Continuing a sermon by Rev. Ronald W. Leichty at First EUB in North Manchester, Indiana (May 14, 1967).
The third question that bothered me a great deal during this week had to do with definitions. What is communism? What is patriotism?
During these days these two words were used with great frequency. And I do not have a great learned paragraph to explain and define it for you. But this I know; that true communism is nowhere present in our world. Communism in the United States is a color word. The tradition has developed that anyone who does anything we don’t like is branded a communist. And we don’t have to prove he’s a communist. Somewhere we have turned the tables around and forced those of us who believe in a person to prove he’s not a communist. And for those of you who have your friends branded this way, you are forced to prove they are not communist; and in so doing we have completely twisted around the concept of the American judicial system.
Likewise patriotism is linked at this time to support of the administration’s policy in Viet Nam. This be itself is not patriotism. We criticize national policy; I’ve heard many of you do it, I have done it. We criticize high taxes. We criticize social security and yet we participate in them and we aren’t branded communists because we dissent from one national policy. But let one person denounce the policy in Viet Nam and they are colored for life.
My friends, patriotism is not so narrow as supporting one particular national policy. Patriotism is not proof nor disproof by our actions and regard to draft cards or saluting a flag or using zip codes or having prayer in the schools or accepting social security. But of this I am convinced that if we allow ourselves to be forced into either pattern, a unified patter – either of Washington or of Russia – then we are open to a take over. Of that I am convinced. But as long as the freedom of dissent is laid before us, at least that long, the powers of communism will find it, I think, impossible to take over this nation. As long as the ability and freedom of dissent is there and it is used, I do not fear a take over from the outside.
But the question is there. What about you? What is communism to you? What is patriotism to you?
…to be continued…