33 MEN OF GOD
Last week thirty-three prominent Protestants, most of them ministers, but with a smattering of college presidents, signed a statement blessing the cause of the Allies. they are convinced that this is a war of right against wrong, and call on American spiritual leaders to educate "their nation to assume a responsible relationship to the present conflicts." This is no blazing manifesto, hurled at the country as a challenge to jump into the fight; it is a calm expression of opinion, and a plea for steady, clear-eyed consideration of the "deeper issues involved." but mark that it is based, not on material grounds, but squarely and fully on spiritual values. These ministers are men of God, and they say God tells them that the Allies are fighting a righteous war. They have taken their stand solemnly, and we may assume that they will stand by it, and preach for it, and defend it in the same spirit with which they uphold the most basic belief of their religious faith the very existence of God. But how likely is it that they will do so?
During the last was many of them made even stronger statements, and yet Fortune recently took an informal poll of American churchmen on their attitude toward war, and found that nearly all of them felt strong disillusionment about 1914-17. Beyond disappointment at the Peace of Versailles, they have come to feel that what seemed to them a great Christian cause was really nothing of the sort, nor could have been, whatever the outcome of the war. If they really had at that time based their support of the war on spiritual values, it would not be surprising if they now felt disappointment, or even hopelessness, but how disillusionment? The Bible says the struggle to reach the kingdom of God is infinitely long, infinitely hard, but that the loss of one battle must not deter those who are sure they are on the right road. It seems likely that they were never on any surer ground than the merest private in the A. E. F., and that they are simply mirrors of the public mind.
After all, the American people have little need to be educated "to assume a responsible relationship to the present conflicts." They have one already. Those Americans who are called "isolationists" are for the most part not mean, parochial, self-righteous, or scornful of all warring nations. They have a deep pity for the plight of Europe, and a strong desire to help in the common cause getting rid of war. They fully realize that America has a stake in the world, and cannot withdraw behind her shores, and they are forever watchful for the time when America['s strength and influence can most effectively be thrown in the scales of peace. They frankly admit that America's freedom from war is due to no superiority in her morals, but simply to a lucky geographical location. But they are determined that our ability to help shall not be carelessly thrown away, as it was in the World War. They understand that efforts for building a better and more peaceful world are perverted, frustrated, and actually turned to harmful ends. When they are exerted through the channel of war.