A CONTRIBUTOR to the Christian Herald a short time ago, writing from Washington, D. C., a historical and descriptive sketch of the church with President McKingley attends, took occasion to state as though it were a very remarkable thing, that when at church Mr. McKinley partakes of the communion, kneeling at the altar “with the humblest member” of the congregation.
Why this should be considered by anybody as remarkable, is the point to which we would call attention. As a church member he who is the president, is but plain William McKinley. And as a church-member there is no distinction, in standing, between him and the humblest member. The only thing that could consistently be expected, then, is just what was seen, that in his place as a church-member he should receive the communion with the humblest member.
But what is really expected by entirely too large a class of people is that when a church-member is elected president of the United States, or is chosen to some other position in the state or nation, he shall carry with him in the exercise of his privileges of church-membership all the distinction, dignity, and officialism that attaches to him as an officer of the state.
Therefore they expect a governor of a State to be a governor in church and as a church member, and to be addressed as “Governor” by his church brethren; a judge of a court, they expect to be a judge in church as a church member, and to be addressed as “Judge” by his church brethren; and a president of the United States, they expect to be president in his place in church as a church-member, and to be addressed as “Mr. President” or “Your Excellency” by his church brethren.
But this is altogether a mistake. It is nothing else than that insidious ever-lurking spirit of the union of church and state that is always begging for permission to manifest itself. No; though in the White House, or in the Capitol, or as commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, William McKinley is “Mr. President” or “Your Excellency;” yet in his place as a church member, he is only plain “Brother McKinley.”
The country is to be congratulated in that Brother McKinley recognizes this vital difference and so disappoints the aristocratic expectations of spectators, by kneeling at the altar and receiving the communion “with the humblest member.”
A. T. J.