I may be a science journalist and, worse yet, an atheist, but I’m old enough to know that faith can be a force for good. Way back in the days of the Vietnam War, when I was just 13, an Episcopal priest took me and several other future draftees to the armed forces recruiting office in Philadelphia to protest. Rev. Scott didn’t have publicity or personal gain in mind; protesting slaughter was just his way of living out his faith. Did we end the war? Well, perhaps not. All I’m saying is the draft ended months before I was due to be called up.
Scott was one of three ministers who lived on the West Philadelphia block where we lived. The other two were black. Ours was one of the first to integrate, and it’s no accident that clergy on both sides of the racial divide led the way. Following the King assassination, Rev. Scott took a bunch of us to the National Cathedral in Washington for a reconciliation service. I’ll never forget tearfully linking arm in arm with thousands of people to sing “We Shall Overcome.”