THE Sabbath Recorder is a Seventh-day Baptist paper, published at Plainfield, N. Y., in which State, observers of the seventh day are permitted by statute to labor on Sunday. The Recorder is therefore at a good safe distance from feeling in its own person or in the persons of its employés the pains of religious persecution. Nor is this all; so far as we know, a score of years have intervened since any Seventh-day Baptist has been prosecuted under a Sunday statute in any State. If there have been more recent cases we have not been informed of them.
This immunity is due very largely, we think, to the fact that members of that denomination are found almost exclusively in States which, like New Jersey, have exemption clauses in favor of those who observe as a sabbath, a day other than Sunday. This still further removes the Recorder from the persecution which it does not feel even in the persons of Seventh-day Baptists. But the Recorder should understand that he who fails to protest when others are persecuted, thereby forfeits the right to protest when he himself is persecuted.
But does not the Recorder protest against the persecution of Seventh-day Adventist? Yes, in a half-hearted way which leaves the reader to doubt if after all the Adventists are suffering more than their just deserts at the hands of their outraged neighbors. For example, in its issue of July 25, the Recorder says of the enforcement of Sunday statutes against Seventh-day Adventists:—
In some cases resentment is provoked and advantage taken of the possibilities of legal trial and punishment, because those who observe the seventh day are provokingly defiant of law and the practice of the majority. We confess to very grave misgivings concerning the wisdom and spirit that principle seen to court such notoriety, if any such instances exist.
That is the Recorder’s statement in all its cold-blooded cruelty and injustice. The perhaps intended to be saving clause, “it any such instances exist,” is nullified before it is written by the positive statement, “Resentment is provoked and advantage is taken,” etc., “because those who observe the seventh day are provokingly defiant,” etc. The Recorder has made the point-blank statement quoted. Will it prove it? If not, will it retract it?
In marked contrast with the reproach which the Recorder takes up against its neighbors, the persecuted Seventh-day Adventists, is the testimony of Judge Parks, in his letter to Governor Turney, recommending the pardon of the Adventists imprisoned at Dayton, Tenn., last spring. The letter is as follows:—
Isabella, Tenn., April 8, 1896.
To the Governor, Nashville.
At the March term of the Circuit Court of Rhea County, several Seventh-day Adventists were convicted and sent to jail for violating the Sunday laws. They are among the very best people of that county, and I can cheerfully recommend that these remaining in jail be pardoned—this for several reasons, chief of which is that there was no aggravation shown in a single case. It is true that they did some work on Sunday, but it was done in a quiet way, and without any studied effort on their part to attract public attention. In fact the proof rather tended to show that they tried to do their work in such a way as not to attract public attention.
They have been in jail nearly a month, and I think the punishment they have undergone amply sufficient.
Very respectfully, JUD. G. PARKS,
Judge 17th Circuit.
These are the facts as proven in open court by the State’s witnesses themselves; and what is true of these cases is equally true of the scores of cases tried in the various States since the persecution of Seventh-day Adventists commenced in Arkansas ten years ago. Adventists are Bible Christians and hold the Golden Rule in equal respect with the fourth commandment. But they ask no man to violate his conscience or to prove disloyal to his God to please them; neither will they yield their consciences to the keeping either of their neighbors or of the State. These facts ought to be known to the Recorder; certainly that paper has had ample opportunity to know them, and its unkind thrust at Seventh-day Adventists looks like a violation of the ninth commandment.
But we are persuaded that the Recorder does not represent any considerable number of Seventh-day Baptists is voiced not by the Sabbath Recorder but by the Sabbath Outlook, which, in noble contrast with the course of the Recorder, has not hesitated to give to persecuted Adventists full and hearty Christian sympathy; and instead of stabbing them in the back, has ministered to them words of Christian cheer and courage. And so, to the Recorder, we say, Go to the Outlook, learn its ways and be wise.
We sincerely hope that it will turn out that the Recorder spoke hastily in this instance, and that this uncharitable utterance does not represent the deliberate judgment of even its author. If, after the Recorder has investigated the matter and ascertained the facts, it, like a brotherly Christian, corrects its erroneous statement, we will gladly make a note of the correction.