THE National Reform Party has by resolution affirmed, and even re-affirmed, that their work does not tend in the least degree to a union of Church and State; that it does not threaten the liberty of any people, but that, on the contrary, it will furnish the strongest safeguard to the liberties, both civil and religious, of all citizens; but their actions contradict their words. And not only so, their words contradict themselves. This can be clearly seen by any one who will read the publications of the National Reform Association. The fact of the matter is, that under the National Reformed Constitution there would be no real liberty at all, either civil or religious. The Christian Statesman says:—
“Enforce upon all that come among us, the laws of Christian morality.”
To enforce is to force; to constrain; to compel; this then, being interpreted, means, force all, compel all,—infidels, atheists, Jews, heathen,—to keep the laws of “Christian morality.” Says Rev. W. J. Coleman, one of the secretaries of the Association:—
“The existence of a Christian Constitution would disfranchise every logically consistent infidel.”
They propose first to force all to keep the laws which they shall establish as being those of Christian morality; then those who will not be forced, will be disfranchised. And then what? Oh, the gradation is easy. Rev. E. B. Graham says:—
“If the opponents of the Bible [that is, the National Reform views of the Bible] do not like our Government and its Christian features, let them go to some wild, desolate land; and in the name of the devil, and for the sake of the devil, subdue it, and set up a Government of their own, on infidel and atheistic ideas, and then, if they can stand it, stay there till they die.”
That is pretty heavy, but there is one more step that could be taken, and it is taken. Rev. Jonathan Edwards says:—
“Tolerate atheism, sir? There is nothing out of hell that I would not tolerate as soon.”
The “true inwardness” of this last can be the more readily appreciated when it is understood that this reverend gentleman defines atheism to be whatever opposes National Reform.
The liberty, then, which the National Reformers propose to guarantee to every man is the liberty to do as they say, and the liberty to conform to what they shall establish as Christianity and morality. And that is a kind of liberty that is strictly compatible with absolute tyranny. Such liberty as that the papacy at the height of its power was willing and anxious to grant. Indeed, of that kind of liberty the Inquisition was the best conservator that the world has ever seen.
And when we read these things, and many others of’ like import, in the National Reform literature, and, in view of them, express our fears that religious intolerance and persecution will be the inevitable consequence of the success of the National Reform movement, they seem to think it passing strange. To them it seems only “folly and fanaticism” that anybody should harbor any such fears. Then they come cooing like, a dove: “Why you need have no fears at all; we would not hurt a hair of your heads.” But the sentiments expressed in the above quotations are spoken with too much earnestness, and are received with too much favor in the National Reform Conventions, for us to allow any weight whatever to such honeyed phrases as that, we need have no fears, and, they would not hurt a hair of our heads. But even if we had all pleasant words and fair speeches on their part, and had none of these plain and forcible expressions of their real sentiments and feelings, we should be none the less assured that intolerance and persecution would be the result of the success of the National Reform Party. First, because all history proves that such a thing is to be dreaded; and, secondly, because such a result is inseparable from the success of such a movement.
We repeat: Intolerance and persecution are inseparable from the success of such a movement as is represented in the National Reform Association. Their purpose is to place what they decide to be Christian laws, institutions, and usages, upon an undeniable legal basis in the fundamental law of the land. Such Christianity thereby becomes the law of the land; and the only point upon which turns the question of persecution or no persecution is, Will the law be enforced? If the law shall not be enforced, then their movement will be a failure; for, so far as any real, practical results are concerned, the whole matter would stand just as it does at present, and the present order of things is the cause of their sorest lamentations. But if the law shall be enforced, then there persecution, for compulsory conformity to religious opinions is persecution. So the sum of the matter is this: If the laws which they shall establish shall not be enforced, their movement will be a failure. If those laws shall be enforced, then there will be persecution. And that the principles which they advocate will be enforced, if they obtain the power, is just as certain as that human nature is what it is, or that two and two make four.
A. T. J.