Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Radio Address for the Christian Foreign Service Convocation.

March 16, 1940

Before the advent of the Christian era, messengers and missionaries had traveled throughout the known world. They were commonly traders or soldiers seeking advantage for themselves, or agents of conquerors carrying notice of invasion to come.

When the Apostles and Disciples of Christ crossed into Macedonia and visited one after another the countries of the Western world, they wrote a new chapter in human relations-for they carried for the first time a message of brotherhood, of faith and good-will and peace among men.

Since those days the ideal of a peaceful world brotherhood has made glorious advances—for that ideal is not confined to the followers of the Christian faith but has been accepted as a part of the philosophy of other great religions—some of them older than Christianity and some more recent.

But the advance has not been in a straight line. It has met with serious reverses which have taken years and even centuries to offset. Nomad tribes from eastern Europe and western Asia required centuries of assimilation before they could understand the gospel of brotherhood. The early feudal days set castle against castle in thousands of tiny wars and slaughters and slavery which ended only in the setting up of governments able to maintain peace within their borders.

Today we seem once more to be in a temporary era where organized force is seeking to divide men and nations from one another. That is why it is right and proper to call together the representatives of the great religious bodies which seek not to divide but to unite men and nations in the old message of brotherhood and good-will.

In dark days of the past that ideal has been saved in the long run by splendid efforts to maintain it in the minds and hearts of the average citizens in all nations.

Today we seek a moral basis for peace. It cannot be a real peace if it fails to recognize brotherhood. It cannot be a lasting peace if the fruit of it is oppression, or starvation, or cruelty, or human life dominated by armed camps. It cannot be a sound peace if small nations must live in fear of powerful neighbors. It cannot be a moral peace if freedom from invasion is sold for tribute. It cannot be an intelligent peace if it denies free passage to that knowledge of those ideals which permit men to find common ground. It cannot be a righteous peace if worship of God is denied.

On these fundamentals the world did not have a true peace in those years between the ending of the World War and the beginning of present wars.

The band of missionaries whom you now meet to honor understood this well. They permitted no threat to the integrity or the institutions of the nations in which they worked. They sought to promote an international order based on human justice.

The active search for peace which the early Christians preached meant meeting and overcoming those forces in the world which had set themselves against the brotherhood of man and which denied the equality of souls before the throne of God. In those olden days they faced apparently unconquerable force—and yet were victorious.

I offer my greetings to you as a congregation of faith, in the certainty that you will help to keep alive that spirit of kindliness and faith which is the essence of civilization. I am confident of your ultimate triumph; for the ideals of justice, kindness, brotherhood and faith cannot die. These are the highest of human ideals. They will be defended and maintained. In their victory the whole world stands to gain; and the fruit of it is peace.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Radio Address for the Christian Foreign Service Convocation. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/209442

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