THE Presbyterian Synod of New York sent up to the General Assembly as an overture, its views on the subject of religion and public education, upon which the Committee on Bills and Overtures made the following report, which was unanimously adopted:—
A paper reciting the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin, affirming the Bible to be a sectarian book, and its use in the public schools to be unconstitutional, and asking for a deliverance of the General Assembly, having been received, your committee recommends that this Assembly reaffirm the action of the Assembly of 1870. [See Digest, pages 278-80.] This action declares an unalterable devotion to the public school system as an agency next to the Church of God in laying a foundation of intelligence, virtue, and freedom in the United States. Regarding the Bible as the Magna Charta of our best moral and religious influences, we would consider its expulsion from our public schools as a deplorable and suicidal act, and do hereby urge upon our members to co-operate with Christian people in maintaining the place of this Book of God as an educating force among the youth of our land. The committee, therefore, moves the adoption of the following resolutions by the Assembly.
WHEREAS, A recent decision of the Supreme Court of one of our States has affirmed the Bible to be a sectarian book and its use in the public schools to be unconstitutional; and
WHEREAS, We see in this decision no mere local matter, such as affects simply the people of that State, but the culmination of an effort being made with relentless pertinacity by a foreign hierarchy to overthrow the system of public schools throughout the land; therefore
Resolved, That we affirm the importance of our public schools to the welfare of our people; that with intellectual cultivation must go moral training, or the schools may prove a curse rather than a blessing; but this moral training must be based on religion, otherwise its sanction will not be strong enough to grasp the conscience of the people, or its utterances obligatory enough to shape their character; that as the Bible is the source of the highest moral teaching, we regard its exclusion from our public schools as a menace to national welfare, and we urge the members of our church to so arouse public thought on this subject, from the pulpit, the press, and ecclesiastical assemblages, that this Book shall be restored to its true place in our system of education.
As the same General Assembly indorsed the movement for the revision of the Confession of their faith, it will be in order now for them to revise that part of the Confession which denies the right of the State to have anything to do with administering the word of God. Yet it is probable that in … of doing so they will keep it there just as it is, and still go on boasting loudly of the Presbyterian doctrines, of the separation between Church and State, of religious liberty, and the rights of conscience.
Consistency, although it may be in the wrong, is better than the absurd self-contradiction, in which the Presbyterian General Assembly, and the New York Conference of Methodist Episcopal Churches have involved themselves on this question. If they would argue at once for a union of Church and State they might be considered honest, at least, even though they were wrong; but when in one sentence they declare strongly for an absolute separation of Church and State, and then in the very next sentence declare just as strongly for the teaching of the Christian religion by the State, it is hard to understand how they can be honest, without charging them with being ignorant, whether they be right or wrong. A. T.J.