‘The Savior With the Sword’
Bruce Barton on Morality, American Style (1951)

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project
| June 22, 2018                                                     

“What does it mean when, in less than two generations, a people turns its thought and talk from “moral leadership” to a world-wide program of fear and force?”

The Tyranny of Words — Bruce Barton on Aggression (1951)

So the U.S. government is tearing children and babies from their parents who have crossed the southern border illegally, putting these kids in cages thousands of miles away, then citing Biblical scripture to justify it all. How did we get here?

While it may appear aberrant at first, this moment is yet another reminder that the United States as we know it was a project of white settlers who instituted slavery and genocide on its soil. Of course, the U.S. is also one of the freest, most developed countries on Earth, a “land of opportunity” where “all men are created equal”; a “melting pot” and “shining city on a hill” promising “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” America’s admirable and contemptible qualities have always coexisted.

In observance of this duality, here is a gnostic commentary from the Korean War years by a leading Christian conservative thinker of the time, author of the best-selling book about Jesus Christ, The Man Nobody Knows (1925).

Bruce Fairchild Barton (1886-1967) Bruce Fairchild Barton (1886–1967), was a pioneering advertising tycoon, syndicated columnist and former New York Congressman (1937-1940) who had once delivered the keynote address at the Republican State Convention, even considered a potential contender for President.

Obviously, Barton’s humanistic, faith-based values would be anathema to the so-called Christians of today’s anti-intellectual “alt-right” GOP, to whom cruelty is a virtue.

March 18, 1951
Is It Too Late to Introduce
New Note in Diplomacy?

By Bruce Barton

When I was a tiny tot in Sunday school, we sang:

O Zion haste, thy mission high fulfilling;
To tell to all the world that God is Light;
That He who made all nations is not willing;
One soul should perish, lost in shades of night;
Publish glad tidings;
Tidings of peace . . .

As we marched up to the collection box to deposit our pennies, we sang:

Dropping, dropping, dropping,
Hear the pennies fall.
Every One for Jesus,
He will get them all.

Dropping Pennies (church hymn)

Those pennies were sent to feed starving people in India, to erect churches and hospitals in China, to spread the good news of health and happiness and brotherhood “all over the world.”

It was explained to us that the “Zion” mentioned in the stanza above was the United States — a land divinely destined to use its wealth and, more important, its humane example, to lead all humanity along the upward path to prosperity and peace.

Those were wonderful, hopeful days, but the memory of them comes back to me on a wave of sadness. For what are the little tots being taught now about this, our great America?

They are being told in blazing headlines and gloating broadcasts that “yesterday the United States forces slaughtered 26,000 Chinese.” That the day before the total dead and wounded was 18,000; that more towns have been captured, more homes laid waste; more helpless men, women and children driven away into the freezing hills.

Our youngsters are asked to rejoice that the French, using our more deadly arms and ammunition, are slaughtering many more Indo-Chinese. And that we are about to spread the Gospel of Peace, in the form of instruments of mass murder, all over Europe.

What does it mean when, in less than two generations, a people turns its thought and talk from “moral leadership” to a world-wide program of fear and force?

Arnold J. Toynbee, the famous historian, in his "War and Civilization," leaves no doubt of history’s answer. He says it means that our society is “disintegrating.”

He says:

“Militarism has been by far the commonest cause of the breakdown of civilizations.” Again: “The would-be savior of a disintegrating society is necessarily a savior with a sword”. But the “savior with a sword” must inevitably fail, he assures us: “society cannot be saved by the sword, even when the swordsman is genuinely eager to return the weapon to its scabbard at the earliest possible moment...”

Which means, if history teaches us anything, that the United States, “genuinely eager” to recreate a peaceful world, now seems in imminent danger of contributing, however unwillingly, to its destruction.

Is it too late to plead for a return to our ancient ideals? Is there no hope that, with the ingenuity of which we are so proud, we introduce some new note into the Ancient mummery called diplomacy?

Must the nation that so short a time ago was seeking to save the world through the knowledge and Love of the Prince of Peace; now surrender itself to the demolishing ruin of “the saviour with the sword”?

April 4, 1951
LOOKING AT LIFE by Erich Brandeis

Bruce Barton, in one of his editorials, recently quoted Arnold J, Toynbee, the noted historian, as having written that our society is disintegrating and has turned from moral leadership to a world-wide program of fear and force. But, Toynbee said, “society cannot be saved by the sword.” It must return to morality. It must turn back from hypocrisy to the old-fashioned virtues that made this country great.

THE WRATH OF GOD | Bruce Barton's prayerful anti-war sermon (1951)
Is War “Christian”? — Bruce Barton on God & War (1951)

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Related links:

Hear Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1968 Sermon “The Drum Major Instinct”

The Prayer of the Ancient Lapp | by Bruce Barton (June 1951)

Perpetually In Favor of War | by Bruce Barton (March 1951)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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