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Meditation 1094
Faith or Fact

The Republic in Danger

by: Henry M. Taber

Comment by JT: In Taber's day as today, the separation of church and state in the US was under attack. Taber could see the dangers if the the wall should fall. The danger remains. Then as today, those who challenge the separation are wilfully blind to the simple fact this separation protects their freedoms just as much as it protects the freedoms of non-believers.

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PROBABLY very few persons are aware of the danger to civil liberty now threatened in this country. Those who founded the government did so with a jealous eye to all religious encroachments upon the political liberties of the people. These founders of the Republic sought to profit by the fearful results of an alliance of the church with the state in other countries. They had read the bloody pages of religious history. They were warned by the intolerance, the persecutions, the tortures, the butcheries, which religious zeal and ecclesiastical bigotry had accomplished against those whose only crime was the claiming of natural liberty and the assertion of those rights to which they were entitled by a proper recognition of the principle of civil and religious freedom: the right to hold their honest opinions and to express their honest thoughts on matters of religion.

There are not many Roman Catholics who take the patriotic view “that the state with us has no religion and that it cannot and ought not to recognize any church,” and yet this is the liberal-minded utterance of Father Stafford of Baltimore. In violation of this principle, the statute books of every state in our Union abound with laws which are a virtual recognition of the Christian religion; and thus is the Christian Church imposed or forced upon the people of these states.

Every state (California excepted) has its Sunday laws, with more or less severe penalties for their violation.

In fourteen states the law relating to the taking of an oath is such that no conscientious agnostic can adopt it. In some states, like it is in Arkansas, “No person who denies the being of a God shall hold office in civil departments of the state nor be competent to testify as witness in any court.”

Who knows that there is such a “ being” as God? The clergy of every denomination may be challenged to bring the slightest proof of what they know – not what they think, or suppose or guess, but what they actually know about the personality they call “God.”

In thirteen of the states are what are called “Blasphemy laws, ” which consist of expressing disbelief in God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Trinity, the Christian religion or the Bible; such disbelief being differently expressed in the laws of the different states. All such laws are in contravention of the Constitution of the United States, which provides that no religious test shall be required as a qualification to office and no law respecting an establishment of religion shall be made. They are likewise in contravention of the provisions of nearly every one of the constitutions of the respective states. The substance of these provisions may be illustrated by the words of the Constitution of Colorado, viz.: “No person shall be denied any civil or political right, privileges or capacity on account of his opinions concerning religion.” In face of the constitutional guarantees of the several states, to all citizens, that they are entitled to every right which any other citizen possesses; in our public schools, non-sectarians are taxed to support such schools, in which are heard the reading of sectarian books, the singing of sectarian hymns and the utterance of sectarian prayers ; the tax-payer’s money being spent for Bibles and for hymn and prayer books, in violation of the principle which refuses to tax those whose views on the question of religion in the public schools are ignored.

What have these religious exercises to do, necessarily, with education, any more than they have to do with the teaching of carpentry, or of dancing, or of art. Children are sent to public schools to learn what is profitable and useful in this world and not to be instructed in the dogmas pertaining to some other world, of which they know absolutely nothing.

There are also those (and millions of them) who are opposed to religious exercises in our congress, in our legislature, in our prisons, in the army and navy, and who are opposed to the paying from the public treasury of chaplains; such opponents denying the right of government to tax them for such purposes.

Mr. Maguire, M.C., from California, voices the sentiment of every lover of justice in saying as he did in the House of Representatives, “There is an establishment of religion and there are repeated appropriations for the establishment and promotion of religion here, which we ought to stop,”

The Army Register furnishes some particulars regarding the pay of army and navy chaplains, which amounts annually to $84,600 for army chaplains; $60,000 for navy chaplains.

It is estimated that during our four years of civil war the chaplains in the army cost the United States government six millions of dollars, and those of the navy two millions – or a total of $S8,000,000.

On February 21, 1896, Rev. C.J. Ochschlaeger, of Richmond, Va., was invited to act as chaplain of the House of Assembly, but declined, saying, “I do not believe in opening a promiscuous political body with prayer. It is an abuse of prayer, and an unnatural union of church and state… The states, which the Assembly represents, has nothing to do with prayer.” Rev. Dr. Hawthorne of Atlanta, Ga., says, “In appointing men to these offices (chaplaincies) and paying them for their services with money taken from its own treasury, the state does more than protect the Christian religion. It patronizes it, and any government patronage of religion is a violation of the rights of conscience... While these abuses of civil government exist let no man speak of this country as a land of religious liberty.”

The constitution of many of the states provide (as does that of Illinois) that “ No person shall be required to attend or support any ministry or place of worship against his consent,” and yet by the practice of exempting church property from taxation, are not very many taxpayers required to support places of worship against their consent? It makes no difference whatever whether the legislators of the several states actually donate to the churches an amount of money equal to the taxes for which they are (or should be) liable or whether they exempt such churches from taxation. The state, virtually, pays the tax of every church, by reason of its exemption from taxation. How can good, law-abiding, Christian people reconcile their consciences to such transgressions of law and how can Christians, who profess to be honest, take, illegally, money that belongs to others?

There are laws also in many of the states against “appropriations for sectarian purposes.” Is not exempting property from taxation in effect making appropriations for sectarian purposes?

Besides the indirect method of appropriations to churches by exemptions from taxation, churches and other sectarian institutions receive –directly – from the state, large sums of money, in total disregard of laws on the statute books of most of the states which distinctly and emphatically forbid such appropriations.

The Truth Seeker Annual for 1886 gives the amount donated by the state of New York for sixteen years (additional to what the churches get by being exempted from tax) and the result shows a present of $13,000,000 to the Romish, and $8,500,000 to the Protestant church.

Another great injustice is the committing, or the effort to commit, the people of the country to a recognition of the Christian religion by the issuing of proclamations setting apart certain days to be observed religiously by all the people. Fortunately there are but few who heed such proclamations, but they are nevertheless most intolerable pieces of assurance on the part of those who issue them. They are contrary to the spirit of secular government and ought not to be allowed in a government which recognizes no religion.

The laws which are most prevalent and which are found on the statute book of every state in the Union (with the exception of California), are the Sunday laws, and yet there are no laws, the origin of which is so little understood-or which are more senseless, or which so interfere with the rights and privileges of the people. There is not a Christian throughout the country who can give one satisfactory reason why Sunday should be kept as a religious day. There is not one professor of the Christian religion who can furnish the slightest authority for the religious observance of that day. These Sunday laws are in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and they also violate the most cherished principle of equal and exact justice to all. There is probably nothing in our history which shows the abandonment of this principle as the persistence with which these Sunday laws are now enforced and there is no clearer indication of the danger to our Republic than is shown in these unrighteous laws. If it is wrong to pass laws which would prohibit people from praying on Sunday, why is it not equally wrong to prohibit playing on that day?

The Sunday laws are the growth of many decades in our history. They show a gradual but steady departure from the views of the proper relations between religion and the government which were entertained by the patriots of the earlier days of our national existence.

In 1829 petitions were presented to Congress for the discontinuance of Sunday mails. Col. Richard M. Johnson, as chairman of the Senate and House Committee to which said petitions were referred, reported as follows: “Among all the religious persecutions with which almost every page of modern history is stained, no victim ever suffered but for the violation of what government denominated ‘the law of God.’ To prevent a similar train of evils in this country, the Constitution has wisely withheld from our government the power of defining the ’divine law.’ It is a right reserved to each citizen... Extensive religious combinations to effect political objects are always dangerous... All religious despotism commences by combination and influence, and when the influence begins to operate upon -the political institutions of the country, the civil power soon bends under, and the catastrophy of other nations furnish an awful warning of the consequence.”

This report met, generally, the approval of the people at that time. Various states took active part in the matter. The legislature of Illinois sent instructions to their representatives in Washington to oppose the movement against Sunday mails, stating their belief that “such an innovation upon our republican institutions would establish a precedent of dangerous tendency to our privileges as freemen by inviting a legislative decision in a religious controversy.” The Sunday law fanatics, since those days, have become bolder, more determined and more disregardful than ever of the rights of those who differ from them in opinion. The American Sentinel, though a Christian paper, is doing excellent service in battling for the principle of church and state separation. Alluding to the action taken in 1829 against the efforts then made to stop the mails on Sunday, it said that such action “seemed to settle the question for upwards of sixty years, but the Sunday law fever has now broken out anew, and with perhaps an added virulence. A contest is on – the end of which no one can tell!” The Evangel and Sabbath Outlook, also a religious  paper, edited by Rev. A.H. Lewis, D.D., has likewise done valuable aid to the cause of abolishing all Sunday laws.

There are other religious newspapers and there are church organizations, which are (more or less) opposed to our Sunday laws.

The ministers of the Lutheran church recently declared, “We honestly believe that the Sunday law in its present form, fosters hypocrisy and sham and opens a wide door for much that is unholy and morally wrong, instead of promoting the moral welfare of the community... We do most emphatically protest against the confounding of church and state, which is hereby involved.”

The persecutions of Seventh Day Baptists, in these closing years of the nineteenth century, read like a chapter from the history of the days of Torquemada. Here are upright (Christian) people fined, imprisoned and compelled to serve in chain gangs; all because they believe what the Bible teaches, viz., that the seventh day (and not the first day) of the week is the Sabbath. Fifteen states of this Union have disgraced themselves by such laws as made possible the treatment of honest, conscientious citizens, as though they had been really guilty of crime, merely for doing some necessary or proper work on a day on which their religion justifies their working. The consciences of these people require that they shall keep Saturday  as a sacred day ; and the government requires that they shall also keep Sunday in the same manner; thus giving them but five days as “bread winners,” while others are given six days. Are these people awarded, by government, the equal rights which other citizens possess?

Is there anything more arbitrary than the acts of government which are dictated by these Sabbatarians?

Such wrongs are an indication of the danger to the stability of the Republic, should the enforcement of them be permitted to continue. Stewart Chaplin, in the Examiner, states the Baptist position regarding Sunday laws to be that “to permit the state to interfere at all with anyone’s religious – or nonreligious – observances, is fraught with the gravest danger; and the only true policy is to keep the state out of religious matters.”

The absurd “Barber’s law,” which existed at one time in California, was declared by its Supreme Court to be unconstitutional, “no reason having been shown why the followers of one useful and unobjectional occupation should be debarred from the right to labor on certain days and not upon others. When any such class is singled out and put under the criminal ban of such a law as this, the law is not only special, unjust and unreasonable in its operation, but it works an invasion of individual liberty.”

As a further evidence of returning sense, the American Sentinel tells us that a despatch has recently been received from New Orleans, La., stating that after ten years’ trial of the Sunday law, the Louisiana legislature has finally decided to abandon it. So far as New Orleans is concerned, evidence upon the question of the repeal of the law was brought before the Judiciary Committee of the State Senate; every member of the committee being opposed to its further enforcement. It was testified by four of the five members of the police board that it tended greatly to demoralize the police force and to encourage blackmail. It was also testified that the attempt to enforce the Sunday law drew upon the strength of the police department, so that not enough men were left to properly police the city, also that arrest for drunkenness had not decreased, but increased since the law passed. The same experience is observable in every city where these unjust and absurd Sunday laws are enforced. Besides what business is it of anyone, so long as I do not interfere with my neighbor, what my own private convictions of duty call upon me to perform on Sunday or on any other day of the week?

But sad to relate, the Supreme Court of the United States (the Truth Seeker tells us) handed down, May 28th, last, a decision, delivered by Judge Harlan, affirming the constitutionality of the section of the code of Georgia, which prohibits the running of freight trains in that state on Sunday.

But what think you is the basis of that decision? It is that “a state has the power to protect the health and the morals of the people!” The inference or insinuation being that those who do not favor the religious observance of Sunday, are of necessity, immoral persons! Was there ever a more arrogant or insulting claim?

To the honor of Chief Justice Fuller and one or two of his associates, they dissented from a decision which (virtually) charged non-Sunday observers with immorality.

The “Woman’s National Sabbath Alliance,” recently organized, has for its object to “conserve the sanctity of Sunday,” and the prevention of every kind of amusement or entertainment, including Sunday newspapers, bicycling, driving, or other means of traveling on Sunday.

Professor Felix L. Oswald, in North American Review, January, 1896, says: “That belief (in the possibility of bettering the world by the suppression of popular pastimes,) the key-stone dogma of anti-naturalism, asserted itself in rancorous fury against the ‘worldliness’ of physical culture; against the pagan worship of joy; against the Easter firesides, May poles and round dances of our medieval ancestors; against the entertainment of the modern theater, and finally in the enforcement of a mawkish quietism on the day when a large plurality of our workingmen get their chance for out-door sports.”

What is called the “Continental Sabbath” is denounced by all religious people, and yet there is more rational enjoyment, more propriety observed and more true morality practised on Sunday in Continental Europe than under the restrictions of the Puritan Sabbath in Great Britain and America. Are we not fast retrograding to the earlier years of our history when what was called “Sunday desecration” was punishable with death?

“What can the enforcement of Sabbath observance be but a union of church and state?“  – (J.B. Thayer.)

But the culmination of fanaticism is in the efforts which for years have been and are now being made to compel the people of this country to recognize the Christian religion by amending the preamble of the Constitution. These efforts are being made against the warnings of those who founded our government and against the earnest protests of every true and unbiased patriot – Christian, Jew or Gentile – who sees danger to the Republic in a union of the Christian (or any other) church with the state.

The precise language of this proposed amendment – which was introduced into Congress, January 25th, 1894, by Senator Frye in the Senate, and by Representative Morse in the House – is as follows: “We, the people of the United States, devoutly acknowledging the Supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and nations; grateful to Him for our civil and religious liberty and encouraged by the assurance of His Word to invoke His guidance, as a Christian nation according to His appointed way, through Jesus Christ.”

Thus embedding in the Constitution constitutional law which commits every citizen of the United States to a belief in or acknowledgment of a personal deity and to the divinity of Christ (neither of which no one knows anything about), also recognizing the Bible as a true and pure book (notwithstanding its
tens of thousands of errors and its notorious obscenities).

Have the zealots who are urging this improper and unjust measure the slightest idea of the imminent danger to the Republic which their success will surely occasion? Do they realize the possibilities – nay, the probabilities – of the most fearful, unnatural, fratricidal war which the pages of history have ever recorded?

Will they refuse to heed the warnings of those who laid the foundations of this grand temple of liberty against any attempt to fasten the church upon the state? Will they respect the words of Washington when he emphasized the utterance, “This is not a Christian nation?” Will they be influenced by the opinions of Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, Madison and Monroe, whose well known views were in opposition to the slightest connection of the church and the state? Will they risk the peace and harmony and prosperity now existing throughout the land ? Will they tempt bitterness, enmity, strife and disaster, which their insane efforts to force religion upon an unwilling people will surely accomplish? Will they insist upon going back to ancient and ignorant and bigoted times, and upon establishing a Theocracy on the ruins of popular Democracy? Will they require us to abandon this government “of the people, by the people, for the people” for the rule of some mystical or mythical being, supposed to exist somewhere beyond the clouds?

Col. Ingersoll says: “In the administration of Theocracy all the instruments of torture have been invented. If any man wishes to have God recognized in the Constitution of our country, let him read the history of the Inquisition and let him remember that hundreds of millions of men, women and children have been sacrificed to placate the wrath, or win the approbation of this God.”

Will these “God in the Constitution” enthusiasts continue to deny the cherished right of private opinions in matters of religion, the denial of which right has been the most fruitful source of destruction and carnage ; converting human beings into savage beasts?

In Goodrich’s Church History we are told that fifty millions of people became martyrs to the consequences of a union of church and state.

Human nature has not changed since the days when Christians tortured and murdered Bruno, Servetus, Vanini and others. At all events, the spirit which animates Christianity is the same intolerant, persecuting, relentless, cruel, malevolent disposition to-day that it was three centuries ago. Intelligent people should make no mistake on this point. There is no religion in the world that is not only more heartless, hut more heedless of the rights of others. It is the nature of Christianity (not alone the teachings of Jesuitism) to believe that “the end justifies the means.”

The Christian church has adopted the highwayman method of thought – “we’ve got the power and we propose to use it.” The question as to whether it is right or just has no place in the ethics of Christianity and this has been its prominent characteristic since it first obtained political power in the fourth century.

As illustration –

President Seelye, of Amherst College, says: “The state must teach religion. If its subjects approve, well – if not, the state must not falter.”

The Memphis Appeal says: “The laws against the violation of one day of rest are unrepealed, and – no matter whether just or unjust – wise or unwise, they should be enforced.”

Are not such utterances as these a danger to the Republic? Shall unjust and cruel laws, which deny equal rights to all and which conflict with the spirit of uniform political liberty, be enforced?

Is it supposed that those who have inherited an intense love of liberty are to tamely submit to any usurpation that will wrest from them their liberty ?

The violation of the law pertaining to witchcraft was punishable with death; was it not an unjust law? and, if so, should such a law be executed and innocent women perish in flame lit by the fiends of fanaticism ?

Did humanity-loving people violate the provisions of the fugitive slave law in refusing to aid, as the law called upon them to do, in its enforcement?

It is urged (and by intelligent and well-meaning people) that every law on the statute book should be executed.

There was once a law which forbade the reading of the Bible. Did Luther and his followers violate it?

By the enforcement of a law in the Netherlands, a large number of Protestants were hanged.

Equally cruel was the enforcement of laws against Catholics, by Protestants.

Enforcement of unjust laws has decimated communities in every age of the world, and caused rivers of blood in the process of such enforcement.

The Czar of Russia and the Queen of England are supposed to reign by “Divine right,” and the state church in each is the supreme law of their respective countries. Will the liberty-loving people of this country recognize the President of the United States as holding his office by a similar (divine) right if the religious zealots in this country should succeed in establishing a theocracy here? Will the President of the United States then be absolute judge in matters ecclesiastical? If the Constitution be amended by the preamble recognizing the Christian religion we would have the incongruity of such recognition followed by the first amendment to the Constitution, saying: “Congress shall pass no law respecting the establishment of religion,” or, in other words, Congress would pass a law respecting the establishment of religion and then would follow an act of the Constitution saying that Congress should not pass such a law.

Instead of the disingenuous method of endeavoring to establish religion by a new preamble to the Constitution, why not adopt the more manly and undissembled course of urging a repeal of the first amendment to the Constitution.

After God has been put into the Constitution, whose God will he be? The Roman Catholics’ or the Protestants’? The Calvinists’ or the Armenians’? The Seventh Day or the first day Baptists’ ? The Trinitarians’ or the Unitarians’? The God of orthodox, or of liberal Christianity ? Is there not great danger that one of these various sects will appropriate the God of the Constitution to its exclusive use and benefit, and consequently persecute other believers in God, as has been the case, for centuries, the world over?

Mr. Madison says: “Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians?”

Mr. A. T. Jones, in a pamphlet recently published, says that “the National Reform Association is nothing else than Reformed Presbyterianism in politics.”

There are open and pronounced enemies of the liberties of the people. The Roman Catholics are largely so. But the Protestants are its secret enemies; they disclaim any sympathy with the union of the church and the state, but are constantly doing all they can in favor of such union, if, only, it can be placed under Protestant control.

The most dangerous enemies of the Republic are the “American Protective Association,” the “American Sabbath Union,” and the “Women’s Christian Temperance Union.” While they profess a sacred regard for the principle of separation of church and state, they are the most insiduous enemies of that principle.

The Christian Statesman, the most ardent of those who are trying to break up the government, is bold enough and frank enough to admit that “the existence of a Christian Constitution would disfranchise every loyally consistent infidel.”

Rev. Jonathan Edwards, in a speech at the National Reform Convention in 1873, defined infidels as “Atheists, Deists, Jews and Seventh-Day Baptists.”

The term “infidelity” is intended to be a term of reproach, and yet some of the grandest characters in history have been infidels : Anaxagoras, Socrates, Luther and Jesus himself were infidels to the prevailing religion of their times.

The deceptiveness of the Protestant Church is also shown by quoting from the late Judge Story, who said, “ Protestantism, at the very moment it was proclaiming the right of private judgment, prescribed boundaries to that right, beyond which, if anyone dared to pass, he must seal his rashness with the blood of martyrdom.”

The “Salvation Army,” “Christian Endeavors,” the “Evangelical Alliance,” and other similar organizations are an undoubted peril to the liberties of the country. Speaking of the “Christian Endeavors,” the American Sentinel says: “Masked beneath its Christian exterior (disguised even to the mass of Endeavors themselves), there moves with it the deadliest foe of our civil rights and liberties. In the proposed change in the Constitution preamble the arm of this foe is seen uplifted to strike at the Magna Charta of American freedom. In the zealous movement of legislation to compel Sunday observance, its hand is stretched forth to seize upon liberty of conscience. It is high time that the American people were aroused to the peril of the situation.”

Are Protestants aware that they are working for the Roman Catholic Church of the future? If Romanism increases in the future, as it has in the past, in this country, and Protestantism declines, as it has been doing, in about the same proportion as the former increases, Roman Catholicism will surely be the controlling religion of the country, and that before long. Protestants insist upon the state being allied to the church. What will they think of the unity of the state and the church, when they wake up to a realizing sense of the fact that the “Church” is the Romish (and not the Protestant) church?

To the credit of many of the clergy and other Christians, these encroachments upon our liberties are not supported by all adherents of this church (Romanist or Protestant), many of them contending for the absolute separation of church and state as a principle. There are many honored names connected with the Christian minority who look with grave interest upon the efforts of fanaticism to Christianize the country by law, and thus to increase the dangers to the Republic which an association between ecclesiasticism and the state is sure to accomplish.

Mr. George Russell writes to the London Daily Chronicle: “I am a firm believer in the spiritual claims and the doctrinal system of the Church of England; but I think it unjust to teach baptismal regeneration with money from Baptists and Independents; to teach the Godhead of Christ with money taken from the Jews; to teach the doctrines of the Holy Trinity with money taken from the Unitarians; to teach the existence of God and a future life with money taken from Atheists and Agnostics.” There are many such just conscientious and justice-loving Christians in this country.

While other nations of the world are endeavoring to free themselves from the control of the church, we seem to be inviting it to participate in the administration of our laws. In France the concordat or treaty by which the state and the church were bound to each other, and which has existed from the days of the first Napoleon till now, is on the eve of repeal.

The Secretary of the French navy has recently been reprimanded for ordering religious services on board the men-of-war, and at naval stations on a Catholic holiday. This is in conspicuous contrast with the firing of salutes by a detachment of the Louisiana field artillery in November last in honor of the crowning of the statue to the Virgin Mary in New Orleans.

Great Britain declares through her enlightened Queen, that “all shall alike enjoy the equal and impartial protection of the law.”

Rev. Dr. Parker of London repudiates the idea of making the Kingdom of Christ “a branch of the civil service.” Senor Castelar, in Spain, a few years since, said that “science and learning must be free from both state and church tyranny.”

Germany has lately adopted a new code of laws, by which that nation refused to recognize Ecclesiastical marriages.

The Hungarian government has recently enacted laws favoring religious equality, civil marriage, and other reforms, in spite of the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church.

London Truth says: “Austria has been passing some new laws to prevent the interference of the clerical power in politics.”

Italy is noted for the growing secularity of her government.

Mexico is far in advance of the United States in making that country free from Ecclesiastical control. Her constitution provides for the most absolute independence of the state and the church. It abolishes the religious oath. It will not permit the establishment of monasteries. The people of Mexico, realizing the danger to the state of the efforts of the church to control the state, confiscated, in 1867, $300,000,000 of church property, converting the same to schoolhouses, libraries, museums and other useful purposes.

“America (the United States) presents the anomaly of a republican government and a monarchical religion.” – (Tacoma Church Record.)

The religious assume that if they are tolerant of the nonreligious, that is all that can be required of them; but the nonreligious ask no favors of the religious; they demand equal rights and the same liberty that is enjoyed by the religious.

The late Rev. Dr. Schoff says: “Toleration is a concession, but liberty is a right; toleration is a matter of expediency, but liberty is a principle.”

Mirabeau says: “There is no crime like the crime against the freedom of the people.”

De Tocqueville says: “The church commends herself best to the world by attending to her proper spiritual duties and keeping aloof from political and secular complications.” The people of the south had secretly, but determinedly, prepared for war against the Union, and but few of the people of the north had knowledge of- those preparations. So now, but few of us are aware of the secret, but determined, effort of the Christian Church against the liberties of the people. All over the country these religious fanatics, these treasonable Catilines, are at work in the interest of that worse than a slave oligarchy – a religious autocracy.

We do not realize that we may be on the eve of witnessing the destruction of the most valuable inheritance which has come down to us from the patriots of the revolution. This inheritance – independence of kingcraft and of priestcraft – then secured, has no parallel in the blessings bestowed on any people. The liberty, then achieved, is priceless.

Col. Ingersoll says: “Liberty cannot be sacrificed… for the sake of anything. It is of more value than anything else... Liberty sustains the same relation to all our virtues that the sun does to life. The world had better go back to barbarism, to the dens, to the caves and lairs of savagery; better lose all art, all invention, than to lose liberty. Liberty is the breath of progress; it is the seed and soil, the heat and rain, of love and joy.”

The intensity of Jefferson’s devotion to liberty may be illustrated by his saying, “A republic needs a rebellion every twenty years to keep alive the spirit of liberty among the people.”

And it is this liberty which the Christian Church is engaged in an effort to overthrow. The liberty which we thought had been secured to us from the foundation of the Republic. Civil liberty, which gives everyone the same rights that are possessed by everyone else; religious liberty, the right to worship any being that may be regarded as Supreme, or the right (also) not to worship; liberty to the orthodox Christian to express his belief in God, the Trinity, the fall of man, the inspiration of the Bible, the existence of a devil, of a heaven and a hell, and the sacredness of Sunday; liberty to the Jew and to the Unitarian to reject the doctrine of the deification of Christ; liberty to the Seventh-Day Baptist and the Hebrew to deny that the first day of the week is a sacred day; liberty to the Agnostic to deny that there is satisfactory evidence of the infallibility of the Bible, of the existence of a personal embodiment of evil, of a future state, or of a Supreme being.

Will the people of this country abjectly submit to that most tyrannical of yokes, the Christian Church?

Will they become the slaves of the worst oligarchy which ever existed – the oligarchy of Ecclesiasticism?

Are the mouths of independent thinkers, of investigators, of students of knowledge, of teachers of truth, of naturalists, of scientists, to be closed by the ignorant, superstitious believers in a false and degrading religion, and without resistance?

Are the scenes of imprisonment and of torture and of death, which this same Christian religion instigated, in other centuries, to be re-enacted in the closing years of the nineteenth century, and without protest?

Are our astronomers, geologists and biologists, who offend believers in the Mosaic teachings, of a flat earth and of its limited duration and its restrictions as to the age of vegetable and animal life, to be dragged to dungeons, and without resistance?

Are the people of this nation, whose love of liberty is the life of their being, quietly to submit to the consequences of such laws as the fanaticism of Christianity shall direct to be made?

Many times more determined than the resistance to the tyranny of Great Britain and also to the arrogance of the slave power, will be our determined effort at resistance to the tyranny and slavery which Christianity will impose upon us – if, only, it has the power.

No human foresight can predict what, in all probability, will equal in cruelty and carnage what is recorded in the combined pages of the history of all the (almost countless) wars which the church has inaugurated and prosecuted to crush the independent judgment, the freedom of thought, the liberty of expression, on matters as to which there is not a scintilla of knowledge.

The apprehensions here excited are no overdrawn pictures, but are fully justified by the experience of the past and by the spirit which pervades the Christian church to-day.

Listen to the arrogant utterance of the Christian Observer: “When Christians have the power, they have the right.”

As Samuel P. Putnam has said: “Let us learn the lessons of history and be watchful over the priceless inheritance of liberty.”

Henry Ward Beecher said: “Of all governments, there is no other so bad as the government of an Ecclesiastical class.”

Parson Brownlow said: “The worst class of men are preachers.”

The New York Tribune has said: “The worst despotisms that ever cursed the world were administered in the name, and by the assumed authority of God.”

William Howitt, a Christian writer, in England, says: “The barbarities and outrages of the, so-called, Christian race, throughout every region of the world and upon every people that they have been able to subdue, are not to be paralleled by those of any other race, however fierce or untaught, or reckless of mercy or shame, in any age of the world.”

That ripe scholar and earnest patriot, Francis Ellingwood Abbott, addressing the “Free Religious Association” at Boston, said: “I see an irrepressible conflict between the Christian and the modern world, which has got to be fought out here in America... The moneyed institutions of that Church are vast; its social influence is enormous; its slumbering power for evil is beyond all estimate... The American civilization and the American government have a domestic enemy, in the Christian church, to be compared only to the great slave power of the south. What the anti-slavery society did to the south, this association is doing to the Church, awakening and exasperating an enemy whose hand may yet be raised against the nation’s life... The incongruity of American government and American religion is forcing itself on millions of minds. Freedom in either means freedom in both... There is a practical absurdity to be got rid of – the absurdity of maintaining a despotic religion in a free country... Shall the natural law of reason, or the arbitrary law of Christianity govern? ... Religious liberty in America must do battle for its very existence... I appeal to Christians to make no further efforts to fan into flame the dangerous fires of religious bigotry; for the conflagration, once kindled, they will be powerless to control.”

W.F. Jamieson, author of the valuable work entitled, The Clergy a Source of Danger to the American Republic, says: “Christianity is not only foreign, but antagonistic to American liberty. Either Christianity or a people’s free government must fall. Which shall it be? Let Liberty be overthrown in America and where would it dare to raise its head?”

Will Christians persist in the folly and madness of defying those, in whose minds have been inculcated a fervent longing for liberty, an intense consciousness of right, a thorough belief in political and religious equality, an ardent love of justice and an undyi.ng conviction of the (ultimate) triumph of truth?

As Mr. T. B. Wakeman has said: ”The question will have to be tried out, which is the real government of the people – the Republic or the Church? ”

Will this great Republic survive the contest?

The issue is the life of the Nation!

A note on the text

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