Unions and Co-operatives

The Synod of the Christian Reformed Church, 1943, adopted the following principle concerning labor unions: “Church membership and membership in a so called neutral labor union (CIO and AFL) are compatible as long as such union gives no constitutional warrant to sin, nor shows in its regular activities that it champions sin.” Without making a formal, detailed analysis of this “principle” which has been done most capably and devastatingly in volumes 18 and 20 of The Standard Bearer, we offer a few thoughts of our own on the matter. The positive position this principle advocates is that church membership and union membership are compatible. This position, it is felt, may be safely assumed for the reason that the existing unions do not necessarily give “constitutional warrant to sin,” nor show in their “regular activities” that they “champion sin.” What would it mean for a union to give a constitutional warrant to sin? What would it mean for a union in its regular activities to champion sin? Will anyone ethically self-conscious maintain that in the existing unions there cannot be found a constitutional warrant for the strike, picketing, the closed shop and the boycott, and that these practices are not sins? Will anyone maintain that the picket experts, the strike champions, the boycott adepts and the labor violence addicts do not champion sin? Admittedly, both business and labor are corrupted with economic injustices, but the solution to these evils is not to be found in the even more perverted pragmatism of the modern god¬less unions. The Christian is motivated by a different principle. “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them” (Prov. 11:3).

The negative position of the above principle is that neutral (?!) unions do not necessarily furnish a constitutional warrant to sin, nor in their regular activities do they champion sin. Here we have the old line of the religious liberal and of the Marxist socialist.
Syndicated Columnist Edith Kermit Roosevelt alerts us to the existence of a so called “Group Research, Inc.,” Bond Bldg., 1404 New York Ave., N. \V„ Washington, D. C. This corporation is a subsidiary of the API-CIO Industrial Union Dept., set up by Walter Reuther. This organization has about 100 filing cabinets containing information relative to thousands of conservatives, as to where and how certain “right wing groups” get their financial backing, and produces mailed reports on hundreds of individuals regarded as “extremist,” “outlandish” and “fantastic.” Some of those criticized in these reports are: Sen. Barry Goldwater, Sen. Dodd, Dr. J. B. Matthews, Ronald Reagan, Adolph Menjou, Fulton Lewis, Jr., Dr. Carl Mclntire and Maj. Edgar Bundy. Coverage on detested organizations includes the American Farm Bureau Federation, the John Birch Society, the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade and the radio program Life Line.

The Church league of America reports that “the AFL-CIO Committee on Political Action (COPE) issued a memorandum in March 1963 urging state and local labor union people to use the Group Research smear reports to discredit . . . as extremist any person who dares to disagree publicly with the left-wing liberals.” COPE (the AFL-CIO committee) advises, “When you hear that a right-wing speaker is coming to town, check him immediately in the directory and alert friendly groups . . . Armed with facts about extremist groups, labor union members can take some leadership in com¬batting them, either by heading them off before they really get started or by limiting the damage they do and helping to dry them up . . . There is sometimes an advantage in arranging a meeting at which community leaders actually sign a warning statement, for release to the press, in advance of a right-wing meeting, exposing its nature and intent . . . Editors and broadcasters should be visited . . . Develop a pool of well-informed, readily available speakers to address church groups, fraternal, civic and service organizations, schools . . . If a right-wing spokesman appears on local radio or television in an interview … request equal time to rebut him. If you have access to a labor-sponsored or liberal farm organization-sponsored radio or TV program, use it to alert the community to right-wing activities …”

The above evil intrigue is not defensible on the ground that no sin is involved! or on the ground that this is no constitutional warrant to sin, or that it is not the result of regular union activity in which sin is championed. The above tactics are those of the false prophets of Nimrod, of the builders of Babylon. “There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey: they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things . . . Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain” (Ezek. 22:25, 27).

Walter Beuther, a vice president of the AFL-CIO, in his infamous “Beuther Memorandum,” among other things, recommends to the Kennedy regime the following. “It is not known the extent to which the Federal Bureau of Investigation has planted undercover agents inside the radical right movement as it has inside the Communist Party and its allied organizations. If it has already done so, the information would be readily available upon which to draw up charges for a hearing against one or more of the radical right groups. If the Bureau has not as yet infiltrated these organizations, a longer time will of course be necessary to obtain the information for the charges, although much of the needed information is available through public sources. In any event, the announcement of the investigation would have an immediate salutary effect and the later announcement of the hearing or hearings might have an even greater one. It is not unlikely that these groups will refuse information and otherwise act towards the Attorney General’s procedures just exactly as the Communists have acted in the past. Nothing could better reveal to the public the true nature of these groups than defiant resistance to their Government.”

Shades of the Gestapo and Nazi Fascism! Such an insidious plot, if adopted, would mean that the Protestant churches not already members of the National Council of Churches would be infiltrated with FBI undercover agents in order to trump up charges for a hearing against them, where they would be denounced and banned as defiant enemies of the government. The unions do not give warrant to sin, do not champion sin? That is like justifying the wicked for reward. That is like calling evil good, and good evil, like putting darkness for light, and fight for darkness; bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! That is to take away the righteousness of the righteous from him (Isa. 5:20,23)!

But as long as a union lends no constitutional warrant to sin, membership in it would not be incompatible with membership in a true Christian church? Who denies this? But where is the “neutral” (?) union which does not constitutionally write in the strike clause? which does not operate by coercion, force and threat of violence? The union, it is averred, protects the worker from the employer. But who protects the worker from the union? The tendency of the union is to secure from the worker (proletarian slave) absolute allegiance. Take, e.g. the Teamster Pledge of Allegiance as it appeared in Life, May 18, 1959, in white print on a black background. Quote: 1 will use all honorable means to procure employment for brother members … I will be obedient to authority . . . charitable in judgment of my brother members … I will render full allegiance to this union and never consent to subordinate its interest to those of any other organization of which I am now or may hereafter become a member . . . Unquote. Here the union demands precedence over every realm of society, and all else in life thereto made subservient. Sacrificed to this Moloch-Mammon god must be a man’s soul, his wife, children, home, property, school, church, liberty, faith and God.

From the union let us turn for a moment to a consideration of the so called “co-operative.” The “co-op” system is regarded as one in which a Christian may still be a part. That depends. For some cooperatives are established to destroy the private enterprise system, to take away private property, and to make the farmer a slave of the state. Are not these things inherently wicked? Now, a “co-op,” in itself, is simply a corporation. One may form and be a part of a corporation. Farmers, e.g., have a right to join a corporation, of their own independent organization, to carry on their marketing or dairying in order to meet the competition of larger concerns. In our former pastorate we knew of such establishments. But they were nothing like an Israeli qibbutx (socialist corporation farm). Beware, however, of a “cooperative” in which the profit motive, competition and private initiative are either not existent, or are politely condemned. Modern labor, political or religious liberals have infiltrated the “cooperatives,” but do not be deceived by their “come on” language that a “co-op” is an “economic brotherhood,” that it provides for “understanding, a sympathetic attitude, a mutual loyalty, a spirit of confidence and goodwill, the only sure basis for democracy and world peace.” This is mere frontage for a collectivist, socialist (eventually communist) organization. The modern liberal conception of a “co-op” is that property exists in the form of state property, or in the form of collective farm property, or property of a co-op association. By “cooperative” is meant a dropping of competitive capitalism, which is deemed the contradictory opposite of cooperation, in favor of an economic household where all members share all things (property and prosperity) in common.

This conception of a “cooperative” maintains that “one cannot be a Christian and labor for profit and personal interest.” Economic motive must be established within the unselfish framework of the “Christian order of the brotherhood of man.” (This sounds like that Red journalism, The Worker!) The “cooperative” motive is love, so that farmers and industrial workers will have to cooperate or be charged, “now walkest thou not in love.” They will have to cooperate whether they want to or not. If not, the cooperative will say, Then, you shall not work, and “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” This the co-op will then enforce. Men will thus be forced to “love” each other, if they want to eat and to live. The co-op which deprives of freedom and employs this coercion is as bad as any “neutral” (bigoted) union.

It is insisted that a “co-op” must be co¬operative. It must not merely be called a “cooperative,” it must not glitter with the word “cooperative,” only to be, in reality, a form of profit enterprise for the benefit of private owners. It must not be merely a producer “co-op” to help the farmers get higher prices for their products. This money-loving spirit falls short of the “Christian principle of ‘bona fide cooperation without profit.’” It must be a consumer “co-op” which is owned by no individual, but by the entire group — consumer-owned industry. Church membership and membership in such a “cooperative” are incompatible. Will it be contended that these “cooperatives” have nothing to do with unions? The AFL, CIO, international and local unions have voted to set up special committees on cooperatives. Study the subject. Read the National Council of Churches literature on the subject. See how the union-backed cooperatives are pushing us all with our businesses down the road of the tyrant.