December 03, 2010

Give Us This Day ... Our Daily Truth: Rallying with Religion

“Give us this day ... our daily truth” was a newspaper-advertising slogan used in the 1951 and 1952 Crusade for Freedom campaigns. This article will look at the evolvement of religious overtones used to rally Americans in support of Radio Free Europe and the use of the Freedom-Gram in the 1952 Crusade campaign.

Cinderella” is the term for stamp-like labels, seals, or unofficial stamps used for charity and advertising purposes; they are not valid postage stamps to send mail.” Illustrated here is an undated (presumed to be 1950 or 1951) “Cinderella” stamp for the Crusade for Freedom showing the major religions of the world in bright yellow, e.g. the Star of David and Cross are clearly visible, in contrast with Communist guards, Iron Curtain and watch towers in red.

The National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE) was incorporated in New York in May 1949. Perhaps the first salvo fired by the Communist propaganda machine took place on August 3, 1949, when the Czechoslovak Communist party newspaper Rude Pravo published an article under the name Andre Simone, identified as the newspaper’s foreign correspondent.

In his article, “The Vatican Fifth Column”, Simone claimed that there was a joint Vatican-American plot to provoke civil war in Czechoslovakia. He wrote of the existence of an "organization X," which allegedly was “working to organize espionage, sabotage and diversion in countries that have abandoned the capitalist system."

Allen Dulles, one of the NCFE originating directors and former Office of Strategic Services (OSS) officer in Switzerland in World War Two, was identified as the chief of  “organization X.” Dulles, a Presbyterian and future CIA director, said he was chairman of the executive committee of the NCFE, which “furthers the cause of liberty and peace ” and “works in the open, not in secret.” 

Simone also listed Roman Catholic Archbishop Francis Cardinal Spellman in New York, as one of the organizations members.  One September 1950 newspaper advertisement in support of the Crusade for Freedom had a large photograph of Cardinal Spellman with the caption, “Help lift the Iron Curtain everywhere.” His letter read:

If Communism triumphs, democracy will die. Then will our children be committed to serfdom in world itself enchained by atheistic Communists who already hold, with their ruthless, godless grip, hundreds of millions of innocent people.

Therefore do I beg God-revering, liberty-loving men and women everywhere, fervently to pray and loyally work, to strive to save mankind from this cancerous growth of Communism and the evils growing out of its rotted roots – else the whole democratic world is doomed to destruction, and the precious young blood of our soldier-sons will have been spilled in fruitless waste.

Cardinal Spellman did not want to be associated with fund raising, so there was no appeal in this advertisement for funding of Radio Free Europe.  The coupon, with space for a signature and address, read, “Please enroll me in the Crusade for Freedom and place my name on the Freedom Scroll.”

One of Radio Free Europe’s programs was called “The Fighting Church”, described as, “Prominent church leaders in exile speak to their own people; such programs try to help parents behind the Iron Curtain instill religious values in their children and maintain their own faith and worship in an atheistic state.”

In the summer of 1951, “All this We Know” was one of the most popular Radio Free Europe programs to Czechoslovakia. RFE broadcast names of “known informers and spies” in that country. The Advertising Council in its Crusade for Freedom newspaper advertisements used the following text:

THE FIGHT IS ON! Already Truth ... Communism's deadliest enemy is winning major victories behind the Iron Curtain. Radio Free Europe is sowing fear and confusion among the Red rulers and their collaborators ... identifying informers and quislings by name ... and bringing a message of hope to millions of captive people.

Says General Clay: "Here's a true story of how your dollars help Radio Free Europe expose evil communist regimes behind the Iron Curtain.“

In the darkness of night, the blackest of crimes was recently committed in Nemsova, Czecho-Slovakia. A. Catholic priest, on his way to administer the last rites to a dying member of his parish, was ambushed by a gang of Communist thugs ... stabbed in the back ... murdered! Who was guilty of this horrible crime? Within a few hours the people of Nemsova knew.

Early the next evening these words were broadcast to all of Czechoslovakia:

“This is Radio Free Europe speaking. All Czech patriots' remember this name. Frano. Red Deputy Frano of Lednicke Rovne. He has long been the terror of the entire Trencin region. He is personally responsible for the murder of a Catholic priest in Nemsova, at 2:15 A.M. this morning. He sent one of his agents to the parish to advise the priest that a man was dying in the neighboring village. Naturally, the priest left immediately to administer the Last Sacraments. Other agents of Frano—following instructions—were waiting on the road, knife in hand.

“Remember this well. Frano will not escape punishment, even as the other, communist-fascist criminals will not escape punishment.”

For use in the 1951 Crusade campaign, the Crusade for Freedom sent out newspaper advertisements that included a staged photograph portrayed a family in Czechoslovakia fervently listening to a radio, with the caption: “How You can help fight Communism by feeding the greatest hunger of all – the hunger for TRUTH”. The text included,

Give us this day ... our daily truth"

THIS is the whispered prayer of millions behind the Iron Curtain—"give us our daily truth...our daily hope..." This prayer, this plea, is addressed to you—lo every American whose contributions to the Crusade for Freedom have made Radio Free Europe possible.

Thanks to vital transmitters built on the very doorstep of Red Europe, these imprisoned millions are again knowing the sweet taste of truth—and their hearts have been filled with hope.

With your help, a beachhead for freedom has been firmly established in the hearts and minds of these captive peoples. With your continued help, the cold war against Communism can be won – and a horrible global hot war prevented.

Visible in the photograph is a Czech language print or picture with the saying, “Kde laska, tam Bozi pozehnani  -- translated as "Where there is Love, there is God's Blessing" The statement “Poster paid for by patriotic Americans” appeared under the photograph. 

In March 1952, Ralph Andrist, staff member of the Crusade for Freedom in New York, sent out a press release to almost 500 leading morning and evening newspapers with the title, “80,000,000 Christians and Jews in Fight Against Communism.”  The press release began:

A movement, which will enlist the united spiritual strength of American Christians and Jews in establishing a bond of brotherhood with the victims of Communism...will open with prayers by almost all communions and denominations on Saturday and Sunday, March 22 and 23, and will continue as a regular part of worship from that time on...The movement is entirely spiritual in nature, and will be tied in with no secular propaganda campaign.
Also in March 1952, Robert D. Jordan, Director of Church Promotion of the Crusade for Freedom staff, sent letters to the major religious groups_ Catholic, Jewish, Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant. Jordan wrote, in part,

In all, over 110,000 churches and synagogues are being asked to share in the commencement on March 23rd of a continuing program of prayer for those people in the captive countries of central Europe who have lost most of their freedoms and particularly their religious freedoms ...The simple story of the CRUSADE’s objectives in this almost unprecedented request to the churches of America by a secular agency ... It will strengthen the program tremendously if you will offer prayers at your own meeting...

Rabbi Bernard J. Bamberger of New York, president of the Synagogue Council of America, was quoted as saying:

The threat of the Third World War cannot be completely averted by military armaments alone. Only when all the peoples of the world have achieved the right of free thought and a free speech can live in harmony together. The Crusade for Freedom is making great contribution toward this objective I urge your active participation in this program.        

Rev. Henry Knox Sherrill, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States and president of the National Council Association, said;

I have gladly consented to be a corporate member of the Crusade for freedom. believe that a program such as this, which has as its basic principle the broadcasting of Truth, is truly religious.

Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York, who apparently changed his mind on fund raising, said:

The Crusade for Freedom provides a means for Americans to combat successfully the atheistic tyranny of the Kremlin in the captive countries of Eastern Europe. It is my hope that all Americans will respond so that the effectiveness of this great enterprise may be multiplied.

In his appeal to the nation's religious leaders, Crusade National Chairman Lucius D. Clay stated:

We feel it very proper to urge American churches to give leadership in the Crusade for Freedom — The leadership of our churches can do so very much to influence community thought and action. Our cause is worthy, and the need is very, great. With the help of our religious leaders we shall succeed."

General Clay resigned as National Chairman in April 1952 and was replaced by Henry Ford II.

On November 5, 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Presbyterian, was elected the 34th President of the United States. While on a post-victory vacation, he recorded a message that was broadcast in a radio program on November 11, 1952. Henry Ford II was the program’s moderator. Eisenhower reminded listeners of his Labor Day speech in 1950, which supported the Crusade for Freedom, and said, in part,

Children ... are told that the story of God and his compassion is a fable designed only to enslave the minds of the people of the decadent Western democracies.
The Communists have isolated their people to keep them from ever hearing the truth—to create a vacuum in their minds which will absorb lies because there is nothing else for them to seize on.

The only way to frustrate this evil manipulation of human minds and emotions is to supply the truth, which gives the oppressed people a measuring stick to lay against each lie that is told to them.

Eisenhower’s message was printed the next day in newspapers throughout the United States.
The 1952 Crusade for Freedom national campaign officially opened on November 11, 1952, with an announced goal of $4,000,000 in contributions. Newspapers carried appeal advertisements that repeated the 1951 slogan “Give us this day ... our daily truth” accompanied by a staged photograph of a different family gathered around another radio.

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