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The Threat to Freedom

“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:17). Years ago, some employers would not hire a man unless he agreed not to join a labor union. Naturally, many people did not like such conditions for employment. This was called a ‘“yellow dog” contract. Today such contracts are outlawed and illegal, as they should be. Now almost everyone will agree that a worker should have the right to join a union, if he so desires. It would also seem that a man should have the right not to join, if he so desires.

This principle, your right to join or not to join, is under attack today. Labor unions are stepping up their activity to make it compulsory for workers to belong to their organization. Nineteen of aUf states have “Right to Work” laws, which mean that a worker docs not have to belong to a union in order to hold his job, if a union is represented in his place of employment. In other states, the only choice open is to join or find employment some other place. Because of the many un-Christian practices of such unions, it becomes increasingly difficult for our people of Calvinistic and Reformed tradition to live their beliefs. Union membership, even when it is compulsory, brings with it a demand for union loyalty. The following is an oath of a machinist union: “I, _______,of my own free will in the presence of Almighty God in this assembly, do solemnly promise and declare that I will keep sacred and inviolate this obligation and the secrets of this brotherhood, and will not repeat outside of this lodge-room any transaction whatsoever which may have taken place therein, to anyone other than those whom I know to be members in good standing” (Voluntary Unionism for Free Americans, page 19).

Can any Calvinist take such an oath? Should any American be forced to pledge himself to such secrecy and loyalty because he wants to make an honest living? A “Right to Work” law is absolutely necessary for every state in our country. Such laws give our workers a right guaranteed by the constitution—the freedom of choice and association, the right to join or not to join. Compulsory unionism contains spiritual dangers for our workers because they are forced to be part of immoral unions, such as communist, racketeer, and mobster unions. They force our workers to engage in such immoral activities as illegal strikes and violence. They invade the worker’s political freedom because they often use a member’s dues to advocate ideas and endorse candidates to whom a member might be opposed. You will be forced to attend business meetings on the Lord’s Day. Members of our Reformed churches are being subjected to this treatment daily in many of our states. If this trend toward compulsion is not stopped and reversed, we shall find ourselves faced with the choice “Serve the beast or starve.”

One might ask very well, When will the church and its members cry out aloud against these evils? The ministry is regarded as one of the most influential groups to mold public opinion. With that great influence goes great responsibility. The churches’ right to speak out on the moral aspects of social and economic questions goes hand and hand with a duty to be well informed on those problems. As an individual and as a church, ask for the enactment of “Right to Work” laws for your state. Speak to your representatives and explain your feelings to them. We are the salt of the earth, but arc we doing all we can, or are we sitting all the sideline as spectators, to wake up one morning and find ourselves caught in the web of compulsion?

To force our citizens to join any private organization and pay dues for the privilege of working and earning a living is a form of economic slavery. This kind of compulsion is contrary to our form of democracy and to all the moral principles on which this country is built. It takes away the constitutional rights of choice and freedom of association from the individuaL At the same time it perpetuates in power those in control of a union, regardless of whether they serve their members well and honestly. This compulsion has no place in the social and economic life of the American people.

If one union can force workers to join them under the threat of losing their job, other unions can do the same. Our working force at present numbers about 65 million people. About one-third of these belong to a union. However, if this trend toward compulsion is not stopped it will spread and bring disaster. When that happens the other two-thirds will find that the only way they can hold a job is to bow to the union leaders.

The unions today arc working toward complete control of our economy, both the buying and the selling. When this happens, we shall find that we have created a socialistic labor dictatorship, with union officials exercising economic, political, and religious domination of our country.

As Calvinists we proclaim that God should be served in every activity of life. Today we are at the cross roads. Will we be able to meet this challenge? If we fail to meet it squarely, we must admit either that we are blind to our calling, or that we do not have the energy and the vitality to fulfill our calling.