IN the “hearing” before the Senate Committee last winter, in behalf of the proposed amendment establishing a Christian religion, the following colloquy took place:—
“Rev. George K. Morris, D. D.—The Roman Catholics in 1886 were represented to be 7,200,000 citizens including children. The evangelical population at that time—not the church membership only, but population—numbered 42,646,279.”
“The Chairman— You count men, women, and children?
“Dr. Morris—In all cases.
“The Chairman— And entirely regardless now of what is called experiencing religion?
“Dr. Morris—Yes sir, in each case, Catholic and evangelical, we give the population, those who entertain the doctrines of the church.
“The Chairman— In that, do you count all who are Catholics on one side and all who are not Catholics on the other?
“Dr. Morris—No, sir. We count all who are Catholics on one side and all who are of the evangelical faiths on the other side.
“The Chairman— How large a residuum or fraction is remaining that makes up the entire people?
“Dr. Morris—Unfortunately, I have not pre-pared myself upon that.
“The Chairman— How many did you estimate that the evangelicals numbered in 1886?
“Dr. Morris—Forty-two millions six hundred and forty-six thousand two hundred and seventy-nine.
“The Chairman— And the Catholics?
“Dr. Morris— The Catholic population 7,200000.
“The Chairman— The total being 50,000,000 in 1880, the gain between 50,000,000 and the true population in 1886, would represent all the other classes who belong to no church whatever?
“Dr. Morris— The atheists, those who entirely reject the Christian faith.
“The Chairman— You substantially include everybody in the evangelical estimate except the Catholics.
“Dr. Morris—I have not looked closely into that question.
“The Chairman—There were 50,000,000 people in 1880 and in 1886 there may have been 58,000,000 perhaps.
“Dr. Morris—Yes, I understand that this estimate allows for the population which is supposed to be purely atheistic, rejecting all Christian faiths. They are comparatively a small number.
“Senator George—Exclusive of the Mormons too?
“Dr. Morris— No, not the Mormons. They would be evangelical in one sense.
“Senator Palmer— You assume all who are not atheists and all who are not Catholics, to be evangelical?
“Dr. Morris— Yes, sir. Pretty nearly so.
“The Chairman— You include all who are known as agnostics perhaps as evangelical then?”
“Dr. Morris— The agnostics, properly speaking, are so small in number that they have scarcely entered into the computation.
“The Chairman— But the fact seems to be that there is a great body of people who are not communicants of churches, who have no special active affirmative faith in the evangelical creeds or in Roman Catholicism, which, I suppose, is nearly one-third of our people; I think it is.
“Senator Palmer— The agnostics are a religious people, more so than many of our people.
“The Chairman— Mr. Ingersoll is an agnostic. He leads a type of agnosticism in the country.
“Senator Palmer— He is atheistic.
“The Chairman— He is an agnostic.
“Senator George— That raises a very interesting question as to what is the Christian religion.”
That is a fact. In that sentence Senator George hit the nail on the head, with a mighty stroke. The discussions of those who favor that proposed amendment show in miniature and in a very mild way, indeed, the contentions than would inevitably arise over the question as to what is the Christian religion, should that amendment ever be adopted. If the author of that resolution is wise, he will have learned wisdom by all this and will drop that thing forever.
A. T. J.