IN the annual report of the New York Sabbath Committee for 1897-8, it is stated that “For some time past, the Catholic pastors of Rome have been carrying on a campaign in favor of Sunday rest. They urged their people as good Catholics to close their shops on Sundays and on religious festivals. Subsequently some of them reinforced this appeal with the assurance that good Catholics would deal only with the shops which assented to this arrangement.
“The civil authorities regarded this action as in violation of the provision of the Penal Code which punishes with fine and imprisonment all threats or intimidation meant to interfere with another’s liberty. The cures were summoned before the police and enjoined to cease their efforts in this direction. In reply, they declared that they had in view only the observance of God’s commandments, and that their action in no way impaired the liberty of labor.
“Special orders were given by the vicarate of Rome to all the religious communities to deal only with the shops which close on Sunday; an effective measure, because those communities are numerous, and their patronage valuable. The cures also announced that they would publish a list of those who agreed to close their shops for all day on Sunday.”
This shows plainly enough the animus of the Sunday movement. Its spirit is that of “rule or ruin.” It says to the shopkeeper, “Close up on Sunday or I will ruin your business! What you believe or wish in the matter counts for nothing.” It will work through the civil authorities if it can; and it will proceed without these, and even in defiance of them, if it can. What it has done in Italy it would do in America; it is the same movement in both countries.
Notice further, that what is compelled of these shopkeepers under threat of boycott, is homage to the Catholic Church. That church expressly declares in her books of doctrine that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday by authority of the church, and rests upon no other basis. Hence it is not a command of God, but a command of the Catholic Church, that these shopkeepers must obey in Sunday closing. The Catholic Church is, by threats of boycott, compelling the shopkeepers of Rome to pay her homage.
What the Catholic Church is doing in Rome, she would do in America if she had the power. She would compel American shopkeepers to boy to her decrees here, as she does Italian shopkeepers in Rome. And the Sunday movement is putting just this power into her hands.
Sunday enforcement is enforced homage to the church of Rome; and Rome joins in the movement expressly to secure such homage to herself. But it is homage to Rome whether enforced by Rome herself, or by a “Sabbath association” calling itself Protestant.