Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 28, 1954
NUMBER 25, PAGE 8-9a

Segregation Or Christianity

Bryan Vinson, Houston, Texas

In the Christian Chronicle of July 7, 1954 there appears an editorial with the above caption. It is a brief treatment of a very vital question, and its brevity may be justified by its dependence on bold and rash assertion as a substitute for evidence and argument. It poses a problem and exposes an attitude which I regard as exceedingly dangerous to the whole social fabric of our community and the peace and well-being of the church proportionate to whatever currency such views enjoy within the body of Christ. Second only to possessing such views as are expressed in this editorial would be a spirit of apathy and indifference, or defeatism, that may exist toward the sentiments therein voiced, in contributing to a very vicious danger among us. The radical implications of the heading of this editorial are astonishing: "Segregation — Or Christianity." This implies that there is an inevitable choice between the two, that both cannot exist; they are incompatible and in principle wholly irreconcilable. That is, to have the one is to not have the other; hence, since we have had in the past, and still do have segregation we, in reality, have not had, and do not now have Christianity. And the only way to have Christianity is to abolish segregation fully and completely.

From this several embarrassing observations follow. First, Christianity is dependent for its current and practical existence among us on two external influences: (1) The decision of the Supreme Court recently holding segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional. Just think of the five previous decisions to the contrary which obstructed the inauguration and practice of the (whole) principle of Christianity. Christianity is here made to depend on the point of constitutionality as established by a political court, rather than on scripturality as established by the Word of God! Amazing in its absurdity! (2) With respect to admission of Negroes into "Christian Schools," it is pointed out that we have the very splendid example of denominational institutions bravely doing this even before the recent decision of the Court. Hence, we gain support from this source as an example worthy to follow. It has been long my persuasion that when brethren make appeals in behalf of anything and are given to citing denominational procedure as precedents for such that the proposal merits suspicion.

Let us consider several of the particular assertions with which this editorial abounds. "We have now a definite premise on which to stand one way or the other, and that is that segregation is definitely unconstitutional." How this can be a premise for two, and opposing, sides of a proposition I am unable to discern. If it is a just and secure premise on one side, it could afford no support to a contrary position. But just how strong is this premise — segregation is definitely unconstitutional. How do we know it is? Does the judicial learning of the present judges of the Supreme Court excel that of their predecessors who held otherwise. Was their decision one determined by a profound knowledge of the Constitution and respect for it, or was it one dictated by political expediency? Even if by the former, what has that to do with the Christianity of segregation or no-segregation?

This Court isn't a body which sits in judgment on what is Christian or not Christian They are not an ecclesiastical Court at all. Then we have questions asked about the listing of names of students in these Christian schools, and a lamenting the fact that some of them have not a single negro student. I suppose the writer may be able to secure a list of the students from Terrell Christian College or the Nashville Bible Institute, and feel confident that these named are negroes. I don't think he would find any names of white students in either list, though if he feels such a warm affinity for such association he might be able to enroll in one of those institutions and thus enjoy that full fellowship to which he aspires. The same is true regarding church directories. He asks where are the names of negroes in our church directories. It is reasonable to think they are in the directories of those congregations composed of Negroes. I wouldn't think, if they have such records, that the names of white folks would be in them anymore than would theirs be in ours. He asks: "Why cannot we, mere mortals, have the strength to open our class-rooms, dormitories and church pews to them?" This question follows the statement that Christ opened the door for the negro into the church along with everyone else two thousand years ago. Thus you can see this is used as a premise for the conclusion that we ought to open the class rooms, dormitories and church pews to the negro. Is this a legitimate position to take? If so, one could conclude that since "as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" that no distinction or segregation of the sexes can be practiced. Hence, if the equality pleaded for in this editorial be founded on this passage and involves the mixing of the negro with the whites in dormitories, it would also require the mixing of the males and females, or else there would be discrimination. This passage has nothing to do with social equality, but simply teaches that which all recognize as true; namely, that all men need salvation, and God has one plan to save all.

When we affirm that all men are created equal we need to qualify such an affirmation. In every sense all men are not created equal. They are not all equal physically nor intellectually, and, consequently, not all equal in accountability before God. Neither does distinction and segregation of races imply necessarily inequality. Certainly all men are created equal in that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and segregation as practiced in the south doesn't necessarily violate these rights, nor will non-segregation secure and safeguard them. Is segregation wrong? This writer says, "We know inherently that segregation is wrong." Does he mean that inherently, intuitively, he knows it is wrong, or that it is inherently wrong? Of course he could not know a thing intuitively, to be wrong unless that thing was inherently wrong. But to be inherently wrong it must be wrong in the very nature of itself. Now if this be true, God enjoined and practiced this wrong for fifteen centuries in segregating the Jews as a separate people. Too, Christ, the founder of Christianity, sanctioned this by restricting himself and his disciples to the lost sheep of the house of Israel in his ministry here on earth. Also, he replied to the importunities of the woman of Canaan with the statement that "It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs." (Matt. 15:26.)

The most astonishing statement found in this article is that "the negro is in many cases far more righteous than any of us." No one would say that every white man is more righteous than any negro, but that is what is affirmed in reverse here. It is too ridiculous to merit comment, except that it reflects the most extreme infatuation for the negro. An editor on the West Coast said a few years ago that a certain negro preacher was the greatest living preacher, but this statement is — if possible — more absurd. That statement was made notwithstanding the ridiculous assertions heard made by some such preachers that God condemned the Baptist Church in the narrative centering around the transfiguration, and another to the effect that David could not have slain Goliath with a stone except it had been washed in the brook. If white preachers made such ridiculous statements they would be laughed to scorn and regarded as imbeciles. Surely I believe that some negroes are more righteous than some white people, but I certainly take exception to the statement that many of them are better than any of us. Too, if this were true it would be a grave mistake on their part to associate with white folks for fear they might be corrupted by our race.

The only reference to the scriptures in the midst of these bald and bold assertions and political and denominational precedents cited is to Acts 17:26 from which only a very brief excerpt is taken. "And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us — ." That which was cited and emphasized was the statement to the effect that God has made of one blood all nations. We know that all men descended from one common ancestor, and, therefore, the blood of all men is the same, and dissimilar from the blood of animals. After eighteen centuries of one race and one language God confused their tongues and dispersed men over the earth. And this passage also asserts as a fact that which is also, and otherwise, known; namely, that God did disperse, separate and set the bounds of men's habitations. God made the different races and endowed each with its own peculiarities of color, physiognomy and mental traits and qualities. The very consideration that God thus made them different and distinct is evident by reason of the fact they are, and, too, that He means for them to be. It is the belief of each race that it is, in at least some particulars, superior to other races; and there isn't anything wrong in so thinking. Racial pride, when it is restrained by the recognition we have a common origin from intolerance and persecution is a wholesome attitude. I am glad I am a member of the Caucasian race, and I believe if I were a Negro I would be proud to remain one and be content with associating with my own people.

The question before us in this hour is not Segregation or Christianity, but rather it is Segregation or Miscegenation. Within a very few generations of non-segregation there shall be inevitably a widespread mixing and mongrelizing of the two races by intermarriage. The logic of the present Supreme Court's ruling would lead to the ruling that the law in Texas forbidding the marriage of a negro and a white person is unconstitutional, if it should be contested, and I predict it shall be too. Place the two races together on every plane of social intercourse, in the schools, the churches, the parks, the swimming pools and the social parlor and these developments shall follow. The whole philosophy of this school of thought is identified with the "one world" idea of internationalism, and is playing into the hands of Communist propaganda and design. I agree with the views of the Governor of Georgia that we should be unconcerned about what the Communists here or abroad think of the way we conduct our affairs. In the same vein, I think we should remain unaffected by what the denominations 'are doing about segregation, and strive to promote and safeguard the interests of both races by maintaining that separateness which is best for all. While it is true that "what God has joined together let no man put asunder," equally true, in principle, is it that what God has separated let not man put together.