The Outlook, in discussing the “Robert’s case,” says with reference to Mr. Roberts’ lately-issued defense:—
“He declares that ‘I do not go to Washington as a representative of polygamy.’ Probably not; but if he goes to Washington, he will be a representative of polygamy.”
An important truth is here stated, which is often lost sight of. Whether Mr. Roberts was chosen to Congress in pursuance of a plan to further polygamy in the nation or not, we do not know; but in any case, as a Mormon and believer in polygamy, he will, as The Outlook says, “be a representative of polygamy.” He would favor polygamy in any manner in which as a Congressman he might have opportunity to act, because polygamy is a part of his religious belief. His religion, in short, cannot avoid being represented in his politics.
Now let the application of this truth be extended to all classes of religious people. What do they represent, in politics? If Mr. Roberts, going to Congress not as a representative of polygamy, will still represent polygamy, what will Methodists, Catholics, and others, in the like position, represent as regards their respective religious views? If the Catholic, or the Presbyterian,  can divest himself wholly of his religious identity, in politics, why should it not be admitted that Mr. Roberts can do the same?
Ah, it is easier to recognize a truth when it applies only to other people, than when it is unpalatable to ourselves.
There is a wide demand to-day that church people should more actively engage in politics; but this, we are told, would not give politics any religious coloring,—not at all. That would be very undesirable, all admit. People may, and should, it is said, “take their religion into their politics,” yet should not be in politics what they are in the church. But if Mr. Roberts cannot be in politics without representing polygamy, which is his religious belief and practice, how can other church people be in politics without also representing to the same extent their own religious belief and practice?
Except in those cases where religion is held only formally, as a mere cloak of respectability, religious people cannot go into politics without giving politics a religious coloring, and making politics, wherever possible, a means to religious in ends. Because, the man in whom religion is a controlling force, the mainspring of his deepest emotions and most earnest endeavors, is a religionist before everything else, in every place. Such people do not go into politics to make politics first, but to make politics the servant of religion. This is true of the priests and prelates of Rome; it is equally true of every zealous religionists, Catholic or Protestant.
The loud call that is heard for the church people to engage more earnestly in politics, is not put forth upon the basis of a need of increased vigilance to preserve the rights of the people—which is the only legitimate purpose of political effort. Little is heard in connection with this movement about the necessity of preserving unalienable rights. What it has in view is to guard the public morality—to suppress things that are considered immoral, prominent among which things is the desecration of Sunday. The domain of morality cannot be separated from that of religion; and when the church forces become active in politics for the purpose of improving the public morals, religious controversies will of necessity be fought over in the political arena, and there will be others beside that of which day of the week is the Sabbath. And thus will be fulfilled a prophecy uttered years ago, regarding the outcome of the increasing church activity in politics, that “old [religious] controversies will be revived and new ones will be added; new and old will commingle; and this will take place right early.”
The proper place for the church forces, both for the interests of religion and of the state, is to be out of politics.
THE base metal of human nature cannot be transmuted into the pure gold of the divine nature by any human wisdom.