August 4, 1892
THE AMERICAN SENTINEL is in the seventh year of its publication. From the first number that was ever issued, it has been telling the people that in the national Government, though forbidden by the Constitution, there would be established a national religion; and that there would be national Sunday legislation at the demand of the churches.
ALL of this is now done by the United States Supreme Court decision of February 29, 1892, and by Congress, in the act closing the World’s Fair on Sunday. In these two governmental actions there lies wrapped up, and only waiting for swift development, all that THE SENTINEL has been telling about, and warning against, these seven years.
WE knew it was coming. We knew it would be done. And this is why we so continuously and so earnestly protested, and warned the people, against it. We knew not exactly how this thing would be done; we only knew that it would be done; but we knew enough about the evil thing, to be able to recognize it when it should be done, by whatever way it might be done. We have protested against the doing of this great evil; and now we protest against the thing since it is done. We protest against the evil principle itself, and we protest and shall continue to protest against any and all the consequences of the principle.
WE had the right to protest against the establishment of a national religion; and we have the right to protest this national religion now that it is established. We had the right to disagree with the ecclesiastical combination which was bending every effort to secure the establishment of a national religion; and now that they have secured exactly what they have been demanding, we still have the same right to disagree with them. We had the right to dissent from the propositions, the doctrines, and the dogmas of this ecclesiastical combination, before the United States Government took their side of the controversy and championed their cause; and we have the same right still. In other words, we have the divine and everlasting right to dissent from any and every religious organization on earth; and when the Government joins a religious organization, then we have the same right still, and the right extends now to that of refusal of obedience to the Government itself, in so far as it is joined to the religious organization.
THE one great object of the grand movement to secure governmental recognition of religion was to secure legislation by which Sunday observance could be enforced throughout the Nation, backed up by national power and influence. We protested against their movement, and disputed their right, to use the governmental power for any such purpose. Now that they have secured it, we still dispute their right to use it. We had the right to dissent from their claim of right to use the Government for any such purpose; and we have still the right to dissent from their use of the governmental power for this purpose. We had the right to refuse to keep Sunday when it was required by the churches without the aid of the Government; and we have the same right to refuse to keep it when it is required by the churches with the aid of the Government. In other words, governmental aid of churches in enforcing their dogmas and ordinances can not take away any man’s right of dissent from those dogmas and ordinances. The Government does wrong in aiding the churches; and men do right in dissenting from both churches and Government in the things wherein they are allied.
IT was lack of power to convince the people that they ought to keep Sunday as the Sabbath, that caused the churches to demand the governmental power to aid in compelling the people to do this. Lacking the power to persuade the people, the churches resorted to power to compel the people to observe the ordinance of the Church. The religious controversy, as to whether Sunday is a sacred day or not, has been going on in the United States longer than has the movement to secure the recognition or declaration of the national Government that it is. Those who demand that Sunday shall be observed have admitted over and over again that there is no divine command for it. And the effort of these churches to secure the alliance and aid of the Government was only an effort to get the national Government to take their side of this controversy. They now have the Government committed to this. In the effort to gain this they have been boastful, and arrogant, and insolent, enough, in all conscience, as has been abundantly shown by their own words all these years. If any one is inclined to think they will be any less so, now that they have their wish, then the writer only wishes that that one could have sat where he did, in the gallery of the House, when the final vote was taken by which Congress committed the Government to their side of the controversy, and could have seen and heard their exultation.
IN this act of closing the World’s Fair on Sunday, Congress has distinctly taken sides in a religious controversy. Congress in this, and the Supreme Court in its decision, have committed the Government of the United States to the decision of a religious controversy. Neither the act of Congress nor the decision of the Supreme Court, will convince the Jew or the Christian who observes the seventh day, that Sunday should be observed. No  more will the National Reformers be able to convince these with the aid of the power which these acts give, to inflict pains and penalties upon dissenters. We disagreed with the National Reformers before; we disagree with them now. We denied before that Sunday should be observed; we deny now that it should be observed. We refused before to keep Sunday; we refuse now to keep Sunday. We rejected before, the National Reform claim of right to use the governmental power to compel anybody to keep Sunday; and although they have secured the use of the power, we reject now their right to use it.
ALL these years we have denied the right of Congress to legislate in behalf of Sunday or any other religious rite or institution. We denied this wholly upon principle. We protested against Sunday legislation because it is religious legislation. We would have protested equally if it had been proposed to legislate in behalf of any other religious day. We can appeal to the life of THE SENTINEL as clear evidence that this has always been the one prominent feature and reason of our protest against Sunday legislation. And as long as the question had maintained this standing only, so long would this have still been the prominent feature of our protest. Now, however, the question has changed; and the prominent feature of our protest changes accordingly. Congress has now legislated upon the subject. congress has now decided and has committed the Government to the decision that Sunday is the Sabbath and shall be observed. And now we protest against it, not only because it is religious legislation, but above all, because it is not true. In this act Congress has committed itself and the Government to a falsehood.
SUNDAY is not the Sabbath. Sunday is not the Lord’s day. Sunday is not in any sense a sacred day. As before stated, the chiefest advocates of this Sunday legislation admit in writing that there is no divine command for the observance of Sunday in any way. they know that the only authority for it is the authority of the church. And if they do not know, they, and everybody else who will look into the question, may learn that “the church” which is authority for Sunday sacredness is the Catholic Church, and that alone. And they may likewise know that professed Protestants who keep Sunday, are following the authority of the Catholic Church, and that alone, for there is no other authority for Sunday observance whether by church rulers or governmental statute. And Congress in requiring the observance of Sunday, is requiring of the Catholic Church, for there is no other authority for Sunday observance. It was therefore perfectly fitting that in the chief speech that was made in favor of the Sunday bill in the Senate (the speech of Senator Hawley of Connecticut), the chief place in the speech should be given to the views of Catholic archbishop upon the subject. But the authority of the Catholic Church is no authority at all; it is only usurpation and fraud, and its Sunday sacredness is a falsehood. Therefore it is that the Congress of the United States, in legislating in behalf of Sunday observance, has committed itself, and the Government of the United States, to a falsehood. And not only to a falsehood, but to a Papal falsehood. And we refuse to recognize it or yield any respect to it as either true or right.
THE Seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, and Sunday is not the Sabbath. The seventh day is the Lord’s day, and Sunday is not. The seventh day is the sacred day and the only sacred day, and Sunday is not at all a sacred day. For thus saith the Lord:—
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
“And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:3.
This is the position and the protest of THE AMERICAN SENTINEL now and always.
A. T. J.