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The Seattle Open Housing Campaign, 1959-1968
October 15, 1963
Testimony of Thomas W. Miller, Presbyterian minister (mp3, 722k)
Rev. Miller: No need has been demonstrated for the prohibition of religious discrimination. This portion of the ordinance is a complete farce. Why does not the ordinance include the prohibition against discrimination because of political philosophy? Because there are no observable harmful effects. and also because we have freedom to exercise political discrimination. I hope that you will not allow this ordinance to be adopted when it is so patently clear that it is designed to meet something other than the harmful effects mentioned here today and that are listed in Section 9. Thank you.
Chairman Luke: Reverend Miller, I would like to ask you some questions, primarily because we have several petitions in favor of the ordinance from other Presbyterian groups. Yours is not associated with the United Presbyterian Church. Yours would be called a fundamentalist denomination?
Rev. Miller: There are a half a dozen Presbyterian churches in the city of Seattle. There is the Evangelical Presbyterian, there's a Reformed Presbyterian, there's a United Presbyterian, and there is the Bible Presbyterian, there might be others that are unknown to my knowledge.
Chairman Luke: Yes. Now are you speaking against the elimination of Section 5 Subsection 2 which exempts religious institutions from coverage of this ordinance?
Rev. Miller: No.
Chairman Luke: You believe that should remain in there?
Rev. Miller: Of course. And also to take out all prohibition against religious discrimination because it is contrary to the First Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees to everyone religious freedom and ability to practice that which is in accordance with his religion without being coerced into doing something which is advantageous to another's religion.
Chairman Luke: Now, are you against the provisions which bar discrimination because of race? Or are you supporting them?
Rev. Miller: Say it again, sir?
Chairman Luke: Are you for that provision which prohibits discrimination because of race?
Rev. Miller: No, I am not in favor of that on another basis, on the basis that it violates the eighth commandment of the Decalogue, “Thou shalt not steal.” This is an unjust usurpation of property rights.
Chairman Luke: You are against that portion. You are of course a minister, and I don't have it available to me, but what chapter and verse is it in the Bible in the New Testament, "Love thy neighbor as thyself"?
Rev. Miller: I don't know the exact verse right off hand.
Chairman Luke: Thank you.
Rev. Miller: But it's because I love my neighbor as myself that I'm here. I desire to see religious freedom preserved in this city. It's because of my love for my neighbor that I am here. I believe that scripture, Mr. Luke. I hope all the members of the City Council also believe it and practice it.
Chairman Luke: Thank you, Reverend Thomas Miller.
Courtesy: CD 55, 56 and 57. Seattle City Council Audio Recordings, 4601-03. Seattle Municipal Archives.