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    March 10, 1909

    “Church Federation—VII. The Federation and Sunday Legislation” The Medical Missionary, 18, 10, pp. 181-187.



    WE have seen how that the Federal Council of Churches has committed herself to the observance of Sunday, and to the exclusion of the observance of the Seventh-day, as the meaning of the Fourth Commandment.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 181.1

    The Council also committed herself specifically to “legislation” in behalf of Sunday observance. By resolution the Council declared—MEDM March 10, 1909, page 181.2

    “That all encroachments upon the claims and sanctities of the Lord’s Day should be stoutly resisted through the press, the Lord’s Day associations and abloom, and by such legislation as may be secured to protect and preserve this bulwark of our American christianity.”MEDM March 10, 1909, page 181.3

    In this connection, therefore, it will be strictly pertinent to present a speech on the Sunday legislation that was before the late Congress, which legislation, as in the particular bill that was passed by the Senate and that was before the House for passage, had the approval of the Church Federation. This speech was made before the House Committee, District of Columbia, on February 15, 1909, and was stenographically reported.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 181.4

    That the said legislation failed to pass the House and thus to become a law of the United States, does not in any wise lessen the pertinency or the importance of what was presented in this speech. For the Church Federation is still here and is determined upon Sunday legislation. And though that legislation failed to he made effective by the Congress which expired March 4, 1909, it is just as certain that the like legislation will be revived in the next Congress, as that Congress shall meet in regular session the first Monday of December, 1909. The speech follows:MEDM March 10, 1909, page 181.5

    Mr. K. C. RUSSELL: We next call upon A. T. Jones, of Michigan, who represents himself, and speaks on the point of individuality.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.1

    Remarks of A. T. Jones

    Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Committee: I speak not only in behalf of myself, but of a vast multitude of other people in the United States, who claim the right as individuals to be religious or not upon their own personal and individual choice, without belonging to any religious combination, without being legislated into it by Congress, and without being members of any religious society as this bill proposes that they shall be. We hold this as both a divine and a constitutional right; the right of individuality in religion, and as relates to religion and religious rites or observances.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.2

    First, I shall present the facts that demonstrate—I mean demonstrate, not simply to prove, but demonstrate—because all the history, all the literature and all the evidence, on the subject is on that one side of the question—that Sunday legislation is religions legislation and nothing else, and never can be anything else, whatsoever other plea may be made in behalf of it.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.3

    About three minutes of a sketch will give you the history of the whole subject from the beginning until now.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.4

    The first Sunday legislation was in 314, by Constantine, at the demand of the church-combine, exactly as is this now; and the object of it, in the words of those who caused it and obtained it, is given by the church historian of the time in these words:MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.5

    “Constantine enjoined the observance of the day termed the Lord’s day and commanded that no judicial or other business should be transacted on those days, but that God should be served with prayers and supplications.”MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.6

    That fixes it, that the object of the first Sunday legislation over in the world was religious, and religious solely:MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.7

    The next step was in 321, and the object of that, as the former, was religious solely. Eusebius, the eulogist of Constantine, who helped to put through the legislation, defines it thus:MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.8

    “He [Constantine] commanded that one day should be regarded as a special occasion for religious worship.”MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.9

    Also he says:MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.10

    “Who else has commanded the nations inhabiting the continents and islands of this mighty globe to assemble weekly on the Lord’s day and to observe it as a festival, not indeed for the pampering of the body [nothing physical about it, nothing civil about it], NOT for the pampering of the body, but for the comfort and invigoration of the soul by instruction in divine truth.”MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.11

    That fixes that second step in Sunday legislation as religious exclusively.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.12

    Constantine himself gives us the meaning, and what his intent was, in the legislation when he established it, in the fact that he wrote a prayer and had it to be recited every Sunday by the troops of the empire paraded for the purpose. That prayer, which was repeated in concert at a given signal, runs thus:MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.13

    “We acknowledge Thee the only God; we own Thee as our King and implore Thy succor: By Thy favor have we gotten the victory; through Thee are we mightier than our enemies. We render thanks for Thy past benefits and trust Thee for future blessings. Together we pray to Thee and beseech Thee long to preserve to us, safe and triumphant, our Emperor Constantine and his pious sons.”MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.14

    And when he and his “pious sons” had obtained all the power of the whole empire, then these same ecclesiastics proclaimed that the kingdom of God come, and that “the saints of the Most High” had taken the kingdom.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.15

    The third step was when Theodosius enacted a law, by which the scope of the legislation was made universal, and “civil transactions of every kind on Sunday were strictly forbidden.” And the penalty shows the thought of the legislation; for “whoever transgressed was to be; considered in fact, as guilty of sacrilege.” Sacrilege is religious offense only and not in any sense a civil offense.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.16

    That system of legislates including this very Sunday legislation covered all the Middle Ages, and down to the time of the Reformation. Sunday legislation thus came, into England legislation only. And there it has never been claimed as anything else than religious. In Blackstone it is clearly recognized as religious; and as an essential of the church-and-State system of England. When England was separated from the Roman system by Henry the Eighth, the Roman Sunday legislation continued unchanged as the Sunday legislation of the English system which was only the Romish system continued with the only change that the King took the place of the Pope. Then, England’s laws and government were extended to this continent in the Colonies here. And thus England’s Sunday laws were the original Sunday law of the Colonies here. Thus the Sunday legislation of England extended to the Colonies, was the Sunday legislation of the Roman system, retained by England in its full original, religious character.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 182.17

    The Colonies greatly added to the original Sunday laws extended from England. And nobody will say that the Sunday legislation of the Colonies was anything else than absolutely and exclusively religious. Then the Colonies, all in a day, became so many States. And without any change whatever the Sunday laws of the suddenly become Sates, and were as exclusively religious laws as State laws, as, the day before, they were religious laws of the Colonies. And thus the Sunday legislation of the original twelve of the thirteen States—for Rhode Island did not have any—was the exclusively religious legislation of the Colonies, which was the exclusively religious Sunday legislation of England, which was the exclusively religious Sunday legislation of Rome, descended without any break whatever in any way.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 183.1

    Now all the Sunday legislation of the other States since the original thirteen has been copied from that exclusively religious Sunday legislation of the original twelve, which was wholly that of the Colonies, which was that of England, which was that of Rome. And from the first of it in Rome to the last of it in the latest States, that same original religious character abides in it.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 183.2

    All this demonstrates that Sunday legislation, from the beginning until now, is essentially and only religious. And whatever other reason may be read into it, or whatever other plea may be attached to it, this does not, and never can, take away from it that essentially religious character. Therefore any Sunday legislation by Congress, no matter for what reason pleaded, is unconstitutional by reason of the essentially religious character that attaches to it, and that can never be separated from it.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 183.3

    This Sunday legislation which we are discussing to-day is the same thing, revamped, and brought to the national government for adoption as national law; because the church-combine, now, and, as ever, since the days of Constantine, can not be at rest unless they can compel everybody to be religious as the church dictates. And this is now brought to the national government to have the national government give this added sanction to all the Sunday legislation of all the States.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 183.4

    The fact has been noted in one of the speeches already made that the preamble to the Constitution says that one of the objects of the establishment of the National Constitution is to “insure domestic tranquillity.” But, gentleman, as surely as this legislation shall pass, there will be everything else than domestic tranquillity; not only in the District of Columbia, but all over this broad land.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 183.5

    Only a few weeks ago I finished a journey of ten thousand miles between the two oceans, speaking on this subject, and discussing these questions; and all over the land I found that the church-combine is waiting for this legislation, that when the nation shall thus put its endorsement upon Sunday legislation, then the Church Federation, the “Lord’s Day Alliance” and all the other religious combines will take that endorsement and make the thing sweeping and oppressive all over this land, by the rigid enforcement of the Sunday laws that they already have in all the States, and intensify them all the more.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 183.6

    And to show you what the disposition is of at least some of those who are en- gaged in this, I will cite an instance. An ecclesiastic in the city of Denver, in one of their conventions, mentioned it as one of the great reasons why Sunday is not now satisfactorily observed in the States, that the national government by its influence, through having no Sunday legislation, is against it. But if the national government can be brought to Sunday legislation, and so to put its endorsement upon it, then we can make effective the Sunday laws in the States. And he went on to say that the Sunday never would be observed fully and strictly enough, until the penalties for Sunday work should be increased to “fines of fifteen hundred to two thousand dollars and imprisonment for a year and a half to two years,” upon everybody who does any work on Sunday. That is what this bill means.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 183.7

    This bill itself shows that it is religions; and here I come to the particular point upon which I wish to dwell in my remarks, and that is the right of the individual. The bill itself shows that it is religious legislation, in that it requires specifically that all who would observe any other day than Sunday must be “members of a religious society” that observes such day. The gentlemen of this committee need not to be told that the legislative power can not do indirectly what it is forbidden to do directly. It is safe to say that the most ultra of these ecclesiastics who want this legislation would say that the Congress would have no right to enact a law positively and directly requiring any person to be a member of a religious society. Can any member of this committee think for a moment that Congress could enact a law, reading: “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress assembled, That all persons who would observe another day than, Sunday must and shall be ‘members of a religions society’?”. Surely the most ultra of the ecclesiastics who demand this legislation would say that such a law would be clearly forbidden under the Constitution. Yet this bill does require, indirectly, exactly that thing that you have no possible right to do directly. For it does say specifically:MEDM March 10, 1909, page 184.1

    “Provided, That persons who are members of a religious society who observe as a Sabbath any other day in the week than Sunday, shall not be liable to the penalties prescribed in this act if they observe as a Sabbath one day in each seven, as herein provided.”MEDM March 10, 1909, page 184.2

    Has Congress ever a right to say that anybody shall be “a member of a religions society” by direct legislation,—Certainly not. Therefore this is bill requires that the Congress shall do indirectly what it can not possibly do directly under the Constitution, and consequently it is just as completely forbidden.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 184.3

    Again: This requires that whoever will observe any other day than the Sunday shall belong to “a religious society.” What, then, will be a religious society within the meaning of the law?—The courts will have to decide, the State will have to say, I, as an observer of another day, must be a “member of a religious society” that is approved by the State, in order to be free from the observance of Sunday, which I do not observe, and will not observe.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 184.4

    But by the Constitution of the United States, and by the divine religion, which is Christianity, every individual has a divine right, and also the constitutional right, to be religions without belonging to any combination or society in any way whatever. He can be religions by belonging to God who has created him, and to Jesus Christ who has redeemed, and by being a member of “the church of the firstborn which are written in heaven;” and he can be all this simply as an individual before God, without any reference to any society or denomination, or other religious combine of any kind whatever, anywhere on earth.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 184.5

    This bill, then, plainly requires of all people that they must either observe Sunday or else be “members of a religious society” which the State approves, that observes another day. This legislation, therefore, leaves no place whatever for the individual relation to God, or, for the individual choice of service to God, as to the observance of a day. Under this bill all the religion that any one is allowed to have as to the observance of a day must be derived from the sanction and the authority of the State. But who- soever get his religion from the sanction of the State does not have any religion that is worth having. All true religion comes from God alone, and directly, by divine grace, through the faith of Christ, to the individual upon his own personal choice and lies solely between the individual and God.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 184.6

    This is the vital principle of Christianity. And it is the principle of the Constitution of the United States. And to put beyond all question the fact that it is the vital principle of the National Constitution, I present the words of Bancroft, the historian of the Constitution. In his remarks upon the Constitution as made, he says:MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.1

    “The Constitution establishes nothing that interferes with individuality.... It leaves the individual alongside of the individual.”MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.2

    This bill sweeps away individuality. No man can be religious except as the State provides, and he must be religions on Sunday or else belong to a religious society of which the State approves, that observes another day than Sunday.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.3

    Again I quote from Bancroft:MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.4

    “The rule of individuality was extended as never before [by the Constitution of the United States]. Religion was become avowedly the attribute of man and not of a corporation.”MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.5

    This bill makes religion the attribute of a corporation, and of a corporation only. By this bill a man must either observe Sunday as dictated by the State, from the church; or else by edict of the State he must be a “member of a religious society.” And thus this bill makes religion avowedly the attribute of a corporation,—either the State, a civil corporation; or the church, a religious corporation. And therefore it does absolutely sweep away this right recognized and guarded by the Constitution, the right of individuality in religion as being avowedly the attribute of man, the individual, and not of a corporation.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.6

    To what source is traced this American constitutional right of individuality in religion?—Bancroft still:MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.7

    “No one thought of vindicating liberty of religion for the conscience of the individual till a voice in Judea.... commanded to render ‘unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.’”MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.8

    Therefore—MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.9

    “Vindicating the right of individuality even in religion, and in religion above all, the new Nation [this blessed American Nation] dared to set the example of accepting in its relations to God the principle first divinely ordained of God in Judea.”MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.10

    This right of individuality in religion is traced, then, directly to the Author of Christianity. This bill, then, in sweeping away individuality in religion, is clearly both unconstitutional and anti-Christian.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.11

    Then to crown it all, Mr. Bancroft remarks upon the “perfect individuality extending to religion” under the Constitution of the United States.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.12

    This legislation, then, seeks to drag the power of the State, not over into the realm of the church, but into the realm of God, and causes the State to take the place of God to the people in religion.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.13

    But the Scripture tells us that: “One man esteemeth one day above another; another man esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” That does not say that every day is alike; but it does recognize the right of one man to esteem all days alike so far as concerns either the State or the church, or anybody else than God.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.14

    As to the observance of a day, “every man”—the individual—is to be “persuaded in his own mind.” And that persuasion—mark it—into be IN HIS OWN MIND,—not by Congress, nor by courts, nor police, nor prosecution, nor persecution; but solely by persuasion in his own mind. And that establishes the scriptural, the divine foundation of individuality in the observance of a day. It tells to everybody in the world that the observance of a day lies between the individual and God. And when even the church puts itself in between the individual and God, the church is out of her place; much more does the State get out of her place when she steps in between the individual and God, and endeavors to tell him that he shall observe a day, and how he shall observe it.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 185.15

    The observance of a day lies between the individual and God alone.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 186.1

    For the Scripture contains: “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord, he doth not regard it.” It is God who has selected, distinguished, and set apart, the day that is to be observed as a rest day. The observance of the day pertains therefore to God, and lies only between God and the individual in faith and conscience. Therefore any observance of the Sabbath or of a rest day enforced by law, by statute, by police, by court, by prosecution, or by persecution, is, in the first instance, a direct invasion of the province of God and of the realm of faith and conscience in the individual; and in the second instance, is not even the observance of the day, and never can be, because it is not of persuasion in the mind. And when any man is not fully persuaded in his own mind, and therefore does not observe the day to the Lord, his responsibility for this is to God alone, and not to any man, nor to any set of men, nor to any law, or government, or power on earth.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 186.2

    Gentlemen of the Committee, the conclusion of the whole matter, the sum of all that can be said, is that this legislation would doubly revolutionize this whole Nation. First, in that, being essentially religious, it commits the Nation to the old order of things: the governmental domination of religion and in religion. Secondly, in that all right of individuality in religion, it sweeps away absolutely and forevermore. And in this double revolutionizing of things here, it is doubly unconstitutional and doubly anti-Christian.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 186.3

    THE CHAIRMAN: Is there some one here who desires to be heard in behalf of the Jewish people? I understood there was some one.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 186.4

    There being no response, Mr. A. T. Jones requested the privilege of speaking.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 186.5

    A. T. JONES: The gentleman [Mr. Jackson] made a challenge for anybody to present a federal decision against Sunday legislation. That challenge is easily and safely made. There is no federal decision, simply because there has never been any federal law on the subject. Without any federal law upon which an issue could be made, it is impossible to have a federal decision.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 186.6

    Therefore, his whole argument, all that he has presented here from the Supreme Court of the United States, is utterly irrelevant in this case; because that which he cited pertains solely to State cases and to issues of law in the States. It is true that the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly recognised the Sunday laws of the States as being properly within the police powers of the States. But, I repeat, the Supreme Court of the United States has never touched this question as a national or federal question, for the simple reason that there has never yet been any national or federal law on the subject. And it is only fair to state that the logic of the decisions of the Supreme Court on this question in the States would confine it within the police power of the States, and would exclude it from federal cognizance.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 186.7

    Therefore, I repeat, the gentleman’s whole argument as based on decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, is wholly irrelevant here.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 186.8

    Yet let this law which we are to-day discussing, be enacted, and then, having a statute enacted by federal authority, there will follow a federal decision. But there being, so far, no federal law, and therefore no federal decision, in lieu of that, here is a legal authority that should be satisfactory to the legal profession. It is Cooley’s “Constitutional Limitations, Chap. 13, par. 1-9:MEDM March 10, 1909, page 186.9

    “The legislators have not been left at liberty to effect a union of Church and State, or to establish, preferences by law in favor of any religious persuasion or mode of worship. There is not complete religious liberty where any one sect is favored by the State and given advantage by law over other sects.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 186.10

    “Whatever establishes a distinction against one class or sect to the extent to which the distinction operates unfavorably, a persecution; and if based on religions grounds, a religious persecution. The extent of the discrimination is not material to the principle; it is enough that it creates an inequality of right or privilege.”MEDM March 10, 1909, page 186.11

    And all of that is just what this bill and what it does.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 187.1

    M. E. HILTON JACKSON: The gentleman who replied concerning the federal decision did not seem to understand the matter properly. The Constitution of the United States provides, among other things, that no law shall be passed respecting the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof. Now, if the State passes such a law, it is as much a violation of the Constitution of the United States as though the nation passed such a law, and it is possible for every one of these State laws to come under the review of the Supreme Court of the United States, as did the Minnesota law; and as far as any State law is concerned, under the principle laid down in regard to the Constitution of the United States, it becomes a federal question; and as a federal question it may be reviewed by the Supreme Court of the United States. It was upon that principle that the Minnesota law was reviewed, and it was speaking to that principle that Mr. Justice Fuller declared that such law had been declared by innumerable decisions of the courts to be constitutional.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 187.2

    A T. JONES: Mr. Chairman: It is plain that it is not I who do “not understand the matter properly.” The first amendment of the Constitution is a prohibition upon Congress only, and not upon any State. So far as the first amendment’ goes, any State may establish any religion; and may forbid any other than this established religion; and may punish or persecute to the death all who refuse to conform to that State-established religion. Every State in the Union, exempt Rhode Island, at the time of the establishment of the National Constitution, had an established religion; and as a matter of fect, the first amendment to the Constitution forbidding Congress to make any law respecting—not “the” but “an establishment of religion,” was for the purpose of preventing Congress from interfering with these already State-established religions.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 187.3

    Therefore, for the information of the gentleman, I repeat that the clause to which he referred, and misquoted, is the first amendment to the Constitution, is a prohibition upon Congress alone, and not upon any State.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 187.4

    THE CHAIRMAN: We will now have to close the hearing.MEDM March 10, 1909, page 187.5

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