Larger font
Smaller font

The Signs of the Times, vol. 13

 - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First

    January 20, 1887

    “That Sunday-Law Petition” The Signs of the Times 13, 3, p. 39.

    AT the Sunday-law Convention held in San Francisco November 29, 1886, reported in the SIGNS of December 9, the Executive Committee that was elected, was directed “to prepare petitions as soon as possible and send throughout the State for signatures.” Petitions have been prepared accordingly, and are being circulated. It seems that the work has been going on for some time, but so slyly that not many outside of the churches concerned had any knowledge of it until a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle called on the Executive Committee and made inquiries and then published his report. The Executive Committee seems to be working strictly in harmony with the spirit of the convention by which it was appointed. There appears the same double dealing, the same effort to keep the Legislature and the public misinformed as to the real object of the movement.SITI January 20, 1887, page 39.1

    The following is a copy of the petition, 2,500 of which have been sent out to the “pastors of the churches and others known to be interested:”—SITI January 20, 1887, page 39.2

    To the Legislature of the State of California: We, the undersigned legal voters of the State of California, believing that the best interests of the State, material and moral, will be promoted by a suspension of business and a rest from labor on one day in seven, would respectfully petition your honorable body to enact such law or laws as may be necessary to secure to the people of the State this important object.”SITI January 20, 1887, page 39.3

    It seems by the petition, that all they want is for the Legislature to secure to the people the privilege of suspending business and of resting on “one day in seven.” But suppose the Legislature should pass a law by which it should be declared in solemn enactment, in the very words of this petition, that from and after the approval of this Act by the governor, there shall be throughout the State of California, “a suspension of business and a rest from labor on one day in seven;” would that satisfy this Executive Committee, and the ministers and people who are circulating the petition? Not by a long way. Suppose the Legislature should by law declare that on and after a certain date it shall be unlawful in this State to conduct any manner of business, or to do any manner of work, except works of necessity and mercy, “on one day in seven;” would that satisfy the Executive Committee and its workers? Not by any manner of means.SITI January 20, 1887, page 39.4

    This Executive Committee knows, and all its workers know, and everybody else knows that no such law as that is wanted. If the Legislature of California should enact a law in which were embodied the very words of this petition, everybody knows that this Executive Committee and its workers would be the ones who would more decidedly object to it than would anybody else in the State. If a law embodying the very words of their petition, is not what they want, and would not suit them, then why do they not petition for what they do want, and for what would suit them? Oh, that would never do, because, as stated in the convention, if they should ask the Legislature for what they really want they would get nothing at all. Besides, this, if they should circulate a petition for what they really want, they might not get so many signatures, and worse than all, it might alarm the enemy and provoke opposition and counter-petitions. As stated to the Chronicle reporter, in their own words, what they want is this:—SITI January 20, 1887, page 39.5

    “The ministers see the importance of a law to protect the sabbath, which is their harvest-day for souls.”SITI January 20, 1887, page 39.6

    So then it is not a law that will cause a suspension of business, and a rest simply “on one day in seven,” that is wanted. It is a law that will protect the ministers’ “harvest-day for souls.” Would it not be a good thing for this Executive Committee to petition the Legislature to pay the ministers for harvesting the souls? If not why not? If it be the duty of the State to furnish and protect a day for the harvesting of souls, why is it not equally the duty of the State to pay those who do the harvesting? And so, to get the Legislature to pass a law in the interest of the ministers, by protecting the sabbath because it is their harvest-day for souls, they circulate for signatures a petition asking the Legislature to pass a law or laws which shall “secure to the people of the State the important object of a suspension of business and a rest on one day in seven.” And this they do “to avoid alarming the enemy and provoking opposition and counter-petitions.” We do not wonder that they dread opposition when their real purpose is seen.SITI January 20, 1887, page 39.7

    As they stated it to the reporter it was thus:—SITI January 20, 1887, page 39.8

    “They [the ministers] are stirring up the churches and congregations to make a strong fight in its defense. But they wish to avoid alarming the enemy and provoking opposition and counter-petitions.”SITI January 20, 1887, page 39.9

    Oh yes; the ministers of California can make a strong fight in defense—when they are not attacked. They are valiant leaders—if they can only “avoid alarming the enemy.” They, and in fact the ministers generally throughout the country, are vigorous advocates for Sunday—if they can avoid opposition. They are all strong petitioners for laws to protect the ministers’ harvest-day for souls—if they can only frame the petition so as to avoid all danger of alarming the enemy, or provoking opposition, that might culminate in a counter-petition.SITI January 20, 1887, page 39.10

    There is nothing the Sunday cause and its advocates dread so much as opposition. They dare not go before the people of California with a frank, fair, open avowal of the cause in behalf of which they demand that the Legislature shall act. They dare not go to the Legislature itself with a fair statement of what they want; they said so in their convention. Any cause that cannot bear the light of day, and the test of open, full, and free examination and discussion is unworthy the attention of thinking men. And legislation in behalf of any such cause is unworthy of a free people. But such is the Sunday cause and legislation in behalf of it.SITI January 20, 1887, page 39.11

    If those ministers should obtain the law which they demand, a law that would secure the “suspension of business and a rest on one day in seven,” that is, on Sunday; and if men in this State should suspend all business and should rest on one day in seven, other than Sunday, thus doing all that the petition asks for, then there is not one of those ministers who would not by the law compel these men to rest and suspend business on Sunday also, and would thus demand rest and the suspension of business on two days in seven, which is just twice as much as the petition asks for. But that is no difference to them; a Sunday law is what they want, a law to protect the ministers’ harvest-day for souls; and if they can obtain it by petitioning the Legislature to pass a law securing rest and suspension of business “on one day in seven,” or a “civil” Sunday law, it is all right. If they can get the thing they want, by asking for another and totally different thing, it is all the same to them, and so much the better if by this means they can “avoid alarming the enemy and provoking opposition.” And so, having valiantly fought, and right valiantly won, the battle in which there is no opposition, ‘twill be “a famous victory.”SITI January 20, 1887, page 39.12