1951 October 20

Protestant Church Leaders Protest Nomination of U.S. Envoy to the Vatican

 

A group of Protestant Church leaders on this day protested the nomination of Gen. Mark W. Clark as Ambassador to the Vatican. Bishop Henry Knox Sherrill, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and president of the National Council of Churches, said that “at a time when national unity is so imperative [the appointment] is bound to result in unhappy controversy and great division. Sherill argued that the appointment of an Ambassador to the Vatican “places one church in a preferential position,” and therefore violates the principle of the separation of church and state.

Rev. G. Bromley Oxnam, Methodist Bishop of New York and a prominent ACLU figure, called the appointment “unwise, unecessary and un-American.”

Because of the protests and some strong opposition in the Senate, Gen. Clark, who had been a hero in World War II, withdrew his name from consideration. Although he was referred to in the media as the potential “Ambassador,” Clark would not have held that title, as the U.S. did not have formal diplomatic relations. He would have been an “Emissary” to the Vatican, or the Holy See, its official title.

Official diplomatic relations of the Holy See by the U.S. began on April 9, 1984 under President Ronald Reagan.

The Supreme Court embraced the concept of a “wall of separation” between church and state in the landmark decision Everson v. Board of Education on February 10, 1947.

Read: Jeremy Gunn and John Witte, No Establishment of Religion: America’s Original Contribution to Religious Liberty (2012)

Learn more about separation of church and state: https://www.au.org/

Learn about the Religion Clauses at the First Amendment Center:
http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/category/religion

Find a Day

Go
Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps

Topics

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!