From the Charleston News and Courier we have this wise and warning word: "One of the propaganda gambits is the assertion that the Soviet government allows a large measure of religious freedom. We would not be surprised if the current National Council of Churches mission to Moscow returned with such a report. It is true, of course, that churches are allowed a limited degree of activity. But these churches are permitted to operate in order to promote aims of the Soviet state. The Russian Orthodox Church—a tool of the Communist authorities—in gaining admission to the World Council of Churches won a beach-head in the Christian world which will prove useful to the Kremlin.
"If one wants to measure accurately Soviet intentions toward religion, one has only to look at the situation of the Jewish faith in Russia. The Jerusalem Post, published in Israel, recently detailed some of the restrictions put on free exercise of Judaism. Soviet pressures against the Jewish faith are so intense that it is even forbidden for Jews to bake the matza, unleavened bread, used during the Passover. 'No matza will be baked legally in the Soviet Union this year,' said The Post. 'Matza is prohibited in the name of anti-religion.'
"The Jerusalem Post reports that the city of Odessa, 'with its 200,000 Jews,' is included in the area where matza-baking is banned. A fine of 115,000 rubles was imposed on the Riga Jewish community as a 'tax on private profits accumulated by the officers of the congregation,' said the Post. Now, added this Israeli journal, 'Passover has also been described as Zionist propaganda.'
"These restrictions on Jews are a reminder that the Soviet Union is not neutral on the subject of religion. Anti-religion is the official doctrine of the Soviet state. Toleration is extended only when it serves propaganda purposes, or when it allows Moscow to send political agents abroad in clerical garb."
Governor Pickens of South Carolina was minister to Russia. Speaking to a group of cadets, he told them that while he was visiting the Imperial Gardens of the Peterhoff near St. Petersburg, he was shown an oak tree, planted by Czar Nicholas in 1839. The tree bore a marker stating it had grown from an acorn from a tree near the tomb of George Washington.
After the hundred years since Gov. Pickens spoke to the cadets, we say that if some acorns of Christian truths could be planted in Russia and these acorns became trees that bear Christian fruit—what blessings would come to millions.