It Infidelity?” American Sent
LAMST fall one of the editors of the SENTINEL made a speech in Oakland, on the coming union of Church and State in this country. A National Reformer was present and heard it, and he has written in reply and sent to us manuscript copy sufficient to make more than two full pages of the SENTINEL, and asks that it may all be printed. But it is almost wholly made up of arguments for National Reform, which have been quite largely discussed already in the columns of the SENTINEL, from both sides of the question, and we do not deem it just to our subscribers to devote so much space to mere repetitions. There is, however, one point which demands notice in our own defense as well as for the principle involved.
This point our correspondent throws into the form of a question, as follows:—
“Are you aware, or being aware do you not care, that the ‘Demands of Liberalism,’ and of the ‘National Liberal League,’ are now clamoring for the abolition of these very things which National Reformers wish continued? And do you not know that these Liberalists oppose the amendment with great vehemence? so that in this controversy you are identifying yourselves with the infidel Liberalists. The third article of the National Liberal League states the specific objects of the association. Among these are the following: ‘The total discontinuance of religious instruction and worship in the public schools;’ ‘the abolition of State-paid chaplaincies;’ the abolition of the judicial oath; the non-appointment of religious fasts, and holidays, etc. In like manner the Liberalists demand that all laws looking to the enforcement of ‘Christian’ morality shall be abrogated. And all these people are furiously opposed to the amendment which we seek. They know that so long as the Constitution remains as it is, so long they and their cause are safe in case an appeal be made to the courts, whose decisions must be in accordance with the Constitution.”
We are perfectly aware that the National Reformers are ready on the instant to raise the cry of “infidel” or “atheist” against all who choose to oppose the religious amendment to the Constitution, even though they know that the opponents are avowed Christians. And being aware, we do not care. They may call us infidels, they may call us atheists, or may apply to us any other term of reproach that they please, and that to their hearts’ content, but it shall not make a particle of difference with us, in our attitude toward the religious amendment to the Constitution. We know that in His day they called our Master, Beelzebub; and we, doing our utmost to be counted worthy to be of his household, expect that much more they will call us of his household. Besides this we know that “it is only in the absence of argument that recourse is had to ridicule;” and as the worthy National Reformers cannot answer our arguments, we expect them to call us names. We derive our principles from the word of Christ; the principles which we advocate are those established by Christ; and when infidels advocate those principles, then we are perfectly willing to be classed with infidels. We would rather be classed with infidels in opposition to the tyranny of a religious despotism, than to be found on the side of those who call themselves Christians while promoting it. We know exactly where we stand, we know precisely what we are doing, in our opposition to the religious amendment to the United States Constitution, and to any sort of religious legislation under any Constitution. We know whom we believe, and for the National Reformers to call us infidels or atheists or anarchists, or to class us with all these, does not make us so, nor does it frighten us.
As for the “Demands of Liberalism,” and of the “National Liberal League,” we have never made them a subject of study; we have never seen a copy of them except as given in National Reform literature. But there is one thing which we know to be a fact, and that is, there was never any such thing heard of as the “Demands of Liberalism” until after the National Reformers had set on foot their movement to secure a religious amendment to the Constitution, endangering the civil and natural rights of men. Then it was that the Liberal League was formed, and their “Demands” were framed in direct op-position to the National Reform demands, and in defense of their own rights. We say “in defense of their own rights,” because we utterly refuse assent to the National Reform proposition, that if a man be an infidel he has no rights. And that then it was high time for them to do something in defense of their rights is shown by the words of our correspondent above quoted. He says:—
“They know that so long as the Constitution remains as it is, so long they and their cause are safe.”
Of course they are, and they ought to be safe. They ought to be just as safe as anybody else in the Nation. But they know, and we know, and the National Reformers know, that just as soon as the religious amendment to the Constitution is adopted, or religious legislation is sanctioned, just so soon they will not be safe. In view of this it is certainly time that somebody was maintaining the principles of the Constitution as it is, under which is their safety. But according to the charitable decision of the National Reformers, for even a Christian to do this it lands him at once into infidelity.
Anybody who will take the time to compare the “Demands of Liberalism,” as given by our correspondent, with the National Reform Constitution, will see at once that these “Demands” are aimed at that document, and that they are wholly defensive. And it is perfectly safe to say that if now there was no such thing in existence as the National Reform Association, there would likewise be no such thing as the “Demands of Liberalism.”
Taking these “Demands” as given by our correspondent, there are some of them that are perfectly proper in themselves. On the subject of the “discontinuance of religious instruction and worship in the public schools,” the position of the SENTINEL is well known to be in favor of it, because it is right. As for the abolition of State-paid chaplaincies, the SENTINEL is heartily in favor of that also; nor are we speaking at random on this subject. The writer of this article spent five full years in the United States army. He has seen State-paid chaplains in the East and in the West. He has attended their services. He has heard them pray, he has heard them preach, and has seen them about the garrisons. And he states it as his honest conviction that unless the State-paid chaplains whom he did not see, far surpass in efficiency those whom he did see, the whole lot of them put together, do not do either the Government or the soldiers as much good as would a bag of white beans.
And as for the abrogation of all laws “looking to the enforcement of ‘Christian’ morality,” we also heartily favor that because it is right. Any law or any proposition that looks to the enforcement of Christian morality, or anything else that is Christian, is contrary to every principle of the doctrine of Christ. And to advocate any such proposition is logically to advocate the Inquisition. The tyranny of the Papacy and the iniquity of the Inquisition, are the logical conclusions from the National Reform propositions throughout. And therefore the SENTINEL now is, and forever more shall be, outspokenly opposed to the whole National Reform scheme. If that be infidelity the National Reformers may make the most of it, while we continue to do our best to form our lives upon the model that God has set before the world in the life of Jesus Christ.
A. T. J.