Religion: Gun Thy Neighbor?

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"When I get my shelter finished, I'm going to mount a machine gun at the hatch to keep the neighbors out if the bomb falls. I'm deadly serious about this. If the stupid American public will not do what they have to to save themselves, I'm not going to run the risk of not being able to use the shelter I've taken the trouble to provide to save my own family."

This kind of tough talk from a Chicago suburbanite last week had echoes all over the U.S., as the headlines spread uneasiness and the shelter business boomed. In Austin, Texas, Hardware Dealer Charles Davis stashed four rifles and a .357 Magnum pistol in his shelter and pointed out its four-inch-thick wooden door: "This isn't to keep radiation out, it's to keep people out." Davis is also prepared in the event that some of his shelterless neighbors get into his shelter before he does. "I've got a .38 tear-gas gun, and if I fire six or seven tear-gas bullets into the shelter, they'll either come out or the gas will get them."

Swarm of Locusts. "This seems to be something that looms very large in a lot of people's minds," says Vice President Roger Culler of International Shelter Corp. Many shelter owners, for example, go to great lengths to keep their shelters secret—even to the extent of passing off shelter construction workers as furnace repairmen.

Relations between Los Angeles and Las Vegas are still recovering from a flap over a speech by Las Vegas Civil Defense Leader J. Carlton Adair, who proposed a 5,000-man militia against the possibility of wartime refugees from California pouring into Nevada "like a swarm of locusts." And Civil Defense Coordinator Keith Dwyer of California's Riverside County (pop. 306,191) last week told a group of officials and reserve policemen in the town of Beaumont that as many as 150,000 refugees from Los Angeles might stream into Beaumont if there were an enemy attack, and that all survival kits should include a pistol. "There's nothing in the Christian ethic," said Dwyer, "which denies one's right to protect oneself and one's family."

The Ethics of It All. What do the guardians of the Christian ethic have to say about the pros and cons of gunning one's neighbor as well as loving him? As more and more families made preparations last week to go underground—with or without submachine guns—various clergymen had various recommendations.

∙THE REV. GEORGE W. FORELL, professor of theology at Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary: "I certainly object to the notion of killing people to save your own life. Even if you shoot people to save your family when your family's own survival is questionable, that is the use of a certainly evil means to attain an uncertain end; it assumes you know the end. The Christian counsel here is that one tries to do what is least evil and asks forgiveness for his sin."

∙THE REV. HUGH SAUSSY of Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Atlanta: "If someone wanted to use the shelter, then you yourself should get out and let him use it. That's not what would happen, but that's the strict Christian application."

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