“Some Political Religion” American Sentinel 10, 41, pp. 322, 323.

IT would be amusing were it not such a serious matter to witness the various attempts of the several political parties and factions in this city to successfully “straddle” the Sunday and excise questions.

We commented two weeks ago upon the attitude of the two great parties upon these questions, showing that both of them had declared in favor of meddlesome and mischievous Sunday legislation while professing to favor liberty. But bad as their utterances were, they have been exceeded in that direction by the anti-Tammany fusion in this city. This fusion has adopted the following so-called excise plank (italics ours):—

We insist that every citizen is entitled by the fact of his citizenship to enjoy the largest measure of personal freedom, consistent with the welfare of the community, and not in conflict with the moral and religious convictions of his fellow-citizens.

While we believe that the sanctity of Sunday should be maintained in the interests of religion, of public morals and of health, through rest from all unnecessary labor on that day, we also believe due regard should be had to the sentiments of that large portion of the community who desire on that day to enjoy some orderly and harmless recreation.

We, therefore, favor and will endeavor to secure such modification of existing laws as will prevent blackmail, partially and oppression, and will enable this city to determine for itself, by popular vote, whether the sale of food, beverages, and other necessaries, shall be permitted on Sunday during such hours under such restrictions as will not interfere with religious observance and exercise.

This sounds very much like a travesty upon even a political platform. It is positively the worst political utterance which we have yet seen. The constitution of the State guarantees liberty of conscience and freedom of worship; but this so-called excise plank promises the individual only “the largest measure of personal freedom” “not in conflict with the moral and religious convictions of his fellow-citizens;” which is only saying that a man shall not be permitted to enjoy any freedom other than may be conceded to him by the religious prejudices of his neighbors. This is worse even than the papacy, and all that is wanting to complete the utter inconsistency and the absurdity of it, is another plank protesting against the massacre of Christians by Turks in Armenia, and the killing of Christian missionaries by Chinese mobs in China. The whole trouble in those countries arises from the fact that the persecuted Christians assert the right to a “measure of personal freedom” that is “in conflict with the moral and religious convictions of” their fellow-citizens.

The weakness of this fusion deliverance on the question of personal freedom, is equaled by the absurdity of the party’s attitude toward Sunday. That attitude is one of regard for the day as a religious institution, and a conservator of public morals and health, in so far as a belief in “the sanctity of Sunday” is consistent with harmless recreation” and the regular business of selling “food, [323] beverages, and other necessaries” on that day, and in so far as beer drinking is conducive to health and public morals! Dubious champions these of the cause of Sunday sacredness! But this is political religion: and the ecclesiastics who have been so long and earnestly laboring to bring religion into politics, ought not to find fault with what the politicians see fit to give them.

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