“‘George Washington’s Admonition’” American Sentinel 10, 40, pp. 315, 316.

THE Mail and Express, of Oct. 3, attempts to make capital for the Sunday-law cause out of the public reverence for the memory of George Washington. To this end it quotes the following words of his, which it styles his “celebrated admonition to the people of the United States“:—

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with public and private felicity. It is substantially true that virtue and morality are the necessary springs of popular government. Who that in a sincere friend of free government can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric.

Then it makes this astonishing comment:—

The corollary to these propositions of George Washington we find in the Republican State platform of 1895: “We favor the maintenance of the Sunday law in the interests of labor and morality.”

That religion and morality ought to be respected and cherished by every man, of whatever position or calling, is certainly true; but it is no corollary to this proposition that Sunday laws should be made and enforced upon any person. The one is contradictory to the other; for he who cherishes the Christian religion will respect the conscience of every man, and be entirely opposed to any invasion of conscience by a religious law. If every American citizen in a position of public trust both respected and practiced the principles of Christianity, there would be no Sunday law or other measure of religious legislation enacted in this country, or left upon the statute books of any State. The individual who advocates a law to compel people to pay deference to any religious dogma, shows by that very thing that he has no regard for the teachings of Christ.

Washington’s real attitude with respect to religious legislation, appears from other utterances of his which the Mail and Express finds no occasion to mention. One of these utterances is the following:—

Every man who conducts himself as a good citizen, is accountable alone to God for his religious faith, and should be protected in worshiping God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

And as concerns the propriety of any connection between this Government and Christianity, the view of Washington is clearly shown in the treaty made under his administration with Tripoli, in 1797, which declares that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

It is not justification of this adopted Republican principle, to claim that Sunday laws are not religious and do not interfere with the rights of conscience. Every Sunday law demands Sunday rest, and a weekly rest day being a religious institution, since it was established by God as a means of man’s worship of him, the weekly rest is a religious act, and as such must affect the conscience of every Sabbath observer.

The Creator has sole right in the universe to the tribute of a weekly rest; and any such tribute paid to another power, as to the State, not only infringes upon that right, but by that very infringement borrows from it a religious character.

Quite in keeping with this misrepresentation of Washington, the Mail and Express proceeds to say of the Republican Sunday resolution that, “it harmonizes not only with our whole history as a nation, but also with [316] the spirit and genius of our Constitution,“—that Constitution which prohibits any religious test or qualification for public office, and declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”!

Truly it is a blind zeal which urges on the leaders in this Sunday-law crusade.

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