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    The Bill with Changes Desired by the American Sabbath Union

    Unanimously adopted December 12, 1888. (Changes indicated by the full-face letters and stars.)BSRB 19.1

    A Bill to secure to the People the enjoyment of the Lord’s Day, commonly known as Sunday, as a Day of Rest, and to Protect its observance as a Day of Religious Worship.BSRB 19.2

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That on Sunday, no person or corporation, or the agent, servant, or employé of any person or corporation, shall perform, or authorize to be performed, any secular work, labor, or business, * * * works of necessity, mercy, and humanity excepted; nor shall any person engage in any play, game, show, exhibition, or amusement * * * open to the public, or of a public character, in any Territory, district, vessel, or place subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States; nor shall it be lawful for any person or corporation to receive pay for labor or service performed or rendered in violation of this section.BSRB 19.3

    SEC. 2. That no mails or mail matter shall hereafter be transported in time of peace over any land postal route, nor shall any mail matter be collected, assorted, handled, or delivered during any part of Sunday.BSRB 20.1

    SEC. That the prosecution of commerce between the States and with the Indian tribes, * * * by the transportation of persons or property by land or water * * * on the first day of the week * * * is hereby prohibited, and any person or corporation, or the agent or employé of any person or corporation, who shall * * * violate this section, shall be punished by a fine of not less than ten nor more than one thousand dollars, and no service performed in the prosecution of such prohibited commerce shall be lawful, nor shall any compensation be recoverable, or be paid for the same.BSRB 20.2

    SEC. 4. That all military and naval drills, musters, and parades, not in time of active service or immediate preparation therefore, of soldiers, sailors, marines, or cadets of the United States, on the first day of the week, except assemblies, are hereby prohibited; nor shall any unnecessary labor be performed or permitted in the military or naval service of the United States on the Lord’s day.BSRB 20.3

    SEC. 5. That it shall be unlawful to pay or to receive payment or wages in any manner for service rendered, or for labor performed, or for the transportation of persons or of property in violation of the provisions of this act, nor shall any action lie for the recovery thereof; and when so paid, whether in advance or otherwise, the same may be recovered back by whoever shall first sue for the same.BSRB 20.4

    SEC. 6. That labor or service performed and rendered on Sunday in consequence of accident or disaster, or unavoidable delays in making the regular connections upon postal routes and routes of travel and transportation, the * * * transportation and delivery of milk before 5 A.M. and after 10 P.M. * * * shall not be deemed violations of this act, but the same shall be construed, so far as possible, to secure to the whole people rest from toil during Sunday, their mental and moral culture, and the protection of the religious observance of the * * * day.BSRB 20.5

    By a comparison of the bold-faced letters and the stars with the corresponding portion of the original bill, the changes will be readily discerned. Following are, in part, the reasons given by the committee for the changes which they ask:—BSRB 21.1

    “For religious purposes we prefer the name Lord’s Day or Christian Sabbath; but as Sunday is already used in National laws, we think it better to use that uniformly in this bill, with the exception of the double name in the title.BSRB 21.2

    “The word ‘promote,’ in the title, goes beyond what many, even your Christian citizens, believe to be the proper function of Government with reference to ‘religious worship,’ while the word ‘protect’ (see also last line), expresses a duty which Government owes to all legitimate institutions of the people.BSRB 21.3

    “Experience in the courts has shown that the words ‘show, exhibition,’ should be added to the list of prohibited Sunday amusements, and the words, ‘in public,’ in place of ‘to the disturbance of others,’ as the latter clause has been construed as requiring that persons living in the neighborhood of a Sunday game or show must testify that they have been disturbed, in order to a conviction, which cannot be done in some cases without personal peril.BSRB 21.4

    “In Section 2, we believe that the exceptions for letters relating to sickness, etc., are unnecessary in this age of the telegraph; and that they would be used by unscrupulous men in business correspondence, and that this would destroy most of the benefits of the law in its bearing on Sunday mails.BSRB 21.5

    “In Section 3, we believe the exceptions made would greatly interfere with the administration of the law. The exception for works of mercy and necessity is made, once for all, in the first section. The reference to ‘the disturbance of others’ is objectionable, for reasons already given, and the word ‘willfully’ is an old offender in Sabbath legislation, and requires evidence very hard to get in regard to one’s motive and knowledge of the law. In other laws it is assumed that one knows the law, and the law-making power should use that the laws are well published, and leave no room for one to escape by agnosticism.BSRB 21.6

    “In Section 5 (as in Section 1 also), we would omit ‘Lord’s day,’ and in Section 6, ‘Sabbath,’ in order to preserve uniformity in using the less religious term, Sunday.BSRB 22.1

    “In Section 6, we think refrigerator cars make Sunday work in transportation of perishable food, except milk, unnecessary, and the new stock cars, with provision for food and water, do the same for stock trains. So many of the State Sunday laws have proved almost useless in protecting the rights of the people to Sunday rest and undisturbed worship, by the smallness of their penalties and the largeness of their exceptions, that we covet from Congress a law that shall make itself effective by small exceptions and large penalties.”BSRB 22.2

    We are now prepared to give the bill a brief analysis. Note first, that its object is “to secure to the people the enjoyment of the Lord’s day, commonly known as Sunday, as a day of rest, and to protect its observance as a day of religious worship.” A comparison of the bills will show that in the revision pretext has been substituted for promote. The actual difference, if there is any, is exceedingly slight. To protect means, “to cover, or shield from danger or injury; to defend, to guard.”—Webster. Now mark, that the object is not to protect people in their religious observance of the day. There is no need of asking Congress for such a law as that; for religious assemblies on any day of the week are everywhere most strictly protected from disturbance, and there are also laws amply sufficient to protect a man from disturbance in his own house on Sunday or any other day. No; it is not the people, but the day, for which they ask protection.BSRB 22.3

    Now the only way the religious observance of the day can be protected, is by keeping people from violating it. If it were simply that those who conscientiously regard the day as sacred should be protected in their right to so regard it, and those who do not regard it as sacred were allowed to do as they please on it, that would be just the condition of things that now exists. The people would be protected, but the day would not be. It is evident, therefore, that the only thing that can be implied in the term “to protect the religious observance of the day,” is that all shall be compelled to observe the day, outwardly at least, in a religious manner.BSRB 23.1

    That this is a just conclusion, may be seen from what Mr. Crafts said at the General Assembly of the Knights of Labor, in Philadelphia, November 16, 1888. At the close of a speech which he made before that body, on the necessity of a Sunday law (reported in the Journal of United Labor, November 29, 1888), the following question was asked him:—BSRB 23.2

    “Could not this weekly rest-day be secured without reference to religion, by having the workmen of an establishment scheduled in regular order for one day of rest per week, whichever was most convenient, not all resting on any one day.”BSRB 23.3

    This was a fair question, and the plan suggested affords a perfect solution of the question, if the claim so often made be true, that the sole object of a Sunday law is the securing to working men of the right to rest on one day in seven, in accordance with the requirements of nature. But notice Mr. Crafts’s answer:—BSRB 24.1

    “A weekly day of rest has never been secured in any land except on the basis of religious obligation. Take the religion out and you take the rest out.”BSRB 24.2

    What could prove more plainly that the law which is desired is a law to compel all the people in the land to observe the first day of the week, not as a holiday, but as a day of religious rest? But we have still more evidence.BSRB 24.3

    In the Washington convention, Mrs. Bateham, referring to the petitioners for a Sunday law, said:—BSRB 24.4

    “They are praying that the Government will pass a law that will compel the people to observe the first day of the week.”—From the report in the Lutheran Observer of December 21, 1888.BSRB 24.5

    Since the petitioners to which she referred were praying for the passage of the Blair Sunday-Rest bill, it is evident that that bill was framed with the design of compelling people to observe Sunday religiously. But we do not have to draw conclusions in regard to this point. The object of the bill is plainly declared in the following statement, which appeared in nearly all the religious papers that reported the meeting, and which seems to be credited to Dr. Crafts:—BSRB 24.6

    “The bill which has been introduced makes Sunday the ideal Sabbath of the Puritans, which day shall be occupied only by worship. No amusement or recreation should be indulged in, no mail handled or railroads run except under pressing necessity, with a fine of from $10 to $1,000 as the penalty for non-observance of the law.”—Lutheran Observer, December 21, 1888.BSRB 25.1

    Yet in the face of such statements as this we are told that “Sunday laws do not in any way interfere with true liberty, for they do not require any man to be religious.” This was said by Mr. Crafts in reply to a question put to him in the Knights of Labor Assembly, and reported in the Journal of United Labor November 29, 1888. It is true enough that they will not make any man religious, because they cannot; but that they will not interfere with any man’s liberty, is not true.BSRB 25.2

    But although this law will not make any man religious, it is susceptible of the clearest proof that it was framed for the express purpose of contributing toward that end. Thus, Mr. Crafts, in the first hearing before the Senate Committee on Education and Labor, in which a request was made for such a bill as has been presented, said:—BSRB 25.3

    “The Postmaster-General agrees with me, and stated this morning, that it should not be possible for any post-master in this country to run the United States post-office as a rival and competitor and antagonist of the churches. The law allows the post-office to be kept open during the church hours unless the first mail of the day comes during those hours. If it comes five minutes or before the church service begins, the post-office can be run and is run in many cases all through church hours, as the rival and competitor and antagonist of the churches.”BSRB 25.4

    “A law forbidding the opening of the United States post-office during the usual hours of public worship would remedy this difficulty, and would be better than nothing; but we desire more than this.”—Report of Hearing (Miscellaneous Document, No. 43), p. 6.BSRB 26.1

    Well, they have more than this. They have a bill framed which prohibits work on any part of Sunday. But let us analyze this desire, and see what there is in it. It is urged that the open post-office is a competitor of the church service. The same would be true, of course, to the same extent, of the store, the workshop, or any other place where business is done. Now when they get a law which is designed to give the churches a monopoly of Sunday, and find that ninety-nine per cent. of those who were formerly employed do not attend church, what will necessarily follow? Why, a law compelling them to attend church, of course. From their own statements, the ultimate design of the law is to benefit the churches; and when this law does not accomplish that design, the only way left will be to secure the object by more direct means. And this will be exactly in line with what they want, namely, “the ideal Sabbath of the Puritan,” as will be seen by the following from Robert Wodrow, a Scotch ecclesiastical historian, or whom it is said that his “veracity was above suspicion,” and of his writings that “no historical facts are better ascertained than the accounts to be found in Wodrow”:—BSRB 26.2

    “It is thocht expedient that ane baillie with tua of the session passed throw the towne everie Sabbath day, and nott sic as they find absent fra the sermones ather afoir or efter none; and for that effect that they pass and serche sic houss as they think maist meit.”—Selections from the Records of the Kirk Session, Presbytery, and Synod of Aberdeen.BSRB 26.3

    In modern English this is as follows:—BSRB 27.1

    “It is thought expedient that one bailiff with two of the session pass through the town every Sabbath day, and note such as they find absent from the sermons either before or after noon; and for that effect, that they pass and search such houses as they think most meet.”BSRB 27.2

    In his “Collections” he says: “The session allows the searchers to go into houses and apprehend absents from the kirk.”BSRB 27.3

    Since the law was asked for on the ground that open places of business keep people away from church on Sunday, and since they say that the proposed law will give them “the ideal Sabbath of the Puritans which day shall be occupied only by worship,” the conclusion is inevitable that the “American Sabbath Union” has entered upon a course which will end in nothing else but the forcing of everybody to attend church. That it will necessarily result in something even worse than this, we shall presently show. We do not charge the framers and abettors of this bill with any such deliberate intention. Few of them realize the inevitable result of the course upon which they have started, and we write with the hope that some may stop in their work before it is too late.BSRB 27.4

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