“A Monstrous Bid” The American Sentinel 2, 11, pp. 81-83.

November 1887

WE have several times shown the declared purpose of the National Reform Association to “gladly join hands” with the Catholic Church, and to co-operate with the Roman Catholics in any way that they may choose, in carrying to success the National Reform scheme. But, although the National Re-formers have for several years thus held themselves in readiness, they have not till now made any distinct official advances to gain the Papal co-operation. Now, however, they have decided on a course that can scarcely fail to win the so much, and so long, coveted assistance of the Papacy. This was the outcome, and the only immediately practical one, of the Saratoga National Reform meeting, August 15-17.

The main question there discussed was the question of religion in the public schools, under the heading of “Secularism in Education.” Mr. T. P. Stevenson, editor of the Christian Statesman, and Corresponding Secretary of the National Reform Association, opened the discussion.

“The speaker argued against the secular programme: 1. That it does not satisfy the Roman Catholics or conciliate them to our school system. Their special outcry is against the atheistic tendencies of public education, and the exclusion of religious worship and instruction from the schools only gives color to the charge.”

So, then, the public-school system of the United States must be revolutionized because “it does not satisfy the Roman Catholics.” That the Roman Catholics may be conciliated, and “their special outcry” stopped, “religious worship” and religious “instruction’ must be forced into the public schools. As, therefore, the movement is, first of all, specially to satisfy the Roman Catholics, it would logically follow that the “religious worship and instruction” that would be conducted and given in the public schools, under the National Reform regime, would be such as should specially satisfy the Roman Catholics. And for once in its history the course of the National Re-form Association is strictly logical; for in the course of the discussion, Rev. S. V. Leech, D. D., of Saratoga, who has been for seven years chaplain of the New York Senate, asked the Corresponding Secretary to state how National Reformers would answer this argument:—

“If we put the Protestant Bible in the schools where Protestants are in the majority, how could we object to the Douay version [the Catholic Bible] in schools where Roman Catholics are in the majority?

“The Corresponding Secretary” answered,—


The National Reformers “wouldn’t object!” They “wouldn’t object” to a majority of Roman Catholics forcing the Catholic Bible into the hands of the children of Protestants and other non-Catholics, in the public schools! They “wouldn’t object” to twenty Catholics forcing the Catholic Bible into the hands, and the Catholic worship upon the minds, of the children of nineteen non-Catholics in the public schools!

Therefore, let it forever be borne in mind that the aim of the National Reformers is, by amendment of the National Constitution, to put it into the power of the Roman Catholics, wherever they may be in the majority, to force the Roman Catholic “worship and instruction” into the minds of the children of non-Catholics, in the public schools. And let it also forever be borne in mind, that the Rev. Herrick Johnson, D. D., of Chicago, was chairman of the meeting in which this wicked thing, this religious tyranny, was proposed and indorsed; and that Joseph Cook, of Boston, took an active part in the same conference.

Then, as though realizing the effect of his unqualified answer, the Corresponding Secretary attempted to guard his answer, and to deaden its effect, by saying:—

“We would be glad to see Roman Catholics putting the Bible, in any version, into the hands of their children.”

“Into the hands of their children,” so should we. But that was not the question, Mr. Stevenson, nor is that point involved in the question. The question was not, Shall the Roman Catholic put the Douay version into the hands of his children? But it was, Shall he put that Catholic version into the hands of my children? You said the National Reformers “wouldn’t object” to it. But I do most decidedly object. There was no such question asked as, Shall the majority of Roman Catholics put the Catholic Bible or any other Bible, “into the hands of their children”? But the question was, Shall the Roman Catholics, when in the majority, put the Catholic Bible into the hands of our children? You said the National Reformers would not object to it. But, Mr. Stevenson, we do most decidedly object to their doing so; and we object to your National Reform scheme of putting it into their power to do so. Your “glozing” argument, Mr. Stevenson, is entirely foreign to the question; yet it is valuable in that it shows how readily, and how perfectly, the National Reformers adapt themselves to the [82] crafty ways of the Jesuitical system whose alliance they so deeply crave. Yet, although we should be as glad as anybody to see the Roman Catholics putting the Bible into the hands of their children, even then we most decidedly object to their doing it in the public schools and at public expense.

But the Corresponding Secretary goes on:—

“This is not a question of versions, but of the right of the word of God to a place at all in the public schools. Prof. Tayler Lewis once wrote two valuable articles on the theme, ‘The One Bible,’ in which he maintained that no body of Catholic scholars, in the face of the scholarly world, would deny that King James’s version is a real version of the Holy Scriptures, while Protestant scholarship cheerfully admits the same of the Douay Bible. There are not a half a dozen passages in it which even seem to inculcate any distinctively Roman doctrine. It is a Latinized version rather than Anglo-Saxon, far less plain than ours, but it is a version.”

Exactly what Mr. Stevenson means by the phrase “distinctively Roman doctrine” we cannot say, because the popular Protestantism of the day is making so many compromises with Romanism that it is difficult to tell just what is distinctively Roman doctrine. But we here quote one verse from the Douay version, and ask the non-Catholic people of this country whether this is not enough distinctively Roman in doctrine to distinctively condemn the National Reformers in their proposal to give the Catholics power to teach such stuff in the public schools of this Nation. We quote Hebrews 11:21, which in the Douay version reads thus:—

“By faith Jacob dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and adored the top of his rod.”

To adore, is “to worship with profound reverence; to pay divine honors to; to honor as a god.”Webster. Therefore the Douay version distinctly inculcates the doctrine that Jacob worshiped with profound reverence the top of his rod; that he paid divine honors to, that he honored as a god, the top of his rod. And this is the version of the Bible which the National Reformers “wouldn’t object” to have a majority of Catholics by law to put into the hands of the children of a minority of non-Catholics. This is the doctrine which the National Reformers propose, by constitutional amendment, to empower a majority of Roman Catholics in any school district of the United States, to teach to the children of non-Catholics. Therefore, if National Reform succeeds, what is to hinder the Roman Catholic majority from teaching your children and mine to adore the top of the priest’s rod, in the public schools? For what is the Bible to be taught for in the public schools if it is not to be obeyed in the public schools? And if the Catholic Bible is to be taught in the public schools where the Catholics are a majority, then is not the Catholic Bible to be obeyed in such schools? As the National Reformers propose to have “religious worship” as well as religious instruction in the public schools; as they propose to have Catholic worship and instruction in the Catholic Bible in the schools where Catholics are in the majority; and as the Catholic Bible says that Jacob scepter and kingdom, whose vicegerent on earth the Pope is, and also “as an instance and argument of their faith”? Who can prevent it, when once the Roman Catholics are empowered by constitutional amendment to do so?

How long shall it be before the American people will awake to the essential wickedness of the National Reform movement?

Whether, according to Mr. Stevenson’s idea, this passage is one of the less than half a dozen passages which inculcate any distinctively Roman doctrine, we know not, but we do know that it inculcates distinctively idolatrous doctrine. But even then that is not the primary question involved here. Whether there be in the Douay version a half dozen such passages, or one such passage, or none at all, the principle is the same. And it is the principle upon which we stand. That principle is that the Catholic majority has just as much right to force the Catholic Bible, and the Catholic instruction, and the Catholic worship, upon the non-Catholic minority in the public schools as the Protestant majority has to force the Protestant Bible and the Protestant instruction, and the Protestant worship, upon the non-Protestant minority in the public schools. And that is but to say that there is no right at all on either side of the question, nor in the question anywhere. And this only illustrates the principle that neither the Bible, nor religious instruction, nor religious worship, can of right have any place in the public schools of the United States Government, or of any other civil government on earth. We have cited the above passage from the Douay version, and made the argument upon it, only to make more clearly apparent the justice of the principle, and not because we think that the Catholics have any less right in the matter than Protestants have.

But is there any prospect of the National Reformers succeeding in this project? There is decidedly a favorable prospect of it, and therein lies the danger. It must always be borne in mind that the phrase National Reform Association embraces all the “evangelical” churches, the Prohibition Party, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Now all this force, allied with the Catholic Church, and increasing its strength by the support of the professional politicians whom it can influence, can carry their issue at the polls as soon as they can bring the matter to a vote. The only question that remains an open one is, Can they gain the alliance of the Catholic Church? With a few more such bids as this one made by the Saratoga meeting, we are sure they can, even if they do not by this one. To set forth the matter a little more fully, let us size up the proportions of the bid that was made at Saratoga.

First, they said in substance that the Douay version and King James’s version of the Scriptures are the one Bible; that the Catholic Bible is just as nearly the true word of God and that the great question is not one of versions, but of the right to this word of God to a place in the public schools, while the question of versions is a secondary matter, to be decided after the main question has been decided.

Secondly, they declared that wherever the Catholics are in the majority, they may put the Catholic Bible, and Catholic instruction, and Catholic worship, into the public schools.

Now let us suppose that the Catholic Church accepts the bid, what would be the result? By this alliance the National Reform Party can carry a constitutional amendment, declaring that the Bible shall forever have a place in the instruction of the public schools of this Nation. Thus that question will be fixed, and whether the Bible and its instruction shall be in the schools, would be no more a matter of controversy. The only question then remaining will be, What Bible? And by the main question already decided, this question will be reduced to very narrow limits. It will be only a question between Catholics and Protestants. Because so far as the non-religionists are concerned, the question is already decided that the Bible shall be in the schools; and to the man who cares nothing particularly about the Bible or its instruction, it will make not a particle of difference what Bible is in the schools; and this indifference will be justified and emphasized by the National Reform Protestant concession, already made, that there is no difference. Therefore the question of, What Bible? being solely one between Catholics and Protestants, what would be the result? Here are some figures from the census of 1880.

Protestants of all classes.
New York,
Rhode Island,
Washington Ter.,
New Mexico,

Therefore, if the Catholic Church should accept the Saratoga National Reform bid for her alliance, and the question of the Bible and religious instruction in the public schools were decided to-morrow, or next year, or at any other time, the Catholic Bible, Catholic instruction, and Catholic worship, could be established in all the public schools of these ten States and four Territories.

Nor did the Saratoga meeting stop with this. Read the following from the official record of the proceedings:—

“REV. DR. PRICE, of Tennessee: ‘I wish to ask the Secretary, Has any attempt ever been made by the National Reform Association to ascertain whether a consensus, or agreement, could be reached with our Roman Catholic fellow-citizens, whereby we may unite in support of the schools as they do in Massachusetts?’ [83]

“THE SECRETARY: ‘I regret to say there has not…. But I recognize it as a wise and dutiful course on the part of all who are engaged in or who discuss the work of education, to make the effort to secure such an agreement.’

“DR. PRICE: ‘I wish to move that the National Reform Association be requested by this Conference, to bring this matter to the attention of American educators and of Roman Catholic authorities, with a view to securing such a basis of agreement, if possible.’

“The motion was seconded and adopted.”

We believe it is not only possible but probable, for very opportunely with this action of the National Reformers at Saratoga, there came from the Pope to the Catholic prelates assembled at Baltimore to discuss the plans of the new Catholic University at the capital of the Nation, the following:—

“The unlimited license of thought and writing, to which erroneous notions concerning both divine and human things have given rise, not only in Europe but also in your country, has been the root and source of unbridled opinions, while, on the other hand, with religion banished to a great extent from the schools, wicked men strive by craft and fallacious wisdom to extinguish the light of faith in the minds of the young, and to enkindle there the flames of irreligion. Wherefore it is necessary that youth be nourished more carefully with sound doctrine, and that these young men especially, who are being educated for the church, should be fully armed to fit them for the task of defending the Catholic truth. We therefore most gladly welcome and heartily approve your project for the erection of a university, moved as you are by a desire to promote the welfare of all and the interests of your illustrious republic.”

Now when the National Reform Association, to gain the religio-political alliance of Rome, goes as “requested” to these Roman Catholic authorities, carrying in its hands the concession that the Catholic Bible is as nearly the word of God as is the Protestant Bible, that they are virtually all one; and also carrying in its hands the public schools of ten States and four Territories of this Union, to be delivered over bodily to the religious rule of Romewill the Romish Church accept the bid? We fear she will. But whether she will or not, we call it A MONSTROUS BID. And if she does not, we are sure the National Reformers will increase the bid, and will keep on increasing it till she does accept it.

And what are you going to do about it?

A. T. J.

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