Larger font
Smaller font
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    May 22, 1889

    “Protection to Religious Worship, and the Bible in the Schools” American Sentinel 4, 17.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Some time ago we received from a friend in the East some questions concerning Sunday legislation, and religious teaching in the schools, which had been put to him, and which he could not answer. As they are questions that might be asked to anyone, we print them herewith and give our reply, for the benefit of all:—AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.1

    “Your position is no civil Sabbath laws. Such a position, carried out with our present influx of foreign element, will soon reduce our present Christian Sabbath to the level of the Continental Sabbath-a, day of excursions, picnics, beer gardens, revelries, and, if desired, make a day of din or confusion right when the majority desire to engage in worship. You cry out against coercion on one side but lose sight of protection on the other. Here are what you would regard as two evils, and one or the other of them must be chosen; hence, would it not be better to have a Sunday law? Is not a village or neighborhood with a Sunday law where things are kept quiet better than one where everything runs riot on Sunday?”AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.2

    “2. The position of the SENTINEL is no Bible in the schools if objected to by Catholics. Many of our text-books have the name of God in referring to him as Creator, etc. Suppose some atheist objects, shall his objection be sustained? Some ‘fogy’ objects to grammar being taught because he don’t believe in it; shall his objection be sustained?AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.3

    “Does not the matter of finances, building school-houses, and selection of text-books lie with the majority?—It certainly does. Then if they choose to select the best of all books for a school reader have they not power to do so, even if it does not suit the majority?AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.4

    The first question has been answered many times, but we will answer it again more in detail. The answer is very simple. The whole point is protection to religious worship on Sunday. This is the great plea that made in favor of Sunday laws. People must be protected in their right to worship. We say so too; but there is no necessity for Sunday laws in order to secure this undisturbed worship. To show that this is so, we will make some extracts from the penal codes of a few of the States. Section 302 of the penal code of California reads as follows:—AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.5

    “Every person who willfully disturbs or disquiets any assembly of people met for religious worship, by noise, profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior, or by any unnecessary noise, either within the place where such worship is held, or so near as to disturb the order and solemnity of the meeting, is guilty of misdemeanor.”AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.6

    Such misdemeanor is punishable by “imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding $500, or both.”AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.7

    The Pennsylvania law reads thus:—AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.8

    “If any person shall willfully or maliciously disturb, or interrupt, any meeting, society, assembly, or congregation convened for the purpose of religious worship, or for any moral, social, literary, scientific, agricultural, horticultural, or floral object, ceremony, examination, exhibition, or lecture, such persons shall on conviction be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding $50, and suffer an imprisonment not exceeding three months, or both, or either, at the discretion of the court.”AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.9

    Following is the reading of the penal code of New York on this subject:—AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.10

    “SECTION 274. Disturbing religious meetings. A person who willfully disturbs, interrupts, or disquiets any assemblage of people met for religious worship, by any of the acts enumerated in the next section, is guilty of a misdemeanor.AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.11

    SEC. 275. Definition of the offense. The following acts, or any of them, constitute disturbance of a religious meeting:—AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.12

    “1. Uttering any profane discourse, committing any rude or indecent act, or making any unnecessary noise, either within the place where such meeting is held, or so near it as to disturb the order and solemnity of the meeting.AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.13

    “2. Engaging in, or promoting, within two miles of the place where a religious meeting is held, any racing of animals or gaming of any description.AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.14

    “3. Obstructing in any manner, without authority of law, within the like disturbance, free passage along a highway to the place of such meeting.”AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.15

    From the criminal code of Illinois we quote the following:—AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.16

    “Whoever, by menace, profane swearing, vulgar language, or any unusual conduct, interrupts or disturbs any assemblage of people met for the worship of God, shall be fined not exceeding $100. Whosoever, during the time of holding camp or field meetings for religious purposes, within one mile of the place of holding such meeting, hawks or peddles goods, wares, or merchandise, or, without the permission of the authorities having charge of such a meeting, establishes any tent, booth, or other place for provisions or refreshments, or sells or gives away, or offers to sell or give away, any spirits, liquor, wine, cider, or beer, or engage in gaming, or horse-racing, or exhibits, or fairs, shall be fined not exceeding $100 in each offense.”—Illinois Statute, chap. 35, paragraphs 53, 54.AMS May 22, 1889, page 129.17

    Section 189 of the criminal code of Colorado reads thus:—AMS May 22, 1889, page 130.1

    “Whoever shall be guilty of any noise, rout, or amusement on the first day of the week, called Sunday, whereby the peace of any private family may be disturbed, or who shall by a disorderly, immoral conduct interrupt or disturb the meeting, procession, or ceremony of any religious denomination, on either a week-day or Sunday, such person so offending shall be guilty of misdemeanor, and upon conviction therefor shall be fined any sum not exceeding $50.”AMS May 22, 1889, page 130.2

    Section 4,853 of the criminal code of Tennessee says:—AMS May 22, 1889, page 130.3

    “If any person willfully disturb or disquiet any assemblage of persons met for religious worship, by noise, profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior, or any other act at or near the place of worship, he shall be fined not less than twenty nor more than two hundred dollars, and may also be imprisoned not exceeding six months in the county jail.”AMS May 22, 1889, page 130.4

    We do not know of any State that does not have similar provisions. It is very evident, therefore, that Sunday laws are not needed in order to protect people in their right to rest and worship undisturbed on Sunday. And since, notwithstanding the existence of these statutes, it is claimed that Sunday laws are needed in order to protect the Christian Sabbath, or, as the Blair Sunday-Rest bill says, “to protect the religious observance of the day,” it is evident that the de-sire is not to protect those who do keep Sunday, since they have protection already, but to compel others to observe the Sunday religiously against their will.AMS May 22, 1889, page 130.5

    A case in point occurred in this city not long since. At a public meeting, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, and others, complained very bitterly that a service had been disturbed on the previous Sunday, by the beating of drums in a circus tent, which had been pitched adjoining his church. He stated that at times it had been almost impossible for the congregation to hear the sermon, because of the outside din. An impassioned plea was made for a Sunday law in California, so that congregations might be protected in their worship. The case was put very strongly, so as to excite sympathy, and no doubt many persons were moved by it to resolve to do all in their power to secure a Sunday law. Yet the readers of this article will see from the section quoted from the penal code of California, that ample provision already exists for the stopping of all such disturbances. The church where this thing happened is not more than two minutes’ walk from police headquarters, and it is safe to say to say that in five minutes from the first beat of the drum, the offenders might have been lodged in a cell at the police station. Yet those people endured all the disquiet, rather than avail themselves of the provisions already made. Why was this?—The only reason that can be given is that if they had demonstrated that religious service can be conducted quietly, and that any disturbance to it can be promptly checked, they would deprive themselves of their strongest arguments for the enactment of the Sunday law.AMS May 22, 1889, page 130.6

    We trust that our friends will save these quotations that we have made, and secure others if they can, and use them whenever it is claimed that Sunday laws are a necessity in order that worship may be conducted undisturbed.AMS May 22, 1889, page 130.7

    The second question concerning the Bible in the schools might be answered briefly, as follows:—AMS May 22, 1889, page 130.8

    1. The position of the SENTINEL is not simply “no Bible in the schools if objected to by the Catholics.” We are utterly opposed to the teaching of the Bible in public schools, no matter whether desired by Catholics or Protestants, or both. The reason is that the schools established by the State were not established for the purpose of teaching religion, and are not competent to do that work. What will be taught will be simply the empty shell, destitute of all power, for it is claimed that it is not desired to have the Bible in the schools for the purpose of teaching religion, but simply as a reading book. We reply that the Bible is essentially a religious book, and it is nothing less. The history and biography which it contains were written for the sole purpose of showing God’s dealings with men. They are practical object lessons in real piety, or else in the results of a failure properly to acknowledge God; and when the Bible is read or studied with any other object than to arrive at a knowledge of the religion which it inculcates, it is read and studied to no profit.AMS May 22, 1889, page 130.9

    There is no point in the argument that if the Bible is kept out of the schools, all books in which the name of God occurs should likewise be kept out, else some atheist will be disturbed. It is a matter of fact there is no such thing as a real atheist. This was well shown in a convention of so-called atheists in Paris a few years ago, in which one of the leaders said, in an impassioned address, “I am an atheist, thank God.”AMS May 22, 1889, page 130.10

    2. No one ever heard of a conscientious objection to the teaching of grammar. There is no parallel whatever between the teaching of grammar and the teaching of the Bible. There is no difference of opinion concerning grammar, arithmetic, and geography. Those principles are well known and agreed to by all men of all nations and all classes. If the same thing were true in regard to the Bible, there could be no objection to having it taught in the schools. We say that if there were no disagreement as to the doctrines which the Bible teaches,—if all men who know anything about it were perfectly agreed upon it, as are all educated persons upon the principles of mathematics and language, and if there were no more possibility for a disagreement than there is upon the principles of these studies, there could be no objection to its being taught, because there would be nobody to object in that case. If a person did not want to study the Bible, be could refrain from studying it, just as he can now refrain from the study of the common branches of knowledge, if he wishes to remain ignorant.AMS May 22, 1889, page 130.11

    This covers the whole ground. The trouble with those who plead for the Bible in the public schools, is that they do not discriminate between it and the common text-books. As we have before charged, they bring the Bible down to a level of grammar and geography; thus they convict themselves of the very things they charge us with, namely, of working against true religion and a real knowledge of the Bible. We think anyone can see the justness of our opposition. We are opposed to the teaching of the Bible in the public schools, because we love the Bible, and we do not want to have people steeled against what influence it has in the world, by having it taught as a thing of no more importance than grammar.AMS May 22, 1889, page 130.12

    E. J. W.

    “The Blair Bill” American Sentinel 4, 17.

    E. J. Waggoner

    This is the heading of the communication which follows, to which we herewith reply. While it is true that the Blair bill is dead, by the adjournment of Congress, yet the movement which resulted in the presentation of the Blair bill, is not dead, and we are assured that, as soon as the next Congress assembles, another bill will be presented, which will be even stronger than the one introduced by Senator Blair; therefore, it is not out of place to consider that bill even now. Following is the communication:—AMS May 22, 1889, page 131.1

    “EDITORS OF THE AMERICAN SENTINEL: I wholly misapprehend the meaning of the Blair bill, if it mean anything more than that some one of the days in each week shall be observed as a day of rest. To this construction of the bill, I give my unqualified assent; to any other meaning of the proposed law, I am uncompromisingly opposed. I never will support any law that takes from the citizen the right to observe his own Sabbath, according to his own convictions of right.AMS May 22, 1889, page 131.2

    “It is in man’s physical nature to need one day of rest in the week; all toiling creatures, whose muscular energy is strung to its highest pitch to drive life’s varied pursuits, or to promote man’s pleasure, need a time to recuperate these worn and often over-taxed powers. For them, as well as for man, I plead for one day of rest at least. With the same zeal I would plead for religious freedom; I would compel no man to observe for rest, and for religious exercise, a sabbath that he believes is not the day appointed by the divine Being. When we give away one item of that faith, so well expressed by our institutions, we take one step toward that despotism that has over-run the hopes of religious freedom in the world, one step from the principles upon which our institutions were founded.AMS May 22, 1889, page 131.3

    “Am I mistaken in the meaning of the Blair bill? or are you not wrong in opposing a measure, a specification, that is comprehended in the great principle upon which your faith is founded?AMS May 22, 1889, page 131.4

    “J. W. HERVEY, A.M., M.D.
    Indianapolis, Ind., Feb. 4, 1889.

    The fact is, as our correspondent suggests, that he wholly misapprehends the meaning of the Blair bill. He certainly did not read it very closely or he could have seen that it did mean a great deal more than that some day in each week should be observed, but that any individual was at liberty to select his own day of rest. It was entitled a “bill to secure to the people the enjoyment of the first day of the week, commonly known as the Lord’s day, as a day of rest, and to promote its observance as a day of religious worship.” In the new bill the word “protect” is to be substituted for “promote.” Now this contemplates nothing less than the enforcement of the observance of the first day of the week, and that upon every individual within the jurisdiction of the proposed law.AMS May 22, 1889, page 131.5

    That this is true, is shown by the first section, which 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 to the disturbance of others, works of necessity, mercy, and humanity excepted; nor shall any person engage in any play, game, amusement, or recreation to the disturbance of others on the first day of the week, commonly known as the Lord’s day, or during any part thereof, in any territory, district, vessel, or place subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States.” In the new bill this is to be made stronger. Instead of prohibiting work, amusements, or such like, “to the disturbance of others,” they propose to prohibit any work or amusement that is done “in public,” whether it disturbs anybody else or not. It needs no comment to show that our statement is true, that the purpose of the Blair bill is to compel everybody to keep Sunday.AMS May 22, 1889, page 131.6

    This is further shown by the introduction. It states that the object of the bill is to secure to the people the enjoyment of the first day of the week, and to promote, or protect, its observance as a day of religious worship. Now as we have before shown in the SENTINEL, there are ample laws in every State to protect the people in their rest upon Sunday, and also to protect them in their religious worship. There is no necessity for a Sunday law in order that people may be protected in the enjoyment of Sunday rest and worship. But note that it is not the people that are to be protected, but the day. The bill is “to protect the observance of Sunday as a day of religious worship.” That is a different thing from protecting the people. We protect a flower garden by building a fence around it, and putting up a sign warning people to keep off. So Sunday is to be protected as a day of religious worship by putting the fence of the law around it, and warning everybody not to trespass upon it. There is a vast difference between protecting people in their worship on Sunday, and protecting Sunday as a day of religious worship. The former, the State is in duty bound to do, just as it is in duty bound to protect all citizens, at all times, who conduct themselves peaceably. The latter it has no business whatever to do.AMS May 22, 1889, page 131.7

    Our friend says that he would give his unqualified sanction to a bill providing that some one of the days in each week shall be observed as a day of rest, and gives as his reason that man’s physical nature needs one day of rest in a week. We hardly think he has considered this matter carefully, or he would not make so sweeping an assertion. We agree that it would be all right for the Government to enact a law that every man may rest one day in each week, or, in other words, that no one shall be compelled to labor seven days in a week. But that would be the same as saying that no peaceable, law-abiding citizen shall be interfered with in his right to conduct his own affairs as he pleases, and our laws already provide that. It is a most pernicious idea that the State must compel a man by force to do everything that is for his physical or moral welfare. Let that principle be admitted, and then every man’s privilege of judgment is taken away. He is left no chance to decide what is good and what is bad. The State decides for him, and he becomes simply a machine to be manipulated by the Government. Moreover, such a principle as that invests the law-makers with infallibility, in that it assumes that they are fully qualified to decide what is best for every man, when, as a matter of fact, they may be far less qualified than many men in private life.AMS May 22, 1889, page 131.8

    It is altogether a false assumption by National Reformers and their allies, that the Sabbath is for the purpose of securing to the people physical rest. The only Sabbath law that we know of is the fourth commandment, and that says nothing about man’s nature requiring a weekly rest. The Sabbath was ordained for the purpose of worship, and for that alone. Of course, if it is observed, there is a benefit physically, but that is only a secondary matter in connection with the Sabbath observance; and when professed Christians appeal for Sunday laws on the basis of man’s physical necessity, they virtually deny the morality of the Sabbath.AMS May 22, 1889, page 132.1

    Our correspondent says he never will support any law that takes from the citizen the right to observe his own Sabbath according to his own convictions of right. That is good, and we hope that after a little further consideration he will say with us, that he never will support any law that takes from the citizen the right to take his rest whenever he feels like it.AMS May 22, 1889, page 132.2

    National Reformers make the very specious plea that seventh-day people will be at full liberty to observe their Sabbath, even though a strict Sunday law be enforced. Now here is a query. Seventh-day people form a very small minority of the population of this country. Now if the Sunday-law advocates are sincere in their statements that they will lose their rest-day if they do not have a civil law to protect them, and to compel others to rest on that day; if they are sincere in their statement that “the liberty of rest for each depends upon a law of rest for all,” how can they say that seventh-day people will have perfect liberty to keep their Sabbath even though a strict Sunday law be enacted? If the great majority of people, who profess to regard Sunday as a sacred day, cannot keep it without a law enforcing its observance, how can the very small minority of people who regard the seventh day holy keep that day with no civil law favoring it, but with a law which tends to compel them to use it for labor, by depriving them of one of their regular working days? We apprehend that no one will attempt to harmonize this.AMS May 22, 1889, page 132.3

    As a matter of fact, seventh-day people can and do observe Saturday strictly with no law to favor them, and even with laws discriminating against them; therefore, it is a self-evident fact that Sunday people may, if they will, observe the first day of the week without any Sunday law. Therefore, it is evident, still further, that the only reason why they desire a Sunday law is that they may compel others, against their will, to keep the day. Sunday laws are always and everywhere oppressive, immoral, and antichristian.AMS May 22, 1889, page 132.4

    E. J. W.

    Larger font
    Smaller font