To the Editor of the Crimson:
If the world is concerned with its destiny, it would be wise for it to turn its eyes this week to Germany and the trial of Pastor Niemoeller. The issues at stake are those for which civilized people have been fighting for centuries. But this is a conflict of moral as well as political principles. Pastor Niemoeller is defending not only the rights of religious liberty and free speech, but also the fundamental tenets of Christianity as opposed to the doctrines of the Nazi creed. Only a firm stand by all who call themselves Christians can now save the central principles of the Christian Church. In the light of recent developments in Nazi policy, the action of the Berlin court takes on special significance, and may well be a large factor in determining the future of state totalitarianism.
On the political side a victory has already been won by the state. Niemoeller is being charged for using his pulpit for political purposes, inciting the public to disobedience to the state, and making malicious attacks on the Nazi party. But the judges have tacitly admitted that the welfare of the state transcends the rights of the individual by closing the trial to the public, on the grounds that "the testimony was of a nature involving danger to the state and people." Thus without trial the state has predetermined that Niemoeller's utterances are "dangerous", and there is no reason to suppose that this attitude will change during the trial. The movie, "Emile Zola" is proof enough that the welfare of the people is better served when the principles of justice are observed than when they are overridden by an autocratic government which determines by itself what is for the general good. To promote justice, not material well-being, is the highest duty of the state.
On the religious side the present Church-State struggle has dealt a final blow to the Erastian principle of "Cuius regio, cius religio" of the German Reformation, which has now proved an unwelcome boomerang to Protestants. Christian principles and German liberties depend on an independent Church, holding to dogmatic beliefs diametrically opposed to the religious creed of Nazidom. It is interesting to note that the liberal elements both in the Church and State have completely succumbed to political pressure, and that only the Roman Catholic and "Confessional" Churches, firm in their convictions, remain in open conflict with the government. The Christian Church, claiming interest in the whole life of the individual, is necessarily interested in politics, and cannot confine itself to "spiritual" duties. Pastor Niemoeller's trial may well determine whether Christians are willing to allow a political power to overrule the central principles of the Faith.