Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 6, 1952

They Got Results

Ira A. Douthitt, Chattanooga, Tennessee

(Editor's Note: Brother Douthitt sends us the following letter which he had published in the Chattanooga News-Free Press a few weeks ago when the churches in Italy had been closed down. This protest, added to thousands like it, got results; and, as our readers know, the ban was lifted. More incidents and acts of repression can be expected. Catholicism does not give up when one skirmish has been lost.)

To The Chattanooga News-Free Press:

Monday, Sept. 7, the Italian police ordered the closing of all 22 Churches of Christ in Italy. American soldiers fought to liberate Italy from Fascist tyranny. The new Italian Constitution guarantees religious liberty and the right of peaceful assembly. American tax money has largely rebuilt Italy. Including Catholic Church houses. There is not now and never has been religious freedom in Italy. Many have been the instances of persecution of Baptist, Pentecostals, and other religious groups and this is thoroughly documented.

Since 1948 the Churches of Christ have pleaded in vain for "official permission" to conduct our services in Italy.

This has never been granted in a forthright way, but by the grace of God and the courageous spirit of our fine young missionaries, who are in Italy, we have established 22 churches and baptized more than 1,000 Catholics, including several priests of that denomination. Five miles from the Pope's summer palace we have established an orphan home to care for starving Italian boys. In 1949 the Italian police attempted to close this home, but it was allowed to remain open and operate after thousands of Americans protested.

I was there in person in the winter of 1949 and '50 and visited our missionaries throughout the European countries and preached in Paris, London, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and several places in the city of Rome, Italy, and I am personally acquainted with our missionaries and I can speak and do speak with first-hand information.

These missionaries of the Church of Christ are earnest, hard-working young preachers and their wives. They will not obey the Italian government's order to close our churches. "We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29)

I plead with all our friends in Chattanooga, Hamilton county and vicinity, regardless of their religious faith, to protest immediately to our congressmen, senators and secretary of state against this high-handed, illegal, unfair and unjust action and to insist that the Italian Constitution be adhered to — especially since American tax payers are helping to pay the bills in Rome.

The following telegram has been sent to our secretary of state, Mr. Dean Atcheson, Washington, D. C., by the order of the elders of the Brainerd Church of Christ: "Dean Atcheson, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C. May we respectfully call your attention to the situation in Italy regarding the Churches of Christ and the treatment they are now receiving according to the current reports in the newspapers and the radios. We would be pleased to have the investigation that we feel sure our fair-minded secretary of state would give the matter."

Signed Brainerd Church Of Christ, E. A. Clevenger For The Elders.

In addition to this telegram from the church as minister of the Brainerd Church of Christ have a sent personal messages to the following man, whom I know personally, because I have baptized some of them with my own hands, have preached to some of them for several years: President Harry S. Truman, Vice President Alben Barkley, Sen. Estes Kefauver, Rep. Albert Gore, Rep. Percy Priest, Rep. Jere Cooper, Rep. Pat Sutton, Rep. Noble Gregory (of Kentucky), Rep. Albert Adcock of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Gov. Gordon Browning and Frank Clement, Democratic nominee for governor. Some of them are members of the Church of Christ, and the wives of some of the others are members of the Church of Christ.

Join us in praying for these American missionaries, for the Italian Christians who are being denied the right to worship.

I. A. DOUTHITT, Minister of Brainerd Church of Christ