Excerpts from

The Congressional Record on

Investigation of Communist Activities in the New York City Area (Parts 6-8)


Hearing Before The Committee on Un-American Activities

House of Representatives, 83rd Congress, First Session

July 7 and 8, and July 13 and 14, 1953


As presented in

Collectivism in churches



by Edgar C. Bundy

Bold letters added for emphasis

Testimony was given at this hearing under oath by various witnesses. The hearing was in executive, or closed, session, and the testimony was not at first made available to the public. But when some of the leaders of The National Council and The World Council of Churches began to attack the Congressional committee and emphatically declared that communism had not penetrated the ranks of the clergy, the committee decided to release the entire testimony to the American public and let it judge for itself.

We turn to page 2266 and read the testimony of Mr. Manning Johnson, formerly a top member of the Communist Party. The questions are asked by Robert Kunzig, chief counsel for the committee.

Mr. KUNZIG: Mr. Johnson, before we leave this point I note that the name Harry Ward has appeared in so many of these various organizations and groups. It seems as if there is almost an interlacing tie-up of one to the other and, not in any one particular religious sect or denomination, but through various sects and denominations. Have you any comment to make on this situation?

Mr. JOHNSON: Yes, I have. Dr. Harry F. Ward, for many years, has been the chief architect for Communist infiltration and subversion in the religious field.

Mr. CLARDY (Rep. KIT CLARDY, Mich..): That, you think, explains why we find his name turning up practically in all the Communist-front or Communist Organizations?

Mr. JOHNSON: Absolutely correct. [pages 109-110]

Page 2082:

Mr. KUNZIG: Do you attach any special significance to Dr. Ward's lectures in China?

Mr. GITLOW: I only presented Ward's lectures delivered in China in 1925 because they were discussed at length in Moscow and at the Comintern. The Comintern leaders were of the opinion that clergymen, with Dr. Ward's point of vie, using the cloak of religion, could render service of inestimable value to the Communist cause in China and to Soviet interests. Besides, the missions and church institutions of China could be used, in the opinion of the Comintern, to cover up Communist espionage activity in China. Clergymen, who served in various capacities in China, and who deliberately followed the Communist Party line or who were duped into following it, formed an important branch of the conspiracy to turn China over to the Communists. They not only gave assistance to the Communists in China but they also carried on effective propaganda in the United States to influence public opinion for their point of view. Later in my testimony I will show how the Methodist Federation for Social Action was tied into the Communist conspiracy.

The lectures which Dr. Ward made in China date back to 1925, beginning just after he had been to Moscow. Preparation for the fall of China to the Communists was being made in the early 1920’s, when the Kremlin’s Colonial School for training leaders in the take-over of other countries was functioning fully, although China was not won by the Communists until late 1949.

The Communist program is a long-range one. It may take many years to implement its tactics and strategy, but its objectives never change. This clergyman, Dr. Harry F. Ward, not only had a powerful influence in the American churches, through The Federal Council of Churches, softening up his own country with Communist propaganda, but he went overseas to help to prepare China, with its 500 million souls, for eventual capture by communism. Men in the pulpit will not tell their people these things, and the people do not even know that testimony upon them is available.

We continue the testimony from pages 2084 and 2085 of the record.

Mr. KUNZIG: What kind of an organization was the Methodist Federation for Social Action, and how did it differ from a Communist-front organization?

Mr. GITL0W: The Methodist Federation for Social Action, originally called the Methodist Federation for Social Service, was first organized by a group of Socialist, Marxist clergymen of the Methodist church headed by Dr. Harry F. Ward. Dr. Ward was the organizer, for almost a lifetime its secretary and actual leader. He at all times set its ideological and political pattern. Its objective was to transform the Methodist Church and Christianity into an instrument for the achievement of socialism. It was established in 1907, 12 years before the organization of the Communist Party in the United States in 1919.

The outbreak of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in November 1917 had a tremendous effect upon the Socialist ministers of this organization and especially upon Dr. Ward. When the Communist Party was organized in 1919, Dr. Ward was already a convinced Communist with a few insignificant minor reservations. By 1920 he was already, though not yet a member of the Communist Party, cooperating and collaborating with the Communist Party.

This collaboration of Dr. Ward with the Communist Party was reflected in the expressions and activities of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. The inner hard core of the Methodist Federation consisted, up to the time Jack R. McMichael, a member and leader of the Young Communist League, was elected its executive secretary, after Dr. Ward had relinquished his post, of a Communist cell headed by Ward, which functioned under the direction of the Communist Party.

Mr. KUNZIG: What were the connections between the Methodist Federation for Social Action and the two Communist-front organizations you mentioned that played such an important role in the Communist infiltration of religion?

Mr. GITLOW: In the first place the Methodist Federation for Social Action was affiliated with and collaborated more closely with the American League Against War and Fascism, and the American League for Peace and Democracy, and the American Youth Congress. 115-118

Mr. KUNZIG: Did Dr. Ward use his position as chairman of the American League Against War and Fascism to aid the Communist conspiracy for the infiltration of the churches?

Mr. GITLOW: He did.

Page 2092:

Mr. GITLOW: ...To detail the extent of the Communist infiltration of the Methodist  Church -- the people who served the Communists in the church consciously and those who were its stooges -- would take several hundred pages of testimony. ...

Mr. GITLOW: The principal individuals involved in the Communist conspiracy to subvert the Methodist Church for Communist purposes are: Dr. Harry F. Ward, Rev. Jack R. McMichael, Rev. Charles C. Webber, Rev. Aslo J. Smith, Dr. Willard Uphaus, Margaret Forsyth, Rev. Lee H. Ball.

Mr. KUNZIG: What organization, in your opinion, played a most important part in the Communist infiltration of religion?

Mr. GITLOW: In my opinion the Methodist Federation for Social Action. First, it set the pattern for setting up similar organizations in the other Protestant denominations. It, in fact, assumed the leadership of the so-called social action movement in the Christian churches, and greatly influenced their ideas and the programs they adopted and their activities. It maintained the closest relations with all of them and often collaborated with them.

In addition, the Methodist Federation for Social Action officially affiliated with some of the most important Communist-front organizations. Those with which the Methodist Federation for Social Action did not officially affiliate, the organization usually endorsed, sponsored or supported through its Social Questions Bulletin or through the recognized leaders of the federation.

We turn to page 2170, for further testimony from Mr. Manning Johnson. Mr. Kunzig is asking Mr. Johnson about the methods which the Communist leaders in the United States used to win over church people.

Mr. JOHNSON: I would first like to read to you what William Z. Foster has to say on this matter:

Communists must ever be keen to cultivate the democratic spirit of mutual tolerance among the religious sects and the people's mass organization. A still greater lesson for us to learn, however, is how to work freely with religious strata for the accomplishment of democratic mass objectives, while at the same time carrying on our basic Marxist-Leninist educational work.

“A very serious mistake of the American left wing during many years, and one it would not have made had it understood Marx and Lenin, has been its attempt arbitrarily to wave aside religious sentiments among the masses. Reactionary forces [concerned Christians and conservatives] have already known how to take advantage of this shortsighted sectarian error by instigating the religious masses against the left wing.

"In recent years, however, the Communist Party, with its policy of ‘the outstretched hand,’ has done much to overcome the harmful left-wing narrowness of former years and to develop a more healthy cooperation with the religious masses of the people in building [a] democratic front.” ...

Mr. KUNZIG: Was deceit a major policy of Communist propaganda and activity? -

Mr. JOHNSON: Yes, it was. They made fine gestures and honeyed words to the church people which could be well likened unto the song of the fabled sea nymphs luring millions to moral decay, spiritual death, and spiritual slavery. An illustration of this treachery, I might point out, is smiling, sneaky Earl Browder, for example, who was vice chairman of the American League Against War and Fascism, greeting and praising ministers and other church workers participating with him in the united-front, antiwar activities, while secretly harboring in his heart only contempt for them and for the religion they

Now in order to train others in the use of such deceit, he wrote, and I quote from What Is Communism?, 1936: "We take pains not to offend any religious belief. We don't want to close the minds of religious people to what we have to tell them about capitalism, because of some remark or action offensive to their region. We can well say that the cessation of ineffective, rude, and vulgar attacks on religion is a positive improvement in our work."  115-121

Pages 2201 and 2202:

Mr. JOHNSON: The Methodist Federation for Social Service or the Methodist Federation for Social Action, headed by the Rev. Harry F. Ward, whom I have already identified as a Party member, was invaluable to the Communist Party in its united-front organizations campaign. It was invaluable because through it the Party was able to get contacts with thousands of ministers all over the country.

...quite a few ministers, for example, participated in the united front known as the American League Against War and Fascism, and later called the American League for Peace and Democracy, in which many ministers were involved. In fact, they were so deeply involved through Harry F. Ward that they became the spokesmen -- the advocates, the builders, and the leaders of this most important Communist front that engaged in everything from simple assault on a government to espionage, sabotage and the overthrow of the Government of the United States.

On page 2228 of this testimony is a reproduction of an article in the Daily Worker of Thursday, May 7, 1953. This was received in evidence by the committee as Manning Johnson. Exhibit No. 21. It reads:

(By David Platt)

The affair ‘was sponsored by New World Review, a progressive monthly devoted to circulating the truth about the Socialist and People’s Democracies abroad. The magazine brought out several hundred friends and former students of Dr. Ward, and some of those who knew him well, like Rev. Jack McMichael, of the Methodist Federation for Social Action; Corliss Lamont; Paul Robeson; Frederick Field; and Jessica Smith, editor of New World Review, told the others of how Dr. Ward’s teachings enriched them personally and how his tremendous work for brotherhood, peace, and justice has influenced the nation as a whole.

“His influence on the churches of this country is incalculable,” said Rev. McMichael, one of Dr. Ward’s former students at Union Theological Seminary [funded by the Rockefellers]....    122-123

Page 2229:

Mr. JOHNSON: Now, I would also like to quote from a pamphlet entitled “Socialism—What’s in It for You?” by A. B. Magil, New Century Publishers (an official publishing house of the Communist Party in the U.S.A.). A. B. Magil has for years been a national leader of the Communist Party in the United States.... I quote:

“There are religious people who, far from considering socialism a menace, see in it the fulfillment of the ethical principles of their faith. It is this that has attracted to socialism distinguished clergymen like the Dean of Canterbury, Dr. Harry F. Ward, Professor emeritus of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, and the Reverend Eliot White, formerly of the Grace Episcopal Church of New York.”

The next quote deals with Harry F. Ward and is taken from a pamphlet written by Earl Browder in 1936 and called “Democracy or Fascism?”...  This pamphlet is made up from the report of Earl Browder to the ninth national convention of the Communist Party in 1936. I was present at the ninth national convention of the Communist Party in New York City held at Manhattan Center on 34th Street when this report was made. I was a delegate, and it was at this convention I was elected to membership on the national committee. In the report Browder mentioned the splendid work of Dr. Harry F. Ward as one of the finer types of comrades or Party members. He stated that “It is impossible to speak of the American League and its work without noting the outstanding contribution of its tireless and devoted chairman, Dr. Harry F. Ward.” ...

Mr. JOHNSON: ... I continue: “Such selflessness and consistent service to a progressive cause as Dr. Ward has given will always receive the unstinted recognition and support of the Communist Party.”

Mr. CLARDY: You have of your own knowledge placed Dr. Ward in the Party, and you have so testified repeatedly before us. Now, what you have been giving us is some documentary confirmation of precisely what you, yourself, have testified to.

Mr. JOHNSON: That is correct.  125-126

Concluding this portion of the testimony given to the Congressional committee, we turn to page 2278 and read the very pertinent summary of testimony given by Mr. Manning Johnson:

Mr. KUNZIG: At the conclusion of your testimony here, Mr. Johnson, could you give us a summary of the overall manner in which the Communists have attempted to infiltrate and poison the religious organizations of America wherever possible?

Mr. JOHNSON: Once the tactic of infiltrating religious organizations was set by the Kremlin, the actual mechanics of implementing the “new line” was a question of following the general experiences of the living church movement in Russia, where the Communists discovered that the destruction of religion could proceed much faster through infiltration of the church by Communist agents operating within the church itself.

The Communist leadership in the United States realized that the infiltration tactic in this country would have to adapt itself to American conditions and the religious make-up peculiar to this country. In the earliest stages it was determined that with only small forces available it would be necessary to concentrate Communist agents in the seminaries and divinity schools. The practical conclusion drawn by the Red leaders was that these institutions would make it possible for a small Communist minority to influence the ideology of future clergymen in the paths most conducive to Communist purposes.

In general, the idea was to divert the emphasis of clerical thinking from the spiritual to the material and political—by political, of course, is meant politics based on the Communist doctrine of conquest of power. Instead of emphasis towards the spiritual and matters of the soul, the new and heavy emphasis was to deal with those matters which, in the main, led toward the Communist program of “immediate demands” [or "felt needs"].... prepare it for final conquest by Communist forces.

This infiltration into seminaries was expedited by the use of considerable forces the Communists had in educational institutions which were eligible for hire by divinity organizations.

The plan was to make the seminaries the neck of a funnel through which thousands of potential clergymen would issue forth, carrying with them, in varying degrees, an ideology and slant which would aid in neutralizing the anti-Communist character of the church and also to use the clergy to spearhead important Communist projects. 127

This policy was successful beyond even Communist expectations.
The combination of Communist clergymen, clergymen with a pro-Communist ideology, plus thousands of clergymen who were sold the principle of considering Communist causes as progressive, within 20 years furnished the Soviet apparatus with a machine which was used as a religious cover for the overall Communist operation ranging from immediate demands to actually furnishing aid in espionage and outright treason.

The Communists have an advantage in religious organizations due to the fact that their forces within religious groups are well organized as a totalitarian group which, operating as a highly mobile force, works unceasingly toward a premeditated program. This gives this destructive element a great tactical advantage over all others in the religious organizations who deal with religion as individuals, operating ethics on the basis of an individual conscience before God.

In the early 1930’s the Communists instructed thousands of their members to rejoin their ancestral religious groups and to operate in cells designed to take control of churches for Communist purposes. This method was not only propounded, but was executed with great success among large elements of American church life. Communists operating a double-pronged infiltration, both through elements of Communist-controlled clergy and Communist-controlled laymen, managed to pervert and weaken entire strata of religious life in the United States.

Communists in churches and other religious organizations were instructed to utilize the age-old tradition of the sanctity of the church as a cover for their own dastardly deeds. Through Reds in religion, we have a true, living example of the old saying: “The Devil doth quote the Scripture.” 128

The Communists learned that the
clergymen under their control served as a useful “respectable face” for most of their front activities. In this way the name of religion was used to spearhead the odious plots hatched by the agents of anti-religious Soviet communism.

Communist strategists counted the effectiveness of their forces not so much on numbers alone, but on the importance of individuals loyal to communism in key spots where a small group can influence large numbers and create havoc by controlling a sensitive spot. Thus, one professor of divinity, lecturing to future clergymen, who in turn will preach to thousands of churchgoers, is, in the long run, more dangerous than 20 Red preachers, singing the praises of communism from the pulpit.

The same can also be said of a Communist agent operating an important position in a church publication which reaches large multitudes of churchgoing public....

It is an axiom in Communist organization strategy that if an infiltrated body has 1 per cent Communist Party members and 9 per cent Communist Party sympathizers, with well-rehearsed plans of action, they can effectively control the remaining 90 per cent who act and think on an individual basis. In the large sections of the religious field, due to the ideological poison which has been filtered in by Communists and pro-Communists through seminaries, the backlog of sympathizers and mental prisoners of Socialistic ideology is greater than the 10 percent necessary for effective control.

In 1919 the New York State Joint Legislative Committee to Investigate Seditious Activities within the state was set up. This committee was headed by state Senator Clayton R. Lusk. It produced a monumental work of four volumes of over 1000 pages each, giving evidence of the infiltration of subversive forces within the State of New York. This committee report was published on April 24, 1920. On the subject of Communist infiltration, Part One has this to say:

There are two dangerous centers of Revolutionary Socialist teaching of a university type in ecclesiastical institutions. One is the Union Theological Seminary of New York [funded by the Rockefellers], where Christian Ethics are taught by Dr. Harry F. Ward....  Dr. Ward is the author of The New Social Order, in which he shows a decided sympathy for Socialist social forms and is friendly to Bolshevism in Russia. He also wrote The Labor Movement, which contained addresses delivered before the Boston School of Theology, when he was professor of social science at that institution. He expressed in it approval of the I.W.W. [Industrial Workers of the World]. It is reported in a recent issue of the National Civic Federation Review that he gave his endorsement to the new gospel of Bolshevism, which he considers a spiritual movement replacing the outworn Christianity of the Russian Orthodox Church. He characterized the cognate I.W.W. “philosophy” as the most ideal and practical Christian philosophy since the days of Jesus Christ, and as expressing the ideas of Christ much more closely than any church of the present day.

The activities of Dr. Ward, as shown in other parts of this report, are entirely consistent with this point of view. He is chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union, which champions the I.W.W., and presided over the I.W.W. meeting of Feb. 9, 1920, held at the Rand School.... He has also been prominent in numerous pacifist and radical societies such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Emergency Peace Conference and People’s Council, the Liberty Defense Union.

Dr. Ward is also connected with the Y.M.C.A., the Y.W.C.A., and the InterChurch World Movement. 126-131

 Edgar C Bundy, General Chairman of the Church League of America
      Collectivism in the churches: A documented account of the political activities of the Federal, National, and World Councils of Churches (Wheaton, Illinois: Church League of America, 1957), page numbers added at the end of each section above.

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