Back

Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Statement on Racial Equality 1963

 

The Greek Orthodox Church is against racial segregation, and believes in the full equality of all races and peoples. Our Church believes, moreover, that all Americans, regardless of faith or color, should be granted equal opportunities for public education and for employment in all fields of endeavour, consistent with the best of their abilities and qualifications; and that all should enjoy equal advantages and be the beneficiaries of equal public accommodations and facilities.

In this spirit we call upon our fellow citizens of all faiths, and upon all those who cherish truth and justice, to oppose every expression and demonstration of bigotry.  We also urge all our fellow citizens to desist, in word and action, from whatever might seem to further the circulation of false reports, rumors, or representations that distort our mutual relations and the progress of our common welfare.

But the Christians of America should feel that they have a special mandate to work for equal rights for all. We are challenged to prove that the Legions of Christ can, in His Name, uphold these rights wherever and whenever they are endangered. Christian love is not a semantic symbol. It is a commandment to which we must conform our actions as Christians and strive in every way to make a reality, consistent with the will of God which was expressed by His Son Jesus Christ when He said, "Love ye one another.”

The whole question of integration and equal rights for all races, and humane understanding among them, has an ethical basis linked not only with our own national security but also with our relationships with half the nations of the earth.  Justice, peace and equality are not meant to be merely noble words; they are meant to be the basic and workable concepts of humanity, which will teach us to help and respect each other.

The present integration conflict is wasteful and unproductive. The American Negro has great talents which he should be given every opportunity to develop for the further cultural enrichment of America, to which he has already contributed so much. Wherever the Negro has been given real opportunities, or has had the initiative to seize them himself, he has excelled. We see this perhaps most dramatically in the fields of music, the performing arts, and athletics; but in a less spectacular way it is true of all fields of endeavour, none of which should be closed to or made difficult for the Negro.

We must point out, however, that in the heat of the integration problem, the great gains that have been made over the years towards equal opportunities for Negroes may tend to be overlooked or minimized. We therefore urge patience and forbearance upon all concerned. Violence breeds bitterness, and bitterness only serves to retard the ultimate achievement of human equality which our democratic processes dictate. These processes must survive the anguish of the times and remain the basis of the American will and government.