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Preserve Differences, Americans Urged at Interfaith Parley Here

November 3, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Pleas to Americans to preserve differences, promote good-will and cooperation among all faiths and groups, develop religious principles and extend democracy in community and national life, were voiced tonight by leading representatives of various walks of life at a dinner symposium at the Hotel Astor. The symposium was held under the auspices of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Among the speakers who discussed the theme, “The American Community,” were: Dr. Robert M. MacIver, professor of Philosophy and Sociology, Columbia University; Wendell L. Willkie, president, Commonwealth and Southern Corporation; Joseph Schlossberg, secretary treasurer, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America; Dr. Arthur H. Compton, Nobel Prize winner, University of Chicago; Rev. Michael J. Ahern, S.J., Weston College, Weston, Mass. Rabbi Samuel H. Goldenson, Temple Emanu-El, New York; Dr. Robert W. Searle, executive secretary, Greater New York City Federation of Churches; Dorothy Canfield Fisher, author; Dean Ned H. Dearborn, New York University; Gilbert Seldes, author; Dr. Everett R. Clinchy, director, the National Conference of Christians and Jews; Thomas W. Currie, Jr., Union Theological Seminary; Kathryn Sheeran, president, Newman Club, Barnard College; and Prof. Carlton J.H. Hayes, Columbia University, who presided.

Opening the discussion, Professor MacIver emphasized that democracy is “the logical fulfillment of community because it alone rises above the folly that forbids men to be different and, therefore, free.” He defined democracy as “the system in which differences can live together and like it” and described as “rank blasphemy” and “un-American” individuals who are “proclaiming that it is un-American to be different, man from man, believer from believer.”

Discussing the problem from the viewpoint of science, Dr. Compton asserted that community strength lies in cooperation, while “our greatest fear must be of those factors which introduce dissensions and the formation within the community of antagonistic groups.” This, he said, is “clearly the most vulnerable aspect of free community, where we may expect attack by fores from within and from without. Those who sow the seeds of hate and discord are thus our greatest enemies.”

Representative clergymen of the three faiths — Dr. Searle, Father Ahern and Rabbi Goldenson — emphasized the importance of religion in the community. Labor’s function in the community was described by Mr. Schlossberg, who asserted that labor must reject all discrimination among human beings, particularly “race discrimination,” as a menace to itself.

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