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

    Effect of the Law

    Just what effect will this bill have if it becomes a law? It has been stated, as already quoted, that it would give the ideal Sabbath of the Puritans; but how could this be, when it has force only where the United States Government has exclusive jurisdiction? A careful reading of the bill will show that although it is very strict as far as its jurisdiction extends, almost absolutely prohibiting all Sunday work of every description in the Territories, it does not directly affect any of the citizens of the States, except Government employes, and those engaged in inter-State railroad business.BSRB 32.2

    But its indirect effect in the States will be scarcely less than its direct effect in places subject to the exclusive control of the United States. It is well known that the great obstacle in the way of enforcing existing Sunday laws in the various States, has been the United States Government. In the bearing on the Sunday-Rest bill before the Senate Committee on Education and Labor, December 13, Mrs. Bateham said that the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union based their claims and petitions on the following facts:—BSRB 32.3

    “1. Nearly every State has Sabbath laws, but the National Government has none, though greatly needed, since the question has become emphatically a national one, and the very perpetuity or loss of our national rest, the Christian Sabbath, seems to depend on its being protected by the Government from the encroachments of organized capital, and the reinforcements of State laws by National.BSRB 32.4

    “2. It is in gross violation of nearly every State Sabbath law that railroads run their Sunday trains, yet these States are powerless to prevent it, since only Congress can control inter-State commerce.BSRB 33.1

    “3. By the State laws ordinary labor and traffic is forbidden on Sunday, but in defiance thereof the United States Government keeps its post-offices open and sells as on other days, and sends its mail to all parts of the country.”—Report, p. 22.BSRB 33.2

    It will be seen that the plea for a National Sunday law is made on the ground that the State Sunday laws are powerless without it. In that same committee meeting, Senator Blair, the chairman, stated that the general Government takes advantage of what the State has given to it in the way of jurisdiction over the post-offices, inter-State commerce, and the army and navy, to introduce practices that nullify their attempt to enforce Sunday laws, and said:—BSRB 33.3

    “To prevent this, is the object of this legislation. That is all that is undertaken here. It is simply an act proposing to make efficient the Sunday-Rest laws of the States, and nothing else.”—Report, p. 97.BSRB 33.4

    National Reformers have ever referred to the general Government as the great Sabbath-breaker, holding that the running of mail trains, and the keeping open of post-offices practically nullified all their efforts to have Sunday strictly observed. With this objection removed, there would be speedy and strict enforcement of the Sunday laws that already exist, and enactment of laws where there are none now.BSRB 33.5

    To understand more fully what would be involved in Senator’s Blair’s proposal “to make efficient the Sunday-Rest bill of the States,” let us examine the Sunday law of the State of Tennessee. That law read thus:—BSRB 34.1

    “If any merchant, artificer, tradesman, farmer, or other person, shall be guilty of doing or exercising any of the common avocations of life, or of causing or permitting the same to be done by his children or servants (acts of real necessity or charity excepted), on Sunday, he shall, on due conviction thereof before any justice of the peace of the county, forfeit and pay three dollars, one-half to the person who will sue for the same, the other half to the person who will sue for the same, the other half for the use of the county.”BSRB 34.2

    Just think of it! It is proposed to give efficiency to such a law as that! To say that it is an infamous law, would be to speak of it in very mild terms. We have already shown how the enactment of the Blair bill would lead to the appointment of spies, to see if people are dodging church service on Sundays; but this law makes it possible to perpetrate even worse outrages, if such a thing were possible. Under the Tennessee law, the farmer who should presume to hoe potatoes on Sunday, even though the lot were down by the woods, a mile from the public road, and more than that from any habitation, and though the soil were so sandy that the movement of the hoe could not be heard four rode away, and who should be detected by some wandering tramp, or by some spy on the lookout for such gross breaches of the public peace, may be brought before the magistrate and fined, and in default thereof be forced to lie indefinitely in jail.BSRB 34.3

    Observe that the law prohibits any person from exercising any of the common avocations of life on Sunday. If a woman should do the family washing on Sunday, or even if she should be guilty of the atrocious act of darning her husband’s socks on Sunday, and should be detected by some meddlesome busybody, she could also be remanded to jail, unless the money was forthcoming to pay the fine. It is needless to more than refer to the premium which such a law as that would place upon spying. It may be said that the Tennessee law will never be enforced according to the strict letter of it, and that we have supposed an impossible case. But the fact is, that in 1886, under the Tennessee Sunday law, men were arrested, and fined, and imprisoned, for quietly digging potatoes on Sunday for dinner, and for pulling up weeds out of their garden. And this was not in town, where people might see the work while passing to or from church, but in remote country districts, where the informer had to go out of his way in order to see the Sunday work. The persecution ceased only because of the attention that it was attracting from other States. But an effort is even now being made (February, 1889) to stir the people up to enforce the law; and with the backing of the National law, and the other States engaged in enforcing Sunday laws of their own, which by the passage of the Blair bill will have suddenly become “efficient,” who can tell what would not be done? If they did such things in a green tree, what would they do in a dry tree? We say-and our authority for the assertion is the statements which we have already quoted from the friends of the Blair bill-that its passage would set up the Inquisition in this country. Are the American people ready to revive the wicked persecutions of the Dark Ages?BSRB 35.1

    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents