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Churches Federal Council Leaders Criticized for Too Liberal Attitude Toward Goodwill Work Among Jews

June 10, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

That some leaders in the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America are being criticized for their liberal attitudes and actions regarding Jews, was brought out at a conference of Jews and Christians at work on the goodwill program, declared Everett R. Clinchy, secretary of the Committee on Goodwill Between Jews and Christians of the Federal Council, in a statement made to the Jewish Daily Bulletin. Last week at the United Presbyterian General Assembly, that denomination cut its appropriation to the Federal Council in half, because of objections to the "liberal" policies of the Council, including its goodwill program.

Criticisms of the Committee on Goodwill by Christians themselves were reviewed by Dr. S. M. Cavert, one of the General Secretaries of the Federal Council, under three heads:

1. The far-reaching influence of the Committee is seen in the fact that an editor of the syndicating processes of Methodist papers consulted the Committee respecting the publication of an article favoring proselytizing, and the article was rejected, or, if subsequently used, much modified.

2. Two denominational papers, conservative and fundamentalist in character, have printed editorials objecting to the friendly and cooperative attitude toward Jews of the Federal Council’s Committee.

3. When the United Presbyterian General Assembly threatened to bolt from the Federal Council, one of the chief reasons, as given by some of their members, was that Dr. Cadman, former president of the Council, and now chairman of the Committee on Goodwill, "makes mention over the radio more favorable about Jews than about orthodox Christians."

Dr. Anthony called attention to the plain significance of such critiicsm, as evidence that the Committee’s program is a genuine movement for goodwill and not a smoke screen for conversion.

The minutes of the conference of December 30, 1929, when representatives of the Federal Council and of the Central Conference of American Rabbis held their first joint session, were examined in detail. Dr. Anthony, as stated in the minutes, "emphasized the fact that there were no ulterior motives behind the meeting, that the Federal Council’s representatives were not trying to change the Jews." He listed three main aims: (1) To combat anti-Semitism (there is also anti-Christianism to combat); (2) To discover a way of life for our American people; (3) To find, far more than just a mode of life, the things that we can do together, the possibilities of cooperative service for the common good.

Dr. Philipson acknowledged that many of his people "had a suspicious complex. Men of affairs asked if there was not something behind the proposal"; later he asked that a pronouncement be made respecting the Ku Klux Klan, and this was done in the platform subsequently adopted by the conference.

Dr. Silver acknowledged "that this was a groping program," and added "that the Jewish group clearly understood that the movement was not prompted by missionary proclivities but entirely by good fellowship."

Dr. Atkinson pointed out the difficulty of using phrases and terms which would express religious purposes and plans common to both Jews and Christians.

The platform adopted plainly indicates that no permanent Joint Committee was then contemplated. The famous plank in which proselytizing is referred to uses these words: "These committees have no proselytizing purposes."

Dr. Simon "called attention to the fact that the present conference had no permanent organization and did not know how many representatives there should be of each group." Later on it was stated "it was the sense of the meeting, however, that it was better for the two committees to remain separate."

At the conference, which was held in the offices of the Federal Council, Rabbi Abram Simon and Rabbi Solomon Foster were present representing the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

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