MRS. J. C. BATEHAM, Superintendent of the Sabbath Observance Department of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, has an article in the Christian Statesman, of August 3, in which she protests mildly against the persecution of Seventh-day Adventists in Tennessee, and says:—
A clause providing exemption for those who conscientiously observe Saturday instead of Sunday, and are careful not to disturb the rest of others, should always be inserted even if those provisions may occasionally be abused…. Courtesy and the Golden Rule require that even at partial expense of uniformity the consciences of the minority should be protected.
This statement does credit to Mrs. Bateham’s heart. It is perhaps all that could be expected of one in her position. It does seem that almost everyone ought to be able to see that all Sunday legislation is improper, and that all Sunday-law enforcement savors of religious persecution. Mrs. Bateham can see this in the case of the enforcement of the so-called law against Adventists in Tennessee. She says, “It savors of religious persecution, which, looked at on the lowest plain, is thoroughly impolitic since making martyrs for conscience always increases the following, and nothing more prejudices the onlooker than appearance of lack of fair play.”
This is indeed looking at the matter from the “lowest plain.” But we do not attribute this motive to the lady in question; we believe that it is her innate sense of justice that leads her to protest against persecution. Having seen and admitted so much, may she be enabled to see more.
THE Sabbath Recorder thinks our strictures of August 1, unjust, and complains that we quoted only a part of what it said. We can only say that we had no intention to be unfair; nor do we think that we did our contemporary any injustice, though our criticism was probably unnecessarily caustic. This latter we regret. We still think, however, that one unacquainted with the facts in the case, could get no other impression from the Recorder’s vote than that some at least of the persecuted Seventh-day Adventists had been unnecessarily offensive to their neighbors, and had thus needlessly brought trouble upon themselves. This we deny in toto, and base our denial not upon the unsupported assertion of the Adventists themselves, but upon the sworn testimony of the State’s witnesses in the several cases. We are sure that in not a single one of the scores of cases tried during the past ten years in several different States, has there been any evidence of aggravation. The annoyance charged has all been of the kind that is begotten of bigotry and intolerance, and is born of an unwillingness on the part of the persecutors to award to others equal rights with themselves.