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On the way home from the Indianapolis convention, a National Reformer, and a Third-party Prohibitionist, who is a prominent speaker, were riding together in the railway car. A personal acquaintance of the writer sat in
the next seat to them. The National Reformer said that the Prohibition party did not make enough of National Reform principles; the Prohibitionist replied: —
"We are just as much in favor of those principles as you are; but the time has not yet come to make them so prominent as you wish. But you help put us into power, and we will give you all you want."
Thus the Third-party Prohibition party is but another ally of the National Reform Association.
When it is seen that this legislation is the first step toward the establishment of a religious despotism modeled upon the principles of the papacy, and when this legislation is supported by such men as Joseph Cook, President Seelye, Bishop Huntington, and the others named; by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and the Thirdparty Prohibition party,—is it not time that somebody should say something in behalf of our Constitution as it is, and of the rights of men under it?
In bringing this chapter to a close, we may fittingly quote the following remarks from Rev. Samuel T. Spear, D. D., LL. D. :—
"Those who drew the plan of our national Government, built the system upon the principle that religion and civil government were to be kept entirely distinct; and, for the most part, all the State governments are constructed upon the same theory. The general character of both is that they neither affirm nor deny any doctrine in respect to God, and that they command no duty as a religious duty. They deal with the temporal rights and obligations of citizenship, without any reference to the question whether the citizen is a religionist or not. His religious faith is no part of his citizenship, and no criterion of his rights. It
confers upon him no immunities, and imposes no disabilities. It is a matter between himself and his God, and with it the civil authority does not concern itself. He is not forbidden to be an atheist, and not commanded to be a Christian. He forfeits no rights by being the one, and gains none by being the other; and as between these two extremes of opinion, the State does not undertake to decide which is the true and which is the false opinion. Such is the great American principle in respect to the sphere of civil government. This principle, being the exact antipode of State theology, admits of no reconciliation with it."
No grander mark of political wisdom ever appeared upon this earth than was displayed when the fathers of this Republic declared that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this Government;" and that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." But the lessons which these mighty men learned are now well-nigh forgotten. Let these noble lessons be newly learned, and held forth before all the nations; so shall Liberty indeed enlighten the world.
THE proposed religious amendment to the national Constitution, introduced into the United States Senate by Senator Blair, is not the only attempt that is being made to commit Congress to a course of religious legislation. This proposed amendment was first introduced May 25, 1888; but on May 21, 1888, the same Senator had introduced a bill to "promote" the observance of "the Lord's day" "as a day of religious worship." This bill, with modifications, was also re-introduced by Senator Blair, Dec. 9, 1889. The bill, as it now stands, is as follows:
"A bill to secure to the people the privileges of rest and of religious worship, free from the disturbance by others, on the first day of the week.
"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That no person or corporation, or agent, servant, or employee of any person or corporation, or in the service of the United States in time of peace, except in the necessary enforcement of the laws, shall perform, or authorize to be performed, any secular work, labor, or business, to the disturbance of others, works of necessity and mercy and humanity excepted; nor shall any person engage in any play, game, or amusement or recreation to the disturbance of others on the first day of the week, commonly known as Sunday, or during any part thereof, in any territory, district, vessel, or place subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States; nor shall it be lawful for any person or corporation to receive pay for labor or service performed or rendered in violation of this section.
"SEC. 2. That no mails or mail matter shall hereafter be transported in time of peace over any land postal route, nor shall any mail matter be collected, assorted, or handled, or delivered during any part of the first day of the week; provided, that whenever any letter shall relate to a work of necessity or mercy, or shall concern the health, life, or decease of any person, and the fact shall be plainly stated upon the face of the envelope containing the same, the Postmaster-General shall provide for the transportation of such letter or letters in
packages separate from other mail matter, and shall make regulations for the delivery thereof, the same having been received at its place of destination before the said first day of the week, during such limited portion of the day as shall best suit the public convenience and least interfere with the due observance of the day as one of worship and rest; and provided, further, that when there shall have been an interruption in the due and regular transmission of the mails, it shall be lawful to so far examine the same when delivered as to ascertain if there be such matter therein for lawful delivery on the first day of the week.
"SEC. 3. That the prosecution of commerce between the States and with the Indian tribes, the same not being work of necessity, mercy, or humanity, by the transportation of persons or property by land or water in such a way as to interfere with or disturb the people in the enjoyment of the first day of the week, or any portion thereof, as a day of rest from labor, the same not being work of necessity, mercy, or humanity, or its observance as a day of religious worship, is hereby prohibited, and any person or corporation, or the agent, servant, or employee of any person or corporation who shall willfully violate this section, shall be punished by a fine of not less than ten nor more than 1,000 dollars, and no service performed in the prosecution of such prohibited commerce shall be lawful, nor shall any compensation be recoverable or paid for the same.
"SEC. 4. That all military and naval drills, musters, and parades, not in the time of active service or immediate preparation thereof, of soldiers, sailors, marines, or cadets of the United States, on the first day of the week, except assemblies for the due and orderly observance of religious worship, are hereby prohibited, nor shall any unnecessary labor be performed or permitted in the military or naval service of the United States on the first day of the week.
"SEC. 5. That it shall be unlawful to pay or receive payment or wages in any manner for service rendered, or for labor performed, or for the transportation of persons or of property in violation of the provisions of this act, nor shall any action lie for the recovery thereof, and when so paid, whether in advance or otherwise, the same may be recovered back by whoever shall first sue for the same.
SEC. 6. That labor or service performed and rendered on the first day of the week in consequence of accident, disaster, or unavoidable delays in making the regular connection upon postal routes and routes of travel and transportation, the preservation of perishable and exposed property, and the regular and necessary transportation and delivery of articles of food in condition for healthy use, and such transportation for short distances from one State, district, or Territory into another State, district, or Territory, as by local laws shall be declared to be necessary for the public good, shall not be deemed violations of this act, nor shall the provisions of this act be construed to prohibit or to sanction labor on Sunday by individuals who conscientiously believe in and observe any other day than Sunday as the Sabbath or a day of religious worship, provided such labor be not done to the disturbance of others."
The first thing to be noticed about this bill is the title and the important modification of it as compared with the title of the original bill introduced in the Fiftieth Congress, and as compared with the title proposed by the American Sabbath Union a year ago last December. The title in the original bill read :
"A bill to secure to the people the enjoyment of the first day of the week, commonly known as the Lord's day, as a day of rest, and to promote its observance as a day of religious worship."
This title threw the bill so open to criticism on account of its religious aspect that the American Sabbath Union asked that it should be made to read as follows:
"A bill to secure to the people the enjoyment of the Lord's day, commonly known as Sunday, as a day of rest, and to protect its observance as a day of religious worship."
This, however, was pronounced by Senator Blair as stronger and more interfering than the other.
By the experience of the past summer, the advocates of the Sunday law have themselves learned that this has a stronger religious cast than can well be defended in legislation, and therefore, the title of the bill as now introduced, is stripped of its religious cast, and is made to read simply thus:
"A bill to secure to the people the privileges of rest and of religious worship, free from disturbance by others, on the first day of the week."
If this title described the real object of the bill, it would be a very innocent measure, provided it were true that the people had not already secured to them the privileges of rest and religious worship free from disturbance by others, not only on the first day of the week, but at all other times. It is a fact, however, that there are no people in all this land who have not the privileges of rest and religious worship free from disturb
* See p. 162.