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people to be of no account in the settlement of public affairs. We have votes, and they will count on whichever side we cast them; and we cannot reasonably be expected to cast them on the side of any party that is seeking to use its power as a political party to suppress our church and our religion, or even to destroy our federative system of
government, and to leave all minorities at the mercy of the irresponsible majority for the time, with no other limit to its power than it sees proper to impose on itself; for we love liberty, and our church teaches us to be loyal to the constitution of our country.
The wisest course, since there are different religious denominations in the country, is to accept the situation, to recognize the fact, acquiesce in it, and make the best of it. Any attempt to unmake, by the direct or indirect authority of the state, Catholics of their faith or any denomination of its belief, is sure to fail. Each denomination is free to use Scripture and reason, logic and tradition, all moral and intellectual weapons, against its rivals, and with that it should be contented. Whatever may be the rightful claims of the church in the theological order, she is contented with the civil protection of her equal rights in the political order. She asks—with the wealth, the fashion, the public opinion, the press, nine-tenths of the population of the country, and the seductions of the world against her-only “an open field and fair play.” If she does not complain, her enemies ought to be satisfied with the advantages they have.
We have entered our protest against a party programme which threatens alike the genius of the American government and the freedom of religion, for so much was obviously our duty, both as Catholics and citizens. We are aware of the odds against us, but we have confidence in our countrymen that, though they may be momentarily deceived or misled, they will, when the real character of the programme we have exposed is once laid open to them, reject it with scorn and indignation, and hasten to do us justice.
THE SECULAR NOT SUPREME.*
[From the Catholic World for August, 1871.]
Dr. Bellows is the well-known pastor of All Souls' Church, and editor of the Liberal Christian in this city, a distinguished Unitarian minister, with some religious instincts and respectable literary pretensions. As a student in college and the Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was full of promise, and a great favorite of the late Edward Everett, himself originally a Unitarian minister and pastor of Brattle Street Church, Boston. E. P. Hurlbut was formerly one of the judges of the supreme court of this state, a lawyer by profession, with a passably clear head and a logical mind, who knows, if not the truth, at least what he means, and neither fears nor hesitates to say it. His pamphlet, as far as it goes, expresses, we doubt not, his honest thought, but his thought is the thought of a secularist, who admits no order above the secular, and holds that no religion not subordinate to and under the control of the civil power, should be tolerated. Both he and Dr. Bellows are from instinct and education hearty haters of the Catholic Church ; but while he is content to war against her from the point of view of pure secularism or no-religion, that is, atheism, the reverend doctor seeks to clothe his hatred in a Christian garb and to war against Christ in the name of Christ.
Dr. Bellows, as a liberal Christian, and though a Protestant hardly allowed by his more rigid Protestant countrymen to bear the Christian name, has a double battle to fight: one, against the Evangelical movement, at the head of which is Mr. Justice Strong, of the supreme court, to amend the constitution of the United States so as to make orthodox Protestantism the official religion of the republic, which would exclude him and his Unitarian, Universalist, and Quaker brethren; and the other, against the admission of the equal rights of Catholics with Protestants before the American state. Catholics greatly trouble him, and he hardly knows what to do with them. According to the letter of the constitution of the Union and of the several states, unless New Hampshire be an exception, they are American citizens, standing in all respects on a footing of perfect equality with any other class of citizens, and have as much right to take part in public affairs, and to seek to manage them in the interests of their religion, as Protestants have to take part in them in the interests of Protestantism; but this is very wrong, and against the spirit of the constitution; for the nation is a Protestant nation, the country was originally settled by and belongs to Protestantism, and Catholics ought to understand that they are really here only by sufferance, that they do not in reality stand in relation to public questions on a footing of equality with Protestants, and have really no right to exert any influence in regard to the public policy of the country not in accordance with the convictions of the Protestant majority. He tells us, in the discourse before us and more distinctly still in the columns of the Liberal Christian, not to aspire as citizens to equality with Protestants as if we had as much right to the government as they have, and warns us that if we do we shall be resisted even unto blood.
*1. Church and State in America. A Discourse given at Washington, D. C., January 25, 1871. By Rev. Henry W. Bellows, D. D. Washington: 1871.
2. A ecular View of Religion in the State, and of the Bible in the Public Schools. By E. P. Hurlbut. Albany: 1870.
The occasion of his outpouring of wrath against Catholics is that they have protested against being taxed for the support of a system of sectarian or godless schools, to which they are forbidden in conscience to send their children, and have demanded as their right either that the tax be remitted, or that their proportion of the public schools be set off to them, to be, as to education and discipline, under Catholic control. Dr. Bellows allows that the Catholic demand is just, and that by making it a question at the polls they may finally obtain it; but this is not to his mind, for it would defeat the pet scheme of Protestants for preventing the growth of Catholicity in the country, by detaching, through the influence of the public schools, their children from the faith of their parents. Yet as long as any religion, even the reading of the Bible, is insisted on in the public schools, what solid argument can be urged against the demand of Catholics, or what is to prevent Catholic citizens from making it a political question and withholding their votes from the party that refuses to respect their rights of conscience and to do them justice ? Dr. Bellows says that we cannot legally be prevented from doing so, but, if we do so, it will be the worse for us; for if we carry our religion to the polls the Protestant people will, as they should, rise up against us and overwhelm us by their immense majority, perhaps even exterminate us.
To prevent the possibility of collision, the reverend doctor proposes a complete divorce of church and state. He proposes to defeat the Evangelicals on the one hand, and the Catholics on the other, by separating totally religion and politics. Thus he says:
“It is the vast importance of keeping the political and the religious movements and action of the people apart, and in their own independent spheres, that makes wise citizens, alike on religious and on civil grounds, look with alarm and jealousy on any endeavors, on the part either of Protestants or Catholics, to secure any special attention or support, any partial or separate legislation or subsidies, from either the national or the state governments. I have already told you that Protestants, representing the great sects in this country, are now laboring, by movable conventions, to mould public opinion in a way to give finally a theological character to the constitution. In a much more pardonable spirit, because in accordance with their historical antecedents, their hereditary temper, and their ecclesiastical logic, the Roman Catholics in this country are, in many states, and every great city of the Union, using the tremendous power they possess as the make-weight of parties, to turn the public treasure in a strong current into their own channels, and thus secure an illegitimate support as a religious body. It is not too much to guess that more than half of the ecclesiastical wealth of the Roman Catholic Church in America, against the wishes and convictions of a Protestant country, has been voted to it in lands and grants by municipalities and legislatures trading for Irish votes. The Catholic Church thus has a factitious prosperity and progress. It is largely sustained by Protestants—not on grounds of charity and toleration, or from a sense of its risefulness (that were well privately done), but from low and unworthy political motives in both the great parties of the country. Now that Roman Catholics themselves should take advantage of their solidarity as a people and a church, and of the power of their priesthood, with all uninformed and some enlightened communicants, to turn the political will into a machine for grinding their ecclesiastical grist, is not unnatural, nor wholly unpardonable. But it is fearfully dangerous to them and to us. Their success—due to the sense of the Protestant strength which thinks it can afford to blink their machinations, or to the preoccupation of the public mind with the emulative business pursuits of the time, or to the confidence which the American people seem to feel in the final and secure divorce of church and state-their unchecked success en. courages them to bolder and more bold demands, and accustoms the
people to more careless and more perilous acquiescence in their claims. The principle of authority in religion, which has so many temperament. al adherents in all countries; the inherent love of pomp and show in worship, strongest in the least educated; a natural weariness of sectarian divisions, commonest among lazy thinkers and stupid consciences-all these play into the hands of the Romanists, and they are making hay while the sun shines.
* There are no reviews, no newspapers in this country, so bold and unqualified; none so unscrupulous and so intensely zealous and partisan; none so fearless and outspoken as the Catholic journals. They profess to despise Protestant opposition; they deride the feeble tactics of other Christian sects; they are more ultramontane, more Roman, more papal, than French, German, Austrian, Bavarian, Italian believers; they avow their purpose to make this a Roman Catholic country, and they hope to live on the Protestant enemy while they are converting him. They often put their religious faith above their political obligation, and, as bishops and priests, make it a duty to the church for their members to vote as Catholics rather than as American citizens. Not what favors the peace, prosperity, and union of the nation, but what favors their church, is the supreme question for them at every election ; and American politicians, for their predatory purposes, have taught them this, and are their leaders in it.
“Now, as an American citizen, I say nothing against the equality of the rights of the Roman Catholics and the Protestants; both may law. fully strive, in their unpolitical spheres, for the mastery, and the law may not favor or disfavor either; nor can any thing be done to prevent Roman Catholics from using their votes as Roman Catholics, if they please. It is against the spirit, but not against the letter of the constitution. At any rate, it cannot be helped; only, it may compel Protestants to form parties and vote as Protestants against Roman Catholic interests, which would be a deplorable necessity, and lead, sooner or later, through religious parties in politics, to religious wars. The way to avoid such a horrible possibility—alas, such a threatening probability for the next generation-is at once to look with the utmost carefulness and the utmost disfavor upon every effort on the part of either Protestants or Catholics to mix up sectarian or theological or religious questions with national and state and city politics.
“Every appeal of a sect, a denominational church, or sectarian charity of any description, to the general government, or state or city governments, for subsidies or favors, should be at once discountenanced and forbidden by public opinion, and made impossible by positive statute. The Protestant sects in this country should hasten to remove from their record any advantages whatsoever guarantied to them by civil law to any partiality or sectarian distinction. The most important privilege they enjoy by law in most of the states is the right of keeping the Bible in the public schools. It is a privilege associated with the tenderest and