The Union of Church and State in the United States



It may be replied by some that there is not here any ecclesiastical organization such as that one back there to draw from this such results as were drawn from that. This would not answer the question, even though it were true. But the fact is that there does exist here a most powerful ecclesiastical combination and organization which in its aims is identical with that one back there. Its leaders and managers have the same anxiety as had those “to assert the government as a kind of sovereignty for themselves.” And it is the longing hope of every one of them to make politics a branch of theology in order more quickly to satisfy their ambition to assert the government as a kind of sovereignty for themselves. And this Supreme Court decision gives them precisely, in very word, the opening which they have all anxiously longed for and earnestly worked for all the way from four to twenty-nine years; so that the situation here now, under this decision, is identical in every way with the situation there at the issuing of the Edict of Milan, with the exception only of the difference in the governments, that being an absolute monarchy, and this a republic, but this difference is immaterial to the main issue. UCS 44.1

This organization, in its leading and oldest form, is known as the National Reform Association. It was or- ganized in 1863, for the sole purpose of securing such an amendment to the national Constitution as should declare this to be “a Christian nation,” and so justify the enforcement of “Christian laws, institutions, and usages,” and “Christian morality upon all.” And the chief of all the laws, institutions, or usages, and the supreme test of the “Christian morality” which it seeks to enforce, is the observance of Sunday as the “Christian Sabbath.” It has succeeded in drawing into close and practical alliance with itself, in order as they have arisen the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the Third Party Prohibition party, and the American Sabbath Union; and in 1889, through the American Sabbath Union, it succeeded in forming a coalition with the Catholic Church itself, as a material aid to its soaring ambition. This organization has greeted the Supreme Court decision with joyful acclaim. The decision justifies and establishes in completest measure just what this ecclesiastical combination has been working for so long. We shall present here a few short statements from this combination, which will show how they view this matter. In the Christian Statesman of June 25, 1892, one of the long-standing secretaries of the association said:— UCS 44.2

“Is not this the time to remember that the United States
Supreme Court has officially declared [in a document that reads as if largely gathered from the National Reform Manual] that this is a Christian nation?
UCS 45.1

The Pearl of Days, the official organ of the American Sabbath Union, May 7, 1892, says that this decision— UCS 45.2

“Establishes clearly the fact that our government is Christian. This decision is vital to the Sunday question in all its aspects, and places that question among the most important issues now before the American people.... And this important decision rests upon the fundamental principle that religion is imbedded in the organic structure of the American Government—a religion that recognize and is bound to maintain, Sunday as a day for rest and worship.” UCS 45.3

The Christian Statesman has always been the official organ of the National Reform Association, and is now the mouthpiece of the whole combination. In the issue of May 21, 1892, this paper says:— UCS 46.1

“‘Christianity is the law of the land.’ ‘This is a Christian nation.’—U. S. Supreme Court, February 29, 1892. The Christian church, therefore, has rights in this country. Among these is the right to one day in seven protected from the assaults of greed, the god of this world, that it may be devoted to worship of the God of heaven and earth.” UCS 46.2

And one of the very first uses that was ever made of the decision was when, in the month of April, 1892, the president of the American Sabbath Union took it in his hand and went before committees of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, recited its “argument” and demanded the closing of the World’s Fair on Sunday, by Congress, “because this is a Christian nation.” UCS 46.3

And now in preparation for Thanksgiving day, the Christian Statesman of November 19, 1892, comes out with the following, which tells the whole of that part of the story. We print it just as it there appears, titles and all. UCS 46.4






[Department edited by Wm. Wier, Washington, Pa., District Secretary of the
National Reform Association.]


“‘This is a Christian nation.’ That means christian government, Christian laws, Christian institutions, Christian practices, Christian citizenship. And this is not an outburst of popular passion or prejudice. Christ did not lay his guiding hand there, but upon the calm, dispassionate supreme judicial tribunal of our government. It is the weightiest, the noblest, the most tremendously far-reaching in its consequences of all the utterances of that sovereign tribunal. And that utterance is for Christianity, for Christ. ‘A Christian nation!’ Then this nation is Christ’s nation, for nothing can be Christian that does not belong to him. Then his word is its sovereign law. Then the nation is Christ’s servant. Then it ought to, and must, confess, love, and obey Christ. All that the National Reform Association seeks, all that this department of Christian politics works for, is to be found in the development of that royal truth, ‘This is a Christian nation.’ It is the hand of the second of our three great departments of national government throwing open a door of our national house, one that leads straight to the throne of Christ. UCS 46.5

“Was there ever a Thanksgiving day before that called us to bless our God for such marvelous advances of our government and citizenship toward Christ? UCS 47.1

“‘O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory. Sing unto the Lord with the harp and the voice of a psalm.” UCS 47.2


Now can anyone suppose for a moment that this ambitious combination will let slip a single opportunity to take advantage of all that this decision grants, in principle and in substance, when it grants all that they ever asked? If anyone is inclined to think so, let him bear in mind the fact that the “petitions” which this combination so persistently sent to Congress for Sunday closing of the World’s Fair have been so laden with threats of political and other punishments that even United States senator, have been obliged, publicly and on the floor of the Senate, to resent it. If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry? UCS 47.3

Of course, just as soon as they get fairly started, controversies and disputes will arise by which there will be forced in some way, by election, by legislation, or by judicial fiat, a decision as to what particular phase of the Christian religion, or of Protestantism, shall be the national religion. “Old controversies which have apparently been hushed for a long time will be revived, and new controversies will spring up; new and old will commingle, and this will take place right early.” And, as a matter of fact, the door is already wide open for this very thing, if the first steps have not actually been taken in the doing of it. This phase of the matter stands thus: In the first year of President Cleveland’s first administration, 1885, his Commissioner of Indian Affairs announced that “the government should be liberal in making contracts with religious denominations to teach Indian children in schools established by those denominations. It should throw open the door and say to all denominations: ‘There should be no monopoly of good works. Enter all of you, and do whatever your hands find of good work to do, and in your efforts the government will give you encouragement out of its liberal purse.’” The door was accordingly thrown open by the administration, and in walked the Catholic Church and fifteen denominations of professed Protestants, who all received “encouragement” at the following rate: For 1886, $118,343 to the Catholics alone, and $109,916 to all the others together. Throughout President Cleveland’s administration this “encouragement” was kept up and steadily increased each year, until it stood for 1889, $356,967 to the Catholic Church alone, and $204,993 to all the others together. UCS 48.1

Then President Harrison came in, with General Thomas J. Morgan as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and proposed to put a stop to this whole system of things, and let the churches support their own church schools, and teach their church doctrines at their own expense. Yet Mr. Harrison’s administration was obliged to confess openly in the U. S. Senate, by Senator Dawes, that “it found it impossible to do that.” As it was found “impossible” to stop it altogether, they proposed to do the next best thing and allow no increase of appropriations to any of the churches. Accordingly, in the annual estimates no recommendation was made beyond what had been taken the previous year, and which it was found impossible to stop. With this the “Protestant” denominations seemed to be satisfied. But the Catholic Church simply ignored the administration, and went direct to the Houses of Congress and got all the increase that she then wanted—four additional schools adopted with an aggregate of $44,000 of “encouragement,” making $400,967 in all for the year 1890. UCS 48.2

When the “Protestant” denominations found that the Catholic Church was getting increased “encouragement” when they could get no increase, they raised a cry of “raid upon the public treasury,” and “perversion of public money to sew Arian uses!” Their cry of “stop thief” amounted to nothing, however. The Catholic Church proudly walked off with her $44,000 clear in additional “encouragement.” Through the whole of Harrison’s administration these “Protestants” have kept up their cry of “stop thief,” and, with the administration against the whole of it, they were so successful as to reduce the appropriations to themselves by the amount of $48,647 in the four years, and to the Catholic Church by $31,432 in the same time. So that for the year 1892 the “encouragement” stands, $156,346 to all the “Protestant” denominations, and $369,535 to the Catholic Church. UCS 49.1

This is not all, however. And in the rest of the story lies the increased peril, and the key of the situation as it exists at the close of 1892. The sequel, so far, is this: From the day that President Harrison announced the name of General Morgan as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the Catholic Church has kept up a continual warfare upon Mr. Morgan; and as Mr. Morgan was still retained in his place, this warfare was thus indirectly against the administration. But as she could not accomplish her purposes against Harrison’s administration, and as the presidential campaign came on with Mr. Cleveland, who had opened to her the public treasury, as the opposing candidate, she threw her influence in favor of Cleveland for President. The following editorial of the New York Independent, September 1, 1892, states the facts as to this phase of the subject:— UCS 50.1