THE Associated Press announced on the 11th inst. that Governor Turney had pardoned the five Seventh-day Adventists imprisoned at Dayton, Tenn., March 8. All honor to Governor Turney. The governor would now do credit to himself should he send a message to the Tennessee Legislature now in session recommending the repeal of the Sunday law under which they were imprisoned. The pardons were granted on the recommendation of the trial-judge, Judge J. G. Parks, who shares with the governor the honors of the noble act.
UNDER the circumstances, it is safe to say that this action of the officials of Tennessee is without a parallel in our history. Here were five men duly convicted of the violation of the law of the State and committed to prison upon refusal to pay the costs duly assessed: not only so, but they had respectfully but firmly declared in court that they could not obey the law, and yet they were pardoned by the governor upon the recommendation of the trial-judge. This can only be regarded as a confession that the law is unjust and that it ought to be repealed.
THE legislature of Massachusetts has enacted a most rigid Sunday law. It declares that no entertainment shall be given on Sunday at which ad admission fee is charged, and makes any person attending such prohibited entertainment liable to a fine of five dollars. Another portion of the law reads thus:—
Whoever, on the Lord’s day, keeps open his shop, warehouse or workhouse, or does any manual labor, business or work, except works of necessity and charity, or takes part in any sport game, or play, except a sacred concert, shall be punished by a fine of $50 for each offense, and the owner of any hall in which said law is violated is liable to a fine of $500.
It will be noticed that the church theater is exempted,—“any sport, game, or play, except a sacred concert.”
FOR some time the Polish Roman Catholic Church, of Omaha, Neb., has been the scene of disgraceful fights between factions in the church. The latest developments are the burning of the church and the arrest of a priest as the probable incendiary. It is alleged that the that the church was saturated in the second story with kerosene. By a court decision the priest’s faction would have been compelled to vacate the church in two days, and the evidence, it is said, clearly proves that the priest and his faction decided to burn the church rather than abandon it to the other faction. And yet the Roman Catholic Church declares that she is the only power that can control the mobs of the world.
THE latest news from the prosecuted Seventh-day Adventists of London is that the authorities have seized their goods to the value of $90, which they will sell to collect fine and costs, amounting to $30.
The following brief statement accompanying the above facts, as issued by the persecuted Adventists, will explain their attitude toward the prosecution:—
It is not from stubbornness or any disrespect to the authorities that the fines have not been paid. If they had been imposed for any ordinary infraction of the law, they would have been paid on once. But the fourth commandment forbids us to recognize Sunday as in any way whatever different from the succeeding five days of the week. To do so would be sin. Consequently, to pay a fine for violation of a human enactment that bids us recognize Sunday as a day of rest, would be to put ourselves on the side of that human law, in opposition to the commandments of God. If property is forcibly taken to satisfy fines, those who take it are alone responsible; but we cannot by any act whatever become partakers in the sin of the government in setting itself above the authority of the Creator.
IN 1892 the Supreme Court of the United States declared that “this is a Christian nation,” and cited as one proof the “Sabbath laws” of the various States. The leaders of the Sunday-law crusade immediately seized upon this decision as furnishing the highest possible authority for Sunday legislation. Armed with this decision the Sunday-law leaders besieged Congress to enact a law closing the World’s Fair on Sunday, not so much for the purpose of shutting the Fair on Sunday as for the purpose of committing Congress to the creation of a precedent for Federal legislation favorable to Sunday sacredness. They succeeded, and Sunday sacredness was declared established.
But startling to relate, the Congress of the United States desecrated in 1895 what it had hallowed in 1892. It continued in session the great part of Sunday, March 3, and engaged in work just as secular as that done by the imprisoned Adventists in Rhea County, Tenn. But still more startling to the apostle of compulsory Sunday observance comes the information that the United States Supreme Court, the creator of this “Christian nation,” held a session on Sunday, April 7, and performed work just as secular as was ever performed by an Adventist anywhere. Thus it would appear that the creators of the “Christian nation” and the “Christian Sabbath” have destroyed what they created. This fatal fact is becoming apparent to the Sunday-law advocates, and they have already declared their intention of turning the desecrators out and putting in their places men who will recreate what their predecessors destroyed. Now all this trouble could be avoided by accepting the Sabbath blessed and sanctified by the “Lord of the Sabbath,” and which does not depend for its perpetuity on legislative or judicial action.
IN harmony with what appears to be concerted action on the part of the papacy in the United States to push the enforcement of Sunday laws, the Catholic Review, of March 31, publishes a defense of compulsory Sunday observance, in which occurs the following:—
In every one of the original States, including, of course, New York, the common law of England in force at the time of the separation was declared to be reënacted, with some exceptions bearing upon political sovereignty, land tenure, and the like, necessary to effectuate the separation and its new conditions. But the common law of England presupposed the Christian religion and that remained to the State of New York and is still in force.
With this for a basis the article concludes that “the courts will be bound to uphold Sunday as a day of worship and of rest from unnecessary labor.” This is the same position which has always been taken by those professed Protestants who were so anxious to secure the power of the State in support of their dogma of Sunday sacredness. Rome has a number of dogmas which she will yet build on this same foundation with the same reasoning to the consternation of these unwise Protestants.