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The Two Republics, or Rome and the United States of America

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    Another practice, evil in itself and fraught with additional danger in that it made a precedent and basis for urging the National Reform claims, is the exemption of church property from taxation. To exempt one class of property from its just share in the general expense, is to increase the measure of tax on the rest. Exemption of church property therefore does cause other property to bear just so much of an additional burden, and is noting less then than levying of a general tribute in support of the church. In its original purpose, the exemption was especially to favor the church, and was only one element in the grand scheme of the union of Church and State; such it has ever been; and such only it is 7[Page 811] Congressional Record, Fifty-first Congress, first session, p. 8,341.TTR 810.4

    When by the exemption of church property from taxation, the national government had lent its sanction to the principle and the practice of State support of the Church, it was only logical that the further step should be taken, and support from the public treasury the religious teaching of the church. This step was taken in 1885, and the practice actually began in 1886. In 1885, the first year of President Cleveland’s administration, there was established at the capital of the nation a “Bureau of Catholic Missions,” the chief object of which was to “push Catholic schools upon the government as earnestly as possible.” In September of the same year, they secured from the Commissioner of Indian affairs the publication of the following statement:—TTR 811.1

    “The government should be liberal in making contracts with religious denominations to teach Indian children in schools established by those denominations. It should throw open the door and say to all denominations “There should be no monopoly in good works. Enter, all of you, and do whatever your hands find of good work to do, and in your efforts the government will give you encouragement out of its liberal purse.’ In other words, the government, without partiality, should encourage all the churches to work in this work in this broad field of philanthropic endeavor.” 8[Page 812] Id., p. 8,353. All the quotations in this division are from the same number of the Record; that is, the Congressional Record dated July 25, 1890, giving the proceedings of the 24th.TTR 811.2

    Fifteen denominations of so-called Protestants took the bait, and the next five years these, with the Catholic Church, made the following record of drafts, upon the public treasury:—TTR 811.3

    “The appropriations in this regard have run from the year 1886, as follows: For Catholic schools in 1886, $118,343 as against $109,916 for all other; in 1887, $194,635 as against $168,579 for all others; in 1888, $221,169 for Catholic schools, and $155,095 for all others; in 1889, $347-672 for Catholic schools, as against $183,000 for all others; in 1889-90. as I have said $356,967 for Catholic schools, as against, for all other denominations and all other schools, $204,993.” 9[Page 819] In the New York Independent of March 19, 1891, Janes M. King, D. D., who was present at Washington, working against the appropriations, describes “the most humiliating spectacle, to see representatives of sovereign States, as well as the representatives of districts, ... give expression to their fears that their vote in accord with their convictions would prejudice their political future.” The opposition succeeded in reducing the appropriations to the Protestant denominations by the sum of $8,814, while in spite of all opposition, the appropriation to the Catholic Church was increased by the sum of $6,392, for the fiscal year 1891-92. (See Independent February 12, 1871, p. 13.TTR 811.4

    That is, in five years there was drawn from the public treasury, by churches, more than two millions of dollars with which to pay themselves for teaching their own church principles and doctrines in their own church schools and to their own converts. In other words, more than two millions of dollars was paid in those five years by the United States government directly to the support of these churches in their own religious work. And another point worthy of particular notice is that during this time the Catholic Church was enabled to increase by $238,624 the amount which it first received, while all the other denominations together were able to increase theirs by only $95,077.TTR 812.1

    When President Harrison entered upon his administration, and found this condition of things, he set about to remedy the evil, to break this union of Church and State, and let the churches support their own schools, and teach their own doctrines, at their own expense. But he soon found that in so short a time the wicked thing had attained such power that it could successfully cope with the administration of the government itself. As stated by Senator Dawes on the floor of the Senate,—TTR 812.2

    “The present management was in favor of divorcing the government absolutely from them all. but it found in impossible to do that.”TTR 812.3

    That is to say, on only five years the church power, as represented in these sixteen denominations, had secured such a hold upon the United States government, that it could not be shaken off. In so short a time, and in the face of every principle of the government there was created such a union of Church and State that it was found impossible to divorce them.TTR 812.4

    Finding this to be the case, the administration thought to do what appeared to be the next best thing, and allow no increase of the appropriations to any church, and did recommend that the government conduct its own schools and teach the Indians itself. The Catholic Bureau of Missions applied for aid in establishing three new schools. There were also applications on the part of the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, and the Methodists; but all such applications were refused. With the refusal, the Protestant denominations contented themselves; but the Catholic Bureau,” says Senator Dawes, “having failed to get a contract for these three schools from the government, in addition, and aggravating in inequality that had already aroused public sentiment, they went to the House of Representatives without any estimate or recommendation from the department, and obtained the insertion into the bill, of these three schools.”TTR 813.1

    When the bill reached the Senate, an amendment was there added to it, voting an appropriation to yet another school, making four in all that the Catholics had secured. As soon as the other denominations heard of this, they hurried up to Congress with a “protest” against the proposed increase of appropriation to the Catholic Church; but there was no suggestion of any protest from them against having the appropriation of former years continued both to the Catholics and to themselves. And as the protest came only because the Catholics had succeeded in obtaining additional money, when they themselves could secure nothing additional their “protest” simply amounted to nothing. There was nothing heard of any protest from any of the Protestant churches, so long as they with the Catholic Church, got their proportionate share of the plunder. It was only when they discovered that the Catholic Church was getting a considerable increase when they could get none, that they discovered anything wrong. Then their “protest” was entered. It was read by Senator Jones, of Arkansas, as a statement which had been sent to him by an “eminent man, a minister a resident of New York,” and runs as follows:—TTR 813.2

    “Last year was given to the Roman Catholics, for Indian education, $356,000. They demanded from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs $44,000 more, making total of over $400,000. The request was denied, and the commissioner announced that he would not extend the contract system, and would make no contracts with new schools. On this the Catholics endeavored to defeat his confirmation, but did not succeed.TTR 814.1

    “Foiled in this raid upon the public treasury, they then attempted to accomplish their ends through Congress. In the Indian appropriation bill as introduced into the House of Representatives there are two items, one appropriating $3,330 for a Roman Catholic school at Rensselaer, Indiana, and the other appropriating $12,500 for a Roman Catholic school to be opened among the Mission Indians in California.TTR 814.2

    “The special appropriations for the Roman Catholics in the Indian bill for last year were, for St. Ignatius school, in Montana, $45,000, and for Roman Catholic schools in Minnesota, $30,000. This made a total last year of $75,000. The total amount this year is $95,830. In addition to this large sum they will demand of the commissioner, doubtless, the same amount granted them last year.TTR 814.3

    “It should be remembered that in 1886 the amount of money secured from the government by the Roman Catholics was $118,000 and in 1890 it had reached the large sum of $356,000. Is it not time that this perversion of public money to sectarian uses should cease? “TTR 814.4

    Now that would be an excellent protest if it were an honest one. It would be a strong one if it were only fair. From this statement alone, nobody would ever get the idea that any church but the Catholic was engaged in this “raid upon the public treasury,” or had been a beneficiary of “this perversion of public money to sectarian uses.” Yet this statement was written and distributed to United States senators by a minister—clearly a Protestant minister. It was written by a minister who knew the facts. He knew that last year the Roman Catholics received $356,967 and must also have known that the Protestants received $204,993. He must have known that while the Roman Catholics asked an increase of $44,000, the Protestants also requested the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to increase the appropriation to them. He must have known, also, that in 1886, although the Roman Catholics received $118,343, the Protestants at the same time from the same source received $109,916; and that although in 1890 the appropriation to the Roman Catholic Church had “reached the large sum of 356,967,” the amount secured by the Protestants in the same time, and from the same source, had also reached the large sum of $204,993. Yet in the face of these figures, showing the large amount of money received by Protestant denominations from the public treasury for church uses, he says not a word about it, and lays against the Roman Catholics only, the charge of that “raid upon the public treasury,” as though they were the only guilty parties in the whole transaction.TTR 814.5

    Now if the Roman Catholics’ securing from the national government $118,343 was a “raid upon the public treasury,” the securing by Protestants from the same source $109,916 is just as certainly a raid upon the public treasury; and if the continuation and increase of the appropriation to the Roman Catholics up to the amount of $356,967 was a continuous raid upon the public treasury, then the continuation and the increase of the appropriation, from the same source, to Protestants up to the amount of $204,993, was just as certainly a continuous raid upon the public treasury. The only difference is that the raid of the Protestants was not quite so successful as the raid of the Catholics.TTR 815.1

    Nor is it exactly correct to put it in this way. The raid was not made by the parties in two distinct divisions. They were united in solid phalanx in the raid, each division supporting the other. It was only when the Protestants found that the Catholics were securing the larger share of the plunder, that there was any division at all among the invading host, or that there was among them any idea that their action was a raid upon the public treasury. As soon as this was discovered, however, the invading hosts separated into two divisions,—the “sectarian” and the “non-sectarian,”—and the Protestants, the “non-sectarian” division, suddenly discovered that there was a “raid being made upon the public treasury,” and that there was being carried on a “serious perversion of public money to sectarian uses.”TTR 815.2

    It is important to inquire, Why is it considered impossible to break this hold which the churches have secured upon the government? Why is it impossible to sever this union of Church and State which is already formed? After stating the amount of appropriations to parochial schools. from the years 1886-1890, as already given, Senator Dawes, who had charge of the bill, said:—TTR 816.1

    “That was the condition of things last year when the present management of the Indian Bureau came into power. That is maintained to-day in precisely the same condition. When this present management came into power, it encountered a public sentiment in reference to this great discrepancy, which came very near precipitating upon the country a very angry and unprofitable, and in every possible light an unfortunate discussion, of the great question whether the government should be connected with parochial schools at all. The present management was in favor of divorcing the government absolutely form them all, but it found it impossible to do that.”TTR 816.2

    This is a statement worth examining:—TTR 816.3

    1. It is shown by the Senator that the United States government is allied with the churches in the United States to such an extent as to be spending more than one-half million dollars each year for the support of the schools of these churches. That is more than one-half million dollars is taken each year from all the people and given outright to certain churches with which to conduct church schools, and to teach the religious dogmas of those churches.TTR 816.4

    2. It is stated by the Senator that the question whether the government should be connected with parochial schools at all, is a “great question.” That is the truth. It is a great question. It is the great question that caused the Dark Ages. and has been the curse of every government until now. It is this question that our fathers sought to have this government avoid, when they forbade Congress to have anything to do with religion. But, although the whole spirit and intent of the United States Constitution forbids this thing which is now being done by the government for certain churches of the United States, both the government and the churches have deliberately gone ahead in the matter, and are still going ahead, and the people sit still and let them go on without any protest.TTR 816.5

    This is forcible and practical illustration of the truth that constitutional safeguards are such only so long as the intelligence of the people is kept up to the level of the Constitution. A people may have a perfect Constitution, and yet, if they neglect it so that the public intelligence falls below the level of the Constitution, and the real character of the Constitution is forgotten, then the Constitution is of no more value than so much blank paper. This is the condition of things in the United States now. So far as the subject of religion and government is concerned, the United States Constitution is as nearly perfect as a human production can be made. It declares an absolute separation between the church, or churches, and the State; and prohibits the government from having anything to do with establishing any religion, or with any religion already established. And yet the people of the United States have so far forgotten these principles, and the necessity of maintaining them, that Congress goes on year after year, bestowing national aid upon certain churches, and the people say not a word. Men are elected to Congress who still carry on the same iniquity, and the people suffer the evil still to go on, until the churches get such a hold upon the government that it is officially declared that it is impossible to be broken. And this declaration is made by the very men who are sent to Congress, and who sit there under a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Of what benefit is the Constitution of the United States, in its provision for the separation of Church and State, when the men who take oath to support it thus violate it, and when the people are so careless and indifferent about the whole matter as to suffer it to go on year after year, with not a word of protest? This is indeed a great question.TTR 817.1

    And yet, as great a question as it is, and great a question as it is acknowledged by Senator Dawes to be he considers any discussion of the question to be “unprofitable and in every possible light an unfortunate discussion.” How is it possible that the discussion of the great fundamental principles of the United States Constitution can be unfortunate and unprofitable? If this statement be true, then it was an unfortunate and unprofitable thing for our fathers to put this principle in the Constitution at all; because it is certain that every subject embodied in the Constitution is properly a subject of discussion. Therefore, if the statement of Senator Dawes be true, that the discussion of the question as to whether the government should be connected with parochial schools,—in other words, whether there shall be a union of Church and State—if the discussion of that question can ever be unfortunate and unprofitable, then that is only to charge that the action of the fathers, in making such a provision in the Constitution, was only unfortunate and unprofitable. But Mr. Dawes even repeats this proposition. He says:—TTR 818.1

    “The present management was in favor of divorcing to government absolutely from them all, but it found it impossible to do that. Perhaps it would have been better had the Indian education set out upon this principle, but it had gone so far and got interwoven with the whole system of Indian education, that it was utterly impossible to retrace the step, and to avoid the precipitation upon the country of such a discussion as that, which could do no good anywhere.”TTR 818.2

    Senator Dawes is from Massachusetts. Does he express the opinion of the people of that State, when he declares the discussion of the question of national support to parochial schools to be unfortunate, unprofitable, and such as can do no good anywhere? Are the people of the United States, as a whole, ready to the admit that the discussion of one of the greatest principles embodied in the United States Constitution, can ever be either unfortunate or unprofitable, or such as can do no good anywhere? It is hard to believe that such is the sentiment of the majority of the people of the United States. But as the practice is known, and is still allowed to go on, increasing every year, and that without any such general protest or even discussion as the importance of the subject demands, we are forced to conclude that the people have forgotten the principles of the government of the United States, and have laid aside that eternal vigilance which alone is the price of liberty.TTR 818.3

    And from the fact, and the way, that this practice is allowed to go on almost wholly without dispute or protest, it is evident that the American people are ready to admit, and to sit quietly down with the admission, that the church power in the United States has already so far encroached upon the national government as to have absolutely strangled the free discussion of one of the greatest principles of the Constitution, and thus virtually to have strangled all Successful efforts at resistance. 10[Page 823] The proceedings in both these hearings, are printed in full in the United States State Document, “Religion and Schools, Notes of Hearings,” of above dates.TTR 819.1

    So much has actually been accomplished, and is now being practiced, in the union of Church and State in this government, which in every principle and every precept of its fundamental and supreme law, stands pledged to the opposite. And in view of the situation as it is, it is impossible to deny that there is every favorable prospect for the speedy success of the gigantic religious combination which exists for the sole purpose of having the government committed wholly to the interests and the propagation of religion. This would be so, were there nothing more in view than the things which we have here named. But the prospect is made far more promising when viewed from the position which the combination has gained by direct and intentional effort.TTR 819.2

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