“Federation of Churches” American Sentinel 11, 3, pp. 17, 18.

THE ambition of popular Christianity as it exists in the various denominations of the day is not organic union but federation, or more properly speaking, confederacy.

In his book, “Practical Christian Sociology,” with which our readers are already familiar, Dr. Crafts says:—

There are Christian remedies for social ills that can best be applied by State and national federation of churches…. Some day it is to be hoped the churches will be shamed or aroused to undertake a united campaign against social evils in some more effective way than by the paper bombardment of mere resolutions…. An official national federation of Christian churches in a strong and well-supported National Bureau of Reforms might be a most effective method of ethical home missionary work. The bureau so named, that I have established unofficially, will be glad to yield the field to an official one. Let us hope the proposed Federal Council of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches will erelong become a national federation of all churches to save society as well as souls. Such federations of churches for the solution of social reforms were recommended by a conference of Christians, chiefly from Great Britain, representing many denominations, which assembled at Grindelwald, Switzerland, in the summer of 1894. 479

Among the “reforms” to be undertaken by the proposed federation, Dr. Crafts gives a prominent place to the “crusade” against “sabbath-breaking,” and in this “reform” he suggests that the forces of Rome be enlisted; he says:—

On such reforms as temperance, sabbath reform, divorce, and purity, Roman Catholic coöperation may in a measure be secured. In many cases it will be wise, at the initiation of a federation of churches, to undertake only the one reform in which the churches are most fully united, which will usually be sabbath reform, leaving the other reforms to be added to the plan when federation has achieved some advance in its first undertaking. 480

In the Christian Statesman of Dec. 9, 1893, of which paper he was then editor, Dr. Crafts said: “The most powerful enemy civil liberty has ever had to contend against is the Papacy.” And yet knowing this he proposes federation with that enemy for the purpose of effecting so-called “reforms” by political action!

Our author should read again the history of the ages and there learn that even the Church cannot be trusted with civil power; and most dangerous to liberty either civil or religious would be such a federation as Dr. Crafts [18] proposes, and this whether it embraced Rome or not.

Sixty-seven years ago the Sunday-keeping churches of this country united in a demand upon Congress for the discontinuance of Sunday mails. The petitions were referred to the Senate and House Committees on Post Offices and Post Roads. January 19, 1829, the Senate Committee reported adversely to the proposition. Among other things the committee said:—

Extensive religious combinations to effect a political object are, in the opinion of the committee, always dangerous. This first effort of the kind calls for the establishment of a principle which, in the opinion of the committee, would lay the foundation for dangerous innovations upon the spirit of the Constitution, and upon the religious rights of the citizens. If admitted, it may be justly apprehended that the future measures of the government will be strongly marked, if not eventually controlled, by the same influence. All religious despotism commences by combination and influence; and when that influence begins to operate upon the political institutions of a country, the civil power soon bends under it, and the catastrophe of other nations furnishes an awful warning of the consequence.

The report was adopted. A similar report was made to the House in March, 1830. Of the proposed measure the House Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, said:—

If the measure recommended should be adopted, it would be difficult for human sagacity to foresee how rapid would be the succession, or how numerous the train of measures which follow, involving the dearest rights of all—the rights of conscience.

Because of the wisdom of our statesmen of the early years of the century, the “federation” then formed to effect “social reforms” by congressional action failed of its purpose…. . come. In his “Notes on Virginia,” query 17, Mr. Jefferson said:—

The spirit of the times may alter, will alter. Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecution, and better men be his victims…. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.

We live at a time when two dangers,—the one foretold by Jefferson, the other by the Congress of the United States in the reports from which we have quoted,—both threaten our liberties at the same time. Some at least of our rulers have become corrupt, caring more for power than for principle, our people have become careless, and while gigantic religious combinations to effect political purposes already exist, and are doing their work, still others are proposed and urged, and that on a much larger scale. Certainly there is just cause for alarm.

The closing of the World’s Fair by act of Congress is an illustration of the power of a gigantic religious combination and of the subserviency of politicians.

In 1892 the churches made their demand for a Sunday law. They presented their memorials and petitions backed up with such persuasive words as those which follow from Presbyterian churches in Brighton, N. Y.; Parma Center, N. Y.; and Rochester, N. Y., and recorded in the Congressional Record of May 25, 1892, thus:—

Resolved, That we do hereby pledge ourselves and each other, that we will from this time henceforth, refuse to vote for, or support for any office or position of trust, any member of Congress, either senator or representative, who shall vote for any further aid of any kind for the World’s Fair except on conditions named in these resolutions.

To secure the popularity and patronage which were thus put up at public auction by the churches, our nation’s legislators assembled in Congress did yield to the demand for a Sunday law, and did enact such a law in three distinct ways and places; and for the reasons as stated by themselves, thus:—

If I had charge of this amendment in the interest of the Columbian Exposition, I would write the provision for the closure in any form that the religious sentiment of the country demands, and … I say to the junior senator from Illinois [Mr. Palmer] he had better yield to this sentiment, and not let it go out to the country that there is the slightest doubt that if this money shall be appropriated, the Exposition will be closed on Sunday…. I should make the closure provision satisfactory to those petitioners who have memorialized us against the desecration of the Lord’s day. 481

And again upon this demand for Sunday law, in the same debate, it was said:—

Now, if gentlemen repudiate this, if they desire to reject it…. I should like to see the disclaimer put in white and black and proposed by the Congress of the United States. Write it. How would you write? … Word it, if you dare; advocate it, if you dare. How many who voted for it would ever come back here again? None, I hope…. You endanger yourselves by opposing it. 482

It was the same way in the House. A dispatch from Washington to the Chicago Daily Post, April 9, 1892, gave the following from an interview with a member of the House Committee on the World’s Fair:—

The reason we shall vote for it is, I will confess to you, a fear that, unless we do so, the church folks will get together and knife us at the polls; and—well you know we all want to come back, and we can’t afford to take any risks.

Do you think it will pass the House?

Yes; and the Senate, too. We are all in the same boat. I am sorry for those in charge of the Fair; but self-preservation in the first law of nature, and that is all there is about it.

The republic from a religious standpoint, of the “reforms” demanded do not necessarily enter into this question at all. The government is interdicted both by the Constitution and by the higher law of natural right from legislating upon such subjects. In the very nature of the case, being accountable to God for the deeds done in the body, we must be free from the cognizance of government in all things pertaining to our relation to God. “The framers of the Constitution,” said the House report already referred to, “recognized the eternal principle that man’s relation with his God is above human legislation, and his rights of conscience inalienable. Reasoning was not necessary to establish this truth; we are conscious of it in our own bosoms. It is this consciousness which, in defiance of human laws, has sustained so many martyrs in tortures and in flames. They felt that their duty to God was superior to human enactments, and that man could exercise no authority over their consciences. It is an inborn principle which nothing can eradicate.”

But forgetting this truth,—forgetting that God has committed to men only civil authority,—that he commissions “the powers that be,” to exact only that which is due to Cesar, our author, and tens of thousands who hold similar views, cease not to plot for the overthrow of religious liberty by making the State not only the guardian of civil rights but of private morals, thus clothing the government with power not only to define and guarantee natural rights, but to interpret and enforce the divine law! Such should remember the language of the Senate report, previously referred to, that “among all the religious persecutions with which almost every page of modern history is stained, no victim ever suffered but for the violation of what government denominated the law of God.”

We declare, in the language of the Presbyterians, Baptists and Quakers, of Virginia, in 1776, that it is “impossible for the magistrate [civil government] to adjudge the right of preference among the various sects which profess the Christian faith, without erecting a claim to infallibility, which would lead us back to the Church of Rome.”

These so-called reformers may be honest in their purpose; they doubtless imagine that they are doing God service, but they are none the less aiming deadly blows at the vitals of American manhood and womanhood, and assaulting the very citadel of civil and religious liberty.

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