(Ed. note: The following article by Bro. Aubrey Belue was received this past month, and due to its timeliness, we take this opportunity to commend it to our readers.)
The election of Sen. John F. Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, to the Presidency of the United States strikes fear into the hearts of informed opponents of Catholicism. Not only that, but it poses a very ominous threat to the future freedom of these United States of America. In places where the Roman Catholic church can do so, she suppresses those who oppose her, and denies to her enemies the right to disagree, or the freedom to speak out in opposition to her. In countless conversations engaged in prior to the election, I found people to be unafraid of the consequences of a Catholic president-most of them thought it ridiculous to think that ANYTHING could endanger the principles upon which this country was founded! Such people are asleep on their feet, and are doing what I believe Bro. A. Hugh Clark once called "whistling past the graveyard."
Even in this country, in areas where Catholics constitute a majority, or where the reins of government rests in the hands of Catholic people, we already see the type of thing which will be characteristic of the entire nation under prolonged control by Catholic administrators. The purpose of this article is to report an incident which occurred the week before the election, and which I and several of my brethren found out at first-hand about the heavy hand of Catholic pressure. In the Hammond, Indiana, area, in which I live, the population has a large percentage of Catholics, and many of them have found their way into the municipal governments in this section. I believe that what happened to us will be fairly common all over our nation if the Catholic church gains the power generally that she has here.
Several interested persons went to the effort and expense of printing a leaflet which described some dangers connected with the elevation of a Catholic to the Presidency, and we set out the Thursday before election to distribute these tracts over this area. Our first stop was East Chicago, Indiana, and we began by walking the streets and placing the leaflets under the windshields of cars there. Such a commotion was raised that inside half an hour we were all (four of us) taken to the police station and detained there. The arresting officer actually threatened us, and told me that if he found one of the pamphlets on his car that he would "blow my head off." At the station, the city attorney took one of the pamphlets, and examined it carefully for about an hour or so, in company with one of the priests of the area-I presumed with the purpose of seeking grounds for civil suit relative to the material it contained. During this time we were treated like hardened criminals- denied access to a telephone, threatened with abusive language-we got the works! Only after one of our party finally managed to use the telephone of another office -in the building to call for his father to come to the station did we see any change in "the law" officers. Then, we were told that during the time we had spent there we had not been under arrest, but merely in "protective custody," being shielded from the "large numbers" of people who had called the station to threaten us. When they finally let us go (after three hours of confinement) they warned us that there was an anti-literature ordinance, and told us we had to have a permit in order to distribute anything. I asked about the possibility of obtaining such a permit, and they let it be known that it would be hard for us to get one. During our stay there they had taken all the leaflets that we had in the car, hiding them in a building behind the city hall. Only after we insisted that since the police were protecting us, they were also responsible for the safety of our goods, did we manage to have them returned to us. All this was done, of course, to prevent the spreading of literature which spoke out against the Catholic church. Remember, the place was predominately Catholic, and many of the city officials there were Catholic.
Well, our trouble had just started. Now aware that, although almost any other kind of literature was distributed freely, we would receive opposition on the most technical grounds, I called the Hammond City Controller to receive permission to distribute our literature in Hammond. She referred me to the Police department, and I was told (over the telephone) by the police officer in charge there that I could go ahead and put them on the windshields of the cars in Hammond. The next day we started, and didn't get much farther than the day before. Two patrolmen stopped us on orders from the chief, who told them to "advise us to quit"-that we were in volation of an ordinance. We stopped, and went (of our own free will, and after the patrolmen had gone their way) to the Police station to be advised as to how we might go about obtaining permission. When Bro. J. F. Dancer, of Hammond, and myself got there, we were told by the chief of Police that they did not want us to pass out the leaflets-that they would stop us even if it mean invoking an ordinance which prohibited littering the streets. (Remember, before they saw the leaflet, or had pressure put on them by others, they had granted me permission to go ahead). As we were about to leave, an irate car-owner rushed in, demanding our arrest and offering to press charges against us. Of course, the police were more than willing to do so, and we were indicted on the spot-as he examined the ordiances further, the chief had been able to find one which we had technically violated in our distribution of the material. (Of course, other literature is frequently distributed the same way that we used-just the week before the Prohibitionist party in this area had covered the cars near the Sibley Street building of the Church of Christ there-and nothing was ever said about it.) Fortunately, we were able to pool our funds and come up with the required $50 bond each, and were released. That afternoon, I went back to the station to try to find the police officer who had talked with me over the telephone, and talked to everyone that had been on duty the day before. Everyone denied that they had talked to anyone about such a matter, or else "could not remember!"
The next morning, we got in touch with a lawyer, who proved to be a courageous and energetic man who was anxious to help us all that he could. He studied the city ordinances and counseled us that the best way to do our work would be to distribute the material from door-to-door. This way, he assured us, there would be no legal consequences. Well, Monday morning nine of us were out on the streets early. The publicity we had received in the newspapers and on the radio had left the impression upon many that it was against the law to distribute anti-Catholic literature, and the police were called out within fifteen minutes of the time we started. This time the story was different. We told them that we had received legal counsel, and were advised that we were within our rights. The chief of police admitted that he would have to allow us to continue, and so we did. Throughout most of the morning we were closely observed by the police, who repeatedly returned to check on us. Most of the opposition we met came from prejudiced homeowners, who threatened and vilified us wherever we went.
For the next two days my telephone rang incessantly, as those who received the pamphlet vented their spite and prejudice against the truths that it contained. The tone of the calls was so threatening that we needed the police to keep a careful lookout in the neighborhood at night. As an encouraging note, not all the calls were bitter-some called to encourage us, and commend the effort that was put forth. At any rate, by the time this article appears in print, we will have already had our trials, and will know just how far the Catholic leaven has penetrated the judicial system of this area.
Brethren, this article is not written to complain of the things endured by those who took part in this work. All who participated are proud that they had the chance to do so. Our concern is that people are indifferent to the obvious, and refuse to see that the ascent of Catholicism heralds the decline of religious freedom. We have lost a crucial battle-in the election of a Catholic to the Presidency. The barrier which has heretofore prevented this is no longer high enough; the precedent has been set; and unless we waken to our danger, we shall suffer the consequences of it. What happened to us, in one community, is a very real possibility in the future to our entire country-this is but a preview of the danger that we face. I greatly fear that many of us will not wake up until we see, not only the type of oppression and restriction above mentioned, but for greater indignities and persecutions to become an everyday terror to those who feel compelled to "obey God rather than man.
Truth Magazine, V:3, pp. 2, 3, 6