“Was it ‘Orthodox?’” The American Sentinel 5, 7, pp. 53, 54.

AT Marshalltown, Iowa, there is a Soldiers’ Home for the veterans of the late war. The ministers of the different denominations in that town hold Sunday services at the Home, in rotation. At least this has been so until lately; but it happens that there is a Universalist minister in that place, and the other ministers, considering themselves to be “orthodox,” and recognizing one another as orthodox, not long since so revised the constitution of the Ministerial Association as to exclude the Universalist minister from membership, and then by a re-arrangement in which only themselves were included, and by which they occupied all the time, they excluded the Universalist minister from preaching at the Soldiers’ Home. In this transaction they had the consent of the commandant of the Home.

As soon as the veterans discovered this trick there was a vigorous protest. Although a majority sanctioned the arrangement of the orthodox ministers, a large minority were decidedly outspoken against it, and announced through the press, serving notice also to the orthodox ministers, that they “would march en masse to town on Sunday to attend the services of the Universalist minister, taking care to file past all the other churches, just as the worshipers were gathering.” This they declared they would do if the weather would permit. Unfortunately the following Sunday was so very rainy that it was impossible for them to carry out their protest against what they termed “evangelical dictation.”

Besides this, the State convention of Universalists at Waterloo, Iowa, took up the matter, and expressed their sentiments in the following preamble and resolutions:—

WHEREAS, It has been published abroad that the Ministerial Association of the city of Marshalltown, Iowa, has, with the consent of the superintendent of the Soldiers’ Home, located at that city, deprived the Rev. T. W. Woodrow, a Universalist minister in good standing and a settled pastor in said city of Marshalltown, from preaching at said Soldiers’ Home at the usual hour of holding divine service there in regular rotation with the clergy of that city termed orthodox, thus practically excluding him from holding any religious services at said Soldiers’ Home; and

WHEREAS, The veterans domiciled in said Soldiers’ Home have in large numbers requested the services of Mr. Woodrow at said Soldiers’ Home at the usual hour and in regular order with the other clergymen, which request has been refused, therefore be it.

Resolved, By the Executive Board of Universalist Convention of Iowa, in session at Waterloo, January 8, 1890, that we condemn the action of said superintendent of the Soldiers’ Home and the Ministerial Association of Marshalltown as subversive of religious liberty, contrary to the spirit of the age, and [54] as a violation of the right of loyal citizens of Iowa to worship God after the dictates of their own consciences; and we request the Governor of the State and the State Legislature, soon to convene, to inquire into this act of religious proscription; and we ask that they take the necessary action to secure to all Christian ministers equal privileges in the various public institutions of the State.

That the president of the convention, F. A. Borner; Rev. J. H. Palmer, of Cedar Rapids; Rev. M. H. Houghton, of Dubuque; and O. M. Barrows, of Marshalltown, be a committee to investigate this whole matter; and if necessary to the securing of our rights, to carry the matter to the Governor of the State, to the State Legislature, or into the courts, to the end that no citizen of our great State shall be defrauded of his religious liberty; and that equality before the law in all matters of faith and worship shall be in Iowa not only a theory, but an intrenched and irrefragable fact.

This is an illustration in miniature of what would follow the adoption of such an amendment to the United States Constitution as Senator Blair has proposed, to secure the teaching of principles of Christianity in the public schools. And if the “orthodox” would do such a thing as this, where so little a thing is at stake as one preaching service a week in only one Soldiers’ Home, what would they not do when national power and influence were the prizes to be contended for?

A. T. J.

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