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Interfaith Conference Urges All Americans to Combat Discrimination

Americans of all faiths were urged today to combat racial discrimination in addresses delivered by Protestant, Catholic and Jewish religious leaders at the four-day National Conference on Religion and Race which opened here this morning. Representatives of more than 70 religious and civic groups of all religions are participating in the conference which was convoked by central bodies of all three major religions in this country.

The sessions today were addressed by Dr. Abraham J. Heschel, of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America; Rabbi Julius Mark, president of the Synagogue Council of America; Albert Cardinal Meyer, Archbishop of Chicago; and J. Irwin Miller, president of the National Council of Churches. All four speakers pleaded for action towards elimination of racial and religious prejudice in this country.

Dr. Heschel said that “education in intergroup relations must be a major goal in religious education, on both elementary and adult level.” He called attention to the Negro problem and stressed that “the plight of the Negro must become our most important concern.”

Rabbi Mark called for “a clearer concept” of the relation of religion to the social, political, educational and economic problems of life. He noted that the Hebrew prophets preached “against corrupt politics, land monopoly, social injustice, racial bigotry, national arrogance.”

Pointing out that the great religious communions of our country, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish, have affirmed on many occasions that all men are created equal in the image of God, Rabbi Mark said: “It is one thing to proclaim lofty teachings which envisage a society where all human beings live together as brothers. It is quite something else to implement these principles of simple Justice.”

“In this battle to build a society, ” he concluded, “and a world in which the dignity of every human being is jealously guarded, and the equality of all men taken for granted, the forces of religion, if they are true to their purpose, must, both by precept and example, be in the forefront–leading, not following, courageously fulfilling their prophetic mission of being the conscience of mankind.”

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