March 20, 1889
THE Christian Statesman of January 10 criticises the course of the SENTINEL under the heading, “An Unfair Critic.” The SENTINEL does its very best to be fair all the time; we can afford to be fair; and so far as we know, we have never yet taken an unfair advantage in any argument, or in any way.
The Statesman says it admires the consistency with which the SENTINEL “follows out its own premises to their uttermost conclusions;” but that it does not admire the SENTINEL’S “disposition to impute wrong motives to its opponents.” We do not impute motives; nor do we judge men’s motives. We not only follow our own premises to their utmost confusions, but we follow the premises of the Statesman and the Sunday-law workers, and the workers of religious legislation generally, to their uttermost conclusions also. And when, by logical deduction, following these premises to their inevitable conclusions, we find iniquity involved in it all, and expose it, that is neither imputing motives nor judging motives. It is simply reasoning from premises to conclusions. If their premises are sound, they ought not to flinch from the conclusions. As for ourselves, we are perfectly satisfied to be measured by every conclusion from every premise which we lay down. If the Statesman’s premises are correct, its conclusions cannot be wrong. And, therefore, it ought not to flinch, nor complain, nor charge us with imputing wrong motives, when we take its own premises and carry them to their inevitable conclusion, and then, finding the conclusion to embody the very principles of the Papacy, condemn the system as wicked.
Further: The Statesman says of the SENTINEL:—
“It has charged the National Reform Association with duplicity, with the cherishing of evil purposes which it dares not avow, and with the use of dishonorable means to accomplish the ends it seeks. A case in point is its charge that the Association is in league with the Roman Catholic power in the United States, and favors the designs of the Papacy. One ground of this accusation is the remark made by the corresponding secretary in the Saratoga Conference of 1887, in answer to a question, to the effect that an effort might well be made to find a common ground between the Protestants and the Romanists in relation to the work of education.”
We do not remember ever to have charged the National Reform Association with the cherishing of evil purposes which it dares not avow. We have found ample employment in exposing and publishing as widely as possible the evil purposes which it does avow. There is no need of inventing charges of evil purposes which it dares not avow. The evil purposes which it does avow, and upon which it seems to pride itself, are enough, it seems to us, to satisfy any reasonable person for a life-time. It avows its purpose of enforcing upon all in this country “the laws of Christian morality,” which is only an attempt to force men to be Christians; it avows that the civil power “has the right to command the consciences of men;” it avows its purpose to tolerate only as “lunatics” and “conspirators” all who oppose its aims. These things, with scores of others in the same line, are avowals of the evil purposes which it does cherish. To discuss these things, and to show the evil that is in them, is what the SENTINEL has done; and it has been so fully employed in this that it has not had time, even if it had the disposition, to invent evil purposes which it might imagine that the association dares not avow. As to the charge of duplicity, we shall here present two extracts from the Christian Statesman itself; and we leave it for the Statesman or anybody else to judge what it reveals: In the Saratoga Convention, to which the Statesman refers, the editor of the Statesman, in arguing against the secular program of education, said:—
“It does not satisfy the Roman Catholics, or conciliate them to our school system. Their special outcry is against the atheistic tendencies of public education, and the exclusion of religious  worship and instruction from the schools gives color to the charge.”
Then the question was asked,—
“If we put the Protestant Bible in the schools where the Protestants are in the majority, how could we object to the Douay Version in schools where the Roman Catholics are in the majority?”
And the editor of the Statesman said: “We would not object.”
Then again the record says:—
“Rev. Dr. Price, of Tennessee—I wish to ask the secretary, Has any attempt ever been made by the National Reform Association to ascertian whether a consensus or agreement could be reached with our Roman Catholic fellow-citizens, whereby we may unite in support of the schools, as they do in Massachusetts?”
“The Secretary—‘I regret to say there has not…. But I recognize it as a wise and dutiful course on the part of all who are engaged in or who discuss the work of education, to make the effort to secure such an agreement.’
“Dr. Price—‘I wish to move that the National Reform Association be requested by this Conference, to bring this matter to the attention of American educators and of Roman Catholic authorities, with a view to securing such a basis of agreement, if possible.’
“The motion was seconded and adopted.”
There the editor of the Statesman argued in favor of securing the cooperation of the Catholic Church in forcing religious instruction into the public schools. He agreed that the Catholic Bible and Catholic instruction might be given in the public schools where the Catholics are in the majority. He, in behalf of the National Reform Association, accepted a commission to bring this matter to the attention of Roman Catholic authorities with a view to securing such a basis of agreement, if possible. That was August 15 to 17, 1887. Within less than two months after that, a School Board in Pittsburg elected a Catholic priest principal of a public school in a ward in which the people were almost wholly Catholics. The editor of the Statesman in his issue of October 20, 1887, said:—
“Of course the priest will now feel it his duty to introduce religion into the school; and the country will watch with interest to see what kind of religion it will be.”
Well, what kind of religion could it be expected to be, but the Catholic religion? And this is precisely the thing that the editor of the Statesman accepted a commission to secure; this is the very thing to which he said he would not object. He agreed that where the Catholics were in the majority, the Catholic Bible should be used, and Catholic instruction should be given, in the public schools. The Catholics were in the overwhelming majority in that ward in Pittsburg. The priest was hired as principal of the school; and if he taught the Catholic religion, the editor of the Statesman said at Saratoga he would not object. And now, not two months afterward, what does he say? In the same editoral, the very next paragraph, after mentioning the appointment of the priest in Pittsburg as principal of the school, he says this:—
“The writer of these lines has recently been in a New York town where one of the two public-school buildings has been given over to the Roman Catholics, who furnish the teachers, and teach the doctrines and worship of their church, including prayers to the virgin and the supremacy of the Pope over all men and all government, the whole being supported out of the public funds. Could anything be imagined more unpatriotic or unreasonable?”
At Saratoga he said he would not object to the Catholic Bible being used and Catholic instruction being given in the public schools where the Catholics were in the majority. He accepted a commission to secure the agreement of the Catholic Church upon that basis. But yet when, in Pittsburg and in New York, the very thing was done to which he said he would not object, and which he had accepted a commission to secure, he innocently inquires, “Could anything be imagined more upatriotic or more unreasonable?”
What has the Christian Statesman to say to these facts as recorded in its own editorial columns? Upon the question of duplicity we leave it to the unbiased judgment of any intelligent person. If the editor of the Statesman shall still insist that that is not duplicity, we sincerely desire that he will print in his editorial column his opinion of what would constitute duplicity.
Further: The Statesman says of the Saratoga proposition to secure the co-operation of the Roman Catholic Church in public schools:—
“We still maintain that such an effort might well be made, not that we have hope of conciliating the Roman Church to the American system of education, but because their refusal to confer, or their refusal to accept American ideas when fairly and kindly and accurately stated in such a conference, would put them still more clearly in the wrong before the American people.”
Remember that the Statesman is defending itself against the charge of duplicity; and to escape that charge it says that the Saratoga proposition was made with the expectation that the Catholics would refuse it, and because such refusal would put them more clearly in the wrong. In other words, it defends itself against the charge of duplicity by virtually confessing that that Saratoga proposition was a piece of duplicity. We hope the Statesman will try again; and we sincerely wish it better success next time.
A. T. J.