April 3, 1890
THE Blair Educational bill is dead, and we are glad; yet its spirit, intensified, still survives in his proposed amendment to the Constitution. And as the principles and the object which it was designed to further are embodied in the joint resolution to amend the Constitution, the discussion of the question is still of living importance. But even though the principles were not still pending in another measure, the fact that a bill to such an intent should pass the Senate three times and fail to pass the fourth time by so close a vote as thirty-seven to thirty-one, adds a twofold weight to justify further discussion of it, because this shows that the principles are indorsed in high places, and that they have a place in the public estimation. The facts given last week prove that the object of the bill was to open the way for the national power to abolish all denominational schools, and to take total control of all the children of the Nation in religious as well as in the common branches of knowledge.
In his speech Mr. Blair enunciated doctrines that are entirely subversive of every form of recognition of any power higher than that of the national Government. For convenience we again quote, as follows, his statement branding as “Jesuits” the opponents of his educational measure:—
The Jesuits who have undertaken the overthrow of the public-school system of this country are already far advanced in their work. And I desire to say that by “Jesuits” I do not mean simply and alone those who may belong to that order, but I refer to them and to those who sympathize with them in their views of public education, and of the proper system for the use of the children of the people at large.
I am aware that some who belong in what are known as Protestant denominations share in the belief that the denominational school is the right school, the better school for the education of the rising generation, and to them all, to this aggregate, I have applied this term which I think is a proper one.
There are a great many people in the United States who believe in denominational schools who are not Jesuits, nor even Roman Catholics, nor are they in any way in sympathy with the Roman Catholic opposition to the public-school system. They have not a word to say against the public schools, but they do say that the public school cannot give instruction in religion at all, much less can it give instruction in the religion which they believe. And believing with all their hearts the religion which they profess, it is more precious to them than life, and they must teach it to their children. And that it may be taught to their children in a way to do them the most good, they establish denominational schools and support them themselves, and at the same time cheerfully pay their taxes for the support of the public schools. We say that these people have a right to maintain these schools as they please. We say further that the Roman Catholics have the right to establish and maintain parochial schools, in which distinctive Roman Catholic doctrines shall be taught, to the satisfaction of Roman Catholic people. They have the right to do this without any interference whatever on the part of the Government. As long as that is the religion that they believe, and they pay for the teaching of it, it is nobody’s business but their own; and when the State undertakes to interfere with it, it is going out of its place, and  interfering with that with which it has no business to have anything to do.
All, then, being “Jesuits,” according to Mr. Blair’s theory, who believe in denominational schools, the following statement shows what is intended by the legislation:—
The Educational bill [now the amendment] will decide the great school controversy against the Jesuits, and in favor of the present public system of education for all.
Thus it is shown that the object of that legislation is the abolition of every form of denominational school, and have the public school only, or the private school exactly corresponding to the public school. Next he says:—
Two great institutions in our society undertake to control the education of the child. The public-school system undertakes to give universal education, and aims to impart that training and to convey that kind and degree of knowledge which shall insure absolute freedom of action to the individual in all the affairs of public and private life which are the subject of voluntary control, and to secure right action by the influence of intelligence and upright motives.
There are many private schools founded upon the same principles as the public-school system, and for the purposes of this discussion should be included with that system.
It is not true that the public-school system undertakes to give universal education. It cannot possibly give universal education. It has no right to undertake to give education in religion; but this paragraph shows that the proposed amendment to the Constitution is the genuine expression of his thoughts on this question. But now for the other system. He describes that as follows:—
The other great system of education seeks to control the whole course of the subsequent life of the individual by the imposition of an extraneous authority upon the will or deciding power of the soul in that period of life when it is easy to fashion the fate [faith] of the child.
It is the very office of Christianity to seek to control the whole course of the subsequent life of the individual, by the imposing of an extraneous authority upon the will or deciding power of the soul, just as soon as it possibly can. If it can be done while the individual is a child, so much the better; but whenever it may be done, this is the one grand object of the Christian religion. It seeks so to control the whole course of the subsequent life of the individual, that the will or deciding power of the soul will recognize the authority of Jesus Christ as absolutely supreme over every other form of authority that may be imagined; and in the above statement Senator Blair thus distinctly proposes to set the United States Government, through his public-school system, above Christianity, and to set the authority of the State above the authority of Jesus Christ.
This last statement leads him to the consideration of the spiritual power and authority as compared with the temporal, and he says:—
Think of the tremendous superiority of the spiritual over the temporal power when once the former has obtained dominion of the soul, as measured by their great test—a comparison of the penalties which each one may inflict upon him who violates their respective commands. The one can kill the body, and that is all. The other can burn both body and soul forever. Now, it is this latter proposition which is the secret of the Church’s power over the child taught in the parochial schools.
It is true that there is a tremendous superiority of spiritual things over temporal things, and of spiritual power over temporal power, and this very superiority Christianity inculcates. Christianity says: “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” “Fear not, therefore, them which destroy the body, and after that have no more that they can do; but fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell; yea, I say to you, fear him.” And again: “Our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” This is the voice of Christianity. It is the very purpose of Christianity to introduce men to the realm of spirituality, and to make spiritual things supreme, and to put temporal things into a wholly subordinate place; and if necessity demands, give them no place at all. The spiritual authority, therefore, is, in the realm of conscience, supreme over the individual soul. This doctrine and the inculcation of the sense of this authority upon the souls of men, is committed to the Church. It belongs to the Church; the Church is commanded by Jesus Christ to teach it. She must teach it, and she will teach it. She will teach in spite of all the power that earth can possibly oppose to it. Nor is it victorious over the opposition of earthly power only, for Jesus Christ has declared of this Church that even the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. The very work of the Church, and the very reason of its existence in the world, is to spread abroad the knowledge of spirituality, and to make known the immense value and superiority of the spiritual over temporal things.
Next says Mr. Blair:—
If this idea of church authority should come to permeate the public-school system, the parochial school would disappear.
Assuredly it would, and the Church itself would disappear, because there would be neither earthly nor heavenly use for it. The public-school system is the State system; the public school’s authority and methods are the State’s authority and methods. If, therefore, the State could exert the authority, do the work, and perform the office of the Church, then there would be no place for the Church. But the State can never do this; it does not belong to the State at all. Christ never committed it in any sense, nor in any degree, to the State. He committed it to the Church. He established the Church solely that this work might be performed, and this authority be made known. This last quotation, therefore, plainly shows that the idea of the proposed religious amendment to the Constitution, the idea of the legislation of which Senator Blair is the originator, is to destroy all Church authority, all Church teachings, and supplant them by the State; and then to destroy all idea, all sense, all teaching, of the superiority of spiritual things over temporal, and make temporal things only supreme, and temporal power absolute, in the dominion of the soul.
Since Roman pagan times there has never been asserted more plainly the supremacy of temporal power over all things, human or divine, over all thing spiritual. And aside from the laws of Roman paganism, it would be difficult to find in any nation statutes embodying so fully and clearly the divinity of the temporal power as do these measures originated and advocated by Mr. Blair in the United States Senate.
But though the Church be all that we have here stated, as there belongs to it all that we have here named, it does not follow that there is, or that there should be, any conflict whatever between the Church and the State, or between church authority and the authority of the State. The Church has its sphere, the State has its sphere also. These are totally separate and distinct from each other. The sphere of the Church is spiritual, and has to do with spiritual things; and with spiritual authority, not with temporal. The sphere of the State is temporal; it has to do only with temporal things, and never with things spiritual. While the Church keeps its proper place, and the State keeps its proper place, there can never be any conflict. By the assertion of the authority of the State in spiritual things and in matters which belong to the Church, this assertion which is made by the Blair legislation is just as bad as would be or ever was an assertion of the authority of the Church over that of the State. It is evil, only evil, and that continually, and continually increasing.
A. T. J.