June 16, 1892
[Extract from an address by A. T. Jones, delivered at Battle Creek, Mich., May 14, 1892, as reported in the Review and Herald.]
ON the 29th of February, 1892, the Supreme Court of the United States rendered a decision that does more than any constitutional amendment could possibly do, or Congress either, to make the image to the Papacy. All that remains of whatever religious observances any bigots may choose, who can control the civil power.
Several years ago, Congress enacted a law forbidding any aliens to come to this country under contract to perform labor or service of any kind. The reason of that law was that large contractors in the United States, and corporations of great wealth who wanted to increase their wealth with as little expense as possible, would send agents to Europe to employ the lowest of the people whom they could get, to come over and work. They would pay their expenses over, and allow them to work it out at very small wages after they got over here. This was depreciating the price that Americans should receive for their labor, and therefore Congress enacted a law as follows:—
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the passage of this act it shall be unlawful for any person, company, partnership, or corporation, in any manner whatsoever, to prepay the transportation, or in any way assist or encourage the importation or migration of any alien or aliens, any foreigner or foreigners, into the United States, its Territories, or the District of Columbia, under contract or agreement, parol or special, expressed or implied, made previous to the importation or migration of such alien or aliens, foreigner or foreigners, to perform labor or service of any kind in the United States, its Territories, or the District of Columbia.
A certain church corporation in New York City hired a preacher in England to come over here and preach for them. They contracted with him before he came. He was an alien, and came over under contract, to perform service for the church. The United States District Attorney entered suit against the church for violating this law. The United States Circuit Court decided that the church was guilty, and rendered judgment accordingly. An appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of the United States, upon writ of error.
The Supreme Court reversed the decision, first upon the well-established principle that “the intent of the law-maker is the law.” The court quoted directly from the reports of the Senate Committee and the House Committee who had the bill in charge when it was put through Congress; and these both said in express terms that the term “laborer” or “labor or service,” used in the statute, was intended to mean only manual labor or service, and not professional service of any kind. Therefore, that being the intent, and the only intent of the law, and the intent of the law-maker being the law, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the lower court, and said that the act complained of was not a violation of the law.
So far as this goes, the decision is perfectly proper, and it needed to have gone no further. But between that paragraph and the closing paragraph of the decision, the declaring of this Nation to be “a Christian Nation,” this making of the image of the Papacy, was stuck right in, as much out of place as anything could possibly be. It is altogether false; it is totally subversive of the Government of the United States as the people established it at first, and virtually makes an image to the Papacy. So I turn to that part of the decision.
After reviewing the act of Congress, the reports of the committees, etc., and deciding that the law had no such intent as the lower court gave it, the Supreme Court proceeds thus:—
But beyond all these matters, no purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, State or national, because this is a religious people. [Everybody knows that this is not true.] This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation.
Suppose it be granted that this is “historically true,” what kind of religion was this “historical” religion? Was it of a kind that the people of the United States now desire to see perpetuated? We shall presently see what kind it is; and that whatever be the kind, or whether the people desire to see it perpetuated or not, it is perpetuated by this decision.
In order to get it before you in the most forcible way, I will first run down to the end of the decision, and show the interpretation and application which the court makes, of the Constitution as it respects religion. After citing “historical” statements which show that the Roman Catholic religion might be the religion of this nation; which establish the righteousness of religious test-oaths as a qualification for office; which require belief in the doctrine of the Trinity—the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, of course—and in the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments; and which establish the righteousness of Sunday laws,—after citing statements which establish the legality of all these religious things, then the court quotes from the First Amendment to the Constitution that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” and upon this, flatly declares:—
There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and re-affirm that this is a religious nation.
Now when I read these “historical” statements, and you see what they say, and what they mean, you will know that is the estimation of the Supreme Court of the United States, that is what the Constitution of the United States means. I begin to read, as follows:—
From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this  affirmation. The commission to Christopher Columbus, prior to his sail westward, is from “Ferdinand and Isabella, by the grace of God, king and queen of Castile,” etc., and recites that “it is hoped by God’s assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered,” etc.
What religion did Ferdinand and Isabella have in mind when they issued that document? What religion did they profess? And what religion did they possess, too? Does anybody know?—(From the audience, “The Catholic religion.”) Yes, the Catholic religion. And not only that, it was the Catholic religion with the Inquisition in full swing. For it was Ferdinand and Isabella who established the Inquisition in Spain under the generalship of Torquemada; and who, because Spain was a “Christian nation,” sentenced to confiscation of all goods and to banishment, every Jew who would not turn Catholic. And by virtue of such religious activity as this, Ferdinand and Isabella fairly earned as an everlasting reward, and by way of pre-eminence, the title of “THE CATHOLICS.” And that is a part of the historical authority by which the Supreme Court of the United States makes American citizens “a religious people,” and by which that court makes this a “Christian nation”!
Now that is quoted to prove that this is “a religious people” and “a Christian nation:” and it is declared that the language of Ferdinand and Isabella, and the language of the Constitution of the United States, “have one meaning.”
Then in view of that quotation and this decision, should it be wondered at if the Catholic Church should claim that this is so indeed, and should demand favors from the government as such? Everybody knows that the Catholic Church already is not slow to take part in political questions, to interfere with the government, and to have the government recognize the Catholic Church and give it money from the public treasury. The people know that this is already the case. And now, when the Catholic Church is virtually recognized by official action of the Supreme Court, and when the Supreme Court declares that this is what the Constitution means, should it be thought strange if the Catholic religion should claim that that is correct, and act upon it?
It is true, the Supreme Court does not stick to this side of the question all the way through, but turns over to the Church of England, and to Puritan Protestantism. But this rather intensifies than modifies the danger, as it opens the way for a strife among these religions, to see which shall be indeed the religion of the Nation. This decision opens the way for that thing to be done, and all that the message tells about will come as the consequence of this.
As the intentions of Ferdinand and Isabella did not reach the part of the continent now occupied by the government of the United States, the court now proceeds to introduce documents which give to Protestantism the prior right here, and which do in fact make this the national religion, so I read:—
The first colonial grant, that made to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584, was from “Elizabeth, by the grace of God; of England, France, and Ireland, queene, Defender of the Faith,” etc.; and the grant authorizing him to enact statutes for the government of the proposed colony; Provided, That “they be not against the true Christian faith nowe professed in the Church of England.” … Language of similar import may be found in the subsequent charters, … and the same is true of the various charters granted to other colonies. In language more or less emphatic, is the establishment of the Christian religion declared to be one of the purposes of the grant.
This establishes as the religion of this nation and people the religion “professed in the Church of England” in Queen Elizabeth’s time. What religion was this? The queen’s title of “Defender of the Faith” will help us to understand this. That title was obtained in this way: Henry VIII., Elizabeth’s father, wrote a book against Martin Luther and the Reformation. He sent a copy of his book to the pope. In return, the pope bestowed upon him the title and dignity of “Defender of the Faith.” And this was the Catholic faith.