Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 29, 1962

Placing The Blame

Conway Skinner

"Gentlemen, you are tramping on the sovereignty of this great state and depriving it of every vestige of honor and respect as a member of the union of states." These are words of Gov. Ross Barnett, of Mississippi, spoken to the "officials of the federal government" concerning the admittance of Mr. James Meredith (negro) to the University of Mississippi.

Concerning the same situation, Sen. James O. Eastland, also of Mississippi, had this to say: "It is clear that the very presence of Meredith on the campus is in itself the cause of the unfortunate and tragic events (in which two people were killed during riot, and many injured. C. S.) of the frightful night."

Tom Ethridge, an editorial writer for the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger, wrote on Oct. 2, 1962, under the heading "Placing the Blame"; "Blame for the violence and bloodshed on the campus of the University of Miss., must rest, we believe, squarely on the doorstep of federal courts, the NAACP, James Meredith and the President of the United States."

Who Really Was To Blame?

This writer does not claim to be a legal authority, but I believe the following statement by James Madison, fourth president of the United States, makes sense. Mr. Madison, known as the "Father of our Constitution" because of his outstanding work on our nation's charter, said: "My idea of the sovereignty of the people is that the people can change the Constitution if they please; but while the Constitution exists they must conform themselves to its dictates." As we live under a constitutional government, every man cannot be a law unto himself. As we live in a United States, no one state can be a law unto itself. When a matter of law is passed upon by the highest courts of our land, there is no higher authority. It is left then for the people to obey until they can alter the law (of course, no reference is here made to any law that might violate a law of God).

This article is not written to defend either James Meredith, or integration, but it is written with the hope of causing some serious thinking. For I fully believe the James Meredith story is an object lesson for God's people today. As Mississippi has been upon the brink of riot and general disorder, even so division and strife is everywhere to be found among God's people. The question is the same, "Who is to blame?"

In both instances, the answer is the same, too. Those who are in opposition to constitutional government are to blame, no matter whether they admit it or not; and all the denials and the accusations to the contrary prove exactly nothing. Those who defy authority must share the blame for the consequences that result; this is true in the church of our Lord, just as it is in governmental affairs.

It is a terrible thing that institutional-minded brethren are doing, dividing the church of God over what they themselves claim only to be "expedients." But nothing can be expedient if not authorized, and no man has ever shown scriptural authority for churches building and/or maintaining human organizations. Therefore, just as Gov. Barnett has been declared "in contempt of court" for his actions, the time will come when all who have fostered and encouraged the present day institutional craze upon the churches of Christ will be found "in contempt" — contempt of God for refusing to be bound by the authority of the scriptures.

— Forest, Mississippi