AN interesting question has been raised in Rhea County, Tenn., in the case of Allen Cathy, the young man convicted of cutting wood for his mother on Sunday. Mr. Cathy is a man of about twenty-two years of age. His mother is an Adventist, but he is not, and hitherto he has not been a Sabbath-keeper. But Sabbath, July 20, he refused to work and was placed in chains and restricted to a diet of bread and water. We do not know his reason for refusing to work; but it is probable that the injustice which he has suffered has opened his eyes to the real issues involved in the Sabbath question, and that he has honestly resolved to keep the Sabbath of the Lord. His imprisonment in the first place, was an outrage against human rights scarcely second to the wrong done to the Adventists, and if the event shall prove that his refusal to work on the 20th ult., was on conscientious and constitutional grounds, the wrong will be that much greater. Tennessee is treading upon dangerous ground. It has already reached a point where, to keep within the limits prescribed by the constitution, it must know just what Allen Cathy’s conscience is; just whether the seventh day of the week is set apart by his religion as a day of rest; and man has never yet devised any effectual way of ascertaining such facts—of wringing from men the secrets of their souls, except by the rack and thumbscrew. Will Tennessee adopt such methods? or will it arbitrarily decide what young Cathy’s religion is, or ought to be, and so continue to ride roughshod over his rights in a more modern but not less cruel way.
A CONTEMPORARY thinks we deal too tenderly with Judge Parks; and asserts that he “is the most blameworthy actor in the persecutions at Graysville.” We cannot agree with this proposition. That Judge Parks errs both as to his view of the so-called law, and as to his duty to enforce it, we believe. But not one can converse with Judge Parks, as the writer of this note has done, and not be impressed with his entire candor. That the judge has in him the stuff of which martyrs are made, we do not know; but we are not prepared to attribute to him any unworthy motive. We believe that he ought to be governed by the higher law, the constitution of the State, which provides “that no human authority can in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience,” and that he ought to refuse to entertain prosecutions under the so-called Sunday law of Tennessee and thus support the constitution as he is sworn to do. Our contemporary holds that he ought to “resign his position, and do it in such a way that his protest against legalized iniquity will ring from end to end of Tennessee.” If there were not other way, our contemporary would be right. Persecution is morally wrong and nothing can excuse a man for wrong doing. But Judge Parks himself, holds a still different view, namely, that he ought to retain his position, enforce the “law” mildly but firmly for the time being, and use his influence for its modification. In our judgment he greatly errs; but it is, we are persuaded, an error of the head and not of the heart. If Judge Parks were upon the Supreme Bench instead of the Circuit Bench, we are persuaded that Tennessee would not long persecute honest men for honest work upon any day.