By Their United, Unquestioning Acceptance of Father Divine's Leadership
and Their Cheerful Insistence That They Are Living in the "Kingdom of Heaven",
They Represent a Power with Which We May Have to Reckon in Our Political Life



One big happy family.

One big happy family.



(From The Sunday Times, New Brunswick, New Jersey, June 14, 1936)

"I AM in politics, you all know that, and I AM not in politics to lose, you know that, too. Will you go with Me all the way, will you vote as I tell you to?" thundered the diminutive Father Divine in his address before 2,500 eager devotees gathered at the Masonic Temple in Highland Park, May 30. The answer to the appeal was a reverent, decided, unanimous "Yes, Father".

The International Father Divine Peace Movement is not disorganized mass hysteria, which many of us have been so eager to believe. The orderly procedure in New Brunswick on Memorial Day brought home to local people the fact that this movement cannot be ignored. We cannot hire a few Simon Legrees to thrash these people into submission. They will be slow to fight, should we bring out the army -against them. But by their united, unquestioning acceptance of Father Divine's leadership and their cheerful insistence that they are living in the "Kingdom of Heaven," they represent a power with which we may have to reckon in our political life. .Press reports give the movement credit for having 22,000,000 of these "yes" followers and we can no longer laugh it off as a "divine bubble". These people are out to get justice, peace, and a place in the sun.


Conciliation In Order

England has been wise enough to make sufficient concession to Gandhi to keep his followers reasonably solid behind the British throne. Japan has been wise enough to recognize the power of Kagawa and keep his followers an integral part of the Japanese Empire. Will America be wise enough to utilize the Father Divine movement or will it allow some clever political force to divert the leaders and use the mighty "Yes, Father" for its own purposes? Particularly what will New Brunswick do with the movement in so far as our local political affairs are concerned ?


Not 'Camp-Meeting' Style

The demonstration here brought forcibly to observers the fact that this is not the old- time "camp-meeting" type of religious hysteria. If it is a religious movement, it lacks all the time-worn phraseology. There was nothing of the customary plea to be patient, be humble, bear your sufferings with Christian grace. The multitude seems to be desensitized to the suffering and horrors of the world. Members greet each other and the onlookers with a cheerful, "Peace!" and they smile as they exclaim "Ain' t it wonderful!" They appear to be living the words which Christians for centuries have been trying to make themselves believe: "If God is with us, who can be against us?"

It is a bit disconcerting to devoted Christians who have long looked for the second coming of Christ, to find that there are 22,000,000 people who see nothing absurd in the return of Christ as an Afro-American. Yet, whoever said the Incarnation was due to be as an Aryan?


Eastern Influence Seen

As a religious philosophy, the Father Divine teachings smack of the Far East. The Vedas are quoted, the idea of theosophy is apparent, unity, harmony, a oneness with the Infinite all appear, and through it runs the strain of the Christian thought that the Kingdom of God is here and now in human hearts. Christians cannot label it "heresy" and forget it, it comes too near the teaching of the Nazarene.

What is it doing for the followers, themselves? First, it is making them happy. It is giving them the "abundant life". The leader insists on cleanliness, chastity, obedience to law, courtesy, a higher standard of living, educational improvement. And the "yes, Father" is just as readily given to these demands as when he demands their votes.


No Membership Rolls

There has been a canny restriction in building up the great organization. There is no "membership" in the Father Divine hierarchy. The organizers insist they have no membership rolls. "You tell us," they say, "how many members we have. We do not know." That relieves the organization from any responsibility for followers who fail to keep the faith. This, too, makes the movement impregnable.

"Where did. the movement start?" one asks, and the answer is "In Judea, 2,000 years ago."

"Where did Father Divine come from?" "We do not know, he has always been here in spirit."

"Who supplies the coin of the realm required to further all the ramifications of the movement?" "It is only the mind of man which limits the power of God," is the incredible reply.

The whole matter resolves itself in a paradox of a practical demonstration of the truths which have been taught for ages in all religious creeds by an organization which is frankly social and political and not religious at all.








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