Formed in the early twentieth century, the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (FCC)1 comprised 32 American Protestant denominations working in cooperation to advance an international agenda of social and cultural reform, including the abolition of child labor, improved conditions for the poor, and workers' rights.
The rise of the Nazi regime prompted a debate within the FCC as to whether the Council should take a public stance on the activities of a European government. The FCC was ultimately spurred to action when the Nazi regime rejected passports for some German Christian leaders attempting to attend a religious conference. In June 1937, the Executive Committee of the FCC adopted a resolution criticizing Hitler's treatment of Christians within Germany. The text of this resolution appears together in the featured booklet with a letter chastising Hitler for disregarding an earlier promise to preserve the independence of German churches. One FCC leader, Reverend Charles F. Macfarland,2 went on to accuse Hitler of curtailing religious freedom and persecuting German Jews. The booklet was printed and distributed to FCC members in August 1937.3
Like many observers in 1937, Church leaders could scarcely predict that Nazi policy would lead to a catastrophic world war and a campaign of mass murder. The publication of this booklet, however, reflects their awareness that the Third Reich did not intend to allow Christians to worship freely in Germany. This document does not clarify, however, how far American Church figures were willing to go in denouncing the German government's oppression of German Jewry.