Undermining our foundation
Althoughnot named for now and over a hundred years old this man wrote of todays events as if he were here. We can only revel in his wise observations of so long ago. Will we fail to head warnings of so many ohers like him?? Time has come!
Attacking the Foundations
The organized movement, now in full progress in America, which has for its object the control of the minds and consciences of men, is the sufficient excuse for the appearance of this monograph. For years the writer has followed the course and studied the aims of certain American organizations whose primal object is the control of religion and religious practices by human law. With much interest and concern, he has watched their progress toward a point of coalescence under common leadership. Realizing the rapid growth of their numbers, the coalescence of organizations, and the growing tendency on the part of politicians to legislate in harmony with organized demands rather than in harmony with broad principles of equitable government, he has become fully convinced that the success of that movement means abandonment of the principles that have made America great and stable and a beacon to the world. .
God created the mind to be free. He has never conferred upon any one the right to imprison it. Human enactments which circumscribe conscience subject the soul to a thraldom more humiliating and more ruinous than any the body has ever endured. Where conscience is fettered, there is no freedom worthy of the name. It took many generations for men to learn that he who prescribes laws to hamper or to crush the consciences of men makes a slave of himself and of his posterity as well as of those against whom such laws are aimed. He only is free whose mind and conscience are unfettered. He is the greatest of slaves who must think and believe and worship only as human direct.
Religious Liberty in America
Law is good; but there is a domain into which human law has not been commissioned to enter——the domain of the soul. There is an allegiance which the state has a right to claim; but there is another allegiance which only the Creator himself can of right demand. When the state enters that domain and demands that allegiance to itself, it usurps the prerogative of God.
The state is within its legitimate sphere when it deals with the temporal affairs of men. The church is within its legitimate sphere when it deals with the spiritual affairs of men, and even that not as a lord over men's consciences. When either of these organizations enters the domain of the other, there is discord, contention, bloodshed. When each conducts its operations within its own legitimate jurisdiction, there is peace, harmony, and prosperity, both temporal and spiritual.
The American government was established upon the principle of the complete separation of church and state, leaving each free to operate in its own appointed sphere, in full recognition of the principle that the interests of religion are best conserved when they are least entangled with the affairs of the state, and that the interests of the state are best conserved when it has the least to do with religion and the affairs of the church.
Our fathers bequeathed to us a glorious heritage,——the right of every man to think and to believe and to worship as he should choose. Freedom from the control of the nation across the sea was not the greatest of the liberties achieved in the founding of the American Republic. Without freedom in religious concernments, men are robbed of the capacity to enjoy any freedom, and all liberty is robbed of its significance. The mind that is free is the mind that achieves, that builds, that grows, that overcomes difficulties, driving through the darkness of ignorance and superstition a shaft of light by which benighted men may see their way up to the mount of God. That light has been shining in the New World from the day the American nation was founded; and the nation has, in consequence, grown in power and influence. Its citizens have accomplished marvelous undertakings, and the genius of the Old World has been rekindled by the fire lighted in the New. History furnishes no parallel to the growth of this country in all that goes to make a nation great. This progress has not been a work of chance. This growth has been the direct result of the seed sown. Our fathers sowed wisely, and the growth has come to true the sowing. The nation''s founders built well, and the structure has become the admiration of the world.
It was one hundred and fifty-six years from the landing of the Pilgrims to the Declaration of Independence; and what was achieved in that long span of years?——Little. Their brightest minds and greatest souls groaned under the chains of a spiritual tyranny forged for them by the state church.
It is now [two hundred and twenty-five years] since the signing of Declaration of Independence: and what has been accomplished? Rather, what has not been accomplished? The very flood-gates of knowledge and progress were opened with the adoption of that Constitution which guaranteed to all men equality before the law, and recognized the realm of conscience as outside the jurisdiction of the state. That was the secret spring, so long hidden, which, touched by the finger of Destiny, has placed before the world a nation unsurpassed by any, and helping in the progress of all. That Constitution struck the shackles from the mind and conscience, and we are today viewing the result of that mighty emancipation. As already indicated, that act has not been confined in its effects to the United States of America. The anvil sparks from that smiting have set the world on fire, and the people of every land are crying for liberty——and getting it, little by little.
But there has been and still in this country a powerful influence for retrogression. There is an element in the religious world which considers itself robbed of its prerogatives so long as it is unable to dictate to men in spiritual things, and enforce compliance with its decrees under threat of pains and penalties. That element is not confined to the organization which held the consciences of men in the grip of tyranny through the dark ages. It has grown up, like the night-sown tares of the Bible, among the good plants of the better sowing. It is at the hands of a federation of these influential forces that our priceless heritage of liberty is threatened. In the year 1863 that force took definite form and shaped its purpose. Its allies have increased to prodigious proportions, and at the present time the halls of legislation are echoing with their insistent demands. [As it was then, so it is now, though more portentously]
This persistent, aggressive force has set itself the task of removing the very foundations of our national structure, and building upon its ruins another edifice dedicated to the union of the sacred and the secular, making the consciences and the faith of men the football of religious or political majorities. It has set for itself the task of refurbishing the tyrannical fetters of past ages, that with them it may shackle the mental and spiritual activities of our age.
The danger is none the less because these powerful forces do not openly ask for the union of church and state. Rather, the danger is greater because they deny the desire for such a union, while they industriously continue the effort to accomplish it. So long have we enjoyed the fruit of religious liberty that we have forgotten to guard and nourish the tree which bore it. Americans are studying many questions, are absorbed in many undertakings; but while we pluck the ripen fruit, we have been unmindful of the worm that is cutting away at the root of the tree.
This is the question which we ask the reader to consider; this is the danger which is looming large in the pathway of our spiritual and material progress. The value which we place upon the country''s heritage of liberty will be judged by the interest we take in defending the principles and institutions bequeathed to us by the founders of this government, and to which the nation is indebted for all that has made it worthy the attention of the world. The situation is not an imaginary one. The danger is very real, and the forces of retrogression are sedulously mobilizing for the attack. Let us, therefore, enter with singleness of purpose into the study of the principles involved, that we may better able to cope with the enemies of true liberty, and, if possible, cause even these to see the value of the heritage bequeathed to them and to us, in the immortal document that speaks a great nation''s purpose. C.M.S.
address: c/o near Onoway, Alberta, Canada
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