Lift Up Your Voice like a Trumpet: White Clergy and the Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements, 1954-1973

Article excerpt

Lift Up Your Voice Like a Trumpet: White Clergy and the Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements, 1954-1973. By Michael B. Friedland. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998. 336 pp. $49.95 (cloth); $18.95 (paper).

Michael B. Friedland's Lift Up Your Voice Like a Trumpet is (as its subtitle suggests) a study of the involvement of clergy in the two major social protest movements of the twentieth century. This work, which began as the author's dissertation at Boston College, chronicles the rise and fall of political activism within the major religious bodies in the United States between 1954 (the release of the Brown school desegregation decision) and 1973 (the signing of the peace agreement with the North Vietnamese). The narrative covers the emergence of a critique of racial segregation in the 1950s, the blossoming of pro-integration ideals in churches and synagogues in the early 1960s, the shift in focus from racial to antiwar concerns after 1965, and the growing resistance to the Vietnam War from 1968 on. This is one of several recent scholarly books examining the social outreach efforts of the white religious community in the 1960s, and Friedland's impressive narrative complements similar studies by Mitchell K. Hall on Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam, James F. Findlay, Jr. on the National Council of Churches, and Charles W Eagles on Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Daniels.

Friedland readily acknowledges that his book has certain limitations. In order to maintain a cohesive narrative, he examines only white (since the African-American leadership of the civil rights movement has already been extensively studied) male (because this period predates the coming to power of ordained women) clergy (on whom significant published documentation is available). His subjects, moreover, belonged to an elite cadre of national religious leaders-clergy who were (for the most part) bishops, denominational bureaucrats, college chaplains, and others who possessed the time and resources necessary to take unpopular but genuinely prophetic stands. …