The following represents two articles published in the May 6 and May 13, 1971, editions of the Gospel Guardian (Volume 23, Numbers 1 and 2), entitled “The Racial Problem in America,” and written by Bryan Vinson, along with the responses and conversation generated by these articles. They are posted here as historical documentation and do not represent my views on the matter.
The Racial Problem in America (Bryan Vinson, Sr.)
Our nation is beset by many complex and grievous problems; Vietnam, fiscal irresponsibility in government, increasing taxes far beyond the level of being just, the erosion of morals and the revolt of too many of the youth in the home and in the schools. These are among the more prominent and publicized but none of these is as grave as the one to which I am addressing attention. My reason for so appraising the relative gravity of these several critical areas is that these mentioned can, in time, by judicious treatment respond to improvement or solution. The war in Vietnam surely will end sometime, though problematical as to when. A reversal of the welfare philosophy in government could restore solvency to the government, both state and national. I am not optimistic that such will develop. A reversal of the downward trend in morals can be effected, but only by a rebirth of faith in God and His Word. Except as this occurs the nation is doomed.
The conditions existing in the field of race relations have been brought about by a combination of influences and forces that presents no sanguinary prospects of improvement but a constant worsening of these conditions. In my view of the matter, the present trend will issue in a state of affairs that will never yield to any correction. Such a state will mature the economic and moral decay of our nation. There are three forces which have produced the present woeful development. They can be identified as the politicians, the professors, and the preachers in our land. Each has moved in their agitations from distinct bases. The politicians have been, by and large, motivated by the desire for political position, and the attainment and holding of such is dependent on votes. No one has illustrated this unconscionable pragmatism more than former President Johnson. While representing Texas in the Senate he always voted against “civil rights” bills, whereas when seeking and holding national office, and thus dependent on the votes of the black block, he became the most avid advocate of far out legislation designed to secure their suffrage.
The professional class has been moved by a false conception of human origin and impractical application of the principles of democratic processes of government. Aligned with their point of view has been the Warren court. It has been widely publicized that this court in the famous (or infamous) 1954 school integration case was not directed by the law or judicial precedents, but by a philosophical concept of foreign extraction.
Whatever might be said as touching these two sources of influence in producing the present crisis between the races, it is the posture of the third group that concerns me more acutely. Theirs rests on a false conception of the teaching of the word of God, or at least I so conceive it to be. But this isn’t a new thing with the “clergy”. The rank radicalism of the abolitionists of ante-bellum days was spearheaded by preachers who constantly fanned the flames of passion, culminating in the Civil war. They were not all outside the church of the Lord. For instance, brethren such as Issac Errett were among those who defied the law of the land as treating on the matter of fugitive slaves. He took strong issue with Campbell on this point.
Religionists have premised their contentions, principally, on an affirmation which they conceive to be embodied in the teaching of the scriptures, but which owes its framing to the words of those who lived long this side of the time when the scriptures were given by inspiration. In fact the author of the affirmation, while indisputably one of the greatest statesmen who ever lived (in my estimation the greatest) was apparently a deist, and, further, a slave owner — Thomas Jefferson. Consequently, I would infer from these facts that he didn’t predicate his affirmation on the persuasion that such was revealed from God in the scriptures, and, too, that he felt his affirmation had no application and force respecting the relation of races. To affirm that all men are “born free and equal” is to affirm a falsehood. I grant that with proper qualifications this unqualified affirmation might be transmuted into truth; without, however, such qualifications, its falsity should he self-evident to any reflecting person. To seek the establishment of racial equality is to endeavor the accomplishment of the impossible. Equality doesn’t exist within any given race, and, further, not within any single family!
In developing and presenting this point of view I wish to reinforce my own reasonings with quotations from the utterances of three prominent men; one a politician, one a statesman, and one a Christian. The politician was a President of this country, the statesman aspired to being President, but is credited with saying he had rather be right than to be President. Based on my acquaintance with the views and attainments of the two, I have no hesitancy in ascribing to the latter a stature far above that of the first, though he never attained the office.
The politician, Abraham Lincoln, has been virtually deified by history, for two reasons: first, he emancipated the slaves, and, second, because he was assassinated. He possessed some elements of character, intellectually and morally, that tended toward greatness. But any man who would say, as Sandburg credited him with, that he would make a graveyard of the South before he would let them successfully secede from the Union, entertained a decidedly deficient regard for the lives of his fellowman which robs him of true greatness. But be it noticed what “the great emancipator” had to say in some of his speeches.
Did he believe the doctrine of the equality of man? In his renowned debates with Douglas, in Illinois he had much to say on this theme. In Springfield, July 17,1858, he said:
“My declarations upon this subject of negro slavery may be misrepresented, but cannot be misunderstood. I have said that I do not understand the Declaration to mean that all men were created equal in all respects. They are not our equal in color; but I suppose that it does mean to declare that all men are equal in some respects. They are equal in their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Certainly the negro is not our equal in color-perhaps not in many other respects; still, in the right to put into his mouth the bread that his own hands have earned, he is the equal of every other man, white or black. In pointing out that more has been given you, you cannot be justified in taking away the little which has been given him. All I ask for the negro is that if you do not like him, let him alone. If God gave him but little, that little let him enjoy.
When our government was established, we had the institution of slavery among us. We were in a certain sense compelled to tolerate its existence. It was a sort of necessity. We had gone through our struggle and secured our independence. The framers of the Constitution found the institution of slavery amongst their other institutions at the time. They found that by an effort to eradicate it, they might lose much of what they already had gained. They were obliged to bow to the necessity. They gave power to Congress to abolish the slave trade at the end of twenty years. They also prohibited it in the territories where it did not exist. They did what they could and yielded to the necessity for the rest. I also yield all which follows from that necessity. WHAT I WOULD MOST DESIRE WOULD BE THE SEPARATION OF THE WHITE AND BLACK RACES.” (Emp. mine. B.V.)
Was Lincoln a racist? One holding the views herein stated today would be so classified. I sincerely and fully agree with this statement made by him in this speech of more than a hundred years ago. Has the intervening century impeached the validity of his reasoning and position? His opposition to slavery did not logically make him a believer in racial equality, nor does it anyone else, then or now. A state in society where slavery exists or does not exist does not involve necessarily the issue of racial equality. The state of slavery of the children of Israel in Egypt did not establish their racial inferiority. Slavery being abolished in this nation did not affect basically the question of racial equality or inequality. This rests on other and antecedent factors. But Lincoln, while desiring the abolition of slavery, did not contemplate the integration of the two races. Note his desire — “I most desire” — the separation of the white and black races. If he could, and can, be so revered by posterity holding such a desire, why is it esteemed today to be anti-American, and anti-Christian to entertain the same desire?
I believe every person, of whatever race they belong, should be entitled to put into his mouth the bread his hands have earned. But I do not believe any man, white or black, has the right to put into his mouth the bread I have earned while refusing to employ his own hands to earn his own bread. That is what exists today in our welfare state, with multitudes of blacks living in idleness of the proceeds of the labor of others, and enjoying a premium for producing multitudes of children of illegitimate birth. The productive sector of citizens are being penalized for rearing children within the marriage institution by an inadequate exemption of taxation, whereas they are being supported from those taxes in having hordes of children out of wedlock!
On the matter of equality, let’s hear more from Lincoln. When he debated with Douglas in “Egypt” — southern Illinois — he had this to say at Charleston:
“While I was at the hotel today an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races, — that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people, and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say on this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen to my knowledge a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.” (Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Charleston, Illinois, Sept. 18, 1858)
At Galesburg, Illinois, Lincoln said, in reply to Douglas:
“But the Judge will have it that if we do not confess that there is a sort of inequality between the white and black races, which justifies us in making them slaves, we must, then, insist that there is a degree of equality that requires us to make them our wives. Now I have all the while taken a broad distinction in regard to that matter; and that is all there is in these different speeches which he arrays here, and the entire reading of either of the speeches will show that that distinction was made. Perhaps by taking two parts of the same speech, he could have got up as much of a conflict as the one he has found. I have all the while maintained, that in so far as it should be insisted that there was an equality between the white and black races that should produce a perfect social and political equality, it was an impossibility. This has been in my printed speeches, and with it I have said, that in their right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as proclaimed in that old Declaration, the inferior races are our equals.”
These should be sufficient to establish that Lincoln was a believer in the social and political inferiority of the negro race, and in the segregation of the two races. They have been given the right to vote, but they should, with members of the white race, be subject to certain qualifications. No person whose mental powers and educational deficiencies are such as to render them incapable of voting intelligently and with independent powers of choice should be allowed to vote. Otherwise block voting is the practice. It now is a widespread condition which enabled one man to be elected President four times by appealing to such groups as largely are controlled in their voting by their respective leaders.
The second one, the statesman, to whom I invite attention was a distinguished U.S. State Senator from Kentucky. He arose from a childhood of poverty with no educational advantages to become one of the greatest, if not the greatest, member, of this august body of legislators. No man has ever served his country in a greater variety of capacities or for a longer period of time than Henry Clay. Speaker of the lower House of Congress, Senator, Secretary of State, and as well as representing his country abroad. He was early identified with the efforts to effect the gradual emancipation of slaves through a system of compensation to the owners and the colonization in other lands of those emancipated. Through the years before the rise of the Republican party in 1854, he as a member of the Whig party sought to allay the rising passions of the people on the slavery question and secure the continued union of the states. A biographer, Sargent, says of him:
“Mr. Clay alluded to the fact that about thirty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Finney of New Jersey, and others with him, met in that hall, and consulted and agreed upon the great principles of the foundation of the society. Of that number Mr. Clay was one. At first they did not intend to do more than to establish a colony on the coast of Africa, to which the free people of color in the United States might voluntarily and with their own free consent without the least restraint, coercion, or compulsion, proceed and enjoy untrammeled those social and political privileges which under the circumstances of the case they could not enjoy here. The founder saw, what is now manifest to the country, that the people of color and the white race could not possibly live together on terms of equality. They did not stop to inquire whether this state of things was right or wrong. They took the fact of impossibility for these two races to live together in equal social conditions, and proceeded to operate on that fact, without regard to the question whether the fact arose from an unworthy prejudice, that should be expelled from our breasts, or whether it was an instinct for our guidance.”
This is a statement by Sargent in connection with a speech delivered by Clay in January 1848 at a meeting of the American Colonization Society in the hall of the house of representatives. In this speech Clay said:
“Were they to be transported from the United States to Africa, would not their condition be physically, morally, socially, and politically better and happier than anything which they could attain to or hope for here? It is vain to attempt to eradicate that which keeps asunder these two classes. It is vain for the office of philosophy or humanity to attempt what is so utterly impracticable as joining together those whom God himself, by the difference of color and various other distinctions, perhaps, has declared ought to be separate.”
Over a span then of thirty or more years Clay was identified with efforts to remove members of the negro race from our shores to colonies in Africa. As noted, he did not raise the issue of the right or wrong morally in the state of affairs then obtaining, but rather as the practical minded statesman, sought to alleviate and contribute to the ultimate solution of the most vexing and tragic problem which has ever beset America. On the subject of colonization Lincoln has voiced his favor, but with the increasing state of feeling engendered by the radical abolitionists of the Northeastern part of the country, this solution came too late, it appears. On the point of slavery itself Lincoln placed his opposition on the avowed principle of morality, believing it to be morally wrong. His sentiments thus increasingly led him to become more and more acceptable with the leaders of the abolition movement. It was this projection of the issue of slavery on the moral and religious base which led another one to break his long silence and write rather extensively on the subject. He wrote in a measure as a statesman, not at all as a politician, but preeminently as a Christian. While regarding the views of Lincoln and Clay as worthy of serious and weighty significance, they recede to the shadows when the views of one of the stature of Campbell are brought to the light. Neither Clay or Lincoln was a Christian. Campbell was in fact as well as in profession. As a scholar he completely overshadowed both, and especially when the knowledge of the scriptures defines the area of scholarship.
(To be concluded next week.)
— Rt. 3, Longview, Texas
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 23, Number 1, May 6, 1971, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here)
The Racial Problem in America – Part 2 (Bryan Vinson, Sr.)
Campbell gave brief attention to the critical condition existing as relating to slavery in the M.H. [The Millennial Harbinger, erl] of 1832, and a little more in 1835. The extent of this initial attention was directed toward a solution to which he subscribed — the emancipation and colonization of the slaves on a gradual basis, by freeing and colonizing young negroes.
“We have all the means and all the facilities to settle this matter forever, if we choose. We can do justice to the South and to the North, and we can do justice to the master and the slave, as well as show mercy; but justice first — mercy afterwards. We may have, we can have, ten millions surplus revenue for fifteen or twenty years to come, and all the wheels of government move on as smoothly as they now do — yea, more smoothly. Public and private interests will all flourish more by appropriating ten millions per annum in exporting and colonizing young negroes somewhere in Africa, or on the American continent, than by cutting down the revenue to the mean of our national expenditures.
Could I wish for political influence, or political talent, or for the standing of any man in this nation, it would be for one purpose, and but for one — viz. to call to the South and to the North to unite for their own temporal salvation, and that of their children, in one grand scheme of doing justice and showing mercy to master and slave. Had `I the forensic eloquence of a Demosthenes, and the political popularity of a Washington, they should be consecrated to the salvation of this nation from the greatest evils, which, every day accumulating, will sooner or later (and sooner perhaps than anyone imagines) burst on the heads of our beloved offspring, with a fury exasperated in the ratio of their delay, and as irresistible as death.”
After discussing further his views of the suggested utility of this scheme, he had subscribed to, he concludes with this language:
“But by all that is desirable in our national union, harmony, peace, and prosperity, let all debates, pamphlets, and speeches on the abstract questions now debated be suppressed; and in the spirit of our federal constitution let us go to work to do justice to the South, North, East, and West, to master and to slave, and all will be well. We can do it — only begin right and persevere. It is not my business to do more than I have done in courtesy to numerous solicitations on the subject — merely to make these suggestions. There are wiser heads and abler hands, to whom we would most earnestly and respectfully tender these hints, hoping that the ten thousand blessings in store for him or them who will save our land from ruin, will induce some Calhoun, Clay, or Webster, or some other mighty spirit, to turn his or their attention to this greatest and best political undertaking.
On the political arena various efforts were made to stay the rising tide of passion in the years immediately following, and compromise measures were enacted to effect such an end. But such were only delaying actions. The fervent and revolutionary spirit of the Northern Abolitionists would not yield to any assuagement. The New England Clergy were busily engaged in inflammatory propaganda. Occupying a position of such commanding influence with brethren, and as editor of the most influential periodical among them, Campbell was being increasingly pressed to align himself with the Anti-slavery movement, or with the Southern side of the raging controversy. He was not pro-slavery in that he favored its continuance in the South. He was emphatically opposed to the radical abolitionism that was to a very decided degree spearheaded by the clergy. He wrote many articles in the late forties, and I have read them in the M.H. From them a few excerpts are in order, insofar as they relate to the thinking that has come about in this day. He delivered the scriptures from the tortured construction to which they were subjected as holding that slavery was condemned therein. He showed clearly and conclusively that slavery existed from the early period of time under every age with divine sanction. To this proof there is no need to take recourse in this article. Slavery has been removed from our land, at least in the form it then had. In a sense, and to a degree, it now exists in the fact that too many are, by government decree, being forced to work and support those who will not work. This is in direct contravention of the apostolic edict that “if they will not work, neither shall they eat.”
But on the underlying and basic contention of the abolitionist agitators that all men are born free and equal he had some relevant and pointedly pertinent statements. In the M.H. of 1845 we quote the following footnote from page 262:
“We will not moot a question here which I have never yet seen discussed, though it may have been, involving differences providentially occurring in the circumstances of nativity, justifying or criminating the treatment of persons in a way consonant or not consonant with those providential diversities. Paul had providential and political rights from being born in Tarsus, which he would not have had, had he been born in Nazareth. To divest him of these rights, would have been to do him wrong. Therefore, all men are not born free and equal according to political rights. But we shall slide off into abstractions after the manner of our times and of our political demagogues, and probably might be found conflicting with as popular and as senseless a saying as any political aphorism of this age. It is dangerous to a man’s reputation for common sense, to conflict with certain consecrated sayings. But as it is a human and not a divine aphorism, I, being somewhat adventurous, will presume to say, that, to affirm, all men to be born free and equal, is neither naturally nor politically more correct than to say that all men are born white and virtuous. All men are not born equal in any sense of the word involving political legislation, the subject on hand, nor are all men born politically or providentially free; for freedom is a political term in the sense of our Bill of Rights.”
Naturally men are born neither bond nor free; they are born of necessity. On page 234 of this same volume he says:
“As American citizens, the members of our churches have the same political rights with the members of all other communities. They may become “Whigs” or “Democrats”, “Liberty” or “Pro-Slavery Men”, according to the views of political expediency and propriety. On these views we all have our opinions. When called upon to express mine, I do freely and without reserve. I neither compromise nor conceal anything.
For myself, I greatly prefer the condition and prospects of the Free to the Slave states; especially as respects the white portion of their population. Much as I may sympathize with a black man, I love the white man more. As a political economist, and as a philanthropist, I have many reasons for preferring the prospects and conditions of the Free to the Slave States; but especially as a Christian, I sympathize much more with the owners of slaves, their heirs, and successors, than with the slaves they possess and bequeathe. These opinions I express as freely in Georgia as in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and frequently hear them expressed by the owners themselves.”
From this one can readily see that his views engaged the persuasion that the lot of the slave owner was esteemed as more to be lamented than that of the slave. This could hardly have been true on the assumption that slavery was essentially wrong morally, and in all instances, acted with injustice toward the slave. The morbid and unreasonable sentimentality which characterized the abolitionists of that day has been revived in the present day as touching the assumed equality of all men. It has invaded the ranks of the brethren, and is well-entrenched within the philosophy of the social gospelers. Nothing is more subversive of the strength and enduring virtue of the gospel of Christ, and the consequent responsibility of the church to the world, than the idea the church is to be involved in the political and social issues and problems of the present. Campbell has something to say of this principle as bearing on the abolition movement of that time:
“But the technically denominated abolitionist is quite a different personage. His opposition to slavery is not because of its merely economical bearings and effects, nor because of the domestic inexpediency of the system. He regards slavery as morally wrong in its very essence. The slaveholder is, with him, a man-stealer, and the avails of his slave-labor robbery. He thinks it morally right to make use of all the powers of association with Turk, Jew, or Infidel, to put it down — peaceably if he can, forcibly if he must. He is one who would dismember the church and dissolve the union for the sake of annihilating the immoral and unholy relation. This is that definition of an abolitionist in reference to whom I have said, as a Christian no man could be an abolitionist; I might, perhaps, also to have added, nor an American citizen. The gospel is not a system of morality for the moral improvement of any nation or state. It contemplates something more sublime and salutary. It gives life to the ‘dead in trespasses and sins’. It creates anew in Christ Jesus. Its legitimate product is a new creature The church, we repeat, cannot constitutionally undertake to reform the state, so far as not in the church, is composed of men in the flesh — men who live in obedience to all the lusts and passions of the animal men. To attempt to adorn such with Christian morality by any association for temporal ends and objects, is as absurd as for a missionary to attempt the reformation of an American Indian by substituting for his blanket and trinkets a fashionable suit of broadcloth. This will make him a buffoon rather than a gentleman We have room at present only to add, that while the church has no direct power or authority either from its head, or from the scope, design, and spirit of the institution to attempt the reformation of the state, or to unite with any worldly or political party to effect a revolution, or a change in its institutions; it has an immense power upon every community by the reflex light of the gospel through its example.”
With one other brief quotation from this writer I shall be through with the quotations from these eminent men. Campbell, on the point of equality had this further remark to make:
“I am fully aware, that there is a text in some Bibles that is not in mine. Professional Abolitionists have made more use of it than any passage in the Bible. It came, however, as I trace it, from Saint Voltaire, and was baptized by Thomas Jefferson, and since almost universally regarded as canonical authority — “All men are born free and equal”. This is genuine coin in the political currency of our generation. I am sorry to say, that I have never seen two men of whom it is true. But I must add, I never saw the Siamese twins, and, therefore, will not dogmatically say that no man ever saw proof of this sage aphorism.”
A few personal observations may be made by me, I trust, as bearing on this subject, and with particular regard to the current conditions now prevailing in the area of race relations. Continuing and increasing pressure is being exerted by the force of law, as interpreted by bureaucrats, to fuse the two races into one homogenous society. The thrust of the whole effort springs from the assumed truth that all men are born free and equal. The testimony of these men above quoted lies wholly against such a contention, and I know of no one, or ones, today more competent to speak on this point than they. That, as Lincoln affirmed, all are equal in some respects I readily and sincerely believe to be true. As human creatures, distinguished from the lower creation there is a kind of equality that characterizes all men. That equality embraces the possession and exercise of certain rights — yes, inalienable rights-simply because all men are created in the image of God. As such there is the right to be taught of God, to know God and to be untrammeled in the exercise of the right to serve and worship Him. Further, the sacredness of human life stems from being the creature made in His image, and thus life, and its support by all the necessities secured by one’s own labor, is a right to be vouchsafed to all men. With Lincoln, and Campbell, I believe in the relative superiority and inferiority, respectively, of the white and black races. This belief is not the product of prejudice, but one created and sustained by the evidence existing competent to support such a conclusion. The history of the two races over the centuries bears indubitable proof of this position by the superior attainments of the one over the other. In an effort to counter this the apology has been offered to the effect that the white race has not helped the negro race as it should, and, therefore, they have not equaled the progress and accomplishments of the white race. The question immediately arises, requiring an answer, who helped the white race? By their own efforts this race has demonstrated a measure of intellectual ability which reflects a stature, the absence of which would be necessarily construed as the lack of such mental capabilities. If, then, what the white man has done is an index of his capacity, then what the African race has done — both in Africa and here — is an index of his capacity; therefore, the capacities of the two races reflect a decided disparity.
When any people contend for equal rights, justice and fairness requires the assumption by them of a corresponding responsibility. We cannot divorce “right” and “responsibility ,” and the measure of the one is tied to the measure of the other. The right of suffrage renders incumbent on all who exercise it the responsibility to inform themselves to the point of being competent in the exercise of this right. One cannot equate human rights and social rights. The former are inalienable; the latter are the creation of birth and other circumstantial matters. Within any given race there are many levels of society, and economics is a potent factor in establishing these levels. If another man can, by his ability and contribution to the well-being of society, earn more than I can, he is entitled to the fruits of his efforts. The fact that I should be of a different race does not erase this principle. But economic status is not the only, or, properly, the principal factor in determining the social status of a person. The qualities which enter into the formation of a character, and give imprint to the personality of one are multiple; they are intellectual, moral, cultural and religious. Persons of like interests are mutually attracted, and these interests are born of these qualities of character. The long reach of time has made its contribution to the character of races as well as to individual members of each race. Heredity is a very potent factor in the formation of the physiology, the physiognomy, and, too, the phrenology of a person. And, I believe, also, of races.
Several months ago two brethren had articles published, in which the first favored racial segregation, and to which the latter responded. In his response he questioned that God made the races different, even suggesting by implication that God only made man without making the races of man. From such an implied thought, I wondered if he thinks God made the first tree, and was not responsible for the oak, the pine, the ash, and other trees that bless our land! The only mutation in the color of the black race in America from those who came here from Africa has been wrought by the injection of other blood into the race. Climatic conditions have not lightened his complexion in three hundred years. The fact that God made the races distinct and different affords me competent reason for believing it to be the best interest of each race to remain thus distinct, and thereby maintain their ethnic differences. I join Lincoln in the fervent desire — most desiring — the separation of the two races. This is for the good of both, and the amalgamation, blending and miscegenation of the two will mark the utter ruin of this nation. It will be an irretrievable ruin, with moral, economic social, intellectual, and, yes, national and international consequences ensuing in wholly irreparable harm.
The educational standards of the public schools is declining, the moral climate is putrid, and from what cause? The integration of the races. The whites cannot pull the negro up intellectually and morally, but these can pull those down — and this is happening with catastrophic rapidity. Vulgarity and lucid obscenities are having a field day with no restraint in sight. Intermarriage of the races is becoming the accepted thing today. Rape goes either unapprehended, or, if so, lightly punished, if at all. Many columns could be written descriptive of conditions and developments of this sort, but such would not awaken the American people. Moral stupor has taken possession, induced by ignorance, greed, infidelity and lasciviousness. Why write as I have done? Primarily, in response to a provocation wrought by the charge that I am a White Supremeist [sic, erl]. This is one thing with which I have been charged, to which I plead guilty. I never censured a person for being born what he is, nor do I feel constrained to treat unjustly one of another race. But with Lincoln, I would say, that, because I would not make one a slave, that is no reason for making such my wife! I do not believe that because it is wrong to take advantage of a Negro in any dealings I might have with him, that I am thereby under obligation to treat him as my social equal.
Further, the fact that Jew and Gentile, male and female, bond and free are all one in the provisions made and the conditions imposed for salvation and redemption in Christ, does not mean that there are no distinctions to be made in other areas of human relations. The sickly, shallow and inane reasoning (if such can be called reasoning) of some who would make a belief in racial integration a mark of piety is disgusting in the extreme. What can one do about it? I can do as Lincoln recommended — I can let them alone, and hope that they will leave me alone. Many of them today will take all they can get from you, but are unwilling to work. I know some exceptions, and these I respect. Others of either race I do not.
There is not evident any genuine indication of a national awakening to the perils facing our country, and especially this one. But Christians can live as God would have them live under the most unfavorable conditions and unfriendly governments, though difficult it may be. This being possible, we should so live as those who look for a better country, and for a city whose builder and maker is God.
— Route 3, Longview, Texas
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 23, Number 2, May 13, 1971, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here. The articles the author mentions are “Why I Believe in the Segregation of Races” and “A Response To — ‘Why I Believe in Segregation”; these articles, and aspects of the antecedents which led to them, are documented here.)
Responses to “The Racial Problem in America”
The Racial Problem in America (Editorial, Fanning Yater Tant)
We are happy to publish this week (concluded next week) [the above articles, erl] an article by our esteemed brother Bryan Vinson. A personal letter to the editor, accompanying the article said, “I know my views, as expressed herein, are not universally held, even among brethren. But the article speaks for itself.” It certainly does. And we are pleased to publish it — — and indicate on this page our reaction to some parts of it.
That the races are “different” goes without saying; but that one is “better” than the other, or “superior” to the other gets right back into the same old thread — bare, statement that somebody or other is “anti.” Anti — what? The words “superior” and “inferior” need some qualifying clarifications. The angle at which an Oriental’s hip joints are set is slightly different from mine. He can fold his legs under him with an ease and facility which is impossible to a non-Oriental. Is he therefore “superior” to me; or is it that I am “superior” to him? It will depend on one’s point of reference. Is a swiveling hip-joint “better” than a more rigid hip-joint? It is indeed “better” for folding one’s legs under one when one sits. If that is the point of reference, then all anthropologists, physiologists, anatomists, and others will be forced to agree that the Oriental race is definitely SUPERIOR to the non-Oriental. All negroes have kinky, woolly hair which is black; Scandinavians have normally straight hair, and it is usually light in color. Now, which is the “superior” race as to hair? Is thick, kinky hair “better” than blonde straight hair? Or is it the other way around?
In God’s church, in the United States of America, and in the heart of every true Christian there should not be the least hint of feeling or teaching that one race is “superior” to another unless one defines the area in which the superiority is supposed to exist. There are national differences and traits as well as racial. It has long been recognized that some nationalities seem to have “superior” talents in certain fields — — the Irish, the Italians, and the Germans, for example in the field of music; the Jews in the commercial and business world; and the Arabians, Egyptians, and Greeks in the field of applied mathematics. So what?
It seems highly probable that there are areas in which the negro is “superior” to the white man. His presence, for instance, on the various professional athletic teams is out of all proportion to his relative number in the population. More than forty years ago a beloved teacher, H. Leo Boles, used to impress his Bible classes with the fact that the negro seems to have an emotional and a psychological heritage that makes him highly receptive to religious motivations. It was Brother Boles’ suggestion that in the providence of God the negro race may be the very salvation of God’s cause in the centuries to come. As the white race becomes ever more sophisticated, more materialistic, less religiously inclined, more atheistic, the negro may take up increasingly the burden of preserving and propagating the faith of the gospel. His emotional nature provides the possibility for such. It may well be that in the field of religion he will ultimately demonstrate his “superiority” to the white race.
That the negro in our society is placed in a highly unfair and prejudicial competitive position with the whites is too well attested to warrant discussion. Naive and doctrinaire insistence on the “equality” of the races has led politicians, clergymen, and ‘sob sisters’ to propel the negro into a position which will make him the perpetual loser. In many areas he is the white man’s equal, in some his superior. In other areas, (whether from his long racial history of deprivation and servitude, or whether from ethnic and inherent ineptitudes we do not say) he simply can not compete with the whites. And it is cruel and vicious to try to make him do so.
This has no bearing at all as to his standing with God, and should have no bearing as to his welcome in white churches. Marriage between whites and negroes will increasingly take place. In fact, it is generally conceded that at least three-fourths of the negro population in our nation today is of mixed (white and negro) blood. Perhaps a thousand years from now the negro and the white will both have faded from our land, and will have been replaced by a new strain made up from a mingling of the two. It seems more than likely.
That such may happen does not mean at all that we should either approve it, or condone it. The resultant mixture of bloods may well be to the detriment of all concerned. We simply can not say. We regard the intermarriage of the races as a dangerous and unhealthy thing, but not necessarily a sinful thing. Mixed marriages at best are difficult. And in the present atmosphere of the American nation the off-spring of such unions will be subjected to a lifetime of discrimination and difficulties.
Brother Vinson’s article will probably call forth comments from others. The Gospel Guardian through its long history has sought to provide a medium for the discussion of just such matters. We have not shied away from them; but have sought always to keep the discussions within bounds of propriety and brotherliness. We shall endeavor to do so this time — — — in the event anybody feels the urge to express himself on the subject.
— F. Y. T.
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 23, Number 1, May 6, 1971, printed along with the original and first article above, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here)
A Red Man Looks at Vinson (F.A. Smiddy)
It is hard for me to unemotionally answer an article such as that printed in The Gospel Guardian under the title, “The Racial Problem in America.” I, as a Christian may not return evil for evil. I must turn the other cheek. The strongest language I may use is, “The Lord rebuke thee.”
I must apologize for my clothing I’m wearing, as no doubt they may make my article appear to be that of a buffoon, but I’m fresh out of blankets and beads.
I’ve always felt sorry for the white man and I know my black brother does too. After all, when he first came to this country and brought his culture (small pox and syphilis) we were most ungrateful. We gave him food to help him get through a hard winter. And when he killed and took our land and captured us for slaves, do you think we showed the proper appreciation? To our everlasting shame we made very poor slaves. We died under the kind treatment and the poor white man was forced to look for hardier specimens. He had to go all the way to Africa and capture the black man. And they didn’t appreciate it either. Why, sometimes nearly all of them were so ungrateful that they died below decks before they could even get to America to enjoy all the good things the beneficent white man had in store for them.
The editor and the much put upon journalist think that the black man should be sent back to the lands of their forefathers. Can you give me any reason why the white man shouldn’t go back to where he came from? We didn’t invite you. You are even now living on land over which you shed much Indian blood to steal. Do you think might makes right?
You speak of and quote what you call great men. How great they are might be a matter of viewpoint! I won’t call him great because I don’t think he would want me to, but I would also like to quote something from a very good man. Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama once said something I like. He said, “I will allow no man to bring me so low as to make me hate him.” So Brother Vinson I will be a brother to you even if you are not one to me. If you will tell me how much money you think we have stolen from you, I will try to replace it. It I have to make it out in payments, I will return it to you. I will send it to you via THE GOSPEL GUARDIAN so that everyone may know that we are returning that which we stole.
And as far as your being superior to me or my black brother, why that’s alright with me. This world is not my home any way. I’m content to wait for heaven. And if you are superior to me there also, why its still alright. I’m perfectly willing to submit myself to my Father because I will be judged by things other than color.
1104 Chestnut, Duncan, Oklahoma 73533
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 23, Number 6, June 10, 1971, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here.
Editorial Comment: Response to Racial Articles
As editor Tant expected and suggested, we are receiving considerable response to Bryan Vinson, Sr.’s articles on “The Racial Problem in America.” This week we are publishing one response (see front page). It is representative of those who were “cut to the heart” by the Vinson articles, and the one who wrote it expresses himself from his heart. Some others who have responded, appear to have been cut to the quick and seem to have written more out of irritation than from reason. Still others have suggested that the Vinson articles had no place in The Gospel Guardian…this comment coming from some who “are inclined to agree with brother Vinson”, some who are not.
Whatever may be said about the Vinson presentation, whatever reaction the articles may have incited, it is clear that he has a right to express himself journalistically. His conviction is subject to attack, but his attitude, his disposition, and his spirit are commendable. And what of his courage to spell out his convictions in these times of racial tensions! We trust the only bombardment he will receive will be via the written page!
This editor disagrees generally with brother Vinson in the matter, and we doubted the propriety of publishing the material in this journal. But why refuse “white supremacists” a hearing when the “black nationalists” are getting such broad journalistic recognition? One thing about Vinson, he is not of the Klu-Klux-Klan variety. He is a Christian gentleman, a scholar, one who deserves to be heard. Those who confront him, or contend with him, will find him to be fair and kind. He is not, absolutely not, a rabid man.
In addition to the response by brother Smitty, on the front page of this week’s paper [see above, erl], we will run an article by Leslie Diestelkamp. It will appear in the June 17 edition [see below, erl].
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 23, Number 6, June 10, 1971, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here.)
The Race Problem – A Response (Leslie Diestelkamp)
Recently in the GUARDIAN (May 6 and May 13 issues) brother Bryan Vinson had two long front-page articles on “The Racial Problem In America”. Since he took issue with some things written by me in a previous article [“A Response To — “Why I Believe in Segregation”, Vol. 22, No. 17, September 3, 1970, documented here and here, erl], it may be proper for me to respond briefly. To expedite brevity I shall comment in numbered paragraph as follows:
1. Brother Vinson quotes at length from Abraham Lincoln, Henry Clay and Alexander Campbell. I have high regard for each of them and for whatever they did in their times to help the people of this nation take some long steps toward freedom for all. But I realize that men could not, 125 years ago, understand today’s opportunities for true equality, nor could their concept of race relations suffice for the multitude of enlightened people of many races who live in this land now. Therefore, I have no disposition at all to discuss the sundry beliefs of mid-19th century heroes. Furthermore, brother Tant’s editorial (May 6) [see above, erl] on this issue was superb indeed and leaves very little to be said except that part which deals with brother Vinson’s comment on my article.
2. Brother Vinson says that I “questioned that God made the races different” and that I implied “that God only made man without making the races of man.” But he needs to read my article again. I did not merely question such nor imply it. I stated it as fact! And I gave the scriptural quotations to prove it. I said, “The fact is that God’s creative work ended on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2) and he had then made one man and one woman, both of the same race (Gen. 2:21-23). No one knows whether they were white, black, red or yellow. All human beings who have lived since then have been the result of God’s law of reproduction — that every thing should reproduce after his kind’ (Gen. 1:24-28). Thus it is obvious that God did not make ‘kinds’ of people — he did not create races.”
It is strangely significant to me that brother Vinson did not even mention one verse of scripture to substantiate his statement that “…God made the races distinct and different.” We remember that Paul said that God made all nations of one blood (Ac. 17:26), but where does the Bible say that God created different kinds of men? It is easy to trace the development of nations, such as the Jewish people from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now does brother Vinson believe that God picked out a certain man and woman, some time after Noah, and miraculously made them black? Or does he believe that Noah and his family were dark and that God miraculously made some white?
3. Brother Vinson asks if I think God made the first tree and was not responsible for the oak, the pine and the ash, but his illustration is not appropriate. You cannot cross the pine and an oak. But you can cross white and black people. I believe God made every species. Thus oaks always produce oaks. Pines always produce pines. And human beings always produce human beings.
By a very simple process of selective breeding that is well known to anyone that understands anything about animal husbandry, a farmer can change his herd of Holstein dairy cows into a herd of Hereford beef cows in only a few years. Then why can we not understand the development of the races of mankind by the simple process of natural selection — the inclination to mate according to similar characteristics?
4. Brother Vinson says 300 years of life in America has not lightened the black people here through climatic processes. Yet, over a period of several thousand years climate could have some effect upon color. The principle of survival may have, in primitive times, caused only the darker ones to endure the tropics. At any rate, all equatorial natives are dark and most people from the frigid zones are light. In the natural processes of heredity and environment, over thousands of years of time, races could certainly have developed — all from God’s original creation and without miraculous intervention. And such development would then not demonstrate any determination on God’s part regarding perpetuation of differences.
5. Brother Vinson admits being a White Supremacist. He believes white people are better than black people. He thinks the prevalence of vulgarity, obscenities, rape, etc.; is the result of the influence of black people. I wonder if he ever studies a list of crime syndicate members. They are almost all white — and almost all of one nationality. And in the thousands of cases of immorality that produced Negro people of lighter skin, who was more wicked, the black woman or the white man who seduced her or intimidated her? Indeed brother Vinson and I have seen days when a black man might have been lynched if he so much as looked upon a white woman to lust after her while a dozen white men could molest a black girl and hardly anyone would even lift an eyebrow. Why?
Of course all decent people of every race abhor the spirit of rebellion that prevails among many youth today and that is manifest in the mob violence, looting, etc. However, all unbiased people also recognize that this revolt of youth is not a matter of color. Black youth, breaking windows and looting stores are not an indication of greater moral depravity than are white youth who appear with hair like a woman, who burn draft cards, peddle dope and live in “pads” with no more morality than cattle in a Texas pasture. Even “Women’s Lib,” a principally white movement, is, in every basic principle, just as much a spirit of rebellion as is any abuse of the black movement for equality.
6. Brother Vinson’s white supremacy argument also portrays the white as smarter than the black. If intelligence is measured in the inventive genius alone, then his assumption may be justified. But it is impossible to honestly and accurately estimate differences in native intelligence unless each person considered has lived under similar conditions and environment. Even then it must take into consideration the circumstances of many generations. But anyway, for every black man brother Vinson finds with a low I. Q., I promise to find a white man with the same. If he will come down out of the Ivory Tower of sophisticated society in which he moves and mingle with the masses of all races he will find similar degrees of intelligence and of ignorance in all races.
7. But really it is vain to argue these things. God has spoken and his Word settles it. In his sight we are all equal — (Eph. 2:14). And he requires that we love our neighbor regardless of his “kind” — Lk. 10:30-37; Rom. 13:8). This love involves more than merely declining to do him evil as brother Vinson proposes, and it demands that we do good to him rather than simply “let him alone” as our brother suggests. The attitude of Caucasian supremacy and superiority is in direct conflict with the great commission (Mk. 16:15, 16). And it is mockery to hide behind the thin veneer of superficial love that grants black people the “right to be taught of God” and at the same time says, “I can let him alone and hope that he will leave me alone.” Furthermore, how can a “White Supremacist” expect to enjoy heaven? Will he insist that the redeemed there be separated according to the color of the skin of their earthly bodies? How can we share heaven with those whom we would not love on earth?
— 26 E. 55th St., Westmont, Ill.
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 23, Number 7, June 17, 1971, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here.)
The Racial Problem in America (E.L. Flannery)
In the Gospel Guardian (May 6 and 13 issues) brother Bryan Vinson cited some of the “complex and grievous problems” confronting our nation today, and some of the causes for these conditions. Indeed, this nation is having tremendous problems. The question is: How can we Christians hold the right attitudes and react in the best manner to help in solving the problems satisfactorily to God and man?
It is my personal judgment that holding to the White Supremacist view will do nothing to solve present-day problems in America. I believe this view is wrong. If Lincoln, Clay and Campbell held such views over a hundred years ago it does not prove the validity of the position. These men like we today, were subject to human weakness and prejudice.
Brother Vinson called to our attention some of Lincoln’s statements of pre-Civil War days (1850’s) upholding the White Supremacist view:
“Negroes should not have voting rights nor serve on juries … “
But today this view held by Lincoln is in violation of Constitutional Amendments XIII, XIV, and XV. Christians are to obey the laws of the land (Rom. 13). Permitting black people citizenship, the right to vote and the right to be seated on a jury violates no law of God known to me. No Christian today should deny black these rights. I disagree with Mr. Lincoln.
“They (Negroes) are not equal in color…”
“Equal” means the same size, number, quality or value. But how can this term be applied to color without having some point of reference? (Technically neither white nor black is a color.) White is a better color for reflecting light and is, therefore, chosen for projection screens. Black is a better color where reflection is not desired. Neither white nor black is superior or inferior as colors — they simply are different.
“What I would most desire would be a separation of the white and black races… “
Did Lincoln mean a complete separation of these races as they worked in field or factory? What of the use of public roads? What about public libraries and public schools? Should we today have separate polling places? Should we have separate court systems for whites and blacks, white judges and jurors trying whites and black judges and jurors trying blacks? What of those cases involving both blacks and whites — should we select mulattoes for judges and juries? Regardless of the frictions and problems our pluralistic society has created it is now a political, industrial and legal impossibility to separate the white and black races as desired by Lincoln. We cannot and should not give legal sanction to discrimination based on race.
“I do not understand that because I do not want a Negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife…”
Here I agree with Mr. Lincoln, but not for his reason — that blacks are inferior as a race to the white race. I do not want to marry that Jewish widow, Golda Meir, but none of my reasons for not wishing to do so include my thinking she is “inferior” to me.
Marriage is of private concern where one may be as discriminating as he or she pleases, discriminating as to religion, character, beauty, social grace, intellectual acumen, wealth, etc. Private judgments will differ here. A close and careful study should be given to expediencies. I see dangers involved in marriages where great differences exist in backgrounds, in culture, in religions, in wealth, in education. Here in the West many white Americans have married Orientals (yellow race), and are faithful Christians. Did they sin in marrying one of another race? What law of God did they transgress? Are they living in a sinful relationship still? White Supremacy would rule out such marriages but does God’s word? What scripture could be cited? I repeat, I believe it expedient and less dangerous in marriage to marry one of similarities instead of differences.
In 1848 Henry Clay suggested we transport all Negroes back to Africa where “their condition physically, morally and socially and politically (would be) better and happier than anything which they could attain to or hope for here,” as quoted by brother Vinson.
But time has repudiated Clay’s judgment in this, for in no place on earth have black people advanced so far and accomplished so much as in the United States — in music, art, literature, medicine, business, etc. (See The Negro In American Culture, by Margaret Just Butcher, Mentor Books, New York, N. Y.) The Black American does not wish to go to Africa, and can no more be sent there than can the Oriental American be sent to Asia or the White American to Europe. The suggestion looks worse in 1971 than it must have in 1848!
Campbell, too, held to the transport-the-blacks-to-Africa view, or, to colonize them somewhere in the American continent. Some blacks would accept the latter view, but most would not, so this offers no solution to our problems.
Campbell said in 1845, “I sympathize much more with the owners of slaves, their heirs, and successors, than with the slaves they possess and bequeath…”
Astonishing! Even for 1845! How different were Paul’s warm feelings for both the runaway slave and his master (Philemon). Slavery presented a terrible problem for all concerned. If Campbell could have stood with Lincoln in New Orleans witnessing a slave auction, where people were sold like cattle, mothers and fathers and sons and daughters being separated forever, surely it would have better balanced his sympathies!
Brother Vinson shows that Campbell strongly denied that all men are “born free and equal.” He cited as proof that Paul, being born a Roman citizen, had advantages over one born in Galilee; and that men are born to different levels of wealth and intellectual abilities.
But blacks and whites as American citizens are “Roman born,” to follow the illustration of Campbell’s. But the main point is this: the “free and equal” status of American citizens before our Constitution has no reference as to differing levels of intellect, of wealth, etc. Justice Harlan in a dissenting opinion said in the Plessy v. Ferguson case of 1896:
“The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country, and so it is in prestige, in achievements, in education, in wealth and power . . . But in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant ruling class of citizens . . . Our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. (Emphasis mine, E. L. F.) The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved . . . ” (American Constitutional Law, Mason and Beaney, Pub. Prentice-Hall, Inc., p. 474.)
I believe every Christian will agree with Justice Harlan that every citizen — black, yellow or white — should be able to stand equal before the law of the land. In this matter we are “born free and equal!” I do not believe in either discrimination or in preferential treatment of whites or blacks before our courts. I feel certain there has been violation of these principles in both directions.
In the I. Corematen [sic; Korematsu, erl] v. United States case in 1945, which considered before the Supreme Court the detention and relocation of Japanese — Americans (although loyal American citizens.) Justice Murphy rendered a blistering dissent to the violation of these persons’ rights simply because of race origin. All agree today that Justice Murphy was right, and regret this shameful page in our history.
“It is but an assumption men are born free and equal.”
As men (citizens) relate to the law of the land, the Constitution, they are born free and equal (as per Justice Harlan cited above). The discussion of differences in degree of intelligence, in culture and social graces, etc., is irrelevant. We cannot jump from a discussion of personal, individual choices, preferences and differences to a consideration of the legal and civil rights of other citizens, regardless of how great may be those individual differences in abilities or tastes. Some blacks are more intelligent, more wealthy, more cultured than are some whites and Orientals. Some Orientals and whites are more intelligent, more wealthy, more cultured than are some blacks. But still they are free and equal before the law.
Brother Vinson grants the black man the right to be taught of God and the right to work to sustain life. (Gospel Guardian, May 13, 1971, p. 3).
But to learn of God and to learn a skill or profession the black man will need the right to attend our public schools to get an education. To have a voice in choosing those to conduct his schools and his government he needs the right to vote. Rights are like grapes — they must come in a cluster. They support one another. There is no scriptural reason why a black man should not have the same rights that a white man has before God and before the laws of his country.
Brother Vinson states whites are superior to blacks and suggested he had “evidence existing to support such conclusion.” (Ibid)
He should have presented the supporting evidence. He did mention that history shows the superior attainments of the whites over the blacks, but this assertion opens up a vast arena for discussion and human judgment, involving immeasurable factors of heredity versus environment, native intelligence versus educational opportunities and stimulation, and many other pertinent factors.
It must be remembered, too, history written by the white man has had little to say of the accomplishments of the black people in our country: the first operation on a human heart by Dr. Daniel Williams (1893); the first blood bank established by Dr. Charles Drew; and many other outstanding accomplishments by blacks in our country (Butcher, op. cit., p. 226). Many races other than whites have established great civilizations and cultures in past history.
The “history” of the Army Entrance Tests reveal that Texans, for example, make lower grades than Iowans. This is an “historical fact,” but does it prove Texans are inferior to Iowans? I think not! Why do Texans make lower grades than Iowans? Is it climate? educational system? environment? racial mixture? I do not know, but I do not conclude Iowans are superior to Texans from this.
But let us just suppose that it could be proven that Iowans are, indeed, superior to Texans in intellect, in morals, in social culture: should that deny Texans the rights before the law enjoyed by Iowans? Should that bar a Texan from moving into Iowa to live and work so that his children could benefit by Iowa’s schools and cultural climate? Should the black citizen be barred from living and working and educating his children where he believes they will profit the most? Brethren, this is the black American’s country, too.
A great deal of our difficulty and confusion is in the matter of “social rights,” a term nearly impossible to define. Why is going to school not a social event, but eating lunch in the school cafeteria is such? Why is it strictly business when a black family traveling stop at a service station and spend ten dollars on gas, oil and other services, while stepping into the adjoining cafeteria to eat a catfish dinner while his car is being serviced becomes a social occasion? Why is it strictly “spiritual business” for a black family to attend the worship at a white congregation while traveling, but a social (therefore, taboo) occasion if some white family invited the black family of Christians home to eat with them? If they were Orientals (yellow) instead of black, would such then be permissible? I believe an individual, be he black or white or yellow or brown, may invite whomsoever he wishes to his private, personal social affairs. He may have preferences and prejudices in his choices. But we can never give legal sanction in permitting him to carry these preferences and prejudices into public situations; into civil rights of other citizens.
Brother Vinson suggests God made different races, distinct and different, as He made different trees. (Ibid. p. 4)
The Bible states God made the tree “after his kind,” whose seed was in itself (Gen. 1:11-12). He made the oak tree with its seed, the acorn. He made the pine tree after its kind, with the cone as its seed. Every kind of tree had its own seed in itself. But God made only one man and one woman whose seed was in them to reproduce their kind, mankind! The acorn will not produce the pine tree, nor will the pine cone bring forth an apple tree. But a man’s seed of any race will fertilize a woman’s seed of any race. Surely none will deny all mankind has a common blood and parentage (Acts 17:26a; Gen. 7:1,13).
It is true within our “kind” we have developed many differences in color, features, etc. God must have had some purpose in bringing this about. It must have played a part in scattering people throughout the world and developing nations (Acts 17b; Gen. 11:1-9). But who can prove that it is God’s will and law today that the races should maintain strict separation?
I do not believe in evolution: but rather that God created our common ancestor. I do not believe in evolution: that some races have regressed into an inferior man, a sort of halfway man.
I detest the concept of White Supremacy (see Webster) as much as I do Black Supremacy or Hitler’s Aryan Supremacy! Men should be judged as individuals, not as races or even families.
Three-fourths of this world’s population is not white! God is no respecter of persons. If we hope to reach the non-whites with the gospel of Christ we must rid ourselves of notions of White Supremacy, a concept neither logical of scriptural. Many races are now American citizens; many are already Christians; many are subscribers to this publication. Let us grant to them those same rights we want for ourselves. It is the Christian thing to do and the legal thing also.
The Civil War is over! All citizens stand “free and equal” before the law. I want all men to knows including my Oriental and black friends and brethren in Christ, that I am glad that this is so. I want them to know also that in my personal, private and individual affairs I will discriminate as to my associates and contacts, exercising my right to do so, but granting to them the same.
We trust none of the readers of this article feel like old Senator Boies Penrose of Pennsylvania, a foe of woman’s suffrage, who being taunted by a suffragette that he might as well be for woman’s suffrage because it was coming anyway. The Senator’s retort was: “So is death, but I don’t have to go out and meet it half way!” (V. O. Key, Jr., Politics, Parties, and Pressure Groups, p. 665).
(For an excellent study of “Racial Problems,” see Franklin Puckett’s lecture given at Florida College, 1963, and printed in Messiah and The Modem Man, a booklet published by Florida College.)
27019 -150th PL S. E., Kent, Washington 98031
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 23, Number 10, July 15, 1971, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here.)
My Reply to Those Who Responded (Bryan Vinson, Sr.)
The reaction to the article I wrote on the Race Problem in America has been by no means unexpected by me, but the character of this response, in the main, has been rather disappointing. Appearing at the time of the first section of it was an editorial notice, the spirit of which was fine, but the content was largely unresponsive to what I had written. I gave no indication of concern about the racial differences in the physical areas, the structure of the hip-joints, the color of the skin, the straightness or kinkiness of the hair, or any matter of that sort. However, the physical differences between the Caucasian and Negro races are so pronounced to render each, I think, unappealing in physical attraction to the other, and thus such should be a firm barrier to intermarriage. But such isn’t true, however much it appears to me that it should be.
The editor says: “In God’s church, in the United States of America, and in the heart of every true Christian there should not be the least hint of feeling or teaching that one race is superior to another unless one defines the area in which the superiority is supposed to exist.” He further affirms: “Naive and doctrinaire insistence on the equality of the races has led politicians, clergyman and sob sisters to propel the negro into a position which will make him the perpetual loser. In many areas he is the white man’s equal, in some his superior. In other areas (whether from his long racial history of deprivation and servitude, or whether from ethnic and inherent ineptitudes we do not say) he simply cannot compete with the whites. And it is cruel and vicious to try to make him do so.” This last statement yields to the construction that he regards the negro as in some areas the inferior, and even cruel to endeavor to make him the equal of the white man. Hence, he, according to his own rule, should not have even hinted as much except he clearly defined the particulars wherein this inequality resides! This he has not done.
But brother Diestelkamp has acclaimed it a masterpiece, notwithstanding the fact it sets forth the persuasion that the races are unequal. And yet his response to my article is one of severe opposition. Truly, wonders never cease!
But brother Tant gives us one specific area wherein there may evolve and be demonstrated the superiority of the negro, and that in the field of religion. This observation is founded on the thoughts expressed by the late brother H. Leo Boles as suggested by the emotional nature of the negro. It has never been my persuasion that Christianity has been founded and perpetuated on an emotional base, but rather resting on a rational one. To ever elevate the feelings or emotions of anyone above the enlightening and elevating of the intellect, as an instrumentality in the propagation and advancement of Christianity is but to abase the sublime teaching of Christ. The whole spectacle of tongue speaking and Holy Spirit baptism which has intruded into the ranks of the church today, counting Pat Boone as its outstanding convert, is a reflection of the inversion of the proper order of the mental and emotional powers in relation to the truth of the gospel. I have no inclination to deify the human intellect, but, nevertheless, regard the scriptures as being addressed to the reason of man. True, there is a just and vital peace for the employment of the emotional faculties of man in Christianity, both in becoming a Christian and in living as one, but only in an impelling sense, and never in a directing sense.
Brother Diestelkamp treats us to his reaction under a seven point arrangement. In the first he waves aside all that I cited from Lincoln, Clay and Campbell by an avowed disinclination to discuss this material from the mid-19th century heroes. This disposition of their sayings was justified on the grounds that we today understand the opportunities for true equality better than they, and their concept of race relations cannot suffice for the many enlightened people of our time! My, how we have advanced! I suppose these “heroes” were just too benighted for our brother to regard them as competent witnesses. This is rather amusing in view of all he says until the final paragraph being “vain arguing,” and that the Word of God settles it. Too bad Campbell didn’t have God’s Word to govern him in the formation of his concepts of race relations!!!
The good brother seems strongly anxious to deliver God from all responsibility for the existence of the different races. I know we have these races today, and between the position that God made them, and thus differently in some respects, and his position that climatic conditions and the process of natural selection in breeding being the explanation for the different races, the first must be true for the simple reason the second must be false. When there was but one race, where was there found others to select in the breeding process to create another race? He may visualize a Holstein herd becoming a Hereford herd within a few years without any contact with members of the Hereford family, but I cannot. In fact, I have had a herd of black Angus for several years, and the only white face calf I ever had resulted from one of the cows becoming acquainted with the Hereford bull of a neighbor. Too, if the Holstein herd can become a Hereford herd in only a few years, isn’t it amazing that he wants thousands of years to effect the change in the color of races!
His citation of the passage affirming God made on one blood all nations, or as the Living Oracles gives it, “and he has made of one blood the whole race of men, to inhabit all the face of the earth — ” has no bearing on the fact of racial differences. The blood and the genes are not the same, and the latter affects the peculiar and distinctive qualities of the individual both physically and intellectually. It is genetics and not climate that causes one person to be black and another to be white. What about the Eskimos? According to him they should be milk white, but, it is my understanding they are of a darker complexion than the Caucasian.
But since I injected nothing in my article on the difference of the races in that area which these brethren have, their references to such have not been responsive to my position. It is in the area of intellectual and moral differences that I have been and am concerned. These areas have a bearing on the social relations of persons, and thus the whole issue is essentially a social one. Office-seekers have made it a political one, and the clergy are making it a religious one. In its very nature it is the first, improperly the second, and utterly false the third.
This latter is the very ground which our brother says it rests on, inasmuch as he says God’s Word settles it. Very well, if so, then true it is that all else is vain arguing. Hence, I cannot but wonder why he composed a piece six-sevenths of which was confessedly vain, when with the closing paragraph he settles in such summary fashion the whole issue. Of course, he did advert to three passages which he affirms settles the matter. First, Ephesians 2:14 is given, the design being by simply referring to it to establish the contention that he is devoted to; namely, the equality and integration of the races. Neither this scripture nor the others are identifiable with this subject. Gal. 3:28 is to the same effect, but more fully expressive than the one he cites. What does it teach, and what error was it designed to refute? The whole letter is directed against Gentiles being under the necessity of becoming, in effect, Jews in order to be Christians. Conversion to Christ does not embody the conversion of all races into one, nor even the acceptance of the mores of other ethnic groups. The whole statement simply affirms that as touching the provisions and terms of salvation God has made the one and imposed the other on all alike.
The reference to the injunction to love one another (Rom. 13:8) and the narrative of the good Samaritan were given in support of his position, and thus in refutation of mine. But I confess my complete inability to find anything in these scriptures as bearing on the subject at all. To me it is as dangerous to see what isn’t in a scripture as to fail to see what is in it. Of course, in the account of Luke 10:30-37 the priest and Levite were Jews, and presumably also the victim of the thieves. However, the Samaritan was of a mongrel people, and, therefore, if he wants to relate this narrative to the race question, it would suggest that a person of a mixed background was better than one whose forbears were all of one race. Hence, from that point of view racial integration and racial intermarriage would find support for their advocacy from this. However, I do not think such was his intention in citing it; rather he cited it in support of what it means to love one’s neighbor. Of course it teaches this, but what does such have to do with racial integration? Of course, if he intends to make the injunction to love your neighbor teach racial equality, then, to do so it must teach that we love everyone equally! That God loves all men supremely, as attested by the fact that Christ died for all, is true; but God is infinite, and we are not. I do not love any other as I love my wife and children, and I don’t think he does either. Then, if the matter of love is unequal as touching its objects in our hearts, why seek to enlist the principle of love in support of racial equality? Such, however, was his effort, but to me wholly an abortive one. I recall this law of love” was utilized to support the brotherhood programs of sponsoring operations a few years ago, and they who did so were no farther afield than this present attempt is.
My attitude to “let them alone” was expressed as relating to the efforts of forced integration, and was not by any means designed to minimize or negate the fitness of a concern for and assistance in furthering the spiritual redemption of the lost of any race. He should strive a little more to handling aright the words of others, as doubtless he professes to do regarding the scriptures. My whole article was designed to disassociate the race question and its problems from the sphere of religion, for I regard every effort to sustain the present course of history by an appeal to them to be a prostitution of the Word of God. It is rather strange to me that a movement born of foreign political influences, aided and abetted by an intelligentsia of atheistic leanings should be found in such correspondence with the word of God! Too, if racial integration be contended for on the supposed equality of the races, and the scriptures teach the latter, then why doesn’t brother Diestelkamp, and others likeminded do something about the de facto segregation in the North? It seems those of that section think that integration is imperatively right for the South, but not so for them.
Notwithstanding the decided difference of views between him and me, I shall not charge him with either sitting in an ivory tower, or bedecking himself in a veneer of hypocrisy, either thin or thick. I grant his sincerity, but dissent from both his reasoning and conclusions.
Rt. 3, Longview, Texas 75604
(From the Gospel Guardian, Volume 23, Number 10, July 15, 1971, as recorded in The Gospel Guardian archive here.)