"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.V No.XI Pg.6-7
June 1943

Wiping Out A Stigma

Cled E. Wallace

It appears from an editorial in the Gospel Advocate, and from ten thousand letters that publicity director James L. Lovell has scattered about over the country, that "we" have a "stigma" on "our slate" that ought to be wiped out "soon." Plans are in operation to clean the slate. It appears that "our slate" is so sadly stigmatized that "plans" for cleansing it had to be inaugurated, or "initiated upon a nation-wide scale." It could not be expected, of course, that a plan on such a wide "scale" involving "we" and "us," could escape the notice of an enterprising journal like the BIBLE BANNER.

It seems to be in order to make some comments on the nature and size of the "stigma," and the "plans" that have been "initiated" to remove it. The Gospel Advocate and publicity director Lovell are the main sources of our information. Brother Goodpasture has made it clear that he thinks that I am a lame duck, when it comes to sticking to "facts," but I assure him that I do not willfully misrepresent facts and shall not do so in this case.

Here are some of the facts that have grown into a nationwide "stigma" which is declared to be "a reflection on the church." We have "around one hundred boys" "in conscientious objectors' camps." "These camps are operated by a National Service Board for Religious Objectors, under the supervision of the Friends, Brethren, and Mennonites." According to Brother Goodpasture, the boys "we have" in these "camps" went there because their "consciences rule against their taking part in war." If I understand the matter, they sought the refuge of "camps" under sectarian auspices, rather than do non-combatant service in the army. They are not ordinary conscientious objectors against bearing arms, but a sort of sublimated variety. If I am wrong about this, the Gospel Advocate will no doubt correct me in a nice, gentlemanly way, as is its wont in these latter days. It appears that "the Friends, Brethren, and Mennonites" have "spent nearly $15,000" on "our" boys because they had to. "The government demanded this."

"The stigma upon the church" has been located by "our" "Service Committee for Conscientious Objectors" "in the minds of the Friends and others." Now, of course, I am in no position to speak for "the church" like a "Service Committee" is, but I am a part of the church, and my understanding of such matters is that I do have a right to speak for myself, and do not feel inclined to let anybody else do my speaking for me, not even a "Service Committee." If I had "a poorly educated conscience" like Brother Showalter says these boys have, and voluntarily sought refuge under the wings "of the Friends, Brethren, and Mennonites," if it stirred up "a stigma, I think I would feel bound to accept the responsibility and not saddle it off on "the church," or allow anybody else to do so if I could help it. If I couldn't do anything else, I would at least offer to alleviate the immediate embarrassment of those on whom I had thrust myself, by making a personal note to be paid after the war, if it should take me the rest of my natural life to lift the obligation. Should I ask for and receive support from "the denominations," I think the "reflection" would be on me and not on "the church." I am inclined to think that somebody has located "the stigma" in the wrong place.

Speaking of stigmas, in view of what Brother Goodpasture has said and has not said, I am wondering if he does not think that the greatest stigma that reflects on the church in the present crisis is in the large number of our boys, running into the thousands, who are in the armed forces of our great country. , His sympathy seems to be reserved for a few who refuse to put on a uniform, and run to "the denominations" for "support," and create such a crisis or "stigma," that some of the brethren feel impelled to organize a "Service Committee" to operate on "a nation-wide scale" to "wipe" it "from our slate." The thousands of men in the army who are "our boys," have created no such crisis or any other kind; or is it so big, that even with its attitude toward government and war, the Gospel Advocate hasn't screwed up courage to take hold of it? Possibly the Advocate thinks it "the better part of valor" to string along with a "Service Committee" newly organized among us to operate "on a nation-wide scale," because a few of "our boys" are being supported by the denominations. It is something, when as few as "around one hundred boys" require an operation on such a wide scale, when even "many" of them are making arrangements whereby they "will be nearly self-supporting"! And some of them are supported by their parents. Just how many, are we to suppose, are left?

It reminds me of a story. A boy was leading a calf along a road and came to a narrow bridge. The calf walked up on the bridge and balked. No effort could get him forward or back him up. A man came up from behind in a car. The boy asked the driver to toot his horn and maybe the calf would go on across the bridge. The horn sounded and the scared calf jumped over the railing of the bridge into the creek bed and broke his neck. The boy said: "Mister, that was a whale of a toot for such a little calf." It looks to me like the Gospel Advocate and Jimmie Lovell are doing some mighty loud tooting, considering the size of what they have to toot about.

If the Advocate is right in its position, even if it has been rather shy and insinuating, it puts the greater part of "the church" under a rather ugly "stigma." Those of us who are "taking part in war," and the Advocate admits it is on the unpopular side, are in direct disobedience to God, listen to men rather than to God, and "our boys" who are bearing arms are murderers in fact, or "slated" for it. How do the fathers and mothers of these boys feel about that? Brother Goodpasture has declined to answer questions designed to get an expression from him as to whether he thinks these boys ought to be withdrawn from by their congregations. Why? Is it something connected with "the better part of valor"? Let something be said that "reflects" on a sublimated variety of "conscientious objectors," and he writes editorials about that, and you would think he is about to "call mourners;" but what has he said about "our boys" who are fighting and dying on Guadalcanal and in Africa, in defense of our liberties, that does not reflect on them? If we could think of some way "to handle a matter of this kind and do it scripturally" we might be tempted to organize a "Service Committee," to operate on "a nation-wide scale" to remove the "stigma" Brother Goodpasture and others are trying to fasten on "our boys" in the army. There are more than "around one hundred" of them. However, we cannot think of any way to scripturally do a thing like that, so we shall try to get along the best way we can without a big horn to toot with. We may not be able to make as big a noise as a "Service Committee" can, with Jimmie Lovell as the official tooter, but we shall try to lift our voice to where it can be heard through rifts in the tumult. I do not recall hearing anybody affirm that Brother Goodpasture is an "ace-writer," or even a "canny editor," nor do I think anybody will be reckless enough to deny that Jimmie is an ace-tooter, even without the assistance and backing of a "Service Committee." If I were on that committee, I would suggest a sub-committee to keep Jimmie's horn tuned up so that it would not sound too raucous where "facts" are involved. He blew one toot, without the aid of a committee, that shows his lack of responsibility when it comes to "publicity."

"If I could get my religion working before I grabbed a gun, I would rather see my wife and. child raped and killed; myself burned at the stake, my home destroyed, my nation captured, than to take the life of another."

He means by "another," one who is hell-bent on perpetrating such criminal horror. Jimmie would not interfere, not he! He might hurt "another"! He is in "special charge of publicity" for the "Service Committee," to remove a "stigma" from "the church." I do not think the "stigma" is where he and Brother Goodpasture think it is. In his yen for "publicity," Jimmie has publicized the warped condition of his own conscience. What does Brother Goodpasture think about it?

The "Service Committee" evidently felt the need of some excuse for its existence. True, "Brother I. B. Bradley offers to receive and disburse funds." "A similar offer is found in the Firm Foundation." "Some wish to give through the treasury of their local congregations Some wish to send directly to the young men. Some in the church are sending funds to service boards of the Friends and others." This was not enough. "We" must have a "Service Committee." "It has been necessary for the supporters of this work to assume a specific designation." Very well, "we" have it. "There is no emphasis on organization" except "we" have a chairman, a treasurer of funds, a corresponding secretary, special counsel, auditor of accounts, and a director of publicity! Our aims are modest. "We are coordinating our efforts to do a work which we feel we should do." "We" do not propose to do much except carry on propaganda "upon a nation-wide scale" and seek "to coordinate efforts." "We" do not demand it, but "we should appreciate receiving a record of special gifts sent through any agency." If "around one hundred boys" with such vivid consciences, had known what a "stigma" they were about to stir up, they might have preferred to crawl off somewhere and die of hunger, rather than stir up a "nation-wide" crisis and dirty "the slate" of the whole church. As little as I think of the choice these "around one hundred boys" have made, I do not hold them wholly responsible for what has followed. Jimmie has been in a lather off and on--mostly on--for a long time because the brethren wouldn't "let" him work, or do anything, and now he has gone and done it, and is getting help from unexpected sources, the Gospel Advocate for instance. How have the mighty fallen! The Gospel Advocate must enjoy its role, playing tail for Jimmie's kite, but I doubt it.

But something had to be done! "There is no emphasis upon organization," is a sop the brethren are supposed to swallow without a grimace. They may, but I doubt it. I am not authorized to speak for anybody except myself. I have heard of that sort of thing before, together with "we are coordinating our efforts to do a work which we feel we should do." The Gospel Advocate used to fight that sort of thing when it was employed in behalf of "state work." It does not scare the Advocate now even on "a nation-wide scale."

But "those who have been reading the religious journals published by members of the church know that there has been expression of strong feeling that we should not permit others to supply money which it would be the pleasure of many among us to supply." I did not know that such an effort was being made, or had been made. I do not recall it. Surely, one of the saints who would "see" his wife and daughter outraged, his nation and home destroyed, and himself burned at the stake, before he would employ his powers to stop it, or even help, would not misrepresent a thing like that! Maybe he plans in future publicity, to tell us who has expressed "strong feeling that we should not permit' others to supply money," etc. Even I have said I might chip in something, if Brother Goodpasture decided to pass the hat, but at the time, I did not dream that I was inviting Jimmie Lovell to come down tooting a horn for a committee! I hope Brother Goodpasture does not write an editorial, trying to prove that the whole scheme grew out of that little suggestion on my part.

The editor of the Gospel Advocate does not wish the brethren to be alarmed. So he hands them this sedative. "When this particular work is completed, this committee will be disbanded." Now, I'm not so sure about that. I may know Jimmie better than Brother Goodpasture does. He may not yield his "publicity" place so easily. It may take more than a suggestion from the Gospel Advocate to make him yield up his horn after he has tooted it a few times. Why should the committee disband when "this particular work is completed"? A little job like that may just whet its appetite for wider conquest. It might be decided that, if it could operate to remove "a stigma" occasioned by the need of "around one hundred boys," that a greater stigma upon "the church" existed, because of the neglected condition of a few thousands of lost souls throughout the nation. Jimmie might need some sort of a "Service Committee" with "no emphasis upon organization," of course, to do some mission work, the churches are failing to do. With a committee like that back of him, he could make a "publicity" noise like a State Evangelist. It seems that individual effort, and congregational activity among us, cannot operate properly without a few shots in the arm from a "Service Committee" of some sort. I'm just a humble sort of a Christian, and would not presume to dictate to anybody else, but I'll try to get along, a while anyway, without a committee. You know, when brethren begin to make "plans upon a nation-wide scale" and organize a committee "to coordinate the efforts" of either churches or individuals, they are stepping out of bounds. They usually wind up by getting into such a habit of meddling with the churches and their affairs, they can't quit. A scriptural church ought to be able to remove any stigma that reflects on it without the help of an outside self organized committee. Besides, a committee's main business seems to be to tell the brethren about their stigmas, and other ailments, which can usually be cured by sending money to the committee. A committee with "plans on a nation-wide scale" likes to handle other people's money. When I give anything I try to see that somebody gets it besides a committee. I don't like committees. If the brethren generally do not have any better judgment than this particular "Service Committee" seems to have, it is a stigma that needs to be removed, but it is entirely too big a job for a committee to tackle.