Appeal from the U. S. Supreme Court Decision Making this “A Christian Nation”



[Department edited by Wm. Weir, 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. AUSSC 41.1

“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? AUSSC 41.2

“‘O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm bath gotten him the victory. Sing unto the Lord with the harp and the voice of a psalm.’ AUSSC 41.3


Now can any one 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 any one 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 senators 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? AUSSC 41.4

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. AUSSC 42.1

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. AUSSC 43.1

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 sectarian 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. AUSSC 43.2

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, threw her influence in favor of Cleveland for President. The following editorial of the New York Independent, Sept. 1, 1892, states the facts as to this phase of the subject:— AUSSC 44.1