Science in Christian Perspective
The Christian's Response to the
From: JASA 14 (March 1962): 17-24.
This brief film reminded me of a comment I made to the United States Conference of the World Council of Churches three years ago when I pointed out that during their two-hour session there had been a net increase in the human race of 10,000. If I were speaking today, I'd have to say 11,000 because the rate has increased. Bishop Sherrill, who was in the chair, banged his gavel and said, "I knew we should have adjourned earlier."
The chairman referred to the involvement of scientists in the current demographic revolution, the population explosion. I think a good starting place would be to understand our involvement as churchmen in this present problem. It is the most neglected of the great world social problems primarily because the statesmen have seen it as a problem surrounded with religious controversy. They have stayed away from it because the only coordinated and articulated point of view, from a Christian perspective, has been that of the Roman Catholic Church. The two groups that have been most opposed to an approach toward population control of any sort have been Roman Catholic countries and communist countries, or those influenced by that point of view. They oppose for different reasons obviously.
Now the point I've been trying to make during the past five years is in stirring our churches, the churches of the ecumenical movement particularly, to give more serious attention to this neglected problem, is that our Protestant churches have contributed to this neglect by their failure to face up to the issues in this field. They have not given the serious attention to the doctrine of parenthood that it deserves; they have not looked at this emerging population problem with the serious attention it requires. This is what has underlain my work in writing the book and in various study groups, to help the churches of the ecumenical movement take a more responsible attitude toward this population problem.
I think we also need to see that there's a real contribution to the problem itself, not just to the neglect of it at the governmental levels. On the one hand there is the continuance of high birth rate. There had to be high birth rates in most of the underdeveloped world to offset the high death rate for untold generations. But the continuance of these high birth rates have a number of religious factors behind them. They may not be the most important, but they are factors. One is the opposition of the Roman Catholic
*Evening Address given before the 16th Annual Convention of the American Scientific Affiliation, Houghton, New York, August, 1961. (Taken from taped recording of the address)
**Dr. Fagley is Executive Secretary of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, a joint endeavor of the World Council of Churches and the International Missionary Council.
ethos, of course, to any form of contraception. It's a double standard. For example in Malta, prophylactics are issued to single men in the navy but not to married men. And the double standard applies to much of the Latin world. In Islam the ethos there could be described as one of procreation unlimited. There are other factors coming into the picture, but the predominant, the traditional point of view is an extreme pro-fertility point of view. In Hinduism, sons are required to pray for the dead, to release the soul from hell. In Confucianism there is a saying that there are many things that are unfilial but the most unfilial thing is to have no sons. Now I think we need to understand that in most if not all-Buddhism may be a partial exception--of the great world religions there is a strong pro-fertility emphasis because all of them developed against the background of a world under-population. This has been the traditional situation. It's only been in modern times that the death rate has been brought under increasing control. And it's in this other area-because this is the dynamic, this is the revolutionary area of the equation it i s in regard to the death rate that religious missions, medical missions, particularly have made their impact. They have pioneered in public health programs, and thank God that they have. They have helped to prepare the way for this tremendous medical revolution of our times, the application of the new insecticides and antibiotics, particularly since World War II, to tropical diseases which have had tremendous and marvelous effects throughout the underdeveloped world with such paradoxical results. Of course the fault does not lie with these medical programs. The fault lies with the failure to match these programs with comparable effectiveness in the field of agriculture, of education, of family planning. But we are involved as churchmen through our mission work in this population explosion in tampering with the balance of nature-a balance that was ancient and tragic, in which too many mothers died before their time, too many children were snuffed out at an early age. This is all part of a contribution which Christian missions have made which is of tremendous significance and for which we must thank God. But we are also involved in the consequences. We cannot tamper with the balance of nature-a harsh and tragic balance-we cannot tamper with it responsibly in a one-sided way. We have to cope with all the consequences if we are to be fully responsible, and this has not been done.
Now the Roman Catholic Church has continually said, and said most recently in the recent encyclical of John the XXIII on the need to step up assistance to the poorer countries, that the answer, basically, is to be found in increasing food supplies, in economic development as a whole, that this is the way to solve the population problem. Of course it would not follow. Roman Catholic articles themselves have pointed out that within 5,000 years there would be less than one meter of land. Noit's much less than that. In 600 years, the United Nations points out, there'll be one square meter of land per person at the present rate of increase. In 5,000 years the weight of humanity would be equivalent to the total weight of the earth. So that development by itself is no answer.
But the Roman Catholics have by and large given the impression that they are concerned about economic and social development. They quote frequently the saying of Chesterton that if you find there are more heads than there are hats, the thing to do is not to cut off some heads but to produce more hats. And they suggest that the Protestant church leaders, in talking about family planning, are concerned about chopping off heads rather than building more hats. Well, of course, this is not the case. I think perhaps our work in the field of economic and social development, the support given by Protestant Churches, has not been publicized as well as that by the Catholic Church, but there has been even more persistent attention, I would say, in some quarters, given to the whole strategy of economic and social development. There is the same basic concern throughout the Christian world for helping the poor societies of Asia, Africa and Latin America to improve their economic and social livelihood. Our churches have pioneered in these areas, too, through the missions. But we have not done enough, nor are the nations doing enough, and we are working as best we can to bring constructive iffluence to bear upon governments to step up their work in this field. This is most urgent. On the other hand, our Protestant Churches have not tried to create illusions about this struggle for better livelihood, the idea that there is some easy panacea to be found through economic and social development that will make unnecessary an effort to bring down the birth rate through the extension of voluntary family planning.
Let me give you a few examples of the efforts to avoid the whole question of fertility regulation. One of the ideas is the automatic aging of the population. Father Zimmerman and others have put this forward. There are more older people, it is argued, because of the medical revolution; there will be more people living past the bearing age, and consequently, as time goes on, there will be a larger and larger segment past the bearing age and therefore the birth rate will go down. Well, this is a very convenient theory. However, no serious scientist that I know of supports it, because the medical revolution, the international disease control, as Kingsley Davis calls it, applies to the whole range, the whole age scale, of the population. Of course it provides more older people, but also more people of middle age, more young parents and parents to be, and particularly more children and babies. The attack on infant mortality has been particularly striking in the current public health program. No, this is no way out.
Then there is the approach through migration. The International Catholic Migration Conference has been stressing this Msgr. Swanstrom, of that conference, speaks of a right to migrate, and so on. This has been a major emphasis among some of the Roman Catholic groups. Now migration has traditionally served a very important role as a safety valve for population pressures. During the Industrial Revolution in Europe some 70 million people came to the Americas, North and South, over a period of two centuries. And this eased population pressures there. But 70 million today is the increase of less than two years in the under-developed world. And where would they go? Well, a generation ago we might have thought of the Central African rain belt area, or the Amazon basin. But the people in these areas are themselves in the forefront of the population explosion. They're occupying their own living space as rapidly as it can be opened up. Even Jesuit scholars like Father Gibbons admit that migration offers no real help for problems of a continental character like that of India. It would take a thousand to two thousand goodly sized ships to transport one-fifth of one year's increase of India alone.
Well, then there is a space age variant of the migration approach. The idea of sending space ships to greener planets as a means of relieving population pressures on earth. Msgr. DeBlanc and Colin Clark have made references along this line. Unfortunately for this thesis, as one scholar at the University of California calculated, even with improved space ships, it might cost three million dollars per passenger and there would have to be absolute population control on this journey because it would take some 350 years to reach the nearest suitable star.
Then there's the approach of Josu6 deCastro, a Brazilian nutritionist, that has been widely quoted in many Catholic publications. He, on the basis of some old and rather inconclusive experiments with rats, concluded that there was some correlation between fecundity and the protein level. The more meat there was on the table the fewer babies in the nursery-this was his thesis. If you just could raise the protein intake of the poorer countries the population problem could be brought under control. Well, no serious scientist, that I know of, has argued that the reduction of birth rates in Western Europe or in the U. S. has been the result of reduction of fecundity, certainly not from eating more meat. Malthus himself found that our meat-eating ancestors in America in certain sections were doubling the population every 15 years, which even the present population explosion cannot top. No, the obvious fact is that in the more developed countries the people have been able to afford both meat on the table and family planning.
Then there is the approach of Colin Clark, advocating the application throughout the world of Dutch methods of agriculture. He argues that if this were done the world could support ten times the present population. What it doesn't explain is how you apply or develop throughout the world the equable climate of the Netherlands, the long spring and summer days, the mild rainfall. As one of my evangelical friends in the Netherlands, who is an agriculture expert, points out, if the Netherlands were located on the equator it could not begin to produce what it produces in its present location.
There's no easy way out. The possibility of miracles in the production of food, I would be the last to deny. We don't know what can be developed through photosynthesis or other chemical processes, the application of yeast to carbohydrate wastes, or what have you. The development of the resources of the sea was suggested in the film. One of my friends who tried it says that he finds that plankton is quite nourishing even though it tastes somewhat like ground glass flavored with cod liver oil. There are real possibilities. But the point is that they all require time and money, and these are the commodities in shortest supply in the underdeveloped world. And we must remember that at present agriculture is not keeping pace with population growth. There's been a lot of nonsense spoken on this score. On the world level, yes. But the increases have been taking place in the developed countries-Canada, the United States and Australia-not in the underdeveloped world. In the underdeveloped world as a whole, per capita food production today is slightly less than it was before World War 11. This is the actual state of affairs. Moreover, it's by no means adequate to achieve and maintain levels before World War 11, projecting them into the future. Not at all. The whole revolution of rising expectations calls for better diets. There's not only deficiency in regard to calories but particularly in regard to the protective foods and any real response to the needs and claims of the underdeveloped world must provide more adequate diet as well as diet for more people. No, there is no tolerable way out unless there is a massive extension of voluntary family planning in the countries of the population explosion.
Of course there are some not-so-tolerable ways out. We had a session on some atomic problems in our local church that got rather heated and I passed up to the chairman a few lines of nonsense which helped to break the tension:
There's no tolerable way out unless there is a massive increase in voluntary family planning. This I am convinced of.
Now, it does not mean that this of itself is any easy task. The non-Christian cultures pose a number of doctrinal obstacles to the increase of family planning. They are not insuperable, as far as I have been able to find out, but the social and cultural obstacles are very great. Large families are a mark of prestige. Children traditionally have been used in the fields in most of the peasant economies. Now, of course, which came first, the children or the using in the fields is a debatable point. But present agriculture in many of these countries relies on child labor. The larger the number of children the better your chances for old age security. It's the only form of old age security in some of these societies. There is the religious note of the need of children for some of the pious practices. There is the fatalistic approach, symbolized by the term "it is the will of God," which it applied to the whole realm of the mystery of procreation. All of these create very grave obstacles, problems in regard to the extension in an ignorant and illiterate society of any kind of well-motivated family planning. It's an enormous educational challenge. It's a religious challenge because motivation is the heart of the problem. And it's a technical problem. I understand you've had a presentation on that this afternoon. But as the Indian demographer, Chandrasekhar, has pointed out, believe it of not it is cheaper in the Indian economy for a peasant to have a baby than to afford western-type contraceptives. And this is one element in the problem that cannot be ignored.
Still, on the whole, I think it can be said, the countries that need family planning the most, countries like India and Pakistan, are more eager to be helped than the western countries are prepared to help them. We had some examples of this in the last two years. During the debate that developed in this country during the last months of the Eisenhower administration when the President was saying that family planning was no business of the government, that it was a matter for private organizations, three representatives of the Indian government expressed the hope that aid from the west would be given in this field. And during the recent weeks, under the Kennedy administration, when again the government shied away from this issue, the head of the government of Pakistan, at the National Press Club, expressed the hope that help would be given to his country in this field. The countries that need it most are more eager to be helped than the west is to help them. And this is where the churches come in. Because unless the Protestant Churches are prepared and able to build a counterweight to the Roman Catholic position, to free this issue from the present stalemate in which we find it, the future will be dark indeed as far as any aid from the west is concerned.
Some months ago I tried to make these points in a discussion of United States policy, in the Foreign Policy Association bulletin. A more candid examination of the demographic aspect of the development problem could be made. We don't need to try to escape from looking candidly at the issues. Secondly, the United States could do much more without raising directly the birth control issue, to help in the educational field and in the field of community organization which are the most costly elements in any extension program for family planning. Thirdly, a larger amount of over all aid would enable the poorer countries to allocate more of their scarce resources to developing their own programs, which is probably the best way. I'm not myself one strongly advocating a direct bilateral program in the family planning field. It's too easily misinterpreted, coming from a wealthy country like the United States. And fourthly, there is a great need for intensified research in this field. Frederick Osborne, who used to head the Population Council, told me that, aside from what die drug companies may be devoting to research, the total amount being devoted to the development of better methods of fertility regulation is something like a half-million dollars a year. There are several million devoted, he said, to physiological studies which might have some bearing on some of these programs but the research in this particular field, he said, would be covered by about a halfmillion dollars a year.
Most of all, and this is where we come in as churchmen, I think, there is the need to develop throughout our churches a deeper and more biblically-rooted concept of responsible parenthood, a positive and conscientious position grounded in the scripture-not antiCatholic but pro-Protestant, something which would be understood and shared by our pulpits and pews, something about which we would really care.
There is a problem in Connecticut, for example, where laws, put there originally by Protestants and now kept there by a Catholic minority, make it illegal, at least technically, either for doctors to advocate or prescribe contraceptives, or for husbands and wives to use them. This interferes with the rights of most Protestants, with part of their religious freedom because if they are to be responsible parents, which is part of their religious duty, they need to have the means for such a responsible course. It's particularly important because their freedom does not infringe the right of others not to use such means. But unless the Protestants of Connecticut care enough to make their position understood in the legislature, this condition will no doubt continue. If they want to have the law changed the Protestants have to stand up and be counted.
Now, what about this Christian position? I think to understand it we have to see it in some historical perspective. Christianity, like the other major religions, grew up in a time of under-population and this is one of the facts we need to see to understand the teachings of the Old Testament particularly. Here we find the increase and multiply verses of Genesis; we find the concept of the abundant society, a society of teeming flocks, and teeming families; and we find a great concern for what could be called social immortality, the preservation of the family name which justified both polygamy and the levirate marriage. There is a strong pro-fertility note found in the Old Testament. There's an abrupt change in the New Testament because the focus there is not on the natural continuation of life but on its supernatural transformation.
In fact, the main text, historically, in the New Testament in regard to parenthood is one in I Timothy 2:15 where it is said that a woman shall be saved by childbearing if she continues in faith and love and holiness with modesty. She not only needs to have the Christian virtues but to have children in order to be saved. Now this is the traditional interpretation which does not seem to me to fit in well with Paul's great doctrine of justification by faith. It's a difficult text. There's a possible different interpretation which some modern translators have given it. Weymouth and Moffat and Phillips and the footnote in the New English Bible present the idea that this may apply to safety in the physical sense rather than salvation in the spiritual sense. "A woman shall come safely through childbearing." This would fit in much more with the great doctrines of the church. But in any case it is a difficult text and certainly not one on which Christians today could build an adequate theology for parenthood. The eastern churches still cite this verse. I have not seen any modern Roman Catholic reference to it.
When the early church confronted the gnostic heresy which held that procreation was the imprisonment of souls in evil bodies, the early fathers had to turn to the Old Testament, the increase and multiply verses. They did not find in the New Testament the help they needed in order to affirm the basic goodness of procreation in the Christian view. But even here there was a certain ambivalence in their attitude because of the increasing preoccupation with celibacy. As Tertullian said, the increase and multiply injunctions had been replaced by the command to continence. This was a fairly prevalent attitude among the leaders of the early church. There were other factors which helped to shape the point of view of the early churches. There were charges in the pagan world of promiscuity among Christians, a rather odd charge coming from the world described by Paul in the first chapter of Romans. But, nevertheless, it was a misinterpretation, I'm convinced, of the old primitive church supper, agape~ which was interpreted in an erotic sense by the pagans and by way of reaction the church fathers gave a more ascetic character to marriage than it probably would otherwise have had. Then there was the Graeco-Roman concept of marriage, a very utilitarian contract for the procreation of legitimate issues. This had an impact on the Christian understanding of the purpose of marriage. There was the influence of Greek philosophy, the idea that any sex passion, whether within marriage or outside, was the enemy of reason and essentially bad. And this has been one of the major influences in the Christian attitude historically. I do not think it is biblically sound and we are in the current period moving back to a biblically-centered understanding, I think, in this respect.
And finally, there was the misunderstanding of the physiological process. Many of the ancients felt that the male contribution to conception was seed in the full sense and therefore any non-procreative use was virtually equivalent to murder.
Now this attitude of the early church, these various strands that were brought together, still influence the Eastern Orthodox Church. They reflect this ethos of early Christianity particularly since none of the ecumenical councils spoke on the issue. The teachings of the hierarchy, which of course as you know is made up of the monastic order, are generally opposed to any non-procreative use of sex within marriage. Abstinence is the only method sanctioned by the Orthodox in their statements. But we also need to understand that the Eastern Church does not have the same legalistic concept of moral principles or religious or spiritual teaching as is true in the Western Church. Thus, there is no difficulty in the fact that an orthodox country like Greece has no ban on contraception. The Pan-Orthodox meeting which will be coming in September on the Island of Rhodes is going to wrestle with this problem. I do not have large expectations because basically it is easier for the Orthodox to modify practice than it is for them to clarify doctrine.
In the Western church the main influence, I think, was that of Augustine. His conversion took the form of a revolt against sexual indulgence. He made offspring the chief end and justification for marriage and condemned any non-procreative use of sex including the rhythm method. Incidentally, in his teaching I find the first clear reference in early Christian writings to what could be called contraception-he refers to evil appliances. Aquinas put Augustine in an Aristotelian mold. Procreation for him became the end or nature of marriage and the marital act, a theory which provided Catholicism with a means of re-inforcing the Augustinian attitude. Aquinas also gave more attention to the benefits of non-sexual aspects of marriage-a more positive and humane approach than Augustine had made.
Since the scholastic period, and I'm just giving you a brief outline, there has been a painful and slow process in the Catholic Church to modify the rigorous position of Augustine as preserved by Aquinas. These are some of the ways. The end of marriage has grown into a two-fold end. Not just procreation now but procreation and education, and it is only within the last two years that I've seen Catholic discussions recognizing that the quantity of procreation may injure the quality of education, that these two ends are not just one but one may limit the other, although they still speak of them as a single primary end.
Secondly, there is greater stress in modem Catholicism on mutual love, on mutual perfection. Pius XI in his encyclical of 1930, Casti connubii, said that from one point of view mutual perfection could be regarded as the primary reason for marriage. This so shocked what I've called the fertility cult among the Romans that in both Britain and the United States they censored the pope, they cut out this paragraph entirely in the early editions and some of these editions, I'm told, still circulate in the United States. But here is a growing edge of the Roman Catholic position, an effort to get away from the exclusive focus on procreation.
A very important development beginning in 1853 was the gradual sanction for periodic continence for serious reasons. I was rather amused in the recent encyclical over the reference by the pope to materialism on the part of those who advocate family planning, birth control, because the peculiar weakness of the Roman position is its materialism. It is the manner of the act that becomes important in the Roman teaching rather than the moral intent. No matter how valid the intent may be, the act must maintain the manner of procreation; there must be no interference with the procreative manner of the act. This is a really materialistic approach father than an adequate one.
On the whole the new encyclical of Pope John sets back the effort on the part of Roman Catholic scholars to arrive at a doctrine of responsible parenthood within the framework of the Roman Church. He gives no reference to justification of family planning by any method in his encyclical and condemns almost without discrimination efforts to bring population pressures under control. I think this is a set-back-it may be a temporary one-to those Catholic scholars who are trying to arrive at a more constructive position. I think we Protestants need to look with sympathy on some of the struggles of the Roman Catholics in this area. They have to carry their history on their backs. Any new change has to be made to look as if it were consistent with what has taken place before. And the road forward here is very difficult. And they themselves know how many lay people are falling away because of their inability to accept the teaching of the church in this area. The birth rate in Italy, Spain and Portugal has fallen below that of the United States. Even in the United States a religious sampling in the census in 1957 indicated the Protestant birth rate was slightly higher than that of couples calling themselves Roman Catholics.
Well, what about Protestantism? The Reformation developed in a time of under-population in northwestern Europe. The Black Death losses had not been made good; the Hundred Years' War losses had not been made good. This had its influence on Luther and Calvin. The reformers had many new insights going back to the Biblical understanding of marriage. But they made no real examination of the doctrine of parenthood; they were not goaded to look at the teaching of the western church. And Puritanism helped to delay any realistic examination of the Biblical doctrine. For about 400 years there was no real difference in the approach of the Roman church and of Protestantism in this area. But in the 19th century our Protestant lay people began to make their own conscientious decisions as methods of family planning became more available. The birth rate of northwest Europe, predominantly Protestant, went down from about 32 per thousand in the 1870's to around 19 by 1920--over a 50 year period.
Then came the depression and the population explosion. Then also came, and very important, new theological studies, new psychological insights, so that we had, beginning with the 1930 Lambeth Conference, an accelerating development of church pronouncements on this subject, the most important, perhaps, being the Lambeth declaration of 1958, the Mansfield Report and Ecumenical Study of 1959, and the National Council's pronouncement of 1961. Some 13 denominations during the past two years have taken a positive stand in support of responsible parenthood. M a n y other churches continue to leave this question to the individual conscience. I myself think this is inadequate guidance, that the churches have a responsibility to provide some principles to help the individual conscience in this field. But at least this Protestant consensus is broader than the churches in the conciliar movement. I've not been able to make much of a study outside but I know from what little I've seen that it is a swelling consensus across many different lines, at least at the level of church leadership. It is emergent if not complete.
The keystone of this new consensus is a new understanding of the centrality of the one-flesh union, the two become one in Genesis, in the teachings of Jesus and in the fifth chapter of Ephesians. This is now being taken seriously. We see it as a spiritual reality which includes the physical but transcends it. We understand more deeply the meaning of "what God hath joined together." God Himself is the author of genuine marriage. Marriage therefore is lifted into the realm of the spirit, the realm of freedom and responsibility. Man and wife are not bound to procreation by the laws of nature as are the lesser species. Their parenthood becomes, in the Christian view, a free, ethical decision. And this, I think we can say, has always been the case in essence, but the new knowledge of ovulation and of contraception enlarges, undergirds, and makes concrete this freedom.
Secondly, in the emerging Protestant consensus, marital companionship and parenthood are seen, not as subordinate one to the other, but independently valid. There is a return here to the Biblical understanding of the essential goodness of sex in marriage, a part of God's creation. It can be abused, it can be diverted to selfish or sensual ends, but it is in itself a good gift of God that can be used for the service of the one flesh union.
Thirdly, the main concept in regard to children is that of responsible parenthood-a recognition of the claims of the child to love and nurture, the needs of the mother-wife for the spacing of children to preserve her health and service to the family, and the need to take into account the social situation. There is validity in the increase and multiply verses of Genesis. The basic Christian attitude throughout is a positive one towards parenthood obviously. But increase and multiply and subdue the earth does not mean to overfill the earth and be subdued by the pressures of population. It does not mean procreation unlimited. The concern of the Church must be not just with the number of children, but must be primarily with the quality of family life, with this b a s i c community of God's economy.
And finally, in regard to means, the Protestant consensus recognizes no hierarchy. It does set up certain criteria: mutual acceptability in Christian conscience, non-injurious effect on either spouse, and sufficient effectiveness to meet the conditions of the given couple. This applies to periodic continence or to various methods of contraception; there is no inherent moral distinction recognized here. It is not the manner but the moral purpose and the intent which constitutes the primary moral issue.
In regard to more extreme methods of fertility control the Protestant ethos is even more strongly condemned to abortion than that of the Roman Catholic, to judge from the legal provisions. Protestants are not agreed in regard to sterilization. The Mansfield report found no moral objection to the pill, the oral contraceptive, provided its effect was temporary and the side effects were not injurious to either partner. But in regard to long term sterilization, I think on the whole Protestant churchmen are mainly concerned with warning over such a drastic approach to the problem because responsible parenthood is seen as a day to day process of decision making.
Now, I've just indicated a few of the elements in this emerging consensus but they are some of the key points, I think. And what is basically needed throughout our churches at the level of the pulpit and of the pew is a positive and constructive development of this consensus, a personal sharing of it until it becomes firm and Biblically-grounded, not a negative approach but one that is positive and constructive. This can become truly a major contribution that we as churchmen can make to a more worthy and realistic approach to the whole question posed by the population problem.
Question: I would like to ask if within the Protestant ecumenical movement there is some feeling of tension that this emphasis on family planning birth control may block any efforts to get closer together ecumenically with the Roman Catholics?
Dr. Fagley: I think it's recognized that many of the problems in the field of human rights are real issues between these branches of Christendom. The whole approach as I've understood it is not to try to push these things under a rug or something like that but to bring them out on the table and look at them. During the recent year or two the discussions that have taken place informally have dealt with human rights and with the whole question of the population-parenthood problem. No, I think that it's precisely in these areas where there are differences that there must be a candid approach if there is to be any kind of improvement of relationships. And the fact that there have been possible private discussions, I think, is one sign of some progress. I myself would not be interested in any approach that blinked at these issues on which Protestants have very strong differences from Roman Catholics.
Question: Dr. Fagley, it might be inferred from some of your remarks that some of the southern European countries, you mentioned Spain, Portugal and Italy, might in fact be using methods of birth control forbidden by the church. Now, are contraceptive materials actually available in these countries illegally or by law?
Dr. Fagley: I did refer to a kind of double standard. It's true that most materials are not available by law. On the other hand, certain contraceptives are available as prophylactics for the prevention of disease. And it's under that guise that it's possible to procure them legally. Many others are available illegally. There was an article in a recent issue of Time about the situation in France. There is now a more or less open revolt on the part of a number of medical groups against the old 1920 law which forbade the sale of any such materials. And I think on the whole this is acknowledged. There is also an increased practice of periodic continence. I think this is also the case and would be one of the factors. But by and large both legal and illegal materials have been secured.
Question: Dr. Fagley, you mentioned that in addition to the Catholics the communists are not in favor of controlling the population or the birth rate. Is this a weapon that they're using in order to achieve dominance by the mere numbers after a period of time? I was told that communist parents don't have any incentive to have children because they can't accumulate property to pass on to their children. Is this a fact?
Dr. Fagley: I think communism has not stopped the love for children on the part of human beings and in fact I suspect in some cases, say in China, the having of children has been one of the few ways by which individuals could assert their independence of the regime because during this period the birth rates are quite high there and they've continued high despite efforts by the authorities to reduce the birth rate. The situation in the communist world is complex. Communist teaching and doctrine says that there is no population problem under socialism or communism but that it is wholly a capitalist problem. Nevertheless, as one French publication pointed out, there is a very sizeable item in the Soviet budget for the production of contraceptives. We cannot conclude that they are using population increase as a weapon. Actually, among modern industrial states a large and growing population may be more of a handicap than a source of power. It could be used as an argument for the need for expansion but military power is becoming concentrated more and more in the hands of a few people and a large number of toddlers is not a military asset in contemporary warfare. Tito claims, so I've heard, that one reason for the shift was that the Chinese communists believe that atomic war is inevitable and there's no point in limiting the population particularly since with their large population they'll have more to survive after atomic war. I don't know what the answer is but I do know it's no simple answer from studying some of the material.
Question: We have seen the film about the population explosion and you have made reference to that. Now if there is going to be anything really efficient done that would stem this so-called explosion would it not have to be on the level of social planning by the governments involved, government laws, etc.? And furthermore, you mentioned that the communist bloc is generally not amenable to this type of thing and yet they control half of the world's population, and further the Roman Catholics, up to now are not in favor of this and as you say they have to reinterpret their history in order to bring themselves into line with any such thing. What practical possibility is there then of stemming this population explosion?
Dr. Fagley: It's a fair question for which I have no clear answer. I do not maintain that there is any easy combination or any combination that adds up to a sure and tolerable way out. I'm sure there's no way out that does not include a large scale increase in family planning, no tolerable way out. But I'm not convinced that if we do what seems to be necessary that the result will add up to a new and acceptable balance. But that's the challenge. I think that in countries like India and Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt and the like, the immediate danger is that they will be swamped by their own population pressures. And they are eager to help bring about a new balance, primarily by voluntary methods. Sterilization is growing somewhat in India but it still is a small scale thing. There is a chance to do this by voluntary methods. It's more costly, but it's more congruent with human dignity, with the values that I as a Christian cherish, and it's the method that I personally think that we ought to support. It may be that as countries become more desperate they will use tax provisions to discourage population growth, they will give larger inducements for sterilization operations and the like. This is all possible. But the big threat is to these countries that are trying to develop within the framework of freedom. We can't do much about the communist world. I think for their own survival they themselves will increasingly have to take measures but I certainly think for the free society in the poorer continents this is a life and d e a t h matter and the quicker the countries of the west begin to help them in realistic ways the better the chance that some way out will be found before it's too late. I don't have any completely optimistic conclusion at all.
Question: just taking this last point a little further, what do you feel the church should propose to really get a worldwide program going? Should it try and put pressure on governments like the government of this country and of other countries that perhaps could afford to help and try and change the thinking of those governments so that they do, or what do you suggest?
Dr. Fagley: I think the fundamental task is to build a much stronger and locally-rooted Protestant consensus before we try to engage in a lot of political action. I think the level at which action is most needed is for pastors and lay groups to sit down and look at this issue and to study it and play over it and to find new and deeper convictions themselves. Without this we can't do much. Too many Protestants do not give it the conscientious attention that it needs. And that's why, politically, Protestantism doesn't have too much effect as of now in this issue. There are a n u m b e r of things which I think we need to advocate but we will do it effectively only as the more important foundations are laid right. I mentioned a few. I think we need to try to get more serious attention for the population problem itself, to urge our representatives in the congress to give more attention to this issue. We need to stress the need for greater educational help and help in the field of community organization. We could well support more overall aid with the idea of helping these countries to develop their own programs in this area. We need more research and I think that this is a legitimate use for public health funds which are being spent for other branches of public health. It should not be limited just to methods of contraception; making periodic continence more reliable which is of concern to Catholics also could also be one of the objectives. These are some of the areas in which I think we can act. I think our mission boards ought to give more attention to ways in which their hospitals and dispensaries can be of help. The Christian Medical Council for Overseas Work was telling me that most of the mission hospitals have no provision in their budgets for help in this area. When they developed, this was not on the conscience and consciousness of the people setting up the programs. Doctors are feeling the pressures locally but they do not have much to work with in this field. I think we ough to look more realistically at this area. I'm glad see that some foundations, particularly the Ford Foundation, is moving into this area in a more significant way. I think our Christian medical work certainly oughf-40 too. These are a few of the things that occur to me.
Question: This is by way of a comment. I might point out that some of the western governments a least aren't particularly concerned about this problem apparently, based on their approach on the tax question (Rest of comment lost from tape)
Dr. Fagley: All right, and in North Africa, for quite awhile a number of the Arab fathers made quite a living out of procreation. The family allowances, which were designed to build up the population of France, actually provided some of the Arab fathers with a fairly good living, I understand. Now it is true, our tax structure in this country has implications for population policy. They've not been looked at from that point of view; I think it's all unconscious. Here you might say that in social security legislation, survival benefits, the maximum are for two children, there's no more for a third. You get the same in your federal income tax, that is, the same exemption for each additional child In your local school taxes, the number of children is not taken into account, but it is based on your property. So there are differing policies, you might say, to be deduced from the different tax structures, and I think that as time goes on these will need to be looked at. This is not the most important area, but it's one that has been largely ignored.
Chairman: Because of the good response with questions I think it perhaps wisest that we not attempt to have any small discussion groups. I myself have appreciated this presentation very much. I think it's clear that Dr. Fagley has read widely, he has a greater command of the materials, of the historical developments, than any one of us, and maybe even a combination of us, might have. Also I have appreciated the emphases upon the positive aspects of resposible parenthood. I think we all sense even for the A. S. A. that as we emphasize a positive ministry it is much more effective than simply being against something.