December 15, 1892
THE campaign now in progress over the question of Sunday and the World’s Fair, is in fact simply a continuation of the false and unconstitutional steps already taken by Congress.
INSTEAD of insisting without any qualification that the question of opening or closing the Fair on Sunday is entirely beyond the just jurisdiction or even consideration of Congress; instead of de-demanding [sic.] the unconditional repeal of the Sunday-closing provisos adopted by Congress, so as to put the whole question back where it was before Congress touched it, and keep it there; the demand is made that Congress shall legislate to open the Fair for the same reasons precisely that it legislated to close the Fair.
CONGRESS was required to close the Fair on Sunday because Sunday is the “Christian Sabbath;” because it would promote the “proper” observance of the day as such; because of its benefits to religion in general; and because “this is a Christian Nation.” And now Congress is requested to open the Fair on Sunday, because Sunday is the “Christian Sabbath;” because it will set such an example of proper Sabbath observance as nothing else could; because it will be so pre-eminently promotive of religion; and because “this is a Christian Nation.”
THE City Council of Chicago, as officially representing that city, sends up its memorial and petition to Congress “that the gates of the World’s Columbian Exposition be not closed on Sunday;” but that all machinery be stopped “to the end that quiet may prevail which is in keeping with the Sabbath;” and “that suitable accommodations be provided within the Exposition grounds for holding religious services on the Sabbath day, to the end that all the denominations may have worship conducted according to their several customs without obstruction or hindrance.”
“IN support of the foregoing petitions” the council cites “considerations,” among which the following are prominent:—
We recognize and rejoice in the fact that our country is and always has been a Christian Nation. We believe that the United States, as a Christian country, should open the gates on Sunday as a recognition of the fact that in no branch of human interest or thought has there been more progress during that four hundred years than in the Christian Church.
Another great reason why the Exposition should be open Sunday is to be found in the opportunity that would thus be provided for religious services on a grand scale on that day within the various buildings. The multitudes could worship together according to the dictates of their own consciences and the forms of their religion.
Would it not be a good thing to throw the sanctity of religious worship about the great temple dedicated to the things of use and beauty?
Would not the people of other lands carry with them to their homes more pleasing and fonder recollections of the Exposition on account of the religious services they might here attend?
Finally, would it not be a grand object-lesson, to see people of all phases of religious belief worshiping within the same grounds and often under the same roof? Such a thing would be without precedent.
THE petition and reasons given by President Higinbotham of the Fair Directory, for the opening of the Fair on Sunday are substantially the same as those given by the City Council of Chicago. It is so, likewise, with the petition and reasons of the Sunday opening association of which the Chicago Herald is the leader. So that the aim and object and the sum of the whole matter is well expressed by the Chicago Tribune, December 3, in reporting the letter of Cardinal Gibbons in favor of Sunday opening. It says:—
The possibilities for a series of religious demonstrations at the park become more and more manifest. With the leading religious and moral teachers of Europe and America to conduct services every Sunday, with sacred music produced by choruses embracing, perhaps, thousands of trained voices, Sunday at the World’s Fair will be one of the grandest recognitions of the Sabbath known to modern history.
ANOTHER significant phase of the contest is, that while Archbishops Ireland Gross, and Riordan, of the Catholic Church, favor Sunday closing of the Fair, Cardinal Gibbons and other archbishops favor Sunday opening. While most of the bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and ministers of other professed Protestant churches demand Sunday closing, Bishop Potter, of the Protestant Episcopal Church and other prominent ministers of that and other so-called Protestant churches, demand Sunday opening. But whether the demand be for Sunday closing or for Sunday opening of the Fair, it is made by all these in the interests of Sunday, to promote its observance and the more to exalt it as the great “Christian” institution.
THEREFORE the conclusion of the whole matter is, that instead of there being a movement to have Congress abandon the usurpation which it has practiced, unconditionally repeal this unconstitutional legislation, and take its position again where alone it belongs; this is a movement to have Congress continue its usurpation, multiply its unconstitutional legislation, and confirm itself in the unlawful position which it has taken. Instead of insisting that Congress can never of right have anything at all to do in any way with the question as to whether Sunday should be observed at all or not, this is only an effort to have Congress decide what will best and most powerfully promote the observance of that day which Congress has already unconstitutionally and irreverently decided is “the Christian Sabbath.” This movement and the legislation which it demands is just as much in the interests of the church power, and is just as much to please this power,  as was the original legislation of Congress on the subject. And the effect which it will have, the only effect which it can have, is only the more fully to confirm in the hands of the church power, the governmental authority of which that lawless power has already robbed the people.
BECAUSE of all these facts THE AMERICAN SENTINEL takes no part in this Sunday opening campaign. Our position is just what it always has been. We do not, and never did, care the scratch of a pen whether the World’s Fair be open or shut on Sundays. We do care, and always have cared, more than can be told, whether the question should be decided by legislation; and whether the Government should thus be surrendered into the hands of the church power. Against this we have always protested and worked with all our might: both before and since it was done. Our demand is, that all Sunday legislation of all kinds everywhere be unconditionally repealed. But there is no possibility of this ever being done anywhere. This we know, consequently our position is one of positive, uncompromising and everlasting protest against all that has been done, against all that is being done, and against all that ever shall be done by law in behalf of Sunday; whether to open the Fair, or to close the Fair, or any thing else under the sun.
A. T. J.