THE Examiner and National Baptist, of this city, has entered courageous, consistent and persistent protest against the persecution of seventh-day observers. However, it is no more than would be expected from the denomination of Roger Williams. This surprise is, that there can be found a Baptist paper that justifies these persecutions. Yet the writer has before him six Baptist papers, four from this country and two from Canada, that attempt to defend these violations of the principle of religious liberty. Some of our readers would doubtless be interested to read some of them. The following from the Texas Baptist Standard, of March 28, is a representative of these defenses, both as to the spirit manifested and arguments(?) adduced:—
The Standard has received a copy of the county paper of Rhea County, Tenn., in which there is a lengthy account of the trial and imprisonment of a number of Seventh-day Adventists, who were indicted and convicted for violating the Tennessee Sunday law. Some of our Baptist exchanges have wasted considerable breath in trying to work up sympathy for this kind of lawlessness, but as yet the Standard has not been able to enter into their views of the case. It may be a matter of conscience for a Seventh-day Adventist to keep Saturday, but it is certainly not a matter of conscience for him to become a lawbreaker. Our opinion is that these Adventists knowingly premeditate the breaking of the Sunday law in order to be arrested and put in jail, so that they may be able to raise the cry of persecution. It used to be a matter of conscience with an orthodox Mormon to have anywhere from two to two dozen wives, but the National Government seems to have taken the view that a man’s conscience in such a case had gone wrong, and that the man who carries such a conscience around with him, is a good deal more at home in jail or in the penitentiary than anywhere else. It might be a matter of conscience with some men to whip their wives. And there are a great many men who never suffer a twinge of conscience on account of any violation of the moral code. It is a matter of conscience with the saloon keeper to sell whiskey on Sunday, because there are a great many topers who drink more on Sunday than any other day. From these obvious facts, it would follow that lawlessness should not be tolerated simply because it happens to be done under the guise of religion or on the plea of liberty of conscience. As the Standard sees, it is just as much harm for Seventh-day Adventists to violate the laws governing the Christian Sabbath as it is for the saloon-keeper. To take the position that the Seventh-day Adventists have the right to secularize the Lord’s day, and turn it into a day of work, is to concede all that they claim on the Sabbath question. If they feel in conscience bound to work on Sunday they need not flaunt it in the faces of Christians who believe in keeping the Lord’s day holy unto him.
In reply to all this we submit the following from the Examiner and National Baptist:—
“We did not expect any Baptist would defend the prosecution of otherwise inoffensive Christians for labor on the first day of the week that disturbs nobody else…. It would have been easy, by the use of similar arguments, for those who persecuted Baptists in the past, to have justified their conduct and policy.”