THE bill introduced by Senator Edmunds form to establish a national university, provides for the study and consideration of Christain theology. If that bill should pass and the university be established, the instructors would be holders of an “office or public trust,” under the Government. Now the Constitution declares that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this Government.” But if Christian theology be studied or considered in that university there will certainly have to be a teacher, and if a teacher be employed to conduct the study and consideration of Christian theology, that teacher should be a Christian; but to require that a man shall be a Christian in order to occupy that place is to require a religious test as a qualification to the office, and therefore is a violation of the Constitution. Consequently from this point of view, Senator Edmunds’s bill is as clearly unconstitutional as it would be possible for any bill to be.
On the other hand, if no such requirement is made as that the instructor in Christian theology shall be a Christian, and thus this clause of the Constitution be evaded, then it would follow that instruction in Christian theology would be given in that university by a teacher who is not a Christian, But just as soon as that is done, then the teaching of Christian theology is put, upon the basis of sheer rationalism. Therefore if this provision of the bill should be carried out from this point of view, it follows that that which would be taught in this university as Christian theology would be but an ungodly mixture, with no Christianity in it.
From whatever point, therefore, this bill may be viewed it is certain that the people of the United States want no such thing as it proposes to establish. The people of the United States do not want to establish a thing which is clearly unconstitutional, nor do they want to establish a system of Christian instruction which shall have no Christianity in it; nor is it right to establish at public expense a system of public instruction which has Christianity in it.
As we view the bills, resolutions, etc., introduced by certain United States senators, we are led to wonder whether these are not the very individuals the poet had in mind when he said:—
But man, proud man
Dressed in a little brief authority
Plays such fantastic tricks before
High heaven as make the angels weep.
A. T. J.