CIRCUIT JUDGE SWIGGART, of Tennessee, in ordering the Seventh-day Adventists to prison, also ordered that they, “educate their consciences by the laws of Tennessee.” And this in the face of the Constitution of Tennessee which plainly declares that “no human authority can in any case whatever interfere with or control the rights of conscience”! And thus again, he who sits to judge man “according to the law,” commands these same men “contrary to the law.” See the original instance in Acts 23:1-3.
ARE the civil laws of Tennessee the moral enactments of God, that men shall educate their consciences by them? Does God judge of the righteousness of the citizens of Tennessee by the measure of their subjection to Tennessee statutes, and that alone? IF the Tennessee statutes are the educational standards for the consciences of the citizens of that State, who made the laws of Tennessee? The State, or the citizens of the State, or Jehovah? If the State made the laws, and the citizens are the State, then the citizens have established the standard for their own consciences, and are a law unto themselves,—their own God. If the State, which is a corporate body of their creation, can make laws to which their consciences must be educated, then the State is their God, and they are themselves above it, for they have made it.
THE difference then between the idolaters of India and of Tennessee is that the one worship the works of their hands and the other the creations of their minds. It is as true of the one as it is of the other that they neither know nor understand the true God and the all-reaching justice of his eternal law. Their eyes are shut that they can not see the difference between sin and righteousness, legalized injustice and divine equity. Their hearts are hardened against their fellow-citizens who do not bow down and worship the god which they have made, the image which they have set up. The image which the King of Babylon made, on the plain of Dura, was no more an idol than is this self-made fiction of pseudo-sacredness which the State of Tennessee puts in its statute books, and to which it requires that men shall bow. The bowing to the image of brass was idolatry; the bowing to the fiction of law would be no less idolatry.
NOW that Congress has committed itself and the Government to the fallacy and the falsehood of Sunday sacredness, the next thing in order will be for it to commit itself to that other widespread fallacy and falsehood—the immortality of the soul. Nor need we expect it to stop there. And, indeed, why should we? Having entered the field of religious controversy, and taken sides in one point of dogma, why not go the whole course? Nor is it sufficient to ask, Why shall it not do it? the real question is now, How can it possibly keep from doing it?
IN the two leading speeches in the United States Senate (those by Hawley and Hiscock), in favor of Sunday closing of the World’s Fair, the chief of all the arguments used was that the churches demanded it and it should be granted, because it was “not wise statesmanship” to disregard the demands of so large a number of religious people. This is precisely the doctrine enunciated by United States District Judge Hammond. It may, therefore, now be considered as the established doctrine of the Government of the United States. Consequently, all that now remains, is for the churches to demand a thing, and they will surely get it; for they are officially notified that it is “not wise statesmanship” to disregard their demands. Thus, in this Sunday legislation, there is fully established the doctrine of Church domination of the civil power, and using it for whatever purpose she chooses.
This is but the establishment of a religious despotism. This is precisely what THE AMERICAN SENTINEL has always been saying was in this question of Sunday legislation. And nothing but the most tyrannical and unmitigated despotism will or can ever come out of it.
UNITED STATES senators have declared it to be “not wise statesmanship” to disregard the demands of the churches for legislation deciding a religious controversy as to whether Sunday is the Sabbath or not. Now why shall not this principle apply in other cases? Why shall not the Spiritualists now work up some issue by which they can demand legislation which will decide the question as to whether or not people are alive when they are dead? There are as many Spiritualists as there are church members; and, of course, it would not be “wise statesmanship” to disregard their demands. Besides this, they would have the unanimous and hearty support of all “the evangelical churches” in the country. And as Congress has granted the demands of the churches alone on this Sunday-Sabbath question, how much more would the same body grant the demands of the same ones over again with largely increased numbers with them. For such would only be “wise statesmanship,” according to the latest definition of the term. What queer ideas these gentlemen have of what statesmanship is! The truth is that it is not statesmanship at all. It is sheer demagogism; and that of the worst sort. These gentlemen should be told that statesmanship does not pander to the selfish and arbitrary demands of classes; it creates sound and healthy public opinion.
THE influence of this religious demagogism in the Congress of the United States has been shown during this session in the passage of the proviso for the Sunday closing of the World’s Fair; in the confirmation of an ordinance for the punishment of profanity in the District of Columbia; and by a favorable decision upon the Sunday ice bill for the District by the House and District Committee of the Senate. The Supreme Court has decreed this to be a Christian Nation. Will the citizens of the United States be invested with natural immorality by decree of the Court or by act of Congress.