King's Business - 1913-07

Advertising a City Free from its Vice* How Atlanta’s Church Men Extinguished the “Red Light” District By WILLIAM T. ELLIS, Editor Afield of The Continent T HE MOST remarkable story known to me in the present re­ ligious life of North America

Straightaway these men began to look at Atlanta’s local conditions with new eyes. They discovered what may be found in almost every other large city in the country—a “red light” dis­ trict wherein the social evil was pro­ tected, or at least winked at, by city officials. The immensity of the task— if these men had the hardihood to accept it as a task—of healing this sore on the body politic was over­ whelming. Even a preliminary inves­ tigation revealed how the tentacles of the underworld reached out in many directions to centers of influence and power. Nevertheless, these southern men had not made their vows in vain. Announcing the Facts of the Social Evil Without taking the world into their confidence or boasting of what they meant to do, or calling in the counsel of any experts, these men blended the publicity message and the social serv­ ice message into one agency and be­ gan to advertise in all the city papers the facts of the social evil in Atlanta. They contracted for a large amount of advertising space in the daily papers to be paid for at regular rates. They entitled their advertisements, -“The Houses in Our Midst,” and called them “Men and Religion Bul­ letins.” They were numbered in con­ secutive order. No. 1, of course, im­ plied’ that No. 2 was to follow, and No. 10 called up in the minds of the friends of vice the dread possibility of a No. 20 or a No. 30. In truth, the bulletins have now numbered fifty, and there have been frequent extras, some­ times a whole page in extent. Ordi-

is Atlanta’s experience with the social evil. In a word, all the houses of professional vice in the city have been advertised out of existence by the churches. Involved in the record are the stories of two great laymen in a knightly service; of a solidified Chris­ tian sentiment in the city; of a ruler of the underworld who has become a matron of a new home for rescued girls; of a tense political battle wherein Christian men showed that strategy and the ability to win are the possession of the righteous; and of an adaptation of Men and Religion methods that alone justifies the griat congress of the Men and Religion Movement a year ago. Whether an entirely new method for the church’s use in dealing with city problems has been demonstrated remains to be seen. Atlanta had experienced a success­ ful Men and Religion campaign, and consequently sent a strong delegation to the Men and Religion congress in New York City last spring. There these representative men were caught up into a mount of vision of new serv­ ice by men for the kingdom. The social service message and the pub- . licity message especially took hold of them, as they did of most of the dele­ gates. These were new notes in Christian work. They were real mes­ sages to be brought out into service. With opened eyes and resolute hearts the delegates returned to Atlanta. The unforgettable address of Jane Addams echoed in their memories above all *From The Gontinent

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