The Religious Affiliation of
unnamed mayor

Religion: Unitarian CBR Scale: A

Name: unnamed mayor

Classification: supporting character supporting character   based on a real person based on a real person  

Publisher(s): DC

First Appearance: Action Comics (vol. 1) #12 (May 1939): "Superman Declares War on Reckless Drivers"

Creators: Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster

Number of Appearances: 1

Employer: Metropolis

Occupation: mayor

Gender: male

Note: mayor of Metropolis

Distraught at finding his friend Charlie Martin killed by a reckless driver, Clark Kent called the mayor. Kent asked the mayor, "Why has our city one of the worst traffic situations in the country?"

The mayor of Clark Kent's city told him: "It's really too bad -- but -- what can anyone do about it?

The mayor initially appears in only one panel on the first page. But he ends up being a fairly prominent character in the story, second in importance only to Superman himself. Superman's war against reckless drivers and dangerous automobiles culminates in his forcibly taking the mayor on a frighteningly dangerous drive and then taking him to the morgue to see all the bodies of people who have been killed in automobile accidents.

The mayor appears in about 17 panels and is mentioned in other places.

When Superman frightens the mayor by taking the wheel of the mayor's car and driving it as fast as possible, the mayor protests in fear: "Stop! Do you want to kill us?"

Superman's judgment of the mayor is fairly harsh. He answers, "Why not? You didn't worry much about killing the others!"

The puzzled mayor asks, "'Others'? What do you mean?"

Superman answers, "By not seeing to it that the speed laws were strictly enforced, you doomed many to death."

When Superman takes the mayor to the city morgue, the mayor looks in the window and says, "The bodies of auto victims -- mained -- horible!"

Superman points out, "The men you killed!"

The mayor asks, "They're not a pretty sight -- but what can I do about it?"

Superman answers, "You can see to it that traffic laws are strictly obeyed and that driving permits are issued only to responsile drivers!"

The mayor, but this time, has sincerely had a change of heart: "You've shown me this from a viewpoint I never saw before! I swear I'll do all in my power to see that traffic rules are rigidly enforced by the police!"

Superman has finally convinced the mayor, who had heretofore been rather complacent about auto-related deaths, to start enforcing traffic laws aggressively in order to make the city safer.

By this point in Superman's publishing history, the name of the city where Clark Kent lived and worked had never been revealed. The city was probably based roughly on Cleveland, where Superman creators Siegel and Shuster lived. But as Clark Kent was later lived to reside in Metropolis, it can be assumed that unnamed city where these early stories take place is Metropolis.

If one really wanted to stretch an attempt to identify this unnamed mayor's religious affiliation, one could observe that in 1939, when this Superman story was written and published, the actual mayor of Cleveland, Ohio was Harold Hitz Burton. (Burton later became even more prominent as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.) The unnamed mayor in this Superman story resembles photographs of Mayor Burton, at least to the extent that Joe Shuster's simple drawings resemble any real people. Mayor Burton (1888-1964) was a self-declared Unitarian (in a time when the Unitarian Church still self-identified as a Christian denomination).

Mayor Burton was actually a very devoted and prominent Unitarian. He served as moderator of the American Unitarian Association, representative of all Unitarian parishes in the United States and Canada.

In The Christian Register (1946), Harold Hitz Burton wrote "Why I Believe in Advancing Unitarianism": "I believe in Advancing Religious Liberalism because I believe that God is at the foundation of life, and the truest possible understanding of God is the best road to peace and progress on earth. I regard religious liberalism as but another name for search for the truth in the field of religion wherever that truth may be found. My religious faith rests upon two great Commandments - 'Thou shalt love thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind' and 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.' The Golden Rule translates these into action. It is our first duty to put that faith to daily practice among ourselves and with all nations."

To the extent that the unnamed mayor of Metropolis was based on the real-life Cleveland mayor of the time, the character can be said to be a Unitarian. Jerry Siegel's story contains no actual clues as to the mayor's religious affiliation, but there is certainly nothing to indicate that the mayor is anything other than a Unitarian.

This character is in the following story which has been indexed by this website:
Action Comics (vol. 1) #12 (May 1939): "Superman Declares War on Reckless Drivers"

Suggested links for further research about this character and the character's religious affiliation: