IF Col. Elliot F. Shepard were but himself alone, what he says would amount to no more than so much thin air, but when he speaks as President of the American Sabbath Union, an organization which is doing all within its power, and that is much, to secure the enactment and enforcement not only of Sunday laws but of all laws upon a religious basis, then his words mean a good deal and are worth having in mind, for in such a case words which in themselves might be counted as the height of absurdity, become the expression of most dangerous doctrine. Backed by the power which this organization is reaching the theory which is advocated, would create nothing short of a reign of terror. Some time ago, Mr. Shepard made a speech in Williamsburgh, Long Island, as President of the American Sabbath Union, and in advocacy of Sunday laws. He denounced “the soul-destroying practice of riding to church on Sunday,” and declared that worshipers ought to move to a place within walking distance rather than ride, and if they could not move near enough to the church to which they belong then they ought to walk to the church that is nearest to where they do live. But the worst part of his speech was the following:—
All our Legislatures should be instructed to base the law upon the ten commandments. Idolatry as well as stealing should be made a crime. That would make the Chinese go. The injunction, ‘Thou shalt not kill; should be applicable to people who slowly kill themselves by not resting upon the Sabbath.
According to this theory, which is thoroughly believed by Mr. Shepard and the other workers for Sunday laws, whoever works on Sunday is guilty of the crime of murder, and should be punished as a murderer. According to the same theory, the enforcement of the commandment against idolatry would not only make the Chinese go but would punish the covetous man; for, he says the Scripture, “covetousness is idolatry.” But to detect covetousness it would be necessary to have an investigation of the condition of the mind and heart of the individual.
And all this is to be done by the State out of a fatherly wish to save the souls of the people. This, as everybody knows, is the very doctrine of the Inquisition; as we have often shown the Inquisition is inseparable from the theory of Sunday laws and of religious legislation.
A. T. J.