“The State, the Church, and the School” The American Sentinel 2, 7, pp. 52, 53.

WE have received from the author; C. H. L. Schuette, A. M., a book entitled, “The State, the Church, and the School.” It is quite a full and free discussion of each of these institutions in itself, and in its relation to the others. He first discusses “The State”—“Its Nature and Office,” “Its Chief Arms,” and “Its Sphere of Jurisdiction”—and he does it well. Next he treats of “The Church”—the rights of religion, the “Essence and Forms” of the Church, “Its Object and Its Methods,” “Limits and Powers of Action”—and he does that well. Next he shows their “divinely ordered relation,” and that too he does well. Next he discusses their “humanly ordered relation,” which of course is their vital union. This he does, if anything, better than all. First he refutes, and splendidly, too, the arguments for their union, whether under the form of a particular church organization, or under the form of Christianity as a whole. Then he presents a series of excellent arguments directly against any such union. Next we have not the least valuable chapter of the whole book,—giving copies of the sections of the National Constitution, and of all the State constitutions that relate to religion. Then, last of all, he discusses “The School”—“Parental Duties,” “What It Is and Should Be,” “Its Relation to State and Church,” and “The American School”—this likewise he does well.

At this our readers may wonder why we did not say at once that it is an excellent book, and so send forth our hearty commendation. Well, this we should have done had we found the book consistent with itself. To use a familiar and homely illustration: It is all very well when we see a cow give a large quantity of excellent milk, but it is not at all well to see her lift her foot and kick it all over. It is a pleasure to read a sound treatise on an interesting subject, but it is most painful, while reading such, to find your author suddenly turn a complete somersault and subvert every principle which he has established, and labored to illustrate. And this is precisely the predicament in which we found this [53] author when we reached section 15 of this book, pages 281-296.

After critically discussing the sound principles of Government and Religion, and their relation to each other, or rather their proper separation from each other, and after showing this proper separation as illustrated in the theory of our own Government, he finds, as anyone may find, certain practices, especially in our State governments and legislation, that are inconsistent with the sound principles which he has established. But instead of allowing then to be exactly what they are, “inconsistencies,” and allowing them to stand condemned by his principles, as inconsistencies, he undertakes to justify them. And in his attempt to justify the inconsistencies he is compelled to use arguments that subvert every principle that would stand against a union of Church and State, and which subvert the very arguments which he himself uses against such union.

Of these “inconsistencies” he selects three, and names them thus:—

“The law of the observance of Sunday, the law punishing blasphemy, and the law creating chaplains to the Government—these are the specimen statutes now to be reviewed with a special reference to the question whether they are in full harmony with the principles of a perfect religious freedom and with a complete legal separation of State and Church.”

Then of the law of Sunday observance he very properly argues as follows:—

“Were we to inquire, for example, why we have a Sunday by the law of the land in which we live, we venture to say that nine answers out of ten would point us to the decalogue. In other words, we would be told that whereas God has instituted the Sabbath, our Government, as a matter of course, must command its observance. Yet no answer made could be more fallacious, and, in its logical workings, more disastrous to our theory of Government. And here we do not refer to the question whether or not the divine law of the Sabbath is of universal application—a matter on which Christians themselves are divided—but to the utterly false political principle on which the answer is based, to wit: that whatever God has forbidden or bidden must also for that very reason be forbidden or bidden by the law of the land. On such grounds every biblical injunction and precept would have to be embodied, as an integral part thereof, in our legal code; and whither such a procedure would lead us, it is not difficult to foresee. The distinction between politics and religion, the State and the Church, would thus be completely wiped out, and there would ensue a condition of affairs more woful than the world has ever known. In our day, and in our land especially, because Church and State are separate, no civil statute can be based directly upon purely religious grounds.”

Now Sunday is purely a religious thing, and laws for its observance must be based on purely religious grounds, for the thing itself exists upon no other grounds—it is wholly an affair of the church. In view of this quotation, therefore, the query very properly presents itself. How can our author justify civil laws for the observance of Sunday? He attempts it thus:—

“The true rationale, therefore, of laws such as have a religious significance, and as we have named above, must be sought elsewhere.”

That is to say that the rationale of laws having a religious significance must be sought elsewhere than on religious grounds. How could things having a religious significance be found anywhere but on religious grounds even if they were sought? How can things having a religious significance grow out of any but religious grounds?

But the grounds upon which he seems to seek this “true rationale” are that the majority of the people demand it, and that is enough, whether their demand be well founded or not. Thus he argues:—

“Whether the religious belief which leads the great majority of the people to demand the legal sanction of Sunday be well founded or not, or whether their motives be pure or not—these are points on which it is not the business of the law and the law-makers to decide. The mere fact that the general body of the people wants a day of worship is enough to give a solid foundation to the law which respects the will so expressed.”

How it would be possible to frame a proposition that would be more destructive of every principle of justice or of right we cannot imagine. Whether the demand be well founded or not, or whether the motives of those who make the demand be pure or not—these are points that cannot enter into the question at all! They are the majority, and the majority demand it, and even though it be an unjust demand, wickedly intended, “that is enough to give a solid foundation to the law”! According to this there never has been, and there never can be, in any place where the majority could or can make their demands to be heeded, any law that did not, or that would not, rest upon “a solid foundation.” According to this even the crucifixion of the Saviour rested upon a solid foundation. For was there not “a great multitude” with the chief priests and the scribes and the elders, who demanded his crucifixion? To Pilate was this not the majority? Whether the demand was well founded or not or whether their motives were pure or not—these were not points on which it was the business of Pilate to decide. The mere fact that the great multitude wanted it, was enough to give a solid foundation to the act of Pilate, which respected the will so expressed. We submit that this is a valid argument under the proposition laid down by this author in support of Sunday laws. It is an infamous proposition, that is all.

And further, immediately following the words above quoted, he says:—

“Especially must the popular will be heeded in this matter, because of its religious nature, on the ground that religion is the source and strength of all true morality.”

This, too, not five pages from where he wrote that “no civil statute can be based directly upon purely religious grounds.” That is to say: “No civil statute can be based directly upon purely religious grounds,” but civil statutes must be enacted in favor of Sunday, “especially,” “because of its religious nature”! If the inconsistency which he attempts to justify is any more glaring than that which appears in his justification, our Government must be in a pitiable condition.

We have not the space to notice his justification of laws against blasphemy. Suffice it to say that he disallows Blackstone’s definition of blasphemy, in civil jurisprudence, and proposes one of his own that does not relieve the matter a particle, and he sustains it by argument that would justify criminal statute against everybody who should openly choose to disagree with the religious belief of “the great mass of our people” (page 292). And as he himself condemns the appointnent of chaplains by the Government, it is not necessary that we should notice that.

The truth is that in his section on “Inconsistencies” the author of “The State, the Church, and the School,” has attempted to do what cannot be done. Webster defines “inconsistent,” as “irreconcilable in conception or in fact.” The things which our author mentions as inconsistencies, are inconsistencies. And his attempt to reconcile them is simply an effort to reconcile the irreconcilable.

Yet there is a way in which his credit for consistency as a writer may be regained and maintained, and by which the standing of his book may be assured. Let him blot out his attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable in these two places in section 15, let the “inconsistencies” stand as they are, and let them stand condemned as they are by the sound principles of the book throughout. With those parts blotted out, we verily believe that the book would stand as the best treatise in existence on the subject with which would it deals; it would well deserve a place on the table of every household in the land; and we would gladly do our best to see that it had that place. But as it is, the book only condemns itself, as it ought to be condemned by every person who loves human right and religious liberty.

The book is issued by the Lutheran Book Concern, Columbus, Ohio.

A. T. J.

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