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



“Our statement two weeks ago that there was a still hunt in progress among Catholics designed to prejudice the present administration with voters, is denied with some warmth by the Catholic Standard, Archbishop Ryan’s organ. It calls our statement ‘a slander,’ and says that the document to which we refer as being circulated secretly has never reached the office of the Catholic Standard. That may be. And yet it has reached this office; and that it is exactly what we said it was, and that it was designed to be circulated secretly, the document itself clearly shows. It is a pamphlet of thirty-two pages, from the press of Gedney & Roberts Company, Washington. It is signed by J. A. Stephan, Director, and is addressed to the Rt. Rev. M. Marty, ‘President of the Board of Catholic Indian Missions.’ AUSSC 45.4

“Though made in the form of a report to the president of the Bureau, the document is a bitter arraignment of the administration of President Harrison, Secretary Noble, and Commissioner Morgan. It refers to the ‘bigoted Commissioner,’ and to the ‘not much less bigoted President.’ The Commissioner is also charged with falsehood; and the old accusations, which were promptly met and refuted at the time, are repeated, and all is written for secret circulation.” AUSSC 45.5

The effect of setting the two great national parties against each other as the respective champions of the two great religions of the country, which the Independent suggested and feared, was not realized in this campaign, doubtless by reason of the secrecy of this “still hunt” document, and also for the very good reason that the chief campaign managers of the two great parties—Harrity for the Democratic party, and Carter for the Republican—were both Roman Catholics. But Mr. Cleveland was elected. He who was the candidate whom the Catholic Church favored, and who established the system of things which caused that church to antagonize Harrison—he was elected, and has already, since his election, banqueted “in private” with the Catholic archbishops of the United States, the Cardinal, and the papal representative, at the time of their late official assembly. AUSSC 45.6

Now, on the other side, the Methodists in General Conference, May, 1892, decided to accept no more public appropriations for their Indian schools. The Methodists were followed in this move by the Episcopalians in their late General Assembly at Baltimore. Such Baptists as had been receiving this money have done likewise; and leading ministers of the Presbyterian Church have been laboring hard to get that body also to follow the example of the Methodists and others, and if they have not taken official action to refuse the appropriations, they may be persuaded to do so at the next General Assembly. When these great Protestant bodies all thus repudiate the system, it is hardly to be doubted that the smaller will do the same thing. But will the Catholic Church repudiate it? Will she refuse to receive such appropriations?—Never. AUSSC 46.1

Well, then, when the Protestant bodies all repudiate it, and the Catholic Church stands alone in taking public money for church uses, it is inevitable that the Protestant bodies will make a unanimous demand that public appropriations to the Catholic Church shall cease. Then the Catholic Church can reply to all this with the argument made ready for her in this decision, to this effect: “The Supreme Court of the United States has unanimously declared that ‘this is a Christian nation.’ As the starting point and leading proof of this, the court has cited ‘the commission to Christopher Columbus,’ prior to his sail westward, from ‘Ferdinand and Isabella, by the grace of God, King and Queen of Castile,’ etc., recites that ‘it is hoped by God’s assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered.’ Now the religion intended to be propagated by Ferdinand and Isabella was the Catholic religion. The religion which Columbus revered and which he hoped to be the instrument of spreading abroad, was the Catholic religion, and that alone. Therefore, as this royal document is adduced as evidence that this is a ‘religious people’ and a Christian nation; as the only religion contemplated or considered in connection with the document or its purposes was the Catholic religion; as all but Catholics are heretics and not Christians; it follows that the religion of this nation is the Catholic religion, and that this is a Catholic Christian nation. It is therefore perfectly proper and right that the Catholic Church should be supported, and the Catholic religion propagated, under national authority and from the national funds.” AUSSC 46.2

This is the argument which the Catholic Church can use at such a time, and the Protestants cannot deny that it is strictly logical throughout. The only thing that they can do is to produce as an offset the argument that the Supreme Court in the same decision goes on to cite other historical documents which contemplate and even name the Protestant religion; and, therefore, it is the Protestant, and not the Catholic, religion that is the religion of the nation. 1 Thus the question, What is the Christian religion? “would be raised, the controversy would be opened, the contest would be begun. AUSSC 47.1

Now we do not say that this is the way in which this course of things must end. We do not say that this is the way in which this great contest and controversy must be brought about, nor that this is the way in which it will be brought about. We only point to the situation as it exists to-day, and say that clearly this is a way in which it can be brought about; that herein lies strong probability that this is the way in which it may be brought about; and that, because of this, the situation demands careful consideration on the part of the people. But come about, this controversy and this contest certainly will. And when they do, then, with national prestige and political as well as ecclesiastical power and preferment, the prizes to be contended for, all the bitterness and intensity of the old controversies will be revived and manifested; and even these will be intensified. Commotion, strife, violence, persecution, and all the evil accompaniments of an established religion, will afflict and even ruin the nation, even as that former thing afflicted and finally ruined the Roman empire. AUSSC 48.1

This is why Jefferson, Madison, and their wide-awake associates in Virginia, so strongly and persistently opposed the movement to establish “the Christian religion” in that State. This is why they pertinently and forcibly inquired, “Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects?” This is why they denounced that bill as “a signal of persecution,” as “differing from the Inquisition only in degree,” and as “the first step in the career of intolerance,” in which the Inquisition is “the last step.” This was all true, every word of it. But if this was true of only an attempt to establish the Christian religion, how much more is it true of this decision, which actually establishes the Christian religion as the national religion, and upon “proofs” and “authorities” presented, positively declares that “this is a Christian nation.” AUSSC 48.2

Those noble men, then, “saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle.” It is certainly true now, as it was then, that all the consequences are in the principle. And as the principle stands established and justified by the supreme judicial authority in the government, so in that all the consequences are established and justified. In short, as certainly as in the Edict of Milan there was wrapped up the papacy, just so certainly in this Supreme Court decision there is wrapped up the image of the papacy. And as truly as the issuing of the Edict of Milan was in principle and in embryo the making of the papacy—the beast—so truly this decision is in principle and in embryo the making of the image of the papacy—the image of the beast. Both are described in their career and in their end in Revelation 13:1-17; 14:9-16; and 19:11-21. AUSSC 49.1

It is too late now to avoid the consequences by denying the principle, as the principle is already established, and all the consequences are in the principle; too late, unless the whole people should rise up as one man, and with one voice reject and denounce this decision, as it deserves, in the words in which United States Senator William Pitt Fessenden denounced the famous Dred Scott decision as “utterly at variance with all truth, utterly destitute of all legal logic, founded on error, and unsupported by anything resembling argument.“—Blaine’sTwenty Years of Congress,” vol. 1, p. 133. AUSSC 49.2

There is no hope of this, however, because the great mass of the people have been for years refusing, and still refuse, to believe that any mischief can ever come to this country from any such principles, while the ecclesiastical combination which for years has been working to secure the very thing which the decision has now given them, will but re-double their energies in the use of the ascendency which they now hold by the fiat of the supreme judicial authority of the nation. For these reasons, we repeat, it is too late to avoid the consequences by denying the principle, for the principle stands already established, and all the consequences are in the principle. And the ecclesiastical organization which has so long been anxious to assert the government as a kind of sovereignty for themselves, will not fail to draw, or even force, from the principle all the consequences that are in it. AUSSC 49.3