Letter to the Editor
At the business meeting of the ASA in Chicago on August 24, 1966 it came to light that at the 1965 business meeting a motion to send a resolution to President Johnson regarding Viet Nam did not pass, and that the secretary bad not included any mention of the lost motion in the minutes. Even though the secretary indicated publicly at the time that he would not include that piece of business in the minutes, I would like to protest such a procedure in general, and in this case in particular.
One of the functions of minutes, at least in the ASA is to inform members who are not present what took place. It is clearly the approach in any book on parliamentary procedure that I know of, (e.g. N. M. Roberts, Rules of Order, 75th ed., p 247) that once a motion is made and seconded it is a matter of record, whether it passes, loses or is amended. It is all the more appalling that the defense for not including a lost motion in the record was given by stating the fact that many church groups follow such a practice. From my viewpoint to put forth a record that pretends by all commonly accepted standards to give a complete recording of proceedings, but which has a deliberate omission because the item of record was not pleasing to the secretary, is simply unethical. My plea is that even if other religious groups are willing to take an unethical means to gain an end, that the ASA might play it straight.
Apart from the principle of the issue, I wish such a motion had not found its way to the floor. The assembly of 1965 is to be congratulated in reaffirming the traditional stance of the ASA in not taking any stand on political issues. Christians need to take clear stands on many issues, including political ones, but the function of the ASA is for other purposes. The secretary was concerned that if the membership knew that a motion for a resolution supporting the President in his actions in Viet Nam lost, that it would be misinterpreted to mean that the ASA did not support him, We should all be aware that the failure of any resolution of this type to be accepted by the ASA is most likely just a reaffirmation of that fact that the ASA does not take any position as an organization on such issues. However to underscore the need for accurate and honest reporting I would like to make it clear that it is of vital concern to me as a member to know that such a resolution was considered. If the organization bad taken such a stand approving of the President's action in Viet Nam, I and other members who feel that his action there is morally wrong would likely need to disassociate ourselves from the ASA. It would be an excellent idea for us to discuss the moral implications of Viet Nam, since we have political scientists within our group, but we can better deal with such issues in a context other than an assembly in which we are afraid to participate for fear that we will be implicated in an action taken by a majority with which we disagree. Let's keep our freedom to discuss, but make an honest record of our actions.
Henry Weaver, Jr.
Prof. of Chemistry, Goshen College, Goshen, Ind.