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We ask for a law as a declaration of an American standard of equal justice. We shall continue to urge upon the executive branch of our Government the full and diligent use of its power through Executive order and through the issuance by relevant agencies of regulations designed to enforce title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in programs affecting housing. We on our part pledge ourselves to continue to intensify the educational efforts for fair housing which religious groups, along with other concerned citizens, have been promoting for many years.
In reality, law, executive action, and moral persuasion are part of a common pattern. We believe that once every builder, every lending institution, every renter, and every homeowner confronts a common standard in the sale and rental of dwellings, the great majority will strive to conform to a law seeking to implement the ideal that all men are truly equal. Such was our experience under the public accommodations provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Law is not merely an instrument to coerce the few who would do evil, it is also a support for the many who would do good. They can follow their more generous instincts, unhindered by the fear that the competition of the less scrupulous will cost them their lifetime investment in property.
Granted there are fears based on a misunderstanding of the effects of this bill and a lack of knowledge of the process of orderly housing integration in a community. Yet there are times in the history of any nation when it rises to true greatness, putting aside petty differences in the effort to promote justice and high morality. Such was the case in 1963, when the House committee wrote a civil rights bill which many persons said was too sweeping to pass Congress. Yet Congress did give overwhelming approval of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It should likewise give its assent to the present bill.
In our judgment, housing discrimination is a pernicious form of racial injustice. So long as it persists it will be extremely difficult to reap the full fruits of our struggle against discrimination in the areas of education and employment. Ghettoized housing in the slum perpetuates poverty and ignorance. It is the costliest possible type of housing; costly in the crushing financial burden which it places on those who pay so much for so little; and costly to the community in the overwhelming burden of social services, police protection, and wasted human resources. Nor is it socially healthy that those who rise from poverty and who can rent or purchase better housing, must still live in isolated ghettoes merely because of race. Neither white nor Negro citizens profit from the artificial compartmentation of our society imposed by segregated homes and schools. Inevitable barriers of misunderstanding and prejudice must arise when such arbitrary divisions are enforced.
The proposed law should be the beginning of a much larger process that we hope will wipe out slums and remove the barriers that lead to housing ghettoes. In our judgement, the terms of this bill constitute a good start. We would desire one amendment, however, to strengthen its enforcement procedures. We believe that enforcement should be undertaken by a Federal administrative agency, upon complaint and investigation, in addition to civil suit by the aggrieved
party. Most of those who suffer from housing discrimination cannot afford the expense, time, and efforts for court action. We note with approval that such a change has in fact been made by the House Judiciary Committee.
We are also aware that there is considerable uneasiness in Congress about the extent of coverage in title IV. There is concern for the individual owner who desires to sell or rent his house himself. We do not feel that the main purpose of this title would be thwarted were such operations to be exempted from its coverage. But we do feel that all commercial operations, including the sale or rental of such homes through the services of real estate agents, should be free of racial bias.
I would like to add, in other words, if real estate brokers as well as individual homeowners, are exempted, would not that raise serious questions about the meaningfulness of title IV? The moment a person puts up his home for commercial transaction, a public interest is involved. If it is illegal under title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to discriminate in the sale of restaurant goods, it should be illegal to discriminate when sale of one's home enters the public domain.
The Nation presently faces an urban crisis brought about largely by growing segregation in the big cities of our Nation. Many of our Negro citizens feel increasingly alienated, not only in the South but across the Nation. If this bill exempts real estate brokers as well as individual homeowners, then we would be saying, in effect, to these citizens that it is well that you continue to be alienated and we bring upon oureslves even greater crises. Many of us may not be able to support such a section if this is done.
Appended to this document are statements by leaders in our religious bodies dealing with housing discrimination from a moral perspective. Before this committee we urge that what is right and just is likewise sound public policy. America wears a badge of shame before the world, when it is known that discreet efforts must be made to secure housing for diplomats in Washington and at the United Nations, simply because they are persons of color. We urge upon formerly colonial nations the virtues of democracy. Yet in every part of our Nation men are refused housing because of race. This is an infamy which a nation professing our ideals, and burdened with our worldwide responsibilities, can ill afford to bear.
We cannot write finis to our new emancipation proclamation until the slums of America have been replaced by housing fit for our families. Nor can we say that we have achieved our ideals of equality until any American can feel free to purchase or rent property in any available location, regardless of his color.
We conclude this testimony, by offering three more suggestions improving this proposed legislation. First, we believe that title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, dealing with equal employment, should be broadened to include the employees of State and local governments. There should be no discrimination in any field of employment supported by tax funds. We do not want one standard of justice for Federal employees and for industry and a lesser standard, or no standard, for our States, counties, and cities.
Second, we believe that there should be civil indemnification for the victims of civil rights violence and for those persons injured because
of their race or color while trying to exercise their rights. Likewise those who suffer while trying to help others secure their rights should be granted this measure of assistance. Such wrongs indicate a grave failure in our society and society should at the least compensate those who are victims of its own shortcomings.
Third, in title I, dealing with discrimination in the selection of juries, we suggest that the word "religion” be dropped. We know of no abuses in this area sufficiently serious or widespread to warrant any public inquiry into the religion of a prospective juror.
Some persons feel that we need a pause in civil rights legislation and that advances in 3 successive years are too much. Yet the more we are sensitized to the complexities of the problem, the more we realize what needs to be done. What is worth doing, is worth doing well. As we move forward in our quest for full racial equality, we are bound to discover deficiencies and imperfections in earlier laws. These should be corrected when they are found, precisely because race relations involve momentous moral issues of worldwide significance. We do not consider this legislation in and of itself to be the panacea for all the civil rights problems confronting the Nation. There is much work yet to be done by Government, by religious groups, and by other private citizens. Democracy must end discrimination, or discrimination may well spell the end of our democracy.
We submit appended statements also for your information, Mr. Chairman.
(The attachments to the joint statement of Reverend Cronin, Rabbi Hirsch, and Dr. Payton, follow :)
OFFICIAL CATHOLIC STATEMENTS ON CIVIL RIGHTS
VATICAN COUNCIL II, “THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD," NO. 29
"Every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent."
VATICAN COUNCIL IT, "DECREE ON NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS," NO. 5 "The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion."
CATHOLIO BISHOPS OF THE UNITED STATES, NOVEMBER 1958
"Discrimination based on the accidental fact of race or color * * * cannot be reconciled with the truth that God has created all men with equal rights and equal dignity." Referring to discrimination in jobs, education, and housing, the bishops said : "Flowing from these areas of neglect and discrimination are prob lems of health and the sordid train of evils so often associated with the consequent slum conditions."
CATHOLIO BISHOPS OF THE UNITED STATES, AUGUST 1963
"No Catholic with a good Christian conscience can fail to recognize the right of all citizens to vote. Moreover, we must provide for all, equal opportunity for employment, full participation in our public and private educational facilities, proper housing, and adequate welfare assistance where needed."
CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF MICHIGAN, MARCH 1966
“The property owner who wishes to sell in the open market, and yet wishes to exclude members of a certain race, religion, or national origin from the opportunity to buy, is using his property to the detriment of society. Human dignity and equality demand the right to change residence and opportunity to buy ac. cording to the same reasonable standards for all. Color or créed is not a reasonable standard for discrimination or exclusion."
EXCERPTS FROM POSITIONS OF SYNAGOGUE COUNCIL OF AMERICA AGENCIES
“We join in accepting as our own responsibility and as our cause, as if we in fact were the harassed, the need for active participation in the crucial nationwide campaign for full civil rights and equal opportunities for Negroes. * * * We urge that leadership be exercised in removing hidden racial barriers, such as restrictions in housing, ghettoizing public schools, and restrictions in employment opportunities, so that all Americans may enjoy equal justice.”—United Synagogue of America resolution, adopted at convention November, 1963.
"Shocking incidents of racial conflict in American cities have demonstrated again that the racial ghetto is the key to the pattern of segregated living which pervades and vitiates almost every part of Negro life and Negro-white relationships. Jewish history has a special sensitivity to the horror of the ghetto, and Judaism is an affirmation of the God-given right of every man to equality and justice * * * We urge our congregants to refrain from imposing any qualifications about race, color, religion or national origin in the sale, leasing or mortgaging of housing * * * We endorse all efforts to obtain fair housing legislation and open occupancy all over our nation and we urge our congregations and our congregants to lend their support and encouragement to such efforts in their own community.”—Union of American Hebrew Congregations resolution, adopted at 48th General Assembly, November, 1965.
“We are convinced that every aspect of discrimination is linked with every other aspect; that there is an 'inseparability of issues' involved here, and that a piecemeal confrontation of the various details of prejudice and discrimination does not satisfy the moral requirements of the crisis confronting our country. Anything but a total and maximum program contains elements of immorality in the phases it neglects. We pledge you our wholehearted support for a total program involving voting rights and equal protection of the law; accessibility of public facilities and private ones serving a public purpose; equal availability for educational and cultural opportunities; hiring and promotion, medical and hospital care, and open occupancy in housing.”—Rabbi Uri Miller, past president of Synagogue Council of America, in message at meeting of religious leaders at the White House, June 17, 1963.
ADDITIONAL STATEMENT OF COMMISSION ON RELIGION AND RACE OF THE NATIONAL
COUNCIL OF CHURCHES OF CHRIST IN THE U.S.A., TO JOINT TESTIMONY ON H.R. 14765
More than seven years ago the General Board of the National Council of Churches dealt with the problem of racial discrimination in the housing market. At that time it committed itself to work through moral suasion and social action "for the enactment of appropriate housing legislation to achieve the right of every person to acquire housing which permits (in the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) 'a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and his family on the basis of personal preference and financial ability without regard to race, national origin, or religion." (Resolution on non-segregated housing, adopted by the General Board of the National Council of Churches, February 26, 1959).
With this as precedent, the Commission on Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches at its April 26, 1966, meeting, declared its support of federal legislation to bar racial discrimination in housing and called upon the President of the United States immediately to use his administrative powers to further this end. Specifically the Commission referred to "extension of the executive order banning discrimination in housing that received federal aid and * * * implementation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to deny federal programs to communities which do not make positive efforts to insure that housing in such communities is available without regard to race, national origin, or re
ligion." (Resolution on Federal housing legislation, adopted by the Commission on Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches, April 26, 1966).
In June, 1961, the General Board of the National Council of Churches declared that "every Christian citizen can and should demand that law enforcement officials * * * protect all people in the peaceful exercise of constitutional rights." (Resolution, an appeal to Christian conscience, approved by the General Board, June 8-9, 1961). Since that time many people in this country have lost their lives attempting to secure those rights for themselves and their fellow men, because of the misuse of local and state law enforcement processes, including rank discrimination in the selection of juries. On April 26, 1966, the Commission on Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches, therefore, endorsed proposed federal legislation which attempts to correct some of these inequities.
CONSTITUENT AND RELATED ORGANIZATIONS
The Central Conference of American Rabbis.
The United Synagogue Council of America.
The Social Action Department.
The National CYO Federation.
The National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice.
The Christian Family Movement. The National Council of Churches of Christ represents thirty major religious bodies from the Protestant and Orthodox communities.
Senator ERVIN. Father, do you have anything to add ?
Senator ERVIN. Before I forget it, Rabbi, I wish to commend you for the very fine work you have done on a matter I have been interested in and that is getting judicial review to determine whether or not Congress has violated the first amendment.
Rabbi HIRSCH. May I reciprocate that commendation. We are delighted with the leadership you have taken in this very important area.
Senator ERVIN. Dr. Payton, I notice you speak for the National Council of Churches and you state that you represent the 30 major religious bodies from the Protestant and Orthodox churches. You do not claim, however, that you are speaking in behalf of all of the people that are affiliated with those various churches, do you?
Dr. PAYTON. Obviously, Mr. Chairman, no organization can claim to say that its policies are agreed to by every single individual. But I must say this, that in the National Council of Churches, there is a process whereby the denominations and their leaders themselves are the ones who are finally responsible for our policy. It is not just a bureaucracy where bureaucrats make decisions. It is an organization in which the denominational leaders themselves bring forth policy and exercise it.