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    Pious Frauds

    There is just one more feature of this Sunday-law business, and that is the frauds which its friends seem forced to perpetrate in order to carry it on. First of all, we shall notice the plea that this proposed Sunday law is solely for the benefit of the workingmen. Against this, we have all the statements of the National Sunday Association, and the language of the bill itself, that it is to guard the religious observance of Sunday. It will not be denied that some who work on Sunday would prefer not to, but not on conscientious grounds; but it is evident that the objection to Sunday labor is not general among workingmen, for if it were, all they would have to do would be to refuse to work on Sunday, and the matter would be settled without any law.BSRB 36.1

    On Sunday, January 20, Rev. W. F. Crafts preached in Washington, in Dr. Sunderland’s church, the First Presbyterian. His subject, of course, was “The American Sabbath.” In the beginning of his discourse he stated that the present agitation was not brought about by the churches, but by the clamor of the workingmen everywhere, in behalf of a weekly rest-day. That sounds very well, until you hear testimony on the other side. The fact is that Mr. Crafts attended the General Assembly of the Knights of Labor, and spoke for an hour in behalf of the National Sunday-Rest bill. Then he spent another hour answering questions, and at the close the petition was indorsed by vote. For proof of this, see Journal of United Labor, the official organ of the Knights of Labor, of November 29, 1888, in which the speech appeared in full. Now if these workingmen had been clamoring for a Sunday law, why should Mr. Crafts spend two hours of his valuable time, besides the time and expense of travel, to convince them that they ought to have one? Can anyone tell?BSRB 36.2

    Again, he visited the National Council of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, and had a similar experience. He spoke for an hour, and then for another hour answered the questions that were showered upon him. Yet the Daily Union Signal, of October 22, 1888, in which this item is found, prefaced it by saying: “A great victory for Sabbath observance was won by Rev. W. F. Crafts, Thursday. He appeared before the National Convention of the Brotherhood of Engineers, in session at Richmond, Va., and spoke an hour in behalf of the National Sabbath movement,” etc. Now if these men had been frantically clamoring for a Sunday law, wherein did the victory consist? If the workingmen are so anxious to have a Sunday law, why does Mr. Crafts spend so much time trying to work them up to sign his petition? Isn’t there a little discrepancy between Mr. Craft’s statement and his actions?BSRB 37.1

    The history of the affair shows that the movement started with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and was seconded by the churches. Not a single workingman was present at either hearing before the Senate Committee. Read the list of members of the “National Sabbath Committee,” and you find no representative of any labor organization. The whole movement shows upon the face of it that it was started by the churches for the benefit of the churches. If the workingmen had been clamoring for a Sunday law, it is passing strange that none of them tried to secure one before the preachers started in, and that none of them have been in the councils or on the committees of the Sunday-law agitators.BSRB 37.2

    But we have positive testimony to the effect that, although some workingmen have been induced to sign the petition, the workingmen as a body do not desire any Sunday law, feeling fully able to care for themselves in that respect, and fearing an ecclesiastical despotism far more than they do the exactions of capital.BSRB 38.1

    We have before us a copy of Ideas of Reform, of Jan. 1, 1889, a paper published at Broken Bow, Nebraska, and devoted to the interests of the workingman. It is, in every sense of the word, a labor reform paper, and is as outspoken against monopolies of every description, and the oppression of the laboring man by soulless capital, as any labor paper that we have ever seen. We state these points, so that full weight may be given to the following, which we take from one of its editorials:—BSRB 38.2

    “Fourteen million people have petitioned Congress, asking for the enforcement of a Sunday law. This is evidently preliminary to an attempt to unite the Church and State. A halt should be called at once. Religion, by faith in God, is good, and no Christian, under our Constitution, is deprived of the privilege of observing Sunday as strictly as he desires. Religion, by law, by force, without conversion, is bad, and contrary to the principles of good government.... The United States Constitution says: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ Our petitioners would in substance say: ‘Do away with the Constitution, and give us a law that we may imprison or fine everyone whom we have been unable to convert to our faith, and who does not give tribute to our support.’ Now, if this clamor for a Sunday law, coupled with the Blair Educational bill-which advocates the teaching of the Christian religion in public schools-is not an attempt to unite the Church and State, neither was the act of Constantine in making Christianity the recognized religion of the Roman Empire. It is hardly time to allow 14,000,000 people to dictate how 60,000,000 people shall worship, in a free country like ours.”BSRB 38.3

    Why is it that, contrary to every fact in the case, the Sunday-law advocates persist in saying that they are acting for the workingmen, and in their behalf? Simply as a blind, so as to allay the fears of the people concerning a possible union of Church and State. If anybody can give a more charitable reason, and can substantiate it, we shall be happy to accept it.BSRB 39.1

    The writer of the article from which we last quoted said: “It is hardly time to allow 14,000,000 people to dictate how 60,000,000 people shall worship, in a free country like ours.” This brings us face to face, not with another fraud, simply, but with fraud upon fraud. As a matter of fact, not one-eighth of 14,000,000 people have signed the petition for a Sunday law. We can show from the most unexceptionable evidence, that this movement for the securing of a Sunday law. We can show from the most unexceptionable evidence, that this movement for the securing of a Sunday law is not only un-Christian, in that it is characterized by fraud and deception throughout, but that it is un-American, in that it allows a few men to stand as the self-constituted representatives of many people, and to act in their name, when they are ignorant of what is going on.BSRB 39.2

    To begin with, we will refer again to the petition that has been circulated, and which it is claimed has upwards of 14,000,000 signatures. It begins thus:—BSRB 40.1

    “The undersigned, adult residents of the United States 21 years of age or more, hereby earnestly petition your honorable body,” etc.BSRB 40.2

    For petition in full, see page 15. Now take particular notice of the following direction, which is upon each petition:—BSRB 40.3

    “When a labor organization, or church, or any other society, indorses the petition by vote, let the ‘name’ of the organization be signed, with the attesting signatures of the presiding officer and clerk or secretary, with place and date, and in the margin, under ‘number of petitioners,’ indicate the number of members in the organization petitioning.”BSRB 40.4

    These statements concerning the petition may be verified by a copy of the petition itself. Now what does this mean? Just this: Suppose that Mr. Crafts, who has resigned the pastorate of his church in New York City, in order to devote his entire time to this work, visits a labor organization, as he did the General Assembly of the Knights of Labor, and induces the members present to vote to indorse the petition. That fact is certified to by the presiding officer and the clerk, and the entire number of members belonging to the organization is indicated in the margin, and so the vote of the few stands as the indorsement of the many. The Knights of Labor number over 200,000 in the United States. At the meeting before which Mr. Crafts presented his petition, we will say that there were 200 present. That would be a good representation. Yet the vote of that 200, more or less, is counted as expressing the sentiment of over 200,000 men, although the men who were not there did not know that any such thing was to be voted on, and many of them would have voted against if it they had been there. Is this according to the American way of doing things? Is it not depriving the people of equal representation? Is it not dishonest?BSRB 40.5

    But again: Suppose a church having 500 members, votes upon the petition at any regular meeting, and it is indorsed, although quite a number refrain from voting. Now it is a thing that would not occur once in a hundred times, that all the members should be present. Indeed, in a church of that size it would be an impossibility for all to be present at any meeting, even if a special effort were made. Now, if three-fifths of them were present, and a majority should vote in favor of the petition, a vote of 250, or even 200, members would be counted as the indorsement of 500. Is this according to American, to say nothing of Christian, ideas of right.BSRB 41.1

    But this is not all. It would probably be an impossibility to find any church organization having a fairly respectable membership, in which there would not be quite a number of young people less than twenty-one years old. Yet the entire membership would be represented on the petition, which says that all the petitioners are twenty-one years of age, or more. What explanation can be given for such a proceeding?BSRB 42.1

    But there is more yet. On the 16th of January, 1889, all these petitions were presented in the Senate, and were formerly referred to the Committee on Education and Labor. As a sample, I quote from the Congressional Record of January 17, under the head of “Petitions and Memorials:”—BSRB 42.2

    “The PRESIDENT pro tempore presented a petition of 148 citizens of the State of Kansas, praying for the passage of a Sunday-Rest law; which was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor.BSRB 42.3

    “MR. CULLOM. I present a petition of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Department of Sabbath Observance, praying for the passage of the law prohibiting the running of inter-State Sunday trains, Sunday mails, and military drills on the Sabbath. The petition is signed by 100 ministers of Chicago and vicinity, in the State of Illinois. I move that it be referred to the Committee on Education and Labor.BSRB 42.4

    “The motion was agreed to.BSRB 43.1

    “MR. CULLOM. I also present several bundles of petitions that I hold in my hand, on the same subject, signed, one of them by 1,706, another by 7,277, another by 1,000, and the fourth by 2,498 citizens of Illinois, praying for the same legislation. I move the reference of the petitions to the Committee on Education and Labor.BSRB 43.2

    “The motion was agreed to.BSRB 43.3

    “MR. FAULKNER presented a petition of 2,594 citizens of West Virginia, praying for the passage of a National Sunday-Rest law; which was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor.BSRB 43.4

    “MR. PAYNE presented a petition of citizens of Ohio, praying for the passage of a National Sunday-Rest law prohibiting needless Sunday work in the Government’s mail and military service, and inter-State commerce; which was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor.BSRB 43.5

    “MR. HALE. I present a petition of the name kind, in favor of the passage of a National Sunday-Rest law, from labor organizations, churches, and other bodies in the State of Maine. I move the reference of the petition in the Committee on Education and Labor.BSRB 43.6

    “The motion was agreed to.”BSRB 43.7

    This is sufficient to show the general tenor of the presentation of the petitions. In this manner petitions were presented from churches, ministers, Woman’s Christian Temperance Unions, labor organizations, etc., in twenty-one States and two Territories. Yet after these churches, temperance associations, labor organizations, etc., had been thus represented in petitions, Mr. Blair arose and spoke as follows, which we copy from the same issue of the Congressional Record, that of January 17, 1889:—BSRB 43.8

    “MR. BLAIR. I present petitions of several bodies, praying for the passage of a Sunday-Rest law. Of the petitions, the following analysis is submitted by those who desire their presentation:—BSRB 43.9

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