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    April 3, 1889

    “Questions of the Blair Bills” American Sentinel 4, 11.

    E. J. Waggoner

    EDITOR SENTINEL: I understand that you take the position that Senator Blair’s Educational bill is in reality a bill for the “establishment of a national religion.”AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.1

    But I understand that the claim has been made, and on good authority, that the bill was introduced for the primary purpose of preventing a condition of things threatened by the recent at-tempt of the Catholics to gain control of the public schools of Boston and vicinity.AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.2

    Do you not think that the lack of educational facilities in some States of the South had also much to do with the proposed legislation on that question?AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.3

    Do not the prohibitions relative to institutions, corporations, or persons giving instruction or training “in the doctrines, tenents, belief, ceremonials, or observances peculiar to any sect, denomination, organization, or society, being or claiming to be religious in its character,” prevent the possibility of the bill under consideration ever favoring the Catholic Church in teaching their peculiar doctrines in the public schools?AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.4

    With such provisions incorporated into the United States Constitution, could not our general Government prevent under all circumstances the promulgation of Catholic views in communities where the Catholics were in the majority, as in California?AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.5

    Do you not think that section 1 of the Educational bill will aid in carrying out the spirit of the first amendment to the United States Constitution?AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.6

    Would not your objection to the bill be removed if the expression, “the principles of the Christian religion,” in section 2, were omitted?AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.7

    In your quotation from the Blair Sunday-Rest bill, in the article, “Provisions of the Sunday-Rest Bill,” in the SENTINEL of February 20, do you not make two omissions of a very important part of the bill, viz., “to the disturbance of others”? Are not your arguments on the “absolute” requirements of the law for the Territories, based on such omissions? When you represent the bill as “obliging everybody to rest on Sunday” in the Territories, do you not convey an incorrect idea of its requirements?AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.8

    I notice the bill is given in full in the report of the hearing of the Sunday-Rest bill. A large number of the reports have been printed by order of the Senate, and the readers of the SENTINEL in the several States can be supplied by addressing their respective senators. A full account of all that was said and done on the occasion of the hearing is given. The report is official and worthy of consideration by all candid investigators.AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.9

    Yours truly, L. T. NICOLA.

    To these questions we reply as follows: We have taught that the Blair Educational Amendment should properly be entitled, “An amendment providing for the establishment of a national religion,” and we teach so still. The correctness of this teaching has been demonstrated by plain arguments.AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.10

    We should be pleased to have our friend cite the “good authority” for the claim that the amendment is for the purpose of preventing the Catholics from getting control of the schools. But that is immaterial. It is of very little importance why the amendment was proposed; all that concerns us is the effect that it would have if it should ever become a part of the Constitution, and that we can ascertain from the wording of it, regardless of any claim that may be made for it. It has been demonstrated that the practical effect of the amendment would be to give the Roman Catholics virtual control of the public schools in many States, and, in fact, in the whole country. Thus:—AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.11

    The second section provides that none of the doctrines, tenets, observances, etc., peculiar to any sect shall ever be taught in the public schools. But at the same time it stipulates that the principles of the Christian religion shall be taught. Now there are some things that one denomination regards as vital principles of the Christian religion, that other sects ignore; the teaching of these the proposed amendment prohibits. It is obvious, therefore, that only those principles are contemplated which are common to all; and what these are can be determined only by a general church congress. But in such a congress the Roman Catholics, being stronger than any other sect,. would hold the balance of power, and with their long experience in political wire pulling would have but little difficulty in running the convention to suit themselves. But even after such a convention each State would attend to its own educational affairs, and in those States where the Roman Catholics are in a majority, they would teach their religion.AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.12

    But our friend misapprehends the position of the AMERICAN SENTINEL if he thinks that our opposition to the proposed amendment is solely on the ground that it may throw the schools into the hands of the Roman Catholics. We are utterly opposed to the Government’s teaching religion of any kind whatever, or to any degree. If the Catholics were barred out entirely, and no principles were to be taught except those which are held in common by the Protestant sects, we should be as much opposed to it as we are now, or as we would be if it, proposed to give the Catholics sole control. We go farther, and say that we should oppose the amendment even if it provided that each State should see that its schools taught only the religious principles we hold to be vital. Our conception of the gospel is something entirely different from what that would be. We cannot imagine that the Saviour, who would not remain in a country when its inhabitants requested him to leave, would take pleasure in seeing his gospel forced upon people who reject it in their hearts. Nothing could so surely bring the gospel of Christ into disrepute as the teaching of it to all, by the State. People who might be reached by persuasion, would be repelled by force.AMS April 3, 1889, page 83.13

    The lack of educational facilities in the South had nothing to do with the proposed amendment. The Blair Educational bill, which has already passed the Senate, and which provides for the distribution of $77,000,000 among the States, doubtless had that in view; but even that, if it should pass both Houses of Congress, would never be any help to the South. If that should pass, and the amendment should be adopted, the National Reform people would simply have $77,000,000 at their disposal with which to teach religion in the public schools.AMS April 3, 1889, page 84.1

    Section 1 of the Educational Amendment is nullified by section 2. The first section says that no State shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, and section 2 demands that each State shall set itself to teach religion. The State doesn’t need to make a law respecting an establishment of religion, when it is itself an establishment of religion-a machine for teaching it. If the amendment prohibited the teaching of any form of religion in the public schools, leaving all denominations free as they are now, to teach at their own expense whatever doctrines they choose to, we certainly should have no objection to it. But if the clause relative to the teaching of “virtue, morality, and the principles of the Christian religion,” were omitted from the proposed amendment, there would be nothing left. Senator Blair made his principal plea before the senate on that clause. He seemed to regard that as the main feature of the whole thing.AMS April 3, 1889, page 84.2

    Now as to the Sunday-Rest bill. That bill has been printed in the SENTINEL no less than four times, so that it is not our fault if every reader of the SENTINEL does not understand it. We commented on the bill as it is, and also on the bill as the National Sunday Union wish to have it modified. There is no doubt that if the bill should pass it would be amended according to their wishes, since it is their bill. For our part, it makes no difference which form is adopted. The original form says that no work shall be done on Sunday “to the disturbance of others.” But it would astonish one who has had no experience, to see how easily some people can be disturbed on Sunday. The reports of the Sunday-law cases in Arkansas show that nearly every man who was prosecuted for working on Sunday was working in so retired a place, and so quietly, that nobody could have found it out without taking special pains; yet people were greatly “disturbed” by it. We have seen people very much “disturbed” because they knew that some other people were working at a noiseless occupation in the privacy of their own rooms. A law providing for the punishment of anyone who does any work on Sunday “to the disturbance of others,” would open the flood-gates of religious bigotry and persecution. As to the amended bill, which provides that no work shall be done on Sunday “in public,” nothing more need be said.AMS April 3, 1889, page 84.3

    We did not incorrectly represent the bill when we represented it as “obliging everybody to rest on Sunday,” as the bill itself will show. The bill, as drafted by Senator Blair, says that “no person or corporation, or the agent, servant, or employe of any person or corporation, shall perform or authorize to be performed any secular work, labor, or business” on the first day of the week. We should be pleased to have our friend, or anyone else, name some people that are not included in those terms. If the bill is not “absolute” in its requirements for rest, to the full extent of its jurisdiction, we de not know how language could be framed to make it any more so.AMS April 3, 1889, page 84.4

    We sincerely hope that “all candid investigators” have the report of the hearing on the Sunday-Rest bill. If they have been hitherto in favor of the bill, the reckless determination on the part of the workers for the bill, to gain their ends, no matter at what cost to others, and the false and contradictory position taken, will suffice to convince them that the whole thing is an iniquitous scheme.AMS April 3, 1889, page 84.5

    We are not infallible; and are as liable as others to make mistakes; but if we may always be as correctly represented as the Blair Sunday-Rest bill and its advocates have been in the AMERICAN SENTINEL, we shall be satisfied.AMS April 3, 1889, page 84.6

    E. J. W.

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