Christian-Jewish Goodwill

The Goodwill Movement took many forms, beginning in the 1920s. Responding to the xenophobia and the anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish tone of the Ku Klux Klan, Jews, Protestants, and Catholics came together in an early form of the interfaith movement. In 1924, the Federal Council of Churches formed its Committee on Goodwill Between Christians and Jews and the Central Conference of American Rabbis formed a similar committee. Meeting together, these two groups issued their first joint statement. This was to become the nucleus of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, which was born in this period and continues to have a prominent role in American interreligious relations today.

We of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, as represented in a joint session of their respective Committees on Goodwill between Jews and Christians, realizing the necessity for a truer interpretation of Americanism and religion, and in order to advance both on the highest plane of goodwill and fellowship, herewith declare:

1) The purpose of our committees is to promote mutual understanding and goodwill in the place of suspicion and ill will in the entire range of our inter-religious and social relationships.

2) Because of our mutual respect for the integrity of each others’ religion and our desire that each faith shall enjoy the fullest opportunity for its development and enrichment, these committees have no proselytizing purpose.

3) We endorse the statement of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America made by its Administrative Committee in its resolution of September 22, 1922, declaring that ‘the rise of organizations whose members are masked, oath bound and unknown, and whose activities have the effect of arousing religious prejudices and racial antipathies, is fraught with grave consequences to the church and to society at large.’ To this statement we add our conviction that such organizations violate the fundamental principles and ideals of our country and religion, and merit our condemnation.

4) We realize further that we best reveal our fellowship by practical cooperation in common tasks,  and it is our endeavor to formulate a program by which to realize the high purpose and noble endeavors of mutual good-will and helpfulness.

[From Everett R. Clinchy, “Better Understanding Between Christians and Jews,” Universal Jewish Encyclopedia vol. 2 (New York: Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Inc., 1940), 260.]