A free democratic society cannot long enjoy its civil liberties without sources of information that are uncensored and free from reprisal concerning the operations of its government and officials. From the time of the introduction of the printing press into Europe, censorship has been the handmaiden of despotism and tyranny. The fight for a free press has been long and continuous against despotic monarchs, as well as against well-meaning and "benevolent" democratic leaders.
The attempt to inhibit freedom of the press by indirect pressures is no less dangerous than censorship by law; it is, in fact, more insidious because its direct threat is not apparent. Secrecy in government shields not only corruption but also inefficiency and favoritism and prevents the people from being forewarned against impending dangers. Censorship of the air waves by threats to renewal of license privileges deprives the populace of free and full discussion of important public issues. Disclosure of confidential news sources dries up the well of information without which the press becomes little more than an echo of government press releases.
Be it, therefore, resolved:
- That we protest the standards of secrecy and the methods of applying them as now practiced by the federal government and we petition Congress to revise the laws pertaining thereto so that these standards will be restricted to constitutional limits and be supervised by an objective and independent agency to prevent abuse.
- That we protest the use of the power to license the use of the air waves as a device to obtain conformity and acquiescence in broadcast programming, and that we petition Congress to revise the laws pertaining thereto so that no broadcaster shall be threatened with loss of license, withdrawal of public funding, or other sanction for broadcasting controversial programs or discussions, and that the imposition of sanctions in an appropriate case shall be determined by a bureau within the Federal Communications Commission, which is independent from the licensing bureau.
- That we protest the use of the power to punish for contempt to force disclosure of confidential sources of news where the reporter is not himself a direct witness to crime and petition the Congress and the states to enact legislation creating a legal privilege to news investigators that will protect the sources of news.
- That this resolution be circulated to the Trustees of the UAHC, the Commission on Social Action, the regional councils of the UAHC, and the member congregations of the UAHC with the request to place this subject high on the agenda of discussion and that they write to their congressmen, senators, and members of their state legislators to petition for appropriate legislation and to make known their views.