THE Truth Seeker, of the 15th inst., thus takes us to task for a supposed “bad slip,” which however was not a slip at all:—
The AMERICAN SENTINEL made a bad blip in its issue of May 30. During the trial of J. Q. Allison of Douglasville Ga., for the violation of the Sunday law, the judge said, answering the plea of the defense that the Sunday statute interfered with the religious liberty of the citizen:—
“I would not interfere with you in any way in the enjoyment of your religion; this is simply a law of the State, and we are bound thereby. The State could say that you should keep Wednesday or Thursday or every other Thursday, that it would be a crime to work on every other Wednesday or every other Thursday, and we would be bound to obey the law.”
To this the editor of the Adventist paper replies: “This statement by the judge would be true if the law were indeed a merely civil regulation based upon civil customs.”
The italics are his. He then goes on to show conclusively that the Sabbath law is not based on merely civil reasons and thus effectually disposes of the judge’s defense of the persecution. But we are not here concerned with this aspect of the matter; what we would call attention to is the astounding admission of the SENTINEL that the State has a right to make honest labor a crime on any day for any reason. This is unconditional surrender.
The SENTINEL has made no such surrender. Our freethought critic has overlooked the if in what we said. The SENTINEL has many times proved that there is, and can be, no civil reason for enforced weekly rest. This was the thought we had in mind when we italicized the phrase “based upon civil reasons.” It would have been better, we confess, to have said plainly in the very next sentence that there could be no such reason; but we did say in the same paragraph: “The prohibition of secular labor and business on Sunday has absolutely no other basis except the supposed sacred character of the day. No other reason could possibly exist for forbidding a man to plow in his own field on Sunday.”
It follows that there can be no civil reason for prohibiting honest labor upon any day, for if there could that reason could apply to Sunday as well as to any other day. The fact that after years of diligent search no such reason has been found proves that it does not exist. The SENTINEL has made no surrender either unconditional or otherwise, for the SENTINEL supposes no unsupposable case. The position of the SENTINEL is and always has been that a weekly day of rest can exist only on a religious basis and for religious reasons, that therefore the State could, of right, have nothing whatever to do with the question; and that all so-called civil reasons are mere figments invented for the purpose of evading constitutional guarantees of freedom of conscience.
However, we are glad that the Truth Seeker is so clearsighted as to detect even this supposed heresy, and we hope our contemporary will continue to seek the truth and point out the errors connected with this subject, even to the extent of correcting a supposed error in the AMERICAN SENTINEL.