THE Protestant churches in the United States have been almost wholly in favor of the forcible establishment American sovereignty in the Philippines. Their interest in the future the Philippines, however, has not been that of the politician or financier, looking for new territory from which to acquire new power and riches. The churches have seen in the Philippines and a new field for religious enterprise—for the spread of the gospel of salvation by faith. And in the policy of imperialism upon which the Government has entered there, they have seen what they have taken to be a divinely-appointed means of opening this new field before them. In this, as now appears, they have been sadly mistaken. The hand of the national Government that was so  confidently counted on to help them in missionary work, is stretched out as a bar across their path. Imperialism is not a friend of gospel.
It was only to be expected that Rome would bring determined opposition to bear against the opening up of the Philippines to Protestant missionary work. Rome had long ruled the islands through Spain; she would continue to rule them through the United States if that were possible, and Rome believed it was possible. She has bestirred herself to make her hold on the islands secure under American rule; and from facts now apparent it is evident she has good reason to be pleased with the prospect.
1. Where American rule has been established in the islands, the Government recognizes not only the regular American holidays, but twenty “holydays” of the Catholic Church.
2. When the first Protestant missionary landed in Panay, he was promptly ordered out by the American officer in command at Iloilo, in the interests of peace.
3. The Government recognizes the Catholic Church and in allowing claims presented by the church for “holy water,” wine, and wafers, and in paying rent to that church for the use of two monasteries for hospitals, although these buildings were formerly the property of the Spanish government.
4. The Government has concluded a treaty with the Sultan of Sulu, by the terms of which “home rule” is to be maintained in his Mohammedan territory. Mohammedan rule is of course hostile to any other than the Mohammedan religion.
5. President Schurman, of the Philippine Commission, has made his report on the situation, and in effect tells Protestants to let the Catholics in the Philippines alone. “There may be,” he says, “a small field for Protestant activity in the islands, but I am inclined to think the Roman Catholics will continue to have the advantage.” (Italics ours.)
And how comes it that Rome has been so successful in getting into this position of advantage over the Protestants? A statement which leaves little need of further explanation in the matter, and which Catholic papers affirm, is that “Archbishop Ireland quietly saw the President” about it; and between them arrangements were made under which the Catholic Church was given all the advantage for maintaining her supremacy in the Philippines unimpaired.
The Protestants are, naturally, much disappointed and chagrined over the situation; feelings which Protestant journals have expressed in forceable terms. The N. Y. Evening Post, for example, says:—
“It thus appears that Mohammedanism and Romanism are to have free course and be glorified in the Philippines, with the sanction of our Methodist President, while the Protestant missionary societies are to be practically warned off the preserves. It is Dr. Burchard’s, ‘Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion’ over again, with the addition of polygamous and slave-holding Mohammedanism flying the American flag.”
For the Post says that the Protestant missionaries—
“have good reason to think they have been buncoed by Mr. McKinley. He has effusively joined them with pious thanks to Providence for having taken us to the Philippines, has shrewdly availed himself of the good political aid they have rendered him, and now is leaving them in the lurch. It is enormous shipments of liquor which have so far been the chief result of his policy and exports of the Bible to the Philippines are distinctly discouraged. The missionaries have our sympathy. They thought this Philippine enterprise was to be a good religious affair, with themselves in charge; and now they find the whole thing a business scheme, with religion shoved one side, and plans ripening every day to keep out the missionaries and let the brewers and distillers in. Providence may in time make the wrath of men the praise Him in the Philippines; but, so far certainly the wrath of man is getting an awful start.”
The Springfield Republican notes how tables have been turned on, “those who helped to drive the Republic into imperialism—with vassal States, like the slave-holding sultanate of Sulu—in order that Protestantism might be extended and enhanced in prestige and proceeds with a telling statement of facts:—
“Archbishop Ireland quietly saw the President, and it happens that the treaty with Spain guarantees that the monastic orders in the Philippines shall be formally protected in their lands and establishments. Under Spain these orders my been expelled. Indeed, the Spanish governor-general, in his agreement with Aguinaldo in December, 1897, conceded the expulsion of the monastic orders. The result is that the monastic orders, which are essentially missionary organizations, are better off than ever in the Spanish régime, while the Roman Catholic Church remains absolute master of the spiritual field in the archipelago, outside the Molera Islands. Even Dr. Schurman comes home and says the Protestants ‘may’ find there a ‘small’ opportunity. He is doubtful of that even.
“It is one of the ironies of the situation that the Protestant zealots in imperialism should have accomplished nothing for their own kind of Christianity, and, at the same time, have strengthened Roman Catholicism not only in the Philippines, but in America. For it can hardly be denied that the Roman Church must gain in importance here at home when the church possesses at the outset a spiritual dominion well nigh absolute in all the territories wrested from Spain. The American branch of the Roman Church is as vigorous as any part of the world’s ecclesiastical organization, and it will not miss its great opportunity. The Philippines, it is safe to predict, will stay Catholic, if for no other reason than that the ceremonial of the Church of Rome appeals strongly to the emotional, esthetic, and sensuous natures of the tropical Filipinos.”
The Protestants have again been beaten on Rome’s ground. And just as long as they venture on Rome’s ground, they will be beaten. Just as long as they try to advance Protestantism by Rome’s principles and  methods, they will advance Romanism, and relegate Protestantism to the rear.
This is what the Protestant churches have gained (!) by allying themselves with the Government in the cause of imperialism. They have “strengthen Roman Catholic Catholicism not only in the Philippines, but in America.” A possible result, this, and one which can follow only from a terrible mistake. The “church militant,” as a prominent Protestant clergyman recently said, has “saluted the nation militant,” and recognized “that their mission and duty is to-day identical;” but now, behold, the nation militant recognizes its mission and duty as being more nearly identical with that of the Church of Rome.
Alliance with the state—dependence upon the power of the government—is a papal characteristic entirely. And imperialism is an essentially papal form of government; for imperialism, in common with the papacy, denies the right of individuals to govern themselves. In furthering the cause of imperialism, therefore, it could only be that Protestants would strengthen the hands of Rome.
If the Protestant church had raised her voice in behalf of liberty, condemning the projected policy of conquest, the nation might have been turned from the course which has weakened Protestantism and strengthened Rome at home and abroad. Will the Protestant church now learn the lesson and take up its neglected duty? It is not yet too late. A firm stand by the Protestant bodies throughout the land in support of the principle of self-government affirmed in the Declaration of Independence, would suffice to turn the tide of sentiment that is sweeping the nation toward the imperialist goal.
Protestant missionaries cannot succeed hand in hand with the Government. Protestantism cannot gain ground against Rome in that way. Protestants must go to foreign lands, not as representing a civil power of earth, but the government of heaven, and supported by the power of Christianity. Thus they can go always and succeed in spite of all the power of Rome and of earthly governments.