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PERSPECTIVE AND PROPORTIONS

Organized religion and organized labor are chief dynamic factors in the progress of modern society. Organized capital is also a great social factor but is conservative rather than progressive. No menace to the future can be so serious as a lasting estrangement between the labor movement and Christianity. No emergency could be more critical than the present and pressing necessity of a better understanding and a more cordial coöperation between the Church and the labor unions.

It is primarily important for the modern Christian man to see the labor movement in its true proportions and perspective. Those who think of it as a “modern inconvenience,” or a sort of cutaneous eruption on the surface of the social body, have all but missed the meaning of past history and present times. What, then, is the labor movement?

Richard T. Ely says, “The labor movement, then, in its broadest terms, is the effort of men to live the lives of men.

The end and purpose of it all is a richer existence for the toilers, and that with respect to mind, soul, and

body.” 1

Dean Hodges says, “It is a product partly of the discontent which is at the heart of progress, and partly of the fraternal spirit which is of the essence of the Christian religion.” 2

Charles P. Neill, United States Commissioner of Labor, says that the labor movement is “the systematic organization of crafts or of industries to secure control of the amount of wages they will receive, the hours they will work, and the conditions under which they will perform their labor." 3

The foregoing definitions may be summarized by saying that the labor movement is the industrial aspect of democracy; that is, industry of the people, for the people, and by the people. And Christianity is the religious interpretation of democracy; that is, religion of the people, for the people, and by the people. Thus Christianity and the labor movement are in vital affinity, and “what God hath joined to gether, let no man put asunder."

What are the facts that warrant so large an estimate of the labor movement?

First, human history itself. In the words

1 Quoted in “The Social Application of Religion,” pp. 64-65.

2 "Faith and Social Service," p. 144. 3 See “The Social Application of Religion,” p. 63.

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