John Coleman Bennett is a minister, theologian, and teacher. He served as Dean of Faculty and later as President of Union Theological Seminary. Dr. Bennett has written many articles and books, including Christians and the State and Foreign Policy in Christian Perspective.
When one speaks or writes in tribute to someone like John Bennett, one ordinarily begins by saying, "I remember the first time I met him"or "the first time I read him."
I cannot recall when either of these things happened. There was no first time. Somehow it seems that John Bennett has always been there, giving guidance and sustaining me in judgments that I made or thought I might have to make.
This has been my experience through some thirty years of reading him, both in and out of Christianity and Crisis. Thirty years ago we looked for a religious judgment on political questions. That was the direction of John Bennett's thought, and on many critical issues the thrust of religious judgment had significant political effects.
It now seems that we have swung round and are more worried about the thrust of political judgment on our religious beliefs and on religious activity. John Bennett has been slow to join in that kind of judgment.
In every session of the Senate there is an amendment introduced to make the United States a religious country by constitutional decree -- and even a Christian country. Twenty years ago the Congress required by law that American money carry the inscription, "In God We Trust." (Approval of the legislation was partly a vote of lack of confidence in the Secretary of the Treasury, and some hoped it might be anti-inflationary.) John Bennett has not supported such proposals.
More recently there was the question of whether students in the