An Appeal to Conscience, 1968

An Appeal to Conscience

BY THE MINISTERS OF MEMPHIS
(Representing the Major Faiths of our Community)
The Commercial Appeal
, February 4, 1968

Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us?

Man derives his worth from the fact that he is created by God and in the image of God.

This is an unconditional status. Each human being bears the imprint of Divinity, and each soul possesses the potential quality of sanctity. Thus, we are enjoined in the scriptures, “You must love your neighbor as yourself” and “This is the commandment that He has given us, that anyone who love God must also love his brother.” The commandment to show respect for one another and to love each other is a moral obligation in every religious tradition.

Failure to recognize this basic moral truth is failure to understand God’s law. Prejudice and discrimination are sinful according to the ethics of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

As teachers of religion, we regard all problems of human relations as essentially moral in character. The relationship among individuals and among groups is primarily a matter of moral concern.

We therefore respectfully and reverently call upon the people of our community to observe Race Relations Sunday, February 11, 1968. Race Relations Sunday is a time to compare spiritual traditions with our attitudes and actions. We should examine our practices in the light of our religious obligations.

We are grateful for the progress in race relations in recent years. We are, however, deeply concerned that the improved relationship between the races has been largely the result of legislation, judicial decisions and executive order by government officials.

We believe this is not enough. Merely to obey the law or to refrain from breaking it is not enough.

As Jews and Christians we have the higher obligation to translate the edicts of law into acts of love. Raced relations, like all human relations, ultimately must be regulated, not by policies of secular agencies, but by principles of religion.

Therefore, we earnestly and reverently ask the people of our community to look into their hearts and purge their souls of every vestige of prejudice and intolerance.

We ask that Race Relations Sunday be a time of repentance for sinful attitudes and actions and a time of rededication to the moral principles of brotherhood and love.

We ask, in the name of the God of all men, that we accord to each person the respect and rights which are his as a child of God.

We ask for an end to racial discrimination in all areas of human experience.

We appeal to the conscience of our fellow citizens to express in their lives the ideals of justice and righteousness, love and peace.

We appeal to the conscience of our fellow citizens to live by the simple but sublime dictum, “Do unto others as you would have them done unto you.”

ADOPTED unanimously by the Memphis Ministers Association at its regular meeting held at Evergreen Presbyterian Church, January 2, 1968.