Project Canterbury




Sermon by

The Right Reverend

William Thomas Manning

Bishop of New York


at the



on Sunday, August 23rd



Copies of this sermon can be obtained
by applying to
Cathedral. of St. John the Divine
Cathedral Heights, New York

Price five cents per copy, fifty cents per dozen copies.

"We fight not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."--Ephesians VI, 12.

I am to speak to you this morning of The Message of the Church to Our Nation at War".

We are in the midst of the most tremendous, and the most fateful, conflict this World has ever known. We all know what the issues are in this great World Battle. America, and all that America stands for in human life, is in mortal peril. Upon the issue of this War depends the hope and future of mankind for generations, perhaps for centuries, to come.

No Church which is true to its principles, and to its Mission in this World, can stand lukewarm, or half-hearted, or apathetic in such a conflict as this.

But, amazing as it seems, there are some Churches, and some Religious Groups, which hold that the Church and Religion should stand aloof in this struggle, and who claim a sort of moral superiority for this position of neutrality and aloofness. The Church, they tell us, must be always an Institution for Peace, the Church must not soil its hands by contact with War. The Church may ask God to be with our soldiers individually, but the Church must not ask God to give them victory in the War which they are waging for us and for mankind. The Church must keep apart from the struggle and must confine itself to discussing the New World Order and planning for the Peace, although we all know that there will be no Peace, and no new World Order, unless our Armed Forces, and those of our Allies, win the War.

Speaking as a Bishop of the Christian Church, and using my words with care, I say that, in this Conflict, that attitude of neutrality and aloofness is unworthy of any Church, or of any [3/4] Leader of Religion. In this Conflict, that attitude shows a strange lack of moral and spiritual vision, it shows either inability or unwillingness to see the issues that are at stake in this World Struggle. That attitude is morally misleading and it is morally weakening to our people in this great Conflict to which we are called.

The Church must stand, not hesitatingly or doubtfully but with her whole moral and spiritual power, beside and with those who are giving themselves for us and for others in this World Battle.

We know that all wars come from the sin and wickedness in man. The purpose and aim of the Church must always be to put an end to war, and to remove the causes of war, but for that very reason the Church must pray and work and give her utmost spiritual support to the Forces of our Country and of the United Nations, in this War.

Any Church, or any Leader of any Church, who is half-hearted or neutral in this Conflict, or who fails to speak openly and clearly against the almost incredible wickedness, the inhuman principles, and the atrocious crimes of Nazism, is untrue to the eternal principles of Right and Justice and to the Moral and Spiritual Realities for which the Church stands in this World.

What then must be the Message of the Church to our Nation as we take our part in this great World Struggle? There are certain things which must stand out clear and beyond all doubt in the Church's Message.

1. The Church all over the World must give to men fearlessly, clearly, uncompromisingly the Word and Message of the Living God, the Message of God Almighty, the Creator and Ruler of us all. The Church is the one Institution in this World which exists to give God's Message to men, and to bring men [4/5] to Him. This World Calamity has come upon us because men have defied God and rejected His Laws, and because none of us have been faithful and the Church has not been clear enough in its witness for God. The Nazi Philosophy is showing us today with tragic clearness that the character of men and the actions of men depend upon, and result from, what they believe about the things eternal. The one supreme need today in our own Nation, and in all Nations, is a real belief in God, a fresh realization that God is over all of us, that His Law is supreme and inescapable, that as individuals, or as nations, if we defy Him we perish. It is this which all Rulers, all Governments--our own included, and all people everywhere, need now to have brought home to them. It is this the Sovereignty and Rule of the Living God which the Church all over the world is sent and commanded to proclaim.

2. In this great hour of our history, the Church must remind our whole people, every man and woman in this land, that this Nation is founded and built upon belief in God as He has revealed Himself to us and to all men in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the Faith that has brought forth all that is highest and best in the life of America. We have fallen far short of its teachings, but this is the Faith which has led and guided us on our way. This is the Faith which, if we are true to it, will carry us on to fuller and fuller realization of the ideals of Justice, Liberty, and Brotherhood. It is time now for us to show that we still hold to the Faith of our God-fearing fathers. It is time now to show the power of this Faith in our lives more than we have ever before done.

3. The Church must now inspire and strengthen in the people of our land the faith, the courage, the unswerving purpose, that we need, and that we are going to need far more, in this tremendous conflict. We have only just entered upon this great struggle. It is going to demand of us courage, sacrifice, and fortitude such as we have not yet begun to realize. The [5/6] great secret of fortitude is faith in God and confidence in the Rightness of our Cause. It is this fortitude, this faith in God and in our Cause, which the Church must inspire and strengthen in our Nation.

And the Church must call upon our people of all races in this land to stand absolutely united in spirit with all our Allies. In this War we are all one. We are all united in the one great common cause and we all depend upon each other. Anything in the nature of Anti-British Propaganda, or Anti-Russian Propaganda, or Propaganda against any of our Allies, is a dangerous and peculiarly despicable form of sabotage, it is directly helpful to the enemy, and is traitorous both to our own Country and to those who are sharing this great Battle with us.

4. In this time of stress and trial, this time in which loss and bereavement will come to great numbers of our homes and families, the Church must carry on her ministry with deepened devotion, deepened human sympathy and deepened spiritual power. We must let our men in the Armed Forces know and feel that the Church is wholly with them and that her prayers are ever offered for them. In every way possible the Church must minister to those who are giving their lives in Military Service. More faithfully than ever, we who serve on the Home Front must be at our Altars, and on our knees in our Churches, offering up our prayers that God will bless and uphold our men, and that He will give them Victory in this Battle for Right and Freedom. More faithfully than ever, we of the Clergy, the Pastors of Christ's Flock, must minister to our own people, and to all whom we can help, ministering to them not only in general, as congregations, but personally and individually, bringing them the personal help, the help and strength from God, which as His Priests and Ministers we are commanded and sent to give them. We of the Clergy must keep nearer than ever to our people in this time of trial and sacrifice which for so many will be a time of sorrow and bereavement.

[7] Last. The Church is, and must be, most vitally concerned that after this War there shall be established a true and righteous Peace, a Peace of Firm and True Justice, a Peace the provisions of which shall guard the World against another such assault as this and shall be for the welfare of all men, victors and vanquished alike. It is right and necessary for us to think about the Peace, but our supreme concern now must be the winning of the War, for without that there will be no Peace for our land or for others.

In all the Churches, our prayers and our efforts now must be for full and decisive Victory, that Victory which will shorten the War, which will lessen the death and suffering and human agony, which will liberate the Nations now brutally enslaved, and will open the way for true and lasting Peace. Then, when the Victory is won, when the Forces of Aggression and Cruelty are defeated and overthrown, then will be possible the bringing in of a truer and better World Order. And in this the Church must have its great part, for if there is to be a truer World Order it must be founded upon the Divine Truth and the Divine Message of Revealed Religion. There is no other foundation for it. The Message of the Christian Church to our Nation, and to all the Nations, is that the New World Order must be based upon the Revelation given to mankind in Jesus Christ. In the midst of the present World Calamity and Suffering and Chaos, this is being shown to us beyond all question. More clearly than in all the 2,000 years since He came here among us, men are seeing that Jesus Christ is the One True Light, the One and Only Saviour of this World.

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