“That Gracious Change” The American Sentinel 4, 32, p. 253.

THE American Sabbath Union makes great objections because the SENTINEL, whenever we have occasion to refer to the object of the Blair Sunday bill quotes it as it is written, to promote its observance as a day of religious worship, and to secure the religious observance of the day. The Union says:—

“It was stated in the hearing of the chief prosecutor of the counter-petition at the time of the Washington convention and hearing, that the word “promote” in this connection would be changed to “protect,” so that public worship, so far as this bill is concerned, would simply have that protection which any legitimate institution of the American people is entitled to on that day.”

We know that the statement was made at the convention that this change should be made. We who know that no such statement was made by anybody having authority to make it as that this change would be made. The following quotation from the official copy of the hearing will give the facts on that point:—

Mrs. Bateham—I wish to say also, that one of the requests of our National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was that the word ‘promote’ should be changed to ‘protect’ in the title of the bill, so that it should have no appearance of what all Americans object to, any union of Church and State. That amendment was proposed and accept by the American Sabbath Union, the organized body which has just been in session in this city.

The Chairman—Do you not think that the word ‘protect’ implies power to command and compel? An army protects.

Mrs. Bateham—All our laws protect us, do they not?

The Chairman—You would make this a law?

Mrs. Bateham—I suggest that the bill be made a law and that it be a law that shall protect the civil Sabbath, not to promote religious worship but to protect the day as a day of rest and of religious worship.

The Chairman—It seems to me that ‘protect’ is a stronger and more interfering word than ‘promote.’ However all of these suggestions are important.”

That is all that was said about it at the hearing by anybody who had any authority to speak on the subject. And the only point in that is, that the word protect is a stronger and more interfering word than promote.

Not only is this so but it was intended to be so, when the change was recommended, and by those who recommended it. In answer to questions at the minister’s meeting in San Francisco, August 5, the American Sabbath Union said that they themselves particularly objected to the word promote in the original bill, and asked that it be changed to protect. And then he gave the reason, which was that “the effect of the word promote would be only to make an open day which the religious people could keep religiously while those who were not religious could do as they chose.” From this, it is perfectly plain that the direct object in substituting protect for promote is to make the bill stronger than it would be as Mr. Blair framed it.

From this it is also clear that the Sunday-law managers do not intend that people who are not religious shall spend that day as they choose even when they do not work. And to see what they do intend, let us put those statements together again. The word promote would allow the religious people to keep the day religiously and those who are not religious to keep it as they choose. That is not satisfactory, therefore they want promote changed to protect. The only logic of that is that the effort of the word protect would be to require those who are not religious to keep the day religiously instead of as they should choose. This conclusion is fully sustained by the title of the bill as proposed in the substitution. It reads:—

“A bill to secure to the people the enjoyment of the Lord’s day, commonly known as Sunday, as a day of rest and to protect its observance as a day of religious worship.”

The only thing that is proposed to be protected, is the observance of Sunday as a day of religious worship. It is not to protect the people who worship, nor protect them in their right to worship as they choose, but to protect that day itself, and to protect it only as a day of religious worship. It is not to be protected as a day of rest or a day of recreation, nor its observance as people choose, but specifically its observance as a day of religious worship. That is indeed a stronger and more interfering word than is the word promote. Senator Blair was right. And all this clearly demonstrates that the plea that is made by the American Sabbath Union that the word should be changed to protect as though that were to modify the force of the proposed Act, is nothing but a piece of unmitigated sophistry.

A. T. J.

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