“The Prospects of National Reform” The American Sentinel 2, 7, pp. 49-51.

July 1887

TO THE regular readers of the SENTINEL we need offer no argument here to prove that the success of National Reform will be the union of Church and State in this Government. This has been amply proved in preceding numbers of this paper; yet if there are any of our new readers who have not seen the proofs of it, we are prepared to furnish the evidence, upon demand, in any quantity, and at short notice. Knowing therefore that the success of the National Reform will be the union of Church and State, it becomes important to all people to know what are the prospects of its success. This is especially important in view of the fact that the movement is even now on the very eve of success. To set this fact forth as it is shall be the purpose of this article.

1. The movement is supported by “all evangelical denominations.” The Association has one hundred and twenty vice-presidents, eighty of whom, including Joseph Cook, are Revs. and Rev. D. Ds., and Rev. D. D., LL.Ds., and some are even Right Rev. D. D., LL.Ds. Of these eighty, eleven are bishops made up from the Episcopal, Evangelical, and United Brethren Churches. Besides these eighty divines, there are in the list ten college professors, one governor, three ex-governors, nine justices of Supreme Courts, two judges of Superior Courts, one judge of the United States District Court, one brevet brigadier-general, one colonel, and seven prominent officials of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

2. The W. C. T. U. is counted, both by themselves and the National Reformers, as one with the National Reform Association. Miss Willard, Mrs. Woodbridge, Mrs. Bateham, Mrs. J. Ellen Foster, Mrs. Clara Hoffman, Mrs. Mary T. Lathrop, and Mrs. W. I. Sibley, of the Union, are all vice-presidents of the National Reform Association. In the Pittsburg National Reform Convention, May 11, 12, 1887, Rev. T. P. Stevenson, editor of the Christian Statesman and corresponding secretary of the National Reform Association, in his annual report made the following statement of the co-operation of the W. C. T. U. with National Reform:—

“Two years ago Miss Frances E. Willard, president of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, suggested the creation of a special department of its already manifold work for the promotion of sabbath observance, “co-operating with the National Reform Association.” The suggestion was adopted at the National Convention in St. Louis, and the department was placed in charge of Mrs. Josephine C. Bateham, of Ohio, as national superintendent. Mrs. Bateham has since, with her own cordial assent, been made one of the vice-presidents of the National Reform Association….

“One year ago your secretary placed in the hands of President Willard a memorandum suggesting the creation of another department ‘for the retention of the Bible in the public schools,’ and assigning reasons for such action. This step was recommended by Miss Willard in her annual address before the late National Convention at Minneapolis, and was adopted in so far that a committee was appointed to make preliminary inquiries during the coming year, with Miss Willard herself at the head of the committee.

“It was your secretary’s privilege this year again to attend the National W. C. T. U. Convention, and it would be unjust and ungrateful not to acknowledge here the cordiality with which for the sake of the cause he was received. A place was kindly given for an address in behalf of the National Reform Association, and thanks were returned by vote of the convention. A resolution was adopted expressing gratitude to the National Reform Association ‘for its advocacy of a suitable acknowledgment of the Lord Jesus Christ in the fundamental law of this professedly Christian nation.’ …

“In the series of ‘Monthly Readings’ for the use of local Unions as a responsive exercise, prepared or edited by Miss Willard, the reading for last July was on ‘God in Government;’ that for August on ‘Sabbath Observance’ (prepared by Mrs. Bateham), and that for September on ‘Our National Sins.’ Touching the first and last-named readings your secretary had correspondence with Miss Willard before they appeared.

“A letter has been prepared to W. C. T. U. workers and speakers, asking them, in their public addresses, to refer to and plead for the Christian principles of civil government. The president of the National Union allows us to say that this letter is sent with her sanction and by her desire.

“The heartiness and intelligence, the faith and courage, with which these Christian women embrace and advocate the fundamental principles of Christian government are most gratifying. Mrs. Woodbridge chose for her theme at Ocean Grove and Chautauqua, ‘Shall the United States Acknowledge Christ as Sovereign?’ Miss Willard loses no opportunity of declaring that ‘the Government is on his shoulder.’ Similar expressions are constantly on the lips of their leading speakers and writers…. Mrs. Woodbridge, in her address to the Workingmen’s Assembly in Cleveland, appealed to them to join hands with the temperance forces in placing this ‘Government upon the shoulder of him who is Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and in men’s crowning Christ our Lord as the Ruler of Nations.’”

3. The workingmen. It will be seen by the above that the National Reform Association [50] has not only gained the Union itself, but that through the Union it is making strong bids for the Knights of Labor and other workingmen’s associations. Indeed, it was stated in the late convention that “the Anarchists, the Socialists, and the Catholic Church are all trying to catch the workingmen, but National Reform must secure the workingmen.” And we are safe in saying that National Reform will secure them. Even though the Roman Church should secure the workingmen’s associations, bodily, that will be no hindrance to National Reform’s securing them, for of all the bids for support that the National Reform Association is making the strongest are made for the support of

4. The Catholic Church. Thus says the Christian Statesman of December 11, 1884:—

“Whenever they [the Roman Catholics] are willing to co-operate in resisting the progress of political atheism, we will gladly join hands with thorn.”

And again:—

“We cordially, gladly recognize the fact that in South American republics, and in France, and other European countries, the Romeo Catholics are the recognized advocates of national Christianity, and stand opposed to all the proposals of secularism…. In a world’s conference for the promotion of national Christianity many countries could be represented only by Roman Catholics.”—Editorial before quoted.

Now let us read a word from Rome. In his Encyclical published in 1885, Pope Leo XIII. says:—

“We exhort all Catholics who would devote careful attention to public matters, to take an active part in all municipal affairs and elections, and to further the principles of the church in all public services, meetings, and gatherings. All Catholics must make themselves felt as active elements in daily political life in the countries where they live. They must penetrate wherever possible in the administration of civil affairs; must constantly exert the utmost vigilance and energy to prevent the usage of liberty from going beyond the limits fixed by God’s law. All Catholics should do all in their power to cause the constitutions of States and legislation to be modeled to the principles of the true church. All Catholic writers and journalists should never lose for an instant from view the above prescriptions. All Catholics should redouble their submission to authority, and unite their whole heart and soul and body and mind in defense of the church and Christian wisdom.”

From the above quotations from the Statesman it is seen that in European and South American countries the Roman Catholics are the recognized advocates of National Christianity. National Christianity is the object of the National Reform movement; our Constitution and legislation have to be remodeled before this national Christianity can be established; to remodel our Constitution and legislation is the aim of National Reform; but this is exactly what “all Catholics” are by the pope ex cathedra commanded to do, and not to lose sight of it for an instant. What the National Reformers propose to do with our Constitution and legislation is precisely what the Roman Catholics in this country are commanded by the Pope to do. Therefore the aim of National Reform and the aim of Rome are identical, and of course they will “gladly join hands.”

5. The Prohibition party as such. The national Reform report before mentioned says on this point:—

“The national platform of the Prohibition party adopted in Pittsburg in 1884, contained an explicit acknowledgment of Almighty God, and of the paramount authority of his law as the supreme standard of all human legislation. The Rev. Dr. A. A. Miner, D. D., of Boston, an eloquent and devoted friend and one of the vice-presidents of the National Reform Association, was a member of the committee which framed the declaration. After that presidential campaign was over, and before the State conventions of 1885, Professor Wallace, of Wooster University, wrote to your secretary, suggesting that all diligence be used to secure similar acknowledgments and kindred declarations on related points, in the Prohibition platforms of the several States. Under this most judicious and timely suggestion, a large correspondence has been held with the leaders of the party, and its chief workers in many States.”

And then of the State and county Prohibition Conventions that have “incorporated into their platforms” distinct acknowledgment of National Reform principles, there are named the States of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Colorado, Texas, and Connecticut; and the counties of Washington, Lancaster, and Chester, Pa., and Belmont, Ohio.


Now take the voters of “all the evangelical denominations;” the voters of the Prohibition party; the voters of the workingmen’s associations; and the voters of the Catholic Church; and it is perfectly clear that they compose an overwhelming majority of all the voters in this nation; and much more would it be so if the W. C. T. U. should secure their demanded right of suffrage. And against this thing there will be no solid South.” Take, then, all the voters that are here represented; take with them an issue upon which all will heartily unite; veil National Reform under that issue; then bring that issue to a vote at the polls, and it is absolutely certain that it will carry by a vast majority.

Is there then any such issue in view? There is such an issue, and that already clearly defined and well developed. That issue is THE UNIVERSAL DEMAND FOR SUNDAY LAWS, or, as otherwise expressed, laws enforcing the observance of the “Christian Sabbath.” Every one of these bodies that we have named will almost unanimously support whatever demand may be made for Sunday laws, even to the subversion of the national Constitution to secure them. The reader needs not to be told that all the churches are in favor of rigid Sunday laws. It is well known that one grand aim of the W. C. T. U. is to secure the enactment and enforcement of strict Sunday laws. The Baltimore Plenary Council, indorsed by the Pope, commands the observance of Sunday, and the Romish Church will heartily support any movement to enforce its observance by national laws. It is this very thing that makes the National Reform Association so anxious to secure the help of Rome. Both the Catholic and the National Reform papers urge upon the workingmen that as they have already struck for eight hours for a day’s work, now they must strike for six days for a week’s work, and Sunday secured by law.

In the late National Reform Convention, it was not only stated as we have quoted that “National Reform must secure the workingmen,” but it was also said that “they could best be secured through the agitation of the Sabbath.” And they are securing them by this very means. The Illinois Legislature, which we believe is yet in session, had before it for passage a Sunday law framed by the preachers of Chicago—it might well have been framed by the Inquisition itself—and a petition, said to represent 25,000 Knights of Labor, was sent up urging its passage. Nor does the movement stop with the Knight’s of Labor and other workingmen’s associations, but even the Socialists join themselves to the movement and are welcome, as the following from the Christian Union testifies:—

“It is very clear that if our Sabbath [Sunday, of course] is to be preserved at all—and we are sanguine of its preservation—the non-religious sentiment of the country must be brought in to re-enforce the religious demand for Sabbath [Sunday] rest, and it is increasingly evident that this is entirely practicable. And, curiously, what renders this practicable is that horrid ‘Socialism’ which keeps some good people lying awake o’nights in fear and trembling.”

Are not the Legislatures of all the States already being besieged at every session with demands for the enactment of rigors day laws with no respect whatever rights of conscience? Only the past winter such demands were made upon the Legislatures of California, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Illinois sweepingly and with cheers—we have not learned the result in the Senate. But State laws will amount to but little while national statutes wanting. And now Congress itself is to be besieged. Reformed Presbyterianism and National Reform are identical—each—each is t’other—and of the action of their Synod month, the dispatches tell us this:—

The Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of America, in session here, has adopted a resolution declaring that the violation of the Sabbath by the Post-office Department is one of the greatest sins of Government, as well as one of the greatest causes of the Sabbath desecration throughout the whole commonwealth, and calling upon the organization of all evangelical bodies in States to combine in order to secure abolition of whatever in the Post-office Department is a violation of the Sabbath law.”

And the National Reform Committee of the United Presbyterian General Assembly, also held in June, passed the following resolution:—

Resolved, That the moderator and clerks be directed to append their signatures in behalf of the Assembly to the [National Reform] petition requesting Congress to pass a law instructing the Postmaster-General to make no future contracts which shall include the carrying of the mails on the Lord’s day.” [51]

Of course under the Constitution as it is, Congress can pass no such law, because the passing of all such laws, whether by Congress or by State Legislatures, is essentially religious legislation, and is prohibited by the Constitution. Therefore it is that the National Reform Association wants the Religious Amendment adopted, making the Constitution to recognize the Christian religion, and so give a basis for Sunday legislation.

Here then is the situation. The National Reform Association proposes a Religious Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Through such an Amendment there will be formed a union of Church and State. Under cover of the universal demand for Sunday laws, the question of the Constitutional Amendment can be made a question of national politics, and can be brought to a vote of the nation. When it is so brought to a vote, the National Reform Association can bring to the polls, in its support, the voters of “all evangelical churches,” the voters of the Prohibition party, the voters of the Catholic Church, the voters of the Knights of Labor, and the workingmen generally, and with these the Socialists and all the rest of the non-religious rabble, and the whole thing sanctified by the sweet influences of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and so can carry it as sweepingly as inquisitorial Sunday laws are now carried in some of the State Legislatures.

We pretend not at all to say how soon this may be the grand question in national politics. It can be done very soon, but whether soon or late, we know, and so everyone else who will look at this thing exactly as it is, may know, that whenever the day comes that it is brought to a vote it will as surely carry as that day comes. That that day will come is as sure as that these facts exist. And when it does come, then there comes with it a union of Church and State, with its whole train of attendant evils in this Government. And in that day, liberty—whether civil or religious—will forever take her departure from this dear land, her last and happiest home on earth. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” And now such vigilance is demanded as never before in the history of the nation. May God arouse the people to a sense of it.

A. T. J.

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