THE, American Sunday-law Union is evidently affrighted at the influence of the counter-petition to their work. This we gather from the fact that the secretary is sending out a circular letter to some of those who have signed the counter-petition. There is no danger of his sending out this letter to each individual who has signed it, because there are more than six hundred thousand of them, and the one-cent postage alone amounting to over six-thousand dollars, would bankrupt the Union in a little while. And if the Union should be able indeed to send it to each individual, there would then be no danger; because the signers of this petition are signers indeed—they signed it with their own hands—and the signatures are not names of people who never saw the petition, never heard it read, and in some cases, never heard of it. It is possible of course that there may be a few out of the whole number—one in ten thousand perhaps—who might have signed without reading carefully enough; but there are not enough of them to pay the Union for its efforts to find them out.
We have received one of the circulars. It asks a number of questions to those who signed the counter-petition. We signed the counter-petition. Therefore we entitled to answer the questions now proceed to do.
Washington, D. C., December 31, 1889.
Your name appears on a petition to Congress opposing legislation on “Sabbath observance,” which is as follows:—
We, the undersigned, admit residents of the United States 21 years of age or more, hereby respectfully but earnestly petition your honorable body not to pass any bill in regard to the observance of the Sabbath or Lord’s Day, or any other religious or ecclesiastical institution or rite; nor to favor in any way the adoption of any resolution for the amendment of the national Constitution that would in any way give preference to the principles of any one religion above another, or that will in any way sanction legislation upon the subject of religion, but that the total separation between religion and the State, assured by our national Constitution as it now is, may forever remain as our fathers established it.
This petition is verbally claimed to be in opposition to another petition (given below), some of whose signers declare they could also sign the petition you have indorsed if it is to be understood exactly as it reads. The petition which you have signed refers to a “bill” and also to an “amendment,” two distinct measures that were before the last Congress, each of which has many subordinate propositions, and to some other matters not included in either measure. We are, therefore, in doubt whether you are against some one of the many things named in the petition, or against them all. Hence these inquiries:—
First. You ask Congress “not to pass any bill in regard to the observance of the Sabbath or Lord’s day, or any other religious or ecclesiastical institution or rite.” Do you wish to be considered as also opposed to the following petition for a civil Sunday law, which only asks Congress to give those under its jurisdiction the same protection against Sunday toil and traffic and turmoil as is generally enjoyed by those who are under the jurisdiction of State Legislatures?
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States: The undersigned, adult residents of the United States, twenty-one years of age or more, hereby earnestly petition your honorable body to pass a bill, forbidding, in the United States Mail and Military service, and in Interstate commerce, and in the District of Columbia and the Territories, all Sunday traffic and work, except works of real necessity and mercy, and such private work by those who observe another day as will neither interfere with the general rest nor with public worship.
Are you opposed to this petition for a civil rest day for those under the jurisdiction of Congress?
ANSWER; Yes, decidedly, and for several reasons.
(1.) It is not “a civil rest day” that is wanted by the framers and circulators of the petition; it is a falsehood to say that it is; and we will not sanction any falsehood by our signature nor any other way if we know it.
(2) “This petition” is not the one upon which the legislation was framed which is now pending in Congress, and which we are asked to indorse by this change of signature. Here is the petition upon which and to satisfy which, were framed the two Sunday bills now before Congress: words left out of the above petition are in italics:—
The undersigned organizations and adult residents (21 years of age or more,) of the United States, hereby earnestly petition your honorable body to pass a bill, forbidding in the United States Mail and Military service, and in Interstate commerce, and in the District of Columbia and the Territories, all Sunday traffic and work except works of religion and works of real necessity and mercy, and such private work by those who religiously and regularly observe another day of the week by abstaining from labor and business as will neither interfere with the general rest nor with public worship.
This being the petition upon which the pending Sunday legislation was framed it is a deception and a snare for you to try to get indorsements of that legislation by sending out for signatures a petition which is most materially different from the one upon which that legislation was framed. It is likewise a deception to call that a “civil rest day” which is to be enforced by laws framed in accordance with petitions for a religious rest day, and which do in themselves propose to enforce a religious rest day.
Therefore being opposed both to Sunday laws and to deception, we are doubly opposed to “this petition for a civil rest day.”
Second. The above petition, you will observe, makes no reference to the original Blair Sunday-rest bill, which may be what you wished to oppose. If so, do you object also to the new Blair Sunday-rest bill of the present Congress?
ANSWER: Yes, we do “observe” it; And, yes we do “object also to the new Blair Sunday-rest bill of the present Congress,” and to every other Sunday-rest bill that ever has been or that ever may be framed.
Third. Do you object to giving Sunday rest to the Soldiers and Marines in the United States Army and Navy—thus completing and making permanent by law what the President has done in this matter by proclamation?
ANSWER: We do not object to giving Sunday rest, or any other rest, to the soldiers and marines in the United States Army and Navy. We do decidedly object to “completing and making permanent by law what the President has done in this matter by proclamation.” Such is not needed by law. The President being Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, his command is law there; and this plea for law to complete that which is already law, is only another deceitful trick in the great scheme by which it is hoped to have Sunday sacredness recognized and established by national law.
Fourth. Do you object to giving post-office employees the same protection against needless Sunday work that is given to other Government employees and to employees generally, thus completing and making permanent by law what the Postmaster-General has done in this matter?
ANSWER: The same answer, in effect, as to question three.
Fifth. Do you object to making permanent by law, the reductions of Sunday work recently made by many railroad corporations, and completing these reforms by removing what railroad presidents declare to be the chief obstacle to complete suspension of Sunday trains, namely, competition, by stopping all Sunday work in interstate commerce that is not work of necessity or mercy?
ANSWER: Yes, (1) for the same reason as given in answer to questions three and four; and (2) because we are opposed to the Government’s establishing a monoply in Sunday observance by “removing competition” or by any other means.
Sixth. Do you object to giving a rest day to the people of the District of Columbia, whose Commissioners have recently said that it has no valid Sunday law, not even enough to stop servile labor on that day; which is, therefore, to be classified with France and California as the only parts of the civilized world having no Sunday law? Do you object to the enactment by Congress of as good a Sunday-rest law for the Capital as can be found in the statutes of any State, in accordance with the desire of the Commissioners, approved by the President?
ANSWER: Yes to the first question, because the people of the District of Columbia have a rest day, and they observe it so well that the American Sabbath Union himself says that of all the cities in the United States, in Washington city there is the best Sunday observance. The District of Columbia is appropriately “classed” with California, because, by the same authority we know that in California without Sunday laws there is better observance of Sunday than in states which do have  Sunday laws, and better observance of it than there was in the same State when it had Sunday laws. And neither the District of Columbia nor California need any laws to “give” them that which they al-ready have.
To the second because “as good a Sunday-rest law as can be found in the statutes of any State” is simply good for nothing, or worse. And neither “the desire of the Commissioners” nor the approval of the President can make that good which is in itself bad. We say this out of the full respect which every citizen of the United States owes to the chief magistrate of the greatest nation the world has ever seen.
Seventh. Or is it the enforcement by law of a religious observance of Sunday that you oppose?
ANSWER: Yes, it is that and more. It is the enforcement by law of any kind of observance of Sunday as such that ever could be named under the sun—to the worship of which Sunday observance owes its origin.
Eighth. Are you opposed to a purely civil law stopping toil and traffic and turmoil on the first day of the week, that all the people may have OPPORTUNITY for rest and home fellowships, and those who choose, for moral culture?
ANSWER: All the people freely have all that already. And when it is proposed to enact a law to give to people that which they already freely have, that is the first step toward taking away from them the free exercise and enjoyment of that which they already freely have.
The circular closes with a “memorial” to Congress to be “undersigned by those who indorsed the petition referred to in the first paragraph”—the counter-petition. But as not a solitary soul ever indorsed the counter-petition, but all signed it upon its face with their own hands, this memorial is null and void—as every Sunday law by right is and always was.
A. T. J.