November day was the recognized leader of vice and corruption in the United States, Vito Genovese, whose Mafia title is Don Vitone. As far back as 1939 he was dubbed ‘King of the Rackets’ by Thomas E. Dewey, former New York governor.”
Emmett McLoughlin remarks concerning the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church toward the Mafia:
“Its leaders, the cardinals and bishops, are conspicuously silent in the face of the Roman Catholic Sicilian Mafia’s complete defiance of decency and morals in the promotion of prostitution, narcotics, gambling, and labor racketeering in America. The same bishops and archbishops who vociferously condemn a young Catholic girl for entering a beauty contest say nothing about the traffic in narcotics and whoredom so long as good Catholics run the business” (American Culture and Catholic Schools, p. 232; 1960; Lyle Stuart, publisher; New York).
Prominent with Mafia or similar gangland connections have been the very royalty of the underworld, such as Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Joe Adonia, Albert Anastasia, Frank Costello, Frank Scalise, and others. The fact stands out clearly that the worst criminal element that we have received from any nation during the past several decades has come from Italy, and that the religious background of those men has been Roman Catholic. We have never had a comparable group from England, or Scotland, or Holland, or any other Protestant nation. Another editorial in the Kansas City Times made this comment:
“In the last 15 years nearly a thousand Italian born ‘unwanteds’ have been shipped back to their native land since the attorney general undertook to rid the United States of dope peddlers and an endless variety of thugs associated with the Mafia” (September 25, 1959).
Supporting this contention that in hundreds of years with practically no Protestant competition Roman Catholicism has failed to raise the moral and spiritual standards of the Italian nation is the testimony of Stephen L. Testa, himself a former Roman Catholic of Italian birth. He says:
“We see that in a population 96% Roman Catholic, the percentage of crime and illiteracy is very high. In Naples, for instance, filthy language, blasphemy, cursing, and lying is very prevalent among the populace, and so is drinking, gambling, thieving and low morals. Yet they attend mass, go to confession, wear scapulars and religious medals around their necks and pray to images in their homes. The Church has had them for hundreds of years and it has not benefited them in the least. On the other hand those who are converted to Protestantism immediately abandon those vices and sins and live cleaner lives. They are completely changed, they are ‘born again,’ and are new creatures in Christ. The idea of salvation is different in the two religions” (booklet, The Truth About Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, p. 31).
Another series of events to which we must call attention, which surely cannot be pure coincidence, is that of the assassination of three presidents of the United States, all three of whom were killed by Roman Catholics educated in parochial schools: Lincoln, by John Wilkes Booth; Garfield, by Charles J. Guiteau; and McKinley, by Leon Czolgosz. Theodore Roosevelt was shot and wounded by a Roman Catholic in Milwaukee, while a candidate for president in 1912. In Florida a Roman Catholic shot at Franklin Roosevelt, then president elect, missed him, but killed the mayor of Chicago who was riding beside him in the same car. Two Roman Catholics, Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo, Puerto Rican Nationalist party members, tried to kill Harry Truman in a shooting fray at Blair House, in Washington, D. C., while Truman was president (1950), and did kill one of his guards. Torresola was killed and Collazo is now serving a life term in Leavenworth penitentiary. And in 1954 Roman Catholic members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist party, in a wild shooting fray in the House of Representatives, attempted to kill members of that body and wounded five congressmen.
The Roman Catholic Church, of course, had no connection with the Mafia or its activities, nor with the actions of the others mentioned here. But as the same stem that almost exclusively provided the religious background out of which those men came, it bears a heavy responsibility and must be judged accordingly.
7 Questionable Hospital Practices
A Roman Catholic hospital practice which very definitely has a moral aspect to it is that of baptizing Protestants and others who are thought to be in danger of death. An article by Fr. John R. Connery, S. J., in Hospital Progress (April, 1959), which magazine carries on its front cover the words, “Official Journal of the Catholic Hospital Association,” sets forth in considerable detail the procedure to be followed by the chaplain or nurse in such cases. According to this article it is proper, and in some cases even mandatory, to baptize into the Roman Church, and even without their knowledge or consent, unbaptized persons or patients concerning whom it is not known whether they have been baptized or not, if they are thought to be in danger of death. The patient need not be actually dying, but perhaps unconscious or so critically ill that death is a possibility. This practice applies particularly to newborn babes and to unconscious or critically ill persons if their parents or relatives are not available for consultation. Information concerning the baptism need not be given to anyone other than the local priest who records it. In this article we read:
“Q. Are you obliged to tell the parents of an infant baptized in danger of death, if the parents are not Catholics? What if the parents resent it and refuse to raise the child a Catholic?”
“A. Ordinarily it is not permitted to baptize children of non-Catholic parents against their wishes. To do so would be to violate the rights of these parents. … When there is danger of death, however, the Church makes an exception, although even in this emergency primary responsibility for the child’s spiritual welfare belongs to the parents. … It is only when the parents, through neglect or for reasons of their own, fail to provide for the baptism of the child, or when the emergency does not allow even sufficient time to warn the parents, that Church permits the Catholic minister to baptize the child. In this case the Church’s concern over the future religious education of the child… yields to the child’s immediate spiritual need. Similarly the wishes of parents must give way to these circumstances to the child’s own right to the means of salvation. It will be permissible to baptize the child even without the knowledge or permission of the parents. … If a child in these circumstances lives through the emergency, the question arises about the advisability of informing the parents of the baptism. … We can say that it would not be necessary, or even advisable, to acquaint non‑Catholic parents with the fact that their child had received an emergency baptism unless there is good reason to believe that they would not resent it” [italics ours].
In regard to unconscious adults who are baptized Fr. Connery writes:
“In most cases it will not be advisable to acquaint the person with the fact that he was baptized unless it becomes clear that he would have wanted baptism under the circumstances.”
He goes on to say that those baptized become members of the Roman Catholic Church and that if children they should be trained as Catholics, but that it will not be wise to insist upon it if the parents do not agree, because resentment might be aroused against the church. He defends such baptism by saying that in any event it will not hurt anything, and that in some cases it might prove helpful, as for instance if the person married before a Protestant minister later was converted to Catholicism and wanted to get an annulment in order to marry a Roman Catholic. In such an event the first marriage would be held invalid.
This forced and secret baptism of the helpless—“baptism by stealth,” as some have called it—is justified by the Romanists on the basis of their doctrine that there is no hope of salvation for one who has not been baptized.
There are nearly 1,000 Roman Catholic hospitals in the United States. Most of the patients in these hospitals are not Catholics, yet their treatment is governed by the Roman Catholic code of ethics in which the doctors and nurses are minutely instructed. Those instructions are set forth in detail by the Jesuit scholar Father Henry Davis, in his Moral and Pastoral Theology, and by Father Patrick A. Finney, in his Moral Problems in Hospital Practice (1947 ed., imprimatur by the archbishop of St. Louis). Concerning one particular phase of that code Paul Blanchard, in his American Freedom and Catholic Pourer, says:
“One of the most important doctrines in the Catholic medical code is the doctrine of the equality of mother and fetus. This doctrine is of special interest to every potential mother who has a Catholic physician.
“When the average American woman approaches the ordeal of childbearing, she takes it for granted that her physician will do everything possible to save her life in the event of complications. I am sure that 99 percent of all American husbands would consider themselves murderers if, confronted with the choice between the life of a wife and the life of her unborn child, they chose the life of the fetus. This is particularly true in the early months of pregnancy when such risks most frequently develop. Most of our citizens assume without discussion that every possible effort should be made to save the life of both mother and child, but that if a choice is forced upon the physician the mother should be given first consideration.
“The Catholic hierarchy does not endorse this choice, nor can a good Catholic physician leave such a choice to the husband and father and be true to the dogmas of his church. ‘The life of each is equally sacred,’ said pope Pius XI in his encyclical, Casti Connubii, ‘and no one has the power, not even the public authority, to destroy it.’” (pp. 139-140).
Father Finney, in the book just mentioned, states the doctrine in question and answer form:
“If it is morally certain that a pregnant mother and her unborn child will both die, if the pregnancy is allowed to take its course, but at the same time, the attending physician is morally certain that he can save the mother’s life by removing the inviable fetus, is it lawful for him to do so?”
Answer. “No, it is not. Such removal of the fetus would be direct abortion.”
Mr. Blanshard remarks:
“It should be noted that under this statement of the complete doctrine, both mother and child must be allowed to die rather than allow a lifesaving operation that is contrary to the code of the priests. There is no choice here between one life and another; it is a choice between two deaths and one. The priests choose the two deaths, presumably in order to save the souls of both mother and child from a sin that would send the mother’s soul to hell and the child’s to the twilight hereafter known as limbo. The fetus in Father Finney’s question would die anyway. It is described as ‘inviable,’ which means incapable of life. It may be a six-weeks embryo about the size of a small marble, without a face. Nevertheless, the life of the mother must be sacrificed for this embryo that, by definition, is dying or will die.
“This doctrine is not a matter of opinion that priests or doctors are free to reject. It has been repeated over and over by Catholic authorities and incorporated into positive church law. Pope Pius XII reiterated the doctrine before the International College of Surgeons in Rome in May, 1948, when he declared that in spite of ‘the understandable anguish of husbandly love’ it is ‘illicit even in order to save the mother—to cause directly the death of the small being that is called, if not for the life here below, then at least for the future life, to a high and sublime destiny” (pp. 141).
Such practices we consider reprehensible. And yet about eighty percent of all federal funds being given to non‑profit hospitals are going to Roman Catholic hospitals. The code of ethics under which those hospitals operate is not that of the laws of the United States of America, nor of the states in which they are located, nor the code of the American Medical Association, but that of the Roman Catholic Church. Surely Protestants and others should not enter Roman Catholic hospitals if they can avoid it.
We have been struck repeatedly throughout the study of this religion, the basic policies of which have been formulated almost 100 percent by celibate priests, with the various phases of it which inflict such callous, inhuman, even brutal treatment upon women. That has come out in the abuses practiced in the confessional, the enslavement of women as nuns, the exclusion of women from any policy-making function in the church, the almost complete lack of educational facilities for women in Roman Catholic countries and again here in regard to hospital practice. This trait Roman Catholicism has in common with Mormonism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Mohammedanism. Each of these, as the present writer once heard a guide in the Mormon tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah, explain concerning Mormonism, is a “man’s religion.” How utterly unchristian such practices are!
L. H. Lehmann, in his booklet, The Secret of Catholic Power, shows why the Roman Church often is able to exert an influence far beyond that of its actual numbers. He says:
“As a system of power, the Roman Catholic Church has no equal and is likely to retain its influence as long as mankind remains spiritually unregenerate. For its entire structure is geared to an earthly, human realism that is admirably suited to the weakness of human nature. It possesses elements of power that are strictly empirical and tangible, of the kind that weigh far more with the multitudes than logical arguments or spiritual insight. On the one hand, it gains all the advantages accorded to religion, and on the other, all the benefits, profits, and power that accrue to political and business organizations.
“These elements of power appeal not only to the Catholic Church’s own membership, but even more so to the great mass of people outside its membership who have little or no interest in any particular religion. This fact in itself constitutes an element of power that is more effective than all the others combined. It explains why a country such as the United States, whose population is fully 80 percent non‑Catholic, is controlled to such a great extent by the Catholic Church which claims the direct obedience of less than 20 percent of its inhabitants.
“Neither in Protestant countries such as the United States, nor in so‑called Catholic countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and South America, does the Catholic Church derive its power from the actual numbers of devout church‑going Catholics in good standing. This is small compared to the number of its mere adherents who though baptized in the Catholic Church fail to live up to its requirements of actual membership or ‘communion’ as understood by Protestant bodies. It is much smaller still compared to the vast number of unchurched people who admire it at a distance and are influenced, willy-nilly, by its political power, by its control of the press, movies, and radio, by its pageantry and grandeur, and, above all, by its moral code. Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, and the Latin American countries are regarded as almost 100 percent Roman Catholic and their destinies are tied to the Catholic Church’s social, cultural, and moral code. Yet, only about one fifth of the Italian population are devout, church‑going Catholics; in France only about 17 percent are practicing Catholics; and were it not for Franco’s forced application of the Catholic Church laws and decrees, the percentage in Spain would be even less. Cardinal Spellman confessed in his Action This Day, p. 22, written in 1944 during his visits to Italy, Spain and other countries, that at a dinner with high prelates at the Nunciature in Madrid, he remembered the ‘striking and terrifying remark’ of a friend who was an authority on Spain that: ‘Twenty‑four hours of disorder in Spain could mean the assassination of every bishop, priest and nun that could be found.’”
But, granted that the situation outlined by Mr. Lehmann is true, and we believe that it is, what is the remedy? How are Protestants to meet the challenge of Roman Catholicism? The solution, of course, is for Protestants to take their religion seriously, to work for it, propagate it, and so to evangelize effectively their own communities and eventually the world, as thev are capable of doing with the true Gospel in their possession. Christ’s command to His church was: “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations “ (Matt. 28:19‑20). That Romanism has flourished so luxuriously, and that it is to a large extent unopposed in many places, is due primarily not to Romanist strength but to Protestant indifference, as Modernism and Liberalism have weakened the churches and some of them have lost their evangelical witness.
However, there are some encouraging signs. The Roman Church has lost its grip on many of the traditionally Roman Catholic countries of Europe, and in those where it still has control it is hanging on by means of the artificial respiration of United States dollars. Various degrees of anti‑clericalism are manifesting themselves in France and Italy, and in Spain the Roman Church retains control only through the support of a fascist political dictatorship. In Latin America it has lost the support of the laboring classes and also of the educated classes, and probably can claim the support of not more than 15 percent of the people.
On the other hand, in the United States the Roman Church has increased its power significantly. It is an ironic turn of events that as other countries are throwing off the yoke of Rome, this “Land of the Free” is crawling under that yoke almost without a murmur. This has been a most fortunate break for the Vatican, and has enabled it to maintain far more strength in other countries than otherwise would have been possible. Its financial support from the United States has been enormous. To what extent it has gained control in the United States is difficult to estimate. But it clearly has made extensive gains not only in the political realm but also through its indirect pressure group control of our press, radio, television, and movies. Many of our biggest cities are so firmly controlled by Roman Catholic political machines that it is practically impossible for a Protestant to be elected mayor, e.g., New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and others. In some places the Roman Church is now the de facto, if not the de jure, ruler of this country.
When Protestantism fails there is one other source of relief, howbeit, a long‑range and a very unpleasant one, namely, that Roman Catholicism carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction. It is a false system, and therefore it cannot ultimately succeed any more than can Nazism, or Fascism, or Communism, or any of the pagan religions. But like those systems it can deceive millions, and it can cause untold misery and destruction while it does hold sway.
Where Romanism becomes the dominant religion for generations, poverty and illiteracy become the rule, and private and public morals become a scandal. Eventually there comes a reaction. In Latin America today, for instance, we see such a reaction taking place. Weakened by the moral and spiritual condition of its clergy, and by the ignorance, superstition, poverty, and lethargy of its people, the Roman Church becomes an easy prey to its enemies, foremost of which is Communism. The Roman hierarchy has just recently waked up to the fact that it must clean up the church in Latin America or lose the whole area.
Such reactions as we are talking about have occurred in England, France, Spain, Mexico, and other countries, in which the people eventually rose up and disestablished or even abolished this misnamed Holy Roman Catholic Church. What a tragedy that a professedly Christian church should so degenerate that public opinion would hold it in contempt! The great rebellion that occurred against the Roman Church at the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, when in disgust and hatred for the old system the people rose up and more or less en masse threw it out of whole countries, was such a reaction. It is to be noted that a popular uprising against Protestantism has never occurred in any of those countries; for Protestantism does not enslave, but liberates and enlightens the people.
A most timely and earnest warning comes from one of our church magazines. It reads:
“The Roman Catholic Church is continually basking and growing in the light of free nationwide coverage in every media of communication. Never in all history has one religious faith received as much free TV, radio and newspaper coverage as Romanism receives today—and all of it favorable! She is quite effectively shielded from criticism. When has any person ever seen the hierarchy, the practices or the faith of Rome ridiculed or belittled as we constantly witness in the case of fundamental Bible believers? Think of the publicity favoring Rome, attached to the late President Kennedy’s inauguration and death, the pope’s visit to the United Nations with almost exclusive day‑long TV coverage, and more recently the marriage of Luci Baines Johnson to Patrick Nugent. For days at a time we witnessed whole newspaper pages given over to the extolling of Romanism. Then a Roman Catholic televised wedding!—and all of those events slanted, edited and projected to extol the teachings of Rome. It is no secret that Rome has been working for years to buy and take over all of the media of communication and news. It is terrifying to one who understands the sinister designs of Rome, to see the large number of television and radio stations, newspapers and magazines being bought up and controlled by Rome” (Western Voice, August 19, 1966). We have warned earlier (p. 379) of the danger inherent in the vast wealth accumulated by the Roman Church and held in reserve for possible use in just such purposes as these.
Created on 08-30-2016