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Radio Remarks to the Methodist Ecumenical Congress

October 25, 1931

I am very happy to speak briefly to the representatives of world Methodism assembled in Atlanta. I sincerely regret that public duties make it impossible for me to accept your invitation to address you in person.

Your conference meets at a time of universal but temporary difficulties. No country represented in your body is exempt from conditions that are trying and difficult. Unemployment walks before you as something much more real than a specter. It presents not simply an economic difficulty but an acute problem for human beings.

Crime and lawlessness undoubtedly will engage your serious attention not simply as problems of law but as problems of life. I am sure you have been sobered by the state of the world. I am equally sure you will not yield to despair or let your courage and faith fail.

Governments have their normal limitations. They must depend largely upon churches and schools to create, preserve, and increase the spiritual and moral basis essential to the life of the states themselves. They must have the cooperation of bodies like yours, of all religious faiths alike, working in their proper sphere, in the making of necessary attitudes and the creation of essential human tempers, such as a keen, quick consciousness of human needs and a high sense of human values. With you lies a great responsibility in negation of that spiritual laissez faire-that I am not my brother's keeper. Governments are tested at last by their attitudes to the welfare of men and women. No thoughtful person in a place of high trust can forget the dramatic picture, drawn by the Great Teacher, of nations being sent away into torment because they had neglected the sick, the naked, the hungry, and the unfortunate. Hardly anything in modern civil life is more encouraging than the new human feeling, the deep human interest now so widespread among governments.

In this devotion to human life they gladly recognize the real assistance and leadership of the churches, which constantly hold before their governments the ideals of courage and charity, sympathy, honor, gentleness, goodness, and faith. The governments know that the life of the world cannot be saved if the soul of the world is allowed to be lost.

The age in which we live has seen marvelous material achievements, and we cannot tell what new victories and discoveries lie just ahead of us. But all this brings to human life a problem of its own--the problem of keeping our physical achievements from mastering us and our material possessions from controlling us. And we must depend upon the churches to help men and women everywhere to see that life does not consist in the abundance of things, that along with devotion to men's physical well-being must run the eternal purpose to keep the soul of the world alive and regnant.

And I am sure you will let me say that the churches in every land must never fail to help the governments to establish and maintain plain, simple righteousness.

The kinds of evil now rampant in all lands are not alone a menace to government. They are destructive to all that human life for which governments and churches alike exist. All crimes are crimes against human interest and welfare. The centuries have taught no lesson more plainly than that righteousness exalts nations and evil breaks them down.

May I close this brief message with a word upon a theme very close to my heart and I believe equally close to yours ? I refer to peace among all men that dwell on the Earth, to a future free from the horrors, the wrongs, and the results of wars between nations. It seems strange and incredible that after all the centuries of man's experience with war we still have to discuss it and to argue against it. It seems even more strange that with all the crushing burdens resting upon every nation because of wars we still make progress against them at snail's pace. The nations groan under taxation, people in all lands suffer daily from economic depression, governments are perplexed--and yet we go on using incalculable sums in evident dread of those that may come upon us. A new mind must be made in the world on this subject; a new spirit must be created within the nations and between the nations. And I appeal to you as representatives of Methodists everywhere to unite with all other lovers of good will and followers of the Prince of Peace for the making of human brotherhood, in which the peace of God shall prevail in the lives of men.

I sincerely thank you for this privilege of speaking to you and wish you all the richest blessings of Earth and Heaven.

Note: The President spoke at 4:45 p.m. from the Cabinet Room in the White House to the Methodist Ecumenical Congress, meeting in Atlanta, Ga. The remarks were carried over a nationwide radio hookup.

A reading copy of this item with holograph changes by the President is available for examination at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.

Herbert Hoover, Radio Remarks to the Methodist Ecumenical Congress Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208017

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