January 2, 1890
IS there not a cause for the existence and the work not only of the AMERICAN SENTINEL, but also of many other papers of the same kind? Let us see. We have said the SENTINEL exists for the purpose of opposing all manner of religious legislation and everything that tends toward any union of religion and the State; and of maintaining the principles of the United States Constitution as it stands separated from religion. What now is there being done in favor of religious legislation? What is being done to unite religion and the State? What is being done against the principles of the United States Constitution as it relates to religion?
First, there is the National Reform Association, headquarters in Philadelphia, an association in the twenty-sixth year of its existence, whose one leading purpose is to secure an amendment to the National Constitution declaring this to be a Christian nation, empowering Congress to legislate upon the subject of the Christian religion, and pledging the United States Government to the maintenance of Christian institutions and Christian morality, as such, in all the land.
Second, the American Sabbath Union, headquarters in this city, whose sole purpose of existence is to secure an act of Congress by which the observance of the Lord’s day as a day of rest and religious worship shall be enforced by the national power within its jurisdiction, and thus to make effective by its example all such laws already in existence in the States.
These two are one so far as the Sunday legislation goes, and with both these to secure what they both demand, are more or less perfectly allied,—the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union; the third-party Prohibition party; the Evangelical Alliance; and last, but not by any means the least, the Catholic Church. The National Reform Association declares for the establishment of a theocracy in the place of the government of the United States under its present Constitution; the National W.C.T.U. declares for the same; the representatives of the American Sabbath Union and the Prohibition party declare that in their work for legislation they are the “representatives of God” and “the successors of the prophets;” and everybody knows what the Catholic Church means by the declaration of the Lay Congress lately held, in favor of legislation, to secure which it proposes to seek an alliance with Protestants. Besides this, Pope Leo XIII. has long ago commanded “all Catholics” to “do all in their power to cause the Constitutions of States and legislation to be modeled on the principles of the true church.”
Besides the work of these different bodies, as organizations, there are a number of papers which advocate the principles which the organizations seek to have enacted into law. There are two papers—the Christian Statesman and the Christian Nation—representing the National Reform Association. There is one—the Mail and Express of this city—which is the official organ of the American Sabbath Union; besides which the Union possesses the influence of nearly all the religious of the country, both Protestant and Catholic, and of some secular ones. The National W.C.T.U. adds the influence of its organ—the Union Signal; the Prohibition party likewise joins its Voice with all these others demanding religious legislation. And yet in addition to all these there is Joseph Cook’s magazine, Our Day,—Mr. Cook himself being a vice-president of the National Reform Association.
What have these organizations already accomplished? In the Fiftieth Congress, May 21, 1888, they secured the introduction in the United States Senate of the Blair Sunday-Rest Bill, and worked hard to secure its passage; but that Congress expired, and the bill died without their wish being fulfilled. In the same Congress, May 25, 1888, there was introduced a “Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States respecting establishments of religion and free public schools,” which proposed to enforce by national power the teachings of “the principles of the Christian religion” in all the public schools of the country. This resolution was indorsed by the National Reform Association as embodying the very thing for which that Association had been working for twenty-five years. This also died with the Fiftieth Congress.
Yet all these organizations have continued, by every means which they could employ, to work up public favor for the legislation which they demand. The Fifty-first Congress had been in existence scarcely a week before Senator Blair re-introduced both his Sunday-Rest bill and the Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and the organizations named are pledged to secure, if possible, the adoption of these measures before the present Congress shall expire. Besides the Blair amendment proposed in 1888 and again in 1889, there is  the Edmunds amendment proposed in 1876, which is strongly advocated for re-introduction in the Fifty-first Congress. It only remains to be seen whether these forces shall be able to find enough Senators and Representatives who are willing to play into their hands to the extent of passing their demands into actual law.
From these facts it is seen that there is already formed and in active working order a combination of all the leading religious bodies for the avowed purpose of securing national legislation in the interests of religion, and for the enforcement of religious observances. The United States Senate, sixty years ago this winter, stated an undeniable truth when it said, “Extensive religious combinations to effect a political object are always dangerous.” Here, then, is a religious combination which is about as extensive as it would be possible to form in the United States. It is to effect a political purpose, for it is solely to control legislation; and what is worse, though inevitable, is that it seeks to control legislation in its own interests. It is therefore dangerous, and as dangerous as it is extensive.
We ask, therefore, whether there is not a cause for the existence of the AMERICAN SENTINEL? And is there not need that something shall be said to call the attention of the people to these things, which are so utterly subversive of American principles, and which involve the most sacred rights of men?
We know that a great many people pass it by with the remark that there is no danger, and that there is no need of any special discussion of it; and this is particularly so on the part of those who are most active in the demand for the legislation. We know that these things were said four years ago, when the first number of the SENTINEL was printed; and there was not then one-tenth of the forces in existence in this line that there are now. But the SENTINEL knew then as well as it knows now that there is treachery in it. The SENTINEL told the people so then: it tells them so now. It is true. Incredulity will not escape it: unbelief will not disprove it. We do not impugn the motives of the people who are demanding religious legislation. We do not say that all the leaders of the organizations named mean treachery, nor that they are designedly doing that which they know to be fraught with danger to the people. We only say that there is danger in it. It matters not what may be the motives or the intentions of those who are engaged in it, the thing is evil in itself, and danger is inherent in it; and when the thing is accomplished and the discovery made that it is only evil and that continually, it will not be a very great comfort to be assured that those who did it were good people and meant well.
The AMERICAN SENTINEL knows what it is doing, and intends to be true to its name in sounding the alarm and giving warning of the imminent danger that inheres in the demands that are being made and in a measure granted for legislation in the interests of religion.
A. T. J.