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Accident of Birth
Religious preference is, for most of us, but an accident of birth. We belong to different faiths because the ancestors of each accepted the faith of the community where they happened to live, and we in turn accepted without question the faith of our family. Thoughtful people know there is no reason to believe their religion is the one true religion.
"The faith of your choice" is misleading. We do not choose our religion--it is indelibly branded into us by indoctrination in childhood much as calves are branded on a Western ranch. THE GREAT AND INEXCUSABLE TRAGEDY IS THAT PEOPLE OF THE HIGHEST INTELLIGENCE IN NON-RELIGIOUS FIELDS AND OF THE GREATEST GOOD WILL REMAIN DIVIDED AND IN CONFLICT BECAUSE THEY REFUSE TO EVALUATE OR PERMIT OTHERS TO EVALUATE THAT WHICH THEY ACCEPTED IN IMMATURE AND INEXPERIENCED CHILDHOOD.
The Sectarian Mind
Members of the board of trustees and faculty of a college in Rhode Island subscribed annually to the doctrinal statement following: "We believe in the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament as verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writings, and as the supreme and final authority in faith and life." Untold millions of people agree. Could any but a sectarian mind believe that a loving, merciful, just God would harden Pharoah's heart (Exodus 11:10) so that he would not let the Israelites go, then kill in each Egyptian family because he would not (Exodus 11:29)? Or kill everybody on the earth except the few people in Noah's Ark? Surely the slaughtered children were not to blame! Your sectarianism may be less crude than at the Rhode Island College, but sectarianism is basically the same everywhere--a blind and blinding belief which will not permit the sectarian to make free use of accumulating knowledge or other evidence which disproves or casts doubt on the basic sectarian commitment.
Conspiracy of Silence
Persistence of sectarianism is promoted strongly by the "conspiracy of silence" or so-called "religious toleration." There is a deadly parallel between the "conspiracy of silence" on sectrianism today with the "conspiracy of silence" on the "social diseases" a few years ago. So long as people were "too nice" to mention gonorrhea and syphilis, these diseases went largely untreated and ate away at countless victims. Because we are "too nice" to call attention to the errors and other evils within one another's sectarianism, they eat away at our religious life. The less defensible the practices of a sect, the more it stands to gain by the "conspiracy of silence." While critics of sectarianism generally remain silent, zealous sectarians urge their points of view with emotional fervor.. Free and frank evaluation would reduce many evils of sectarianism, but neither sectarian leadership nor sectarian dictatorship willingly submits to such evaluation.
The "conspiracy of silence" seems as prevalent among educators as among others. The president of the West Liberty State College of West Virginia wrote me that he approved of Truth First discussion groups in religion but that the discussion should never question doctrine or belief.
Channels of Communication Closed
Many channels of communication are restricted or closed to those who would evaluate sectarianism. The Editor of Free World wanted to publish my article "Brotherhood: New World Religion" but some members of the editorial board objected and it was never published. A paper in a neighboring city has refused to run the ad, "Which is Wiser? To remain divided into the hundreds of religious sects into which we happened to be born, or to unite in an inclusive Brotherhood to replace existing sects?" on the ground that "Our publisher feels that the in-interests of the greatest number of our readers are best served by avoiding controversial subjects of a religious nature." A Boston paper has rejected the ad, "Brotherhood Church is a free pamphlet."
When I submitted an ad of my Toward World Brotherhood to World Report, its Vice President in Charge of Advertising returned the check with the comment: "We do not think, however, that our columns can be available for this type of advertising, since we are quite sure it will involve us in controversy with other sects. If you feel there is some other way of writing your copy so that the controversial angle will not appear, then we'd be perfectly happy to run it." Is there any field except sectarianism where a great national magazine feels it must avoid a controversial issue?
Calling itself "Holy" and its tradition "Sacred,' a sect considers any "attack" on it too wicked to be tolerated in the public press. Would any but a group unsure of itself deny its critics the opportunity to sell their points of view in an open market of ideas? Is that which must protect itself by such censorship really worth protecting?
Bulwarks of Sectarianism
These, then, are the four bulwarks of sectarianism: (1) Childhood indoctrination; (2) Reluctance of sectarians to reexamine their beliefs and practices freely; (3) "Conspiracy of silence," (4) Closing of the lines of communication to those who would evaluate sectarianism.
Can anything be done to break through or by-pass the bulwarks?
One Religion Offers Most
One Religion defends six theses:
1. Refusing to examine itself critically or to face searching questions by others, a religious sect retains obviously untrue and harmful--even degrading--items side by side with items that are true, helpful and elevating.
2. Mutual frank evaluation of points of view by various sects is very much better than silent indiscriminate toleration by each of anything and everything that another calls religion.
3. A great proportion of the resources of each sect, given in the name of religion, is wastefully used up in just keeping alive and in promoting self-centered sectarian ends rather than in ministering to the religious needs of individuals and communities.
4. Unless Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other sects are supplemented by, merged into or replaced by a great One Religion, sectarianism will continue to divide the world and communities into self-centered groups, isolate peoples, use sectarian prejudices for political advantage, and stimulate conflict which is deadly dangerous in the atomic-space age.
5. Religious life should and will be integrated in One Religion which should and will supplement, absorb or replace existing sects.
6. The intelligently religious person, knowing that religious preferences which divide peoples into sects are the result of indoctrination in childhood rather than of the greater truth, plausibility or superiority of any sect, will not hesitate to change to One Religion.
Are Brothers Fools?
Are those who try to organize One Religion of Brotherhood but fools rushing in where even the bravest angels fear to tread? At least we have received much encouragement from many who could scarcely be called foolish. Some comments on my Toward World Brotherhood which suggested and explained the Brotherhood Movement are:
"You have struck a very important note in the problem of world organization and unity. In fact I think the most important one as well as the most neglected and most needed. There is almost a conspiracy of silence on this phase of the problem--not deliberate, but certainly testifying to the immense strength of the sectarian evil you so ably discuss. Yours is almost a voice in the wilderness."
". . . your book which I am sure will make a real contribution to our present day thinking."--Rabbi Joshua Loth Liebman, Temple Israel, Boston.
"I am confident that it will do much to contribute toward the advancement of the high objectives which it so eloquently urges upon American public opinion."--Sumner Welles, former Under Secretary of State.
"You are stressing one of the most important phases of religion that the world needs at the present time.'--Ernest John Chave, Divinity School, University of Chicago.
"I am referring your book immediately to certain members of our faculty and a committee which is now concerned with the development of a program in religion and ethics for The State College of Washington." E. H. Hopkins, Vice President.
"Your booklet is a fine statement." Henry Noble MacCracken, former president of Vassar College.
"Its contents are undeniable facts... It is a masterpiece, and should accomplish the purpose for which it was written." Thomas L. Clarke, Justice of the Peace, Brown City, Michigan.
"I have placed it in the Library of International House where I am sure it will be profitably read and appreciated."--Helen Taubenblatt, Director of Admissions, International House, Chicago.
"It will prove a fine addition to our reference shelves."--Jean M. Murdock, Librarian, Public Library, West Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
"...it will be the re-marking of the world."--Eleanor V. Young, Moston.
"I agree with every word in the book."--Carl C. Taylor, former president of the American Sociological Society.
"If at any time you form an active unit of this sort, I should like to be considered for membership."--Herbert J. Redfern, Keene Teachers College, Keene, New Hampshire.
Just Another Brain-Washing Sect?
Is One Religion just another brain-washing sect to divide religious people still further? There is a vast difference between an inclusive Brotherhood, modern in outlook and knowledge, where varying points of view are adjusted in the search for a fuller brotherhood, and the excluding, binding authoritative tradition built up over the centuries about a personal Savior or a chosen people.
One Religion is free to evaluate--free of accept or reject on the basis of quality alone. It is truth-seeking. Adherents believe that an earnest, intelligent search yields far more religious truth than the blind acceptance of the tradition of any sect.
Sectarianism is blindly propagandic. A sect has been defined as a group with closed minds who propagate what it already "knows" is the truth. Sectarians who mistake gullibility for faith are prisoners within the shell of their own sectarian tradition--no matter how fine or how foul the shell.
Brain washing, begun as early as possible and continued throughout life, is the sectarian process. Prospective clerics are brain-washed for years.
Each sect has its own "reforms" from time to time and may talk of "unity," but that is like clipping a few whiskers off the sectarian tiger and leaving the temper and the claws of the tiger intact.
IF YOU PREFER INTELLIGENT CHOICE OF RELIGION TO BLIND BRAINWASHED, CLERICALLY MANIPULATED ACCEPTANCE OF FAMILY TRADITION WHICH KEEPS RELIGIOUS PEOPLE SEGREGATED, ASK FOR THE FREE PAMPHLET, "BROTHERHOOD: ONE RELIGION FOR ALL." Joseph I. Arnold, Ph.D. '34 One Religion of Brotherhood 16 Garden Street Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
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