Worship: Goldwater's Faith

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When Republican Vice Presidential Candidate William Miller recently described Barry Goldwater as "half Jew ish," the American Council for Judaism shot back that it regarded him as wholly Christian. As far as Goldwater's religious beliefs go, the council is right.

Goldwater's father, Baron, was once a member of Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, but moving to Arizona in 1882 brought him into an area of little Jewish life. It was in an Episcopal church, in 1907, that he married Josephine Williams, a Presbyterian who became an Episcopalian after moving to Phoenix from Chicago. Far from trying to convert him, "Jo" Goldwater encouraged her husband to study and amplify his Jewish faith. One of the most visible demonstrations of his religious belief consisted of closing the Goldwater stores on Jewish holidays. He was buried from an Episcopal church.

In Trees, a Cathedral. Mrs. Goldwater brought up her children, Barry, Bob and Carolyn, as Episcopalians. Barry went to Sunday school, served as an acolyte, received instruction, was confirmed. He married Peggy Johnson in Grace Episcopal Church in Muncie, Ind., and they in turn raised their four children as Episcopalians.

Barry belongs to Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix, but doesn't go to church often. "With the kind of life I have, Peggy and I just usually don't get around to it," he explained last week. "If a man acts in a religious way, an ethical way, then he's really a religious man — and it doesn't have a lot to do with how often he gets inside a church." As for his religious feelings, he mused: "With me it is like old Senator Henry Ashurst of Arizona used to say: 'The saddle is my church, and the trees are my cathedral.' I get a lot of the same feeling from going up the canyons or walking in the desert." Goldwater regards retired Bishops William Scarlett and Walter Mitchell, both of whom once ministered in Phoenix, as having influenced his life. Both clergymen are in disagreement with his stand on civil rights, the anti-poverty program and foreign policy, and Bishop Scarlett adds that he cannot "support Goldwater's presidential aspirations." Said Goldwater last week: "They're both very liberal and can't understand how I could be conservative." Once, years ago, Barry borrowed a prayer book from Scarlett, underlined all the passages conservatives would agree with, and returned the book to the bishop.

Golden Rule. In political speeches, Goldwater generally forgoes organ-tone wind-ups appealing to Providence. But he almost always stresses the religious underpinnings of his political philosophy. Said he in his San Francisco acceptance speech: "Those who seek to take your liberty, those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen, must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for Divine Will. And this nation was founded upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom."

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