Washington (Jan. 15)
It is possible that the issue of whether the United States is a Christian country may be injected into the controversies regarding calendar reform, if the opinion of Dr. Charles F. Marvin, chief of the United States Weather Bureau, as expressed in a debate here yesterday with Rabbi Louis J. Schwefel, is shared by any considerable number of his fellow advocates of calendar reform.
In the debate, Dr. Marvin declared, as one of his arguments against Jewish objections to the proposed calendar reform because of interference with the Sabbath. that “this is a Christian nation.” He also denied that the Constitution afforded any religious immunities which would be infringed upon by the calendar reform plan.
Rabbi Schwefel bitterly attacked Dr. Marvin’s assertion by saying, “I am shocked and amazed that Dr. Marvin should make such a declaration before this audience and for the press of the United States. This is the first time that such a declaration has been made in all the discussion which I have read and heard concerning calendar reform. I challenge my opponent to produce any responsible historian or student of political science who will uphold this claim.”
After pointing out to his largely Jewish audience that whether or not they oppose the reform they cannot stop it and will only be known as among those opposed to beneficent calendar changes in the past, Dr. Marvin, in specifically answering the Jewish arguments that a 13-month calendar would infringe their civil, religious and constitutional rights, said, “It is denied that the adoption of a fixed calendar by the so-called blank days abridges the rights of any citizen, either civil, constitutional or religious. ‘Free exercise of religion’ means no more than freedom of religious tenet and creed.