“Why They Offer Exemptions” The American Sentinel 6, 30, pp. 233-235.

July 30, 1891

LAMST week we showed by the official record that the Sunday-law workers know full well, and Mrs. Bateham in particular, in a way that she will never forget, that the exemption which they propose in their national Sunday-law scheme in favor of those who observe another day, will defeat any effective enforcement of the Sunday law; and that, therefore, in order to carry out their intent in the law, one of the earliest things that they will have to do is to secure the repeal of the exemption. Why is it, then, that in the face of the record, and in the face of their knowledge of the record, they still persist in offering the proposed exemption? The “why” of this thing is well known, and it is well known to themselves. They know it, and we know it, and they know that we know it; and they know that we know that they know it; and not only is it so with us, but with many others. This is also a matter of official record. They were told of it in the presence of the House Committee on the District of Columbia and a, large audience besides, February 18, 1890; and here is the record of that part of the Sunday-law story:—

Mr. Jones:—I read from the bill the exemption that is proposed: This act shall not be construed to apply to any person or persons who conscientiously believe in and observe any other day of the week than Sunday, as a day of rest.

Now why is that clause put in the bill? The intention of the law-maker is the law. If, therefore, we can find out why this was inserted, we can know what the object of it is. During the past year Mr. Crafts has advertised all over this country from Boston to San Francisco, and back again, and has repeated it to this committee this morning, that the Seventh-day Adventists and the Seventh-day Baptists are the strongest opponents of Sunday laws that there are in this country, and that they are doing more than all others combined to destroy respect for Sunday observance. All this; and yet these are the very persons whom he proposes to exempt from the provisions of the law, which is expressly to secure the observance of Sunday.

Why, then, does he propose to exempt these? Is it out of respect for them, or a desire to help them in their good work? Not much. It is hoped by this to check their opposition until Congress is committed to the legislation.

How do we know this?—We know it by their own words: The lady who spoke here this morning as the representative of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Mrs. Catlin, said in this city, “We have given them an exemption clause, and that, we think, will take the wind out of their sails.” Well, if our sails were dependent upon legislative enactments, and must needs be trimmed to political breezes, such a squall as this might take the wind out of them. But so long as they are dependent alone upon the power of God, wafted by the gentle influences of the grace of Jesus Christ, such squalls become only prospering gales to speed us on our way.

By this, gentlemen, you see just what is the object of that proposed exemption—that it is only to check our opposition until they secure the enactment of law, and that they May do this the easier. Then when Congress shall have been committed to the legislation, it can repeal the exemption upon demand, and then the advocates of the Sunday law will have [234] exactly what they want. I am not talking at random here. I have the proofs of what I am saying. They expect a return for this exemption. It is not extended as a guaranteed right, but as a favor that we can have if we will only pay them their own stated price for it. As a proof of this I read again from Mr. Crafts’s book, page 262:—

The tendency of legislatures and executive officers toward those who claim to keep a Saturday Sabbath is to over-leniency rather than to over-strictness.

And in the convention held in this city only about three weeks ago, January 30, 31, Mr. Crafts said that this exemption is “generous to a fault,” and that “if there is any fault in the bill, it is its being too generous” to the Seventh-day Adventists and the Seventh-day Baptists. But I read on:—

For instance, the laws of Rhode Island allow the Seventh-day Baptists, by special exception, to carry on public industries on the first day of the week in Hopkinton and Westerly, in each of which places they form about one-fourth of the population. This local option method of Sabbath legislation after the fashion of Rhode Island or Louisiana, if generally adopted, would make not only each State, but the Nation also, a town heap, some places having two half Sabbaths, as at Westerly, some having no Sabbath at all, as at New Orleans, to the great confusion and injury of interstate commerce and even of local industry. Infinitely less harm is done by the usual policy, the only constitutional or sensible one, to let the insignificantly small minority of less than one in a hundred, whose religious convictions require them to rest on Saturday (unless their work is of a private character such as the law allows them to do on Saturday) suffer the loss of one days wages rather than have the other ninety-nine suffer by the wrecking of their Sabbath by the public business.

Why, then, do they offer this “special exception?” Why do they voluntarily do that which they themselves pronounce neither constitutional nor sensible?—It is for a purpose.

Again, I read, and here is the point to which I wish especially to call the attention of the committee. It shows that they intend we shall pay for the exemption which they so over-generously offer.

Instead of reciprocating the generosity shown toward them by the makers of Sabbath laws, these seventh-day Christians expend a very large part of their energy in antagonizing such laws, seeking, by the free distribution of tracts and papers, to secure their repeal or neglect.

Exactly! That is the price which we are expected to pay for this generous exemption. We are to stop the distribution of tracts and papers which antagonize Sunday laws. We are to stop spending our energy in opposition to their efforts to promote Sunday observance. We are to stop telling the people that the Bible says “the seventh day is the Sabbath,” and that Sunday is not the Sabbath.

But have we not the right to teach the people that “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord,” even as the Bible says, and that only the keeping of that day is the keeping of the Sabbath according to the commandment? Have we not the right to do this? Have we not the right to tell the people that there is no scriptural authority for keeping Sunday, the first day of the week? Why, some of these gentlemen themselves say that. Mr. Elliot here (Rev. George) confesses “the complete silence of the New Testament, so far as any explicit command for the. Sabbath, or definite rules for its observance, are concerned.” Many others speak to the same effect. Have we not as much right to tell this to the people as they have? They do not agree among them-selves upon the obligations of Sabbath-keeping, nor upon the basis of Sunday laws. In every one of their conventions one speaks one way and another in another and contradictory way. Have we not as much right to disagree with them as they have to disagree with one another? Why is it, then, that they want to stop our speaking these things, unless it is that we tell the truth?

More than this, have we not the constitutional right freely to speak all this, and also freely to distribute tracts and papers in opposition to Sunday laws and Sunday sacredness? Does not the Constitution declare that “the freedom of speech, or of the press,” shall not be abridged? Then when these men propose that we shall render such a return for that exemption, they do propose an invasion of the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of speech and of the press. Why, gentlemen, this question of Sunday laws is a good deal larger question than half the people ever dreamed of.

Now to show you that I am not drawing this point too fine, I wish to read another extract from a doctor of divinity in California. With reference to this specific question, he said:—

Most of the States make provision for the exercise of the peculiar tenets of belief which are entertained by the Adventists. They can worship on Saturday, and call it the Sabbath if they choose, but there let their privileges end.

They do, indeed, seem by this to be generous enough to allow those of us who are already keeping the Sabbath to continue to do so while we live, but there our privileges are to end. We are not to be allowed to speak or distribute papers or tracts to teach anybody else to keep it. Why, gentlemen of the committee, do you not see that they propose by this law to deprive us of all our rights both of conscience and of the Constitution? Therefore we come to you to plead for protection. We do not ask you to protect us by legislation. We do not ask you to legislate in favor of Saturday—not even to the extent of an exemption clause. We ask you to protect us by refusing to give to these men their coveted power to invade our rights. We appeal to you for protection in our constitutional rights as well as our rights of conscience.

“There let their privileges end.” If—even this allowance is only conditional. And the condition is the same precisely as that laid down by Mr. Craft that we shall stop every phase of opposition to Sunday observance. Here it is in this minister’s own words, not spoken in the heat and hurry of debate, but deliberately written and printed in an editorial in the Western Christian Union, March 22, 1889:—

Instead of thankfully making use of concessions granted them, and then going off quietly and attending to their own business, as they ought, they start out making unholy alliances that they may defeat the purposes of their benefactors. None of these bills are aimed at them, but if they fail to appreciate the fact, they may call down upon themselves such a measure of public disfavor as that legislation embarrassing to them may result.

There, gentlemen, you have the story of that proposed exemption. 1. It is inserted to take the wind out of our sails and stop our opposition to their efforts and to Sunday observance in general. 2. If we do not “appreciate” the benefaction, and “reciprocate the generosity” by stopping all opposition to their work and to Sunday observance, then legislation “embarrassing” to us may be expected to result.

Gentlemen, do you wonder that we do not appreciate such benevolence, or reciprocate such generosity? Can you blame American citizens for saying in reply to all that, that however “embarrassing” the result may be, we do not appreciate such benevolence, nor do we intend to reciprocate such generosity as that, in any such way as is there proposed.

There is one more word on this point that I desire to read. It sums up the whole matter in such a way as to be a fitting climax to this division of my remarks. This is from Rev. M. A. Gault, a district secretary of the American Sabbath Union. Mr. Crafts, who is the American Sabbath Union, personally appointed him secretary of Omaha district. Mr. Gault wrote this to Elder J. S. Washburn; of Hawleyville, Iowa, and Mr. Washburn sent it to me. I read:—

I see most of your literature in my travels [that is, the literature that Mr. Crafts says we do not stop distributing, and which we are not going to stop distributing], and I am convinced that your folks, will die hard. But we are helping Brother Crafts all the time to set stakes and get the ropes ready to scoop you all in. You will kick hard, of course, but we will make sure work.

Yes, this bill is one of the “stakes,” and the exemption clause is one of the “ropes” by means of which they propose to rope us in. And Mr. Gault is one of the clerical gentlemen who demand that the Government shall “set up the moral law and recognize God’s authority behind it, and then lay its hand on any religion that does not conform to it.

This is the intent of those who are working for this bill. You heard Mr. Crafts say a few minutes ago that the Senate Sunday bill introduced by Senator Blair “includes this;” and the Senate bill includes everybody within the [235] jurisdiction of Congress. They trump up this District bill with the hope of getting Congress committed to the legislation with less difficulty than by the national bill, because the attention of the people is. Not so much turned to it. Then having by the District bill got Congress committed to such legislation, they intend to rally every influence to secure the passage of the national bill; and then they propose to go on in their “roping in” career until they have turned this Nation into a Government of God, with themselves as the repositories of his will.

Mr. Heard. Is there any reference to that letter in that book from which you have been reading?

Mr. Jones. No, sir. I pasted it on the margin of this book merely for convenience of reference along with the “generous” proposition of his “Brother Crafts.”

All this shows that the intent of the makers and promoters of this bill is to subvert the constitutional rights of the people. The intent of the law-maker is the law. As, therefore, by their own words, the intent of this exemption clause is to stop all effort to teach or to persuade people to keep the Sabbath instead of Sunday; as the intent of the body of the bill into compel all to keep Sunday who do not keep the Sabbath; and as the intent of both together is to “scoop all in” and “make sure work,” it follows inevitably, and my proposition is demonstrated, that the promoters of this legislation do distinctly contemplate the taking away of the right to observe the Sabbath in this Nation, and to allow the keeping of Sunday only.

A. T. J.

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