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The Rights of the People

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    Next the court says:-ROP 125.2

    “If we examine the constitutions of the various States, we find in them a constant recognition of religious obligations. Every constitution of every one of the forty-four States contains language which either directly or by clear implication recognizes a profound reverence for religion and an assumption that its influence in all human affairs is essential to the well-being of the community.”ROP 125.3

    This is all true enough in itself; but even though it be true respecting all the States, that can have no bearing whatever in any matter respecting the nation or the national jurisdiction or the consideration of any national question. The Constitution declares that-ROP 125.4

    “The powers not delegated to the United Slates by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”ROP 125.5

    When the nation was made, eleven of the States had established religions, the most of them bad slavery, and these institutions were reserved to the control of the States themselves. This is one reason why the tenth amendment was made to read as it does. These matters belonged, and were left, to the jurisdiction of the States, and with them the national government could have nothing at all to do. And so it continued, until the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, by which the control as to both slavery and established religions was prohibited to the States by the national Constitution. So that, admitting the assumption of the court that the States still have control of religion as at the beginning, the court’s conclusion does not follow; because then the true argument is this; No power in, over, or concerning religion has been delegated to the United States-the nation-by the Constitution, nor has such power been prohibited by it to the States. All power and jurisdiction, therefore, in all questions and all matters of whatever kind concerning religion, are reserved and belong exclusively to the States or to the people.ROP 125.6

    But since the fourteenth amendment, this assumption even is entirely baseless. See further on this point in chapter 13.ROP 126.1

    More than this: As all power respecting religion has actually been prohibited to the United States by the Constitution, even though all the forty-four States had one and the same religion, and that specifically and by law established, this would mean absolutely nothing, and could never rightly be made to mean anything, to the United States, i. e., to the nation. The Supreme Court of the nation has no right to cite religious characteristics of the States, and then from these draw conclusions and make official declarations that the nation is “religious” or “Christian” or anything else in the way of religion. This is why Madison said that “there is not a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion.” And this is why he also declared that the “least interference” of the general government with religion “would be a most flagrant usurpation.” This because in so doing it would be intruding into a field, and entering upon the consideration of that which is not only reserved but positively prohibited, both to the nation and to the States. 16Look again at chapter 3, “What Is the Nation?”ROP 126.2

    As no power in matters of religion has been delegated to the nation, but, on the contrary, all such power has been positively prohibited to the nation, and also to the States, so the Supreme Court of the nation was trebly precluded from drawing from the example of the States anything on the subject of religion, and was also trebly precluded from ever making any such declaration as that “this is a Christian nation.” Since the fourteenth amendment the matter of religion as respects both States and nation belongs exclusively to the people.ROP 127.1

    It is worth while, however, to give the citations which the court makes from the State constitutions, that the use which the court makes of the national Constitution in connection therewith may be clearly seen. So here they arc exactly as the court sets them forth:-ROP 127.2

    “This recognition may be in the preamble, such as is found in the Constitution of Illinois, 1870: ‘We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political, and religious liberty which he hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and transmit the same unimpaired to succeeding generations,’ etc.ROP 127.3

    “It may be only in the familiar requisition that all officers shall take an oath closing with the declaration ‘so help me God.’ It may be in clauses like that of the constitution of Indiana, 1816, Article XI, section 4: ‘The manner of administering an oath or affirmation shall be such as is most consistent with the conscience of the deponent, and shall be esteemed the most solemn appeal to God,’ Or in provisions such as are found in Articles XXXVI and XXXVII of the Declaration of Rights of the Constitution of Maryland, 1867: ‘That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore, no person ought, by any law, to be molested in his person or estate on account of his religious persuasion or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the color of religion, he shall disturb the good order, peace, or safely of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their natural, civil, or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent or maintain or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain any place of worship, or any ministry; nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief: Provided, He believes in the existence of God, and that, under his dispensation, such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefor, either in this world or the world to come. That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.’ Or like that in Articles II and III, of Part 1st of the Constitution of Massachusetts, 1780: ‘It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the Great Creator and Preserver of the universe.... As the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality, and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of public instructions in piety, religion, and morality: Therefore, to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their Legislature with power to authorize and require, and the Legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic or religious societies to make suitable provisions, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.’ Or, as in sections 5 and 14 of Article VII of the Constitution of Mississippi, 1832: “No person who denies the being of a God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this State.... Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government, the preservation of liberty, and the happiness of mankind, schools, and the means of education, shall forever be encouraged in this State.’ Or by Article XXII of the Constitution of Delaware, 1776, which required all officers, besides an oath of allegiance, to make and subscribe the following declaration: ‘I, A. R. do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forever more: and I do acknowledge, the Holy Scriptures of, the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.’”ROP 127.4

    And the doctrine that is held all through the decision, that these things and the Constitution speak the same language and have one meaning, is just at this point emphasized in the following words:-ROP 129.1

    Even the Constitution of the United States, which is supposed to have little touch upon the private life of the individual, contains in the first amendment a declaration common to the constitutions of all the States, as follows: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ And also provides that the executive shall have ten days (Sundays excepted), within which to determine whether he will approve or veto a bill. [Here is a sly indication that the enforcement of Sunday observance is constitutional.]ROP 129.2

    There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons; they are organic utterances: they speak the voice of the entire people.”ROP 129.3

    According to this interpretation, then, when the Constitution of the United States declares that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or, public trust under the United States,” it means that “no religious test ought ever to be. required ... other than a belief in the existence of God,” and of “a future state of rewards and punishments,” and a profession of “faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forevermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.”(!!) For this is what the Constitutions of Maryland, Mississippi, and Delaware plainly mean; and these and the Constitution of the United States arc pervaded by a “universal language,” “having one meaning.”(!!!)ROP 129.4

    And when the Constitution of the United States declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” it means that the Congress “shall, from time to time, authorize and require the several towns, parishes, precincts and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provisions, at their own expenses, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality in all cases where such provisions shall not be made voluntarily.”!! For plainly that is what the Constitution of Massachusetts mean, and behold that and the Constitution of the United States are pervaded by “a universal language” “having one meaning.”(!!!)ROP 130.1

    How the court could present such a string of quotations, every one of which distinctly contemplated an establishment of religion and the prohibition of the free exercise thereof, and then quote this clause of the national Constitution which in every feature and every intent absolutely prohibits any establishment of religion, and any interference with the free exercise thereof-how the court could do all this and then declare that “there is no dissonance” in the declarations, that they all have the same language and “one meaning,” is a most astonishing thing. If such a thing had been done by any of the “common run” of American citizens, it could have been considered as nothing less than wildly absurd; but coming as it does from such a source as the Supreme Court of the whole nation; it is as far worse as could be possible. To say that it is absurd is not enough, it is simply preposterous. And yet, preposterous as it is, it is expected to, and, so far as the great mass of the people are concerned, it undoubtedly will, carry with it all the weight of supreme national law.ROP 130.2

    All this is bad enough, and preposterous enough, in itself; but there is another consideration that even magnifies it, that is, the leaving out, the complete ignoring, of all the history and all the essential facts which are pertinent to the question. Why should the court leave out Jefferson, Madison, and Washington from the place where they only and wholly belong, and drag Ferdinand, Isabella, and Elizabeth into the place where they do not and cannot by any shadow of right belong? Why should Jefferson, Madison, and Washington not only be allowed no place by the court, but be compelled by the court to give place to Ferdinand, Isabella, and Elizabeth?ROP 130.3

    Why should the purposes of Jefferson, Madison, and Washington, and the other fathers who made this nation, be completely ignored, and the purposes of Ferdinand, Isabella, Elizabeth, and the Puritans be taken up and exalted to their place? Why should all the history of the making of the national Constitution be ignored as completely as though there were no such history, and all this other stuff be taken up and discussed and approved as though this were the only historical evidence there is on the subject?ROP 131.1

    Why should the national Constitution be interpreted and construed according to the purposes of Ferdinand, Isabella, Elizabeth and her successors, the Puritans, and the constitutions of the States, instead of the purposes of Jefferson, Madison, Washington, and the other fathers who made it? Why should the real meaning which our fathers gave to the Constitution be supplanted with a meaning that is as foreign to it as the sovereigns of Spain and England are foreign to the nation itself to-day? Why should the only history that is pertinent to the question be wholly ignored, and that which in every element is absolutely impertinent be exalted and honored in its stead? 17The reader will readily perceive that not a vestige of the history which is given in the preceding chapters of this work, which is simply the history of the Constitution not a vestige of it is noticed by the court.ROP 131.2

    The language in which Abraham Lincoln characterized the position of Chief Justice Taney in the Dred Scott decision, and of Stephen A. Douglas in the defense of it, is the language that is most fitting to the position of the Supreme Court in this “Christian nation” decision; for here the two decisions are perfectly parallel. Lincoln’s words are as follows:-ROP 131.3

    “I ask, How extraordinary a thing it is that a man who has occupied a seat on the floor of the Senate [or on the bench of the Supreme Court-a. t. j.] of the United States ... pretending to give a truthful and accurate history of the slavery question [or of the question of religion and the nation-a. t. j.] in this country, should so entirely ignore the whole of that portion of our history-the most important of all! Is it not a most extraordinary spectacle that a man should stand up and ask for any confidence in his statements who sets out as he does with portions of history, calling upon the people to believe that it is a true and fair representation, when the leading part, the controlling feature, of the whole history is carefully suppressed?ROP 132.1

    “And now he asks the community to believe that the men of the Revolution were in favor of his ‘great principle,’ when we have the naked history that they themselves dealt with this very subject matter of his principle, and utterly repudiated his principle-acting upon a precisely contrary ground. It is as impudent and absurd as if a prosecuting attorney should stand up before a jury, and ask them to convict A as the murderer of B while B was standing alive before them.”ROP 132.2

    But the court does not stop even here. Having established “the Christian religion” for “the entire people,” and settled all the appurtenances thereto as within the meaning of the Constitution, the court cites and sanctions the declaration of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that “Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, part of the common law,” and then proceeds to sanction also the doctrine that it is blasphemy to speak or act in contempt “of the religion professed by almost the whole community.” This is done by citing the pagan decision of “Chancellor Kent, the great commentator on American law, speaking as chief justice of the Supreme Court of New York,” which “assumes that we are a Christian people.” Here is the language of the court on that strain:-ROP 132.3

    “While because of the general recognition of this truth the question has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find that in Updegraph versus The Commonwealth (II Serg. and Rawle, 394, 400) it was decided that ‘Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law of Pennsylvania; ... not Christianity with an established church, and tithes, and spiritual courts, but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.’ And in The People versus Ruggles (8 Johns. 290, 294, 295), Chancellor Kent, the great commentator on American law, speaking as chief justice of the Supreme Court of New York, said: ‘The people of this State, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice; and to scandalize the Author of these doctrines is not only, in a religious point of view, extremely impious, but, even in respect to the obligations due to society, is a gross violation of decency and good order.... The free, equal, and undisturbed enjoyment of religious opinion, whatever it may be, and free and decent discussions on any religious subject, is granted and secured; but to revile with malicious and blasphemous contempt, the religion professed by almost the whole community, is an abuse of that right. Nor are we bound, by any expressions in the Constitution, as some have strangely supposed, either not to punish at all, or to punish indiscriminately, the like attacks upon the religion of Mahomet or of the Grand Lama; and for this plain reason, that the case assumes that we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply ingrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors.’ And in the famous case of Vidal versus Girard’s Executors (2 How. 127, 128), this court, while sustaining the will of Mr. Girard, with its provision for the creation of a college into which no minister should be permitted to enter, observed, ‘It is also said, and truly, that the Christian religion is a part of the common law of Pennsylvania.’”ROP 133.1

    But even though it be decided, and declared, and admitted, that “Christianity, general Christianity, is and always has been” not only a part but the whole of the common law, and the statute law also, of Pennsylvania, and that it is “blasphemy” in New York to speak or act in contempt of the established religion, that never can rightly be made to mean anything to the nation. And even though all this were a fact within the legitimate consideration of the Supreme Courts of Pennsylvania, New York, and all the other State Supreme Courts in the land, it never could by any kind of right be a fact within the legitimate consideration of the Supreme Court of the nation in the construction of any national law or the decision of any national question. 18Think again on chapter 3.ROP 133.2

    There remains but one thing more to cover the whole ground of the old order of things, but one thing more to complete the perfect likeness of the whole papal system, and that is the direct and positive sanction of Sunday laws. Nor is this one thing lacking. As before observed, it is indirectly indicated in the quotation from the national Constitution. But the court does not stop with that; it makes Sunday laws one of the proofs that “this is a Christian nation.” The words are as follows:-ROP 134.1

    “If we pass beyond these matters to a view of American life as expressed by its laws, its business, its customs, and its society, we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth. Among other matters, note the following: The form of oath usually prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty; the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies, and most conventions, with prayer; the prefatory words of all wills, ‘In the name of God, Amen; the laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath with the general cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts, Legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that days.... These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”ROP 134.2

    Here we may properly present in summary form again this whole discussion as presented by the Court. So stated it stands thus:-ROP 134.3

    (a) “The establishment of the Christian religion,” “Christianity, general Christianity,” “is one of the purposes of all these” documents.ROP 134.4

    (b) “Even the Constitution of the United States ... contains in the first amendment a declaration common to” all these; for “there is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation.... They are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people.”ROP 134.5

    (c) Conclusion: “This is a Christian nation.”ROP 135.1

    And therefore the decision concludes as follows:-ROP 135.2

    “The construction [“of this statute”] invoked cannot be accepted as correct. It is a case where then,’ was presented a definite evil, in view of which the Legislature used general terms with the purpose of reaching all phases of that evil, and thereafter, unexpectedly, it is developed that the general language thus employed is broad enough to reach cases and acts which the whole history and life of the country affirm could not have been intentionally legislated against. It is the duty of the courts, under those circumstances, to say that, however broad the language of the statute may be, the act, although within the letter, is not within the intention of the Legislature, and therefore cannot be within the statute.ROP 135.3

    “The judgment will be reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.”ROP 135.4

    “In accordance with this opinion” then, let us recapitulate, and see what has been done by it. “The Christian religion,” that is, “Christianity, general Christianity,” is legally recognized and declared to be the established religion of this nation, and that consequently “this is a Christian nation.” With this also, “in language more or less emphatic,” there is justified as the “meaning of the Constitution of the United States, (1) the maintenance of the discipline of the churches by the civil power; (2) the requirement of the religious oath; (3) the requirement of the religions test oath as a qualification for office; (4) public taxation for the support of religion and religious teachers; (5) the requirement of a belief in the Trinity and the inspiration of “the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments;” (6) the guilt of blasphemy upon everyone who speaks or acts in contempt of the established religion; and (7) laws for the observance of Sunday, with the general cessation of all “secular business.”ROP 135.5

    All this is declared by unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of the United States to be the meaning of the Constitution of the United States. And what the Supreme Court says the meaning of the Constitution is, that is its meaning and that is the law until the decision is reversed. Therefore, again, we say, and it is not too much to say, as certainly as logic is logic, and truth is truth, it is demonstrated that in this decision the Supreme Court of the United States has subverted the Constitution of the United States in its essential meaning as regards the Christian religion or the establishment thereof.ROP 136.1

    Now what more was ever required by the Papacy, and all phases of the old order of things, than is thus brought within the meaning of the national Constitution by this decision? What more was ever required by the Papacy itself than that “the Christian religion” should be the national religion; that the discipline of the church should be maintained by the civil power; that the religious test oath should be applied to all; that the public should be taxed for the support of religion and religious worship; that there should be required a belief in the doctrine of the Trinity, and the inspiration of the “Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament;” that the guilt of “blasphemy” should be visited upon everyone who should speak or act “in contempt of the religion professed by almost the whole community;” and that everybody should be required bylaw to observe Sunday? Indeed, what more than this could be required or even desired by the most absolute religious despotism that could be imagined?ROP 136.2

    Therefore, it is pertinent here to inquire, Does this decision maintain the “new order of things” to which this nation stands’ pledged by the great seal of the United States?-No, no, twenty times no. On the contrary, it sanctions, and restores, and fastens upon this nation, the old order of things which our revolutionary fathers hoped that we should forever escape, through their sublime efforts, which culminated in the creation of this nation and the formation of the national Constitution-as it reads, and as they meant it.ROP 136.3

    What more could be done to create the very image of the Papacy in this nation, in the principle of the thing, than is done in this decision? In principle we say; not in its positive workings, of course, because the decision in itself on this point does not bear the force of a statute that can be made at once obligatory upon all by the executive power of the nation. But it does sanction and justify beforehand any and every encroachment that the religious power may make upon the civil, and every piece of legislation that Congress might enact on the subject of religion or religious observances; so that by it the national door is opened wide for the religious element to enter and take possession in whatever way it chooses or can make effective. And there stands at the door, ready and determined to enter and take possession, the strongest religio-political combination that could be formed in the land.ROP 137.1

    Therefore we say that, although life is not by this given to this image that it should of itself speak and act (Revelation 13:15), yet so far as the making of the evil thing, and the establishment of the principle of it are concerned, it is certainly done. The tree does not yet stand with its branches widespread, bearing its pernicious fruit, but the tree is planted. And as certainly as the branches and the fruit are all in the natural stock that is planted, and it is only a question of time when they will appear, so certainly the wide spreading branches and the pernicious fruit of the full-grown tree of religions despotism are in the evil stock of Church and State, of “the establishment of the Christian religion,” that has been planted by the Supreme Court in and for this nation; and it is only a question of time when these fruits will inevitably appear.ROP 137.2

    This decision was followed in the same year, 1892, by an act of Congress declaring Sunday to be the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, instead of the seventh day, as named in the commandment, and requiring its observance at the World’s Columbian Exposition. Congress did this specifically as a religious thing. And, although other things defeated the actual closing of the gates, defeated the enforcement of the law, yet that in nowise weakens the fact that this law respecting religion was enacted by Congress.ROP 137.3

    And the president, Benjamin Harrison, approved this law respecting religion. This he did under the mistaken notion that he was pledged to maintain the government of the United States, rather than the Constitution of the United States. 19This is a fact. In a personal interview with the author of this book, the reason (?) and the only reason which he gave for approving this legislation, was that it was “part of the general appropriation bill for the running expenses of the government; that to disapprove this he would have to disapprove the whole bill; and if that were done, all the machinery of the government would have to atop, and the whole government itself be brought to a standstill.” This, too, while admitting that if this Sunday legislation had come before him separated from other legislation, so that it might be considered upon its merits alone, the result might be different. This was nothing else than to argue that he was responsible for the maintenance of the government. But this was altogether a mistake. The maintenance of the government devolves altogether upon Congress. And if the President were to veto a general appropriation bill because of an unconstitutional piece of legislation which had been tacked to it; and if the whole government should in consequence be brought indeed to a standstill; he would be no more responsible for it than would any private citizen. President Harrison’s assumption, therefore, was altogether a mistaken one, and this plea wholly irrelevant.ROP 138.1

    Thus in the year a. d. 1892 the government of the United States, by specific official acts of the three departments-the Judiciary, the Legislative, and the Executive-of which that government is composed, was turned from the “new order of things” to which it was committed by our revolutionary fathers, and to which it stands pledged by the great seal of the government itself, and was thrown into the evil tide of the old order of things. And thus this enlightened nation, the example and glory of the world, was caused to assume the place and the prerogatives of the governments of the Middle Ages in embodying in law the dogmas and definitions of the theologians, and executing the arbitrary and despotic will of the church.ROP 138.2

    As the acts of Congress and the executive must in any case rest for their validity upon their constitutionality; as their constitutionality or otherwise must, so far as the action of the government is concerned, rest upon a decision of the Supreme Court; and as the court in this Christian nation decision has already practically decided beforehand every such question; this makes this decision the pivot of the whole question of an established national religion, as against the perfect freedom of religious right as the meaning of the Constitution and the right of mankind.ROP 139.1

    For this reason we confine ourselves to the discussion of the decision and the principles involved.ROP 139.2

    Note.-For a full history and discussion of the Act of congress above referred to, see “Two Republics,” pp. 801-826.ROP 139.3

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