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    July 17, 1889

    “Mr. Crafts and the Petitioners Again” American Sentinel 4, 25.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In the Christian Statesman of May 30, Mr. Crafts has a long article concerning the petitions against a National Sunday law. We have already noticed at some length, in the AMERICAN SENTINEL, the statements that Mr. Crafts has made in his speeches, but inasmuch as he keeps reiterating them, we can do no less than follow him up. He says of the counter-petition that it “would be unworthy of the attention of the religious press, but for the fact that in many cases it has deceived the very elect.” We wish to notice first his charge of deception. The petition which he says deceives the people, reads as follows:—AMS July 17, 1889, page 193.1

    “We, the undersigned, adult residents of the United States, 21 years of age or more, hereby respectfully, but earnestly, petition your honorable body not to pass any bill in regard to the observance of the Sabbath, or Lord’s day, or any other religious or ecclesiastical institution or rite; nor to favor in any way the adoption of any resolution for the Amendment of the National Constitution that would in any way tend, either directly or indirectly, to give preference to the principles of any religion, or of any religious body above another, or that will in any way sanction legislation upon the subject of religion, but that the total separation between religion and State, assured by the National Constitution as it now is, may forever remain as our fathers established it.”AMS July 17, 1889, page 193.2

    We cannot see what there is about this that would deceive anybody. All there is to it is stated plainly on the face of it. It asks nothing more nor less than that Congress shall not enact any Sunday laws, nor indulge in any kind of religious legislation, nor favor any amendment of the Constitution that would in any way discriminate in matters of religion. Those who are opposed to such legislation, and who believe that it will work disastrously, sign the petition. Those who want religious legislation, and who favor action tending toward a union of Church and State, are naturally opposed to the petition. That is all there is to it. But Mr. Crafts says:—AMS July 17, 1889, page 193.3

    “The counter-petition is not technically a falsehood, but it is certainly calculated to give the false impression that the petition which millions of us have been urging before the National Congress, includes a proposition to enforce Sabbath observance as a religious or ecclesiastical institution or rite, and also a proposition to weaken the present guarantees of our Constitution against a union of Church and State.”AMS July 17, 1889, page 193.4

    But the counter-petition makes no reference whatever to the petition which Mr. Crafts is circulating. It says nothing about it. It does not even imply that such a petition is being circulated. It makes no reference to any action that has been taken or that is being taken. It simply asks Congress not to do a certain thing. It asks Congress to secure the maintenance of the separation between religion and the State just as it was provided by the men who framed the Constitution. Mr. Crafts thinks that this is aimed at his petition. If that is what he is working for; then this counter-petition is against it; but if he is op-posed to a union of Church and State, as he would have us believe, then the petition does not affect him or his work in the least.AMS July 17, 1889, page 193.5

    But it will be urged that the petition requests Congress not to pass any law in favor of the Lord’s day; and Mr. Crafts says that it conveys the false impression that the American Sabbath Union includes a proposition to enforce Sabbath observance as a religious ordinance. But the Sabbath is solely a religious ordinance, and if Sabbath observance be enjoined, it cannot be enjoined in any other way than as a religious ordinance; and Mr. Crafts said so in his speech before the general assembly of the Knights of Labor, which we have referred to many times. He stated that Sunday rest could not be secured except on the basis of moral obligation. The Rev. Dr. Sunderland, who is one of the leading spirits in this Sunday crusade, says that it is simply impossible to have merely a civil Sunday without the religious features.AMS July 17, 1889, page 193.6

    Dr. Herrick Johnson, who is another leader in the movement, says that to base the Sabbath, meaning of course Sunday laws, on mere human expediency is to base it on sand, and that while it may be proper to use the argument of expediency in influencing a certain class of men, it can never be permanently kept on such a basis, and that the anchorage of this movement is in the divine nature of the institution. And Mr. Shepard, the president of the Sunday Association, says that the only object of the organization should be to preserve the Christian Sabbath as a day of rest and worship, and that laws framed to protect the weekly rest-day will fail to accomplish their full purpose when denied this moral basis. Therefore, from the admissions of the advocates of the Sunday law, the passage of the law would be to unite religion and the State. So that although the counter-petition mentions in particular laws in regard to the observance of the Sabbath, it may truly be said that the only thing that the counter-petition protests against, is the union of Church and State. So then, it would not be misleading in the least, if it positively declared that the Sunday law petition is a movement for the union of Church and State.AMS July 17, 1889, page 193.7

    Here is a simple proposition that we will re-state. The counter-petition protests against a movement looking toward a union of Church and State. Mr. Crafts and his fellows say that they are strenuously opposed to any union of Church and State. Then they ought to be in favor of this petition. But the fact that they themselves call it a counter-petition shows that they regard it as directly opposed to their petition; and the fact that they themselves are bitterly opposed to this petition against a union of Church and State, shows that they themselves are strenuously working for that very thing.AMS July 17, 1889, page 193.8

    Mr. Crafts says that his petition “simply asks a law to protect the people in their right to a weekly day of rest, without requiring of anyone a religious observance of the day, and without hindering those who observe another day from either worshiping on that day, or working on the first day of the week-unless the work be of such a nature, shop-keeping for instance, as will interfere with the general rest.”AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.1

    Now, we ask, what necessity is there to ask for a law to protect the people in their right to a weekly day of rest? Who is attempting to deprive them of it? Who could deprive them of it if the attempt were made? Who can stop people from keeping a weekly rest-day if they want to keep it? These questions answer themselves. There is no law in the country to hinder anybody from resting on Sunday if he wants to, and there are very strict laws to preserve to the people their liberty to rest undisturbed. Can the ministers keep the rest-day?—Certainly. It has never been claimed that their right to worship undisturbed has been interfered with. Can the people rest on the Sunday? They can if they want to. Then in what does the desired protection consist? Simply in forcing those to observe it who do not want to keep it. That is all. But this is an unchristian act, in that it is doing to others what the doers would protest against if tried upon them, and also in that it can result in nothing else but the manufacture of infidels. It will have this result in two ways. First, by disgusting people by such unchristian methods carried on under the name of Christianity, and second, by substituting a form of Christianity for real service to God.AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.2

    It is not simply desired to force unbelievers to keep the day so as not to disturb those who wish to keep it, but it is desired to prevent church-members from breaking the day, for the indictment charged against the Sunday newspaper is that it is a continual temptation thrown in the way of church-members, and leads them to neglect church duties. Again and again we have seen it stated in religious journals that the Sunday newspapers could not exist if it were not for the patronage of church-members. Therefore the desire about suppression of Sunday newspapers is that these weak-kneed professed Christians may not be tempted to belie their profession. In other words they ask the State to discipline their church-members. So that the protection they want is not to the Sunday, nor to the right of the people to observe the Sunday, but to the churches.AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.3

    Notice that Mr. Crafts says that while they want this Sunday law, they don’t desire to hinder those who observe another day from working on the first day of the week, unless the work be of such a nature, shop-keeping for instance, as will interfere with the general rest. But how will shop-keeping interfere with the general rest? A man may have a store and keep it open and not interfere with anyone, if he does not go out on the street and drag people into it. If he remains in his store, as reputable dealers usually do, and waits upon people who voluntarily come in to do business, he certainly does not interfere with anybody’s rest. The whole scheme of this Sunday legislation seems to be based on the idea that the people, church-members as well as others, are bent on doing as they please on Sunday, and that if any possible chance is given them to do business or seek pleasure they will run after it, and that to keep them to anything like an observance of Sunday, every possibility to break it must be taken out of the way, so that it will be impossible for them to do work or find amusements. What business has the State to say what kind of work a man may do upon a certain day? The statement that they do not intend to stop any work except that which will interfere with the general rest, is a mere blind to cover up their design to stop everything. For it is certain that if so quiet an occupation as shop-keeping will interfere with the general rest, there is nothing that will not be considered as interfering with it.AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.4

    Mr. Crafts further states that the wording of the Blair Sunday bill, as originally presented, showed that it was designed to promote the religious observance of the day, “but only by giving opportunity for the culture of conscience on the part of those who desired it through the general suspension of public business.” As much as to say that a man could not cultivate his conscience if somebody else were working. Mr. Crafts must be one of those unfortunate individuals who think that religion is a matter for Sunday only, for he doesn’t propose to hinder people from laboring six days in the week, yet he implies that a man can’t develop his conscience unless everybody stops working. The thing is absurd on the face of it. It simply shows an effort to try to find an excuse for an unjust, oppressive law; but the excuse is so thin that it only makes more apparent the weakness and injustice of the case.AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.5

    Again Mr. Crafts says:—AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.6

    “It was stated in the hearing of the chief promoter of the counter-petition four months and a half ago, at the time of the Washington Convention and hearing, that the word ‘promote’ in this connection would be changed to ‘protect,’ so that public worship so far as this bill is concerned, would simply have that protection which any legitimate institution of the American people is entitled to on that day.”AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.7

    We have no patience with any such quibbling as this. Mr. Crafts knows as well as anybody that public worship is already granted more protection than any other institution on any day of the week. There are the most severe laws against the disturbance of public religious assemblies. The bill had no reference to protection of public worship, and was not designed for any such purpose. We say this without any reservation, because if all the burden these men had were simply the protection of public worship, they would be content with the laws already existing. No one would ever think of petitioning Congress to pass a law making it a crime to commit murder, because there are abundant laws in every State concerning that. And so the fact that religious worship is already protected, abundantly shows that when Congress votes this law, they have something else in view entirely, that is not the protection of worship, but the enforcement of the religious observance of the day, just as the bill itself says.AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.8

    But Mr. Crafts continues:—AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.9

    “Those who are urging this counter-petition by voice and pen attempt to enlist yet others in their motley army, by declaring what is as ridiculous as it is false, that the Sabbath-rest movement is only a preparatory step to a further measure compelling everybody to attend church on the first day of the week.”AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.10

    It is true that the charge has been repeatedly made in the AMERICAN SENTINEL and elsewhere that the whole tendency of this movement is toward compulsory church attendance. These arguments have never been made and no attempt has been made to meet them. And now when Mr. Crafts notices the charge he simply says that it is ridiculous and false. But a simple statement like that does not meet the case at all. The AMERICAN SENTINEL has not made any statements concerning the motive of those who desire Sunday legislation, but has simply declared what this thing would inevitably lead to. If it had said that they deliberately intend to enforce church attendance, of could they say that they do not, and that would be sufficient; but when we charge upon their sentiment, that it will necessarily result in compulsory church attendance, they cannot turn aside the force of this charge by simply asserting that it is absurd. The duty devolves upon them to show wherein it is absurd.AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.11

    Now we will just make a very brief argument that has before been made in support of this charge, and then will ask Mr. Crafts to show its absurdity. We take first the statement made by Mr. Crafts himself at the first hearing before the Senate Committee. He said:—AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.12

    “The postmaster-general agrees with me, and stated this morning, that it should not be possible for any post-master in this country to run the United States post-office as a rival and competitor and antagonist of the churches. The law allows the post-office to be kept open during the church hours unless the first mail of the day comes during those hours. If it comes five minutes or before the church service begins, the post-office can be run and is run in many cases all through church hours, as the rival and competitor and antagonist of the churches.” “A law forbidding the opening of the United States post-office during the usual hours of public worship would remedy this difficulty, and would be better than nothing; but we desire more than this. The law should also take from the local post-master the power to keep his employes at work at such hours as would prevent them from going to church.”AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.13

    The idea of this is that the keeping open of the post-offices on Sunday prevents employes from going to church. Now suppose that the law is secured, and the post-offices are closed, and the clerks do not then attend church. It will be seen then that the reason why people work on Sunday instead of going to church is because they would rather do so. The Sunday-law people understand this just as well as we do, but that does not satisfy them. The churches must be attended. Now we submit as a reasonable proposition that if the post-offices are closed for the sole purpose of getting the employes to church, and that move does not succeed in getting them to church, then the next step will be to try some other method, and if that fails to try still another, until they have a simple, direct law requiring everyone unconditionally to attend church on Sunday. Then they will have just what Mr. Crafts at the Washington Convention said they desired to have,—“the ideal Sabbath of the Puritans.”AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.14

    Again, the Rev. Henry Wilson, at the Elgin Convention, said plainly, while arguing for the Sunday law, “The industries of the world should be silent one day in seven that the toiler may hear the invitation of the Master, Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest, and that the temple of God may be built without the sound of the hammer.” It is a simple statement that all they want the Sunday law for is that people may go to church. They want the people to hear their version of the invitation of the Master invitation of the Master; but suppose the toiler does not care to hear that invitation, even when he is forcibly compelled to desist from labor. Why, then, they will necessarily take steps to compel him to listen.AMS July 17, 1889, page 194.15

    In the same line was the complaint made by Dr. M. C. Briggs, in a Sunday-law meeting held in Oakland a few years ago. He said in sub-stance, “You relegate the teaching of morals to the churches, and then make it impossible for us to teach the people, by allowing them to go where they please.”AMS July 17, 1889, page 195.1

    Now, if Mr. Crafts thinks that the charge that the Sunday-law movement will result in compelling people to attend church is absurd and false, we will give him space in the AMERICAN SENTINEL to show it.AMS July 17, 1889, page 195.2

    One more point we will notice, and then we will leave Mr. Crafts for the present. He says:—AMS July 17, 1889, page 195.3

    “The laws of our statute books that re-enact the seventh commandment are as distinctly Biblical in their origin as the laws that re-enact a part of the fourth commandment.”AMS July 17, 1889, page 195.4

    We would ask what the necessity is for the reenactment of either the seventh or the fourth commandment. Nay, what possibility is there for the re-enacting of either of these commandments, or for any other commandment of the Decalogue? Those commandments never have been abrogated. They stand as firm as when first given by the Almighty. Therefore there is no necessity for their re-enactment, and certainly it would be the height of presumption for any body of men to presume to re-enact laws given by the Creator. To assume that the State can do such work is to place it not only equal with God, but above God; and this assumption on the part of Mr. Crafts shows the work in which he is engaged to be papal in its character. Not only so, but it shows that Mr. Crafts and those who are laboring with him to the same end have no understanding of the commandments, or they would not make so ridiculous an assumption as that the State can either enact or re-enact them.AMS July 17, 1889, page 195.5

    Still further, such a statement shows that those who make it are preparing to sink not only themselves but the whole people into the grossest immorality under the garb of Christianity. And here is the proof. The State can enforce only outward obedience to the commandments; but simply outward obedience to the commandments is no obedience at all. A man may be the grossest libertine, and still not commit any violation of the seventh commandment of which the State could take any notice. Yet, Mr. Crafts says that the laws of the State do re-enact the seventh and fourth commandments. This shows then, so great a misunderstanding of the commandments as to suppose that they require only such service as the State can enforce. Therefore, since the law of God is the standard of morality, those who hold with Mr. Crafts that the State can “re-enact” and enforce that law, will consider themselves moral if they comply with as much of that law as the State can enforce, that is, if they simply observe it outwardly. In other words, they will be in the very same condition as were the scribes and Pharisees, of whom Christ says, “Ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also appear outwardly righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and inquity.” If this charge is a severe one, the responsibility of it rests with Mr. Crafts and his fellows, and not with us.AMS July 17, 1889, page 195.6

    E. J. W.

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