King's Business - 1913-07



the properties used for evil purposes in the city were owned by Christian men. The trails that were followed ran in directions that would have deterred less courageous or less pur­ poseful crusaders. Yet there seemed to be no power in all Atlanta that could balk or make to swerve aside this relentless crusade. As may be surmised, it was quickly found that it had been the part of wisdom to contract for advertising space. The newspapers of no city could be counted upon to follow editorially and disinterestedly such a path as the Men and Religion commit­ tee pursued. By the use of advertising space, the message was put in the con­ trol of the committee itself. It be­ longed absolutely to the men who had paid for it. Nobody could censor it. There was no newspaper owner with possible property interests to edit it and no big advertiser to influence it. This experiment revealed in strik­ ing fashion a new instrument of democracy — the paid statement, through advertising columns, of truth that should reach the people. The Men and Religion commitee might have conferred until its members were deaf and doddering with public offi­ cials and politicians, and not have ac­ complished one-half that was wrought by direct appeal to the consciences of the people. There was no way of answering, avoiding or diverting the tremendous truths told week by week in these display advertisements, which naturally came to be the first part of the paper to which thousands of read­ ers turned every day. Contrary to the prediction of the northern wiseacre, the southern peo­ ple did not revolt from this plain statement of truth. They were s t u n g by it and stirred and stimulated. They quickly revealed “a new conscience” upon “ancient evil,” as Jane Addams's happy phrase has it. The advertise-

vealed something of the serene assur­ ance of Scripture itself; they were un­ hurried and unannoyed. The calm confidence in which they were written was more terrifying than bluster. Evi­ dently the Christian forces of Atlanta, under the, direction of the Men and Religion Movement, had laid siege to the citadel of vice, and they possessed the needed guns and ammunition. Even the casual reader could see that there was, behind the written state­ ments, a legal mind and a soldier heart. Here was the Christian cru­ sader down to date. Each of the ad­ vertisements, until victory was as­ sured, ended with the confident words, “Atlanta should and will close the houses in our midst.” The men who used these advertise­ ments were speaking to the people of Georgia, with a power that no other series of messages had ever possessed, and they were plainly fearless. They went wherever the trail led them. It became necessary to point out the new and unstudied implications in the problem of the social evil. The wages of women workers were set forth in the advertising and a new duty laid upon the city’s Christian men. It is true that the world has been blunder­ ing along in chaotic fashion amid the new economic and social conditions. Now our prophets are facing the facts—all facts. The really startling appropriations of the Scripture quo­ tations used by the Atlanta men have stimulated many minds. Thus one ad­ vertisement bears the words of Nehe- miah, “Some of our daughters are brought into bondage already.” Social Conscience and Property Ownership A conspicuously Christian city, At­ lanta was yet shown to suffer from a sore lack of social conscience. Inves­ tigation showed that 50 per cent of

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