“Worse than Tennessee” American Sentinel 10, 36, pp. 282, 283.

FROM clippings that have been sent us from the daily papers of Chatham, Ont., where Mr. John Matthews, a Seventh-day Adventist, is in jail for having regarded Sunday as a working day, in obedience to the fourth commandment, it seems likely that “Protestant” Ontario will soon make a record of persecution for conscience’ sake, which will surpass any that has yet been made in Tennessee. A reporter of the Chatham Daily Planet publishes an interview which he had with the prisoner and with some of the officials concerned in the case, of which the following is a part:—

The prisoner takes the thing coolly enough. He thinks he’s a martyr—says such fellows as he have to endure persecution and all that sort of thing. “I suppose I’ll have to spend most of my days in jail, now,” said the man to me. “Oh, I don’t know about that,” I answered. “The next time you’ll probably get Central Prison, instead of jail; and I tell you what, my Christian friend, a month of the Central will sicken you.”

“Will you put him at hard labor?” was asked the governor. “If there is any work to be done he’ll have to take his turn with the rest,” replied Mr. Mercer.

“Suppose he won’t work on Saturday?”

“Well, he’ll get into trouble, that’s all. If he were at the Central and refused to work, they’d give him the cat.”

In no other case that has yet arisen has it been announced, as it is here, that the imprisoned Adventist would be compelled to work on the Sabbath. In Tennessee and elsewhere in the United States, they have been allowed to observe the day set apart by the fourth commandment by refraining from work, in harmony with the dictates of their consciences. But in this case, should there be opportunity for its realization, the plainly-implied purpose is to compel the prisoner, if possible, to violate his conscience and work on the day set apart by his religion as sacred, by an application of the lash! This is the kind of religious freedom which is to-day allowed a good and upright citizen of the highly-civilized province of Ontario.

In addition to this, if the published report be true, Governor Mercer has taken upon himself to decide that the pastor of the church to which the prisoner belongs, Mr. A. O. Burrill, is not an ordained minister of the gospel: that is, that the ordination conferred upon Pastor Burrill, in accordance with the usage of the denomination to which he belongs, is not genuine ordination! Hence, the report says, the governor is in doubt as to how far Pastor Burrill should be indulged in the [283] privilege granted to ordained ministers, of visiting people in prison.

And all this occurs in a section of country where religious intolerance cannot be charged to political animosity, race prejudice, or any of those causes which some Northern journals, in commenting upon the persecutions in the South, have alleged as the underlying reasons therefore. The one cause of it all is the spirit of religious intolerance which is fast taking possession of people in all sections of the country, and not only here, but in the most civilized lands elsewhere.

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