Biblical Numerology: NUMBER THREE- Part XLIV

 Puritanizing America:  How the Image was almost formed

 QUOTE FOR THIS ISSUE: “When religion is good, it will take care of itself; when it is not able to take care of itself, and God does not see fit to take care of it, so that it has to appeal to the civil power for support, it is evidence to my mind that its cause is a bad one .” – Benjamin Franklin, sage of the Continental Congress, inLetter to Dr. Price.

Primary Source: “The Church in Politics” by Charles S. Longacre, then General Secretary, Religious Liberty Association; and editor of Liberty, a magazine of religious freedom, published at Washington, D.C., Review & Herald Publishing Association. Cited below are extracts from this vital booklet published in 1927 and widely circulated, and others like it before and after, that clearly identifies the “burning issue” agitating the nation back in 1888.

No, it wasn’t an economic collapse of epic proportions or the “big earthquake” long anticipated that will allegedly cripple the whole of Los Angeles with the fires, chaos, and anarchy following or a deadly drug war like that bedeviling Mexico and other Latin-American countries shifting to American neighborhoods or a mysterious spate of serial killers striking all at the same time in all major cities, or a super-deadly virus spreading overnight in pandemic proportions, feared to be bio warfare to which no cure was available then or a nation-wide disabling of its power grid or an imminent invasion from perceived national enemies, or even a direct hit from a meteor from outer space the size of New York City—but a religio-political crisis—an equivalent Christian sharia law spawned by misguided righteousness based on the egregious error of restoring an Old Testament theocracy in a New Testament setting—another apostasy of the last days.

The outstanding features of that historic, thankfully aborted crisis, presages “the coming final storm, relentless in its fury.” To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Know what signs to look out for, particularly anyproposed bills amending the First Amendment. For, when such are passed, “the final events will be rapid ones.” Now this:

     “A Burning Issue. America is facing a real crisis. Strong lobbies, representing more than twenty religious denominations, having established at Washington D.C, whose special work is to influence in the supposed interests of Christianity, all the activities of the Government. Especially have persistent efforts been put forth during the last decade  not only to establish in the nation, but also to revive in several States, certain of the blue laws of colonial times, and thus to Puritanize America.

     “During the last three decades, all sorts of oppressive and unconstitutional measures have been introduced into the national Congress and the various State legislatures.  The real purpose of such proposed laws is the ultimate establishment of Christianity as ‘the national religion of the United States.’ Following this would come the teaching of religion in the public schools, appropriation of public funds for religious purposes, the curtailing of freedom of speech [by so-called ‘hate crimes,’ etc.], and freedom of the press, compulsory church attendance on Sunday, and other similar measures trenching upon freedom of conscience. In fact, idea is quite current among a certain class of reformers that it is proper to legislate upon every subject under heaven, and that no individual has any rights that the majority may not abridge or entirely destroy.

     “It is quite common for well-meaning Christian people who really intend to be good loyal Americans, to deny the existence of ‘inalienable rights.’ The contention is that only the majority groups have rights which should be respected by government. The tendency is to minimize the importance of the Bills of Human Rights in both our Federal and our State constitutions, and to override constitutional guarantees designed to safeguard the right of the individual.

     “As a result of the activities of such organizations as the National Reform Association, the American Sabbath Union, the International Reform Federation, and the Lord’s Day Alliance, both Congress and the State legislatures have, since 1888, been deluged with drastic Sunday observance bills. A sample of this proposed legislation, urged upon Congress with increasing insistence during the past decade, is sufficient to cause every lover of liberty and of American ideals to take alarm at these encroachments upon the rights of man.

“A Characteristic Demand. That the public may know that we are not beating the air nor raising a false alarm, we give the text of one among many scores of proposed national Sunday observance measures, namely, that framed by the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and presented to Congress in 1920. It reads as follows:

     “Be it enacted  by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled:

     “1. Hereafter it shall be unlawful for any person in the employment of the United States to work or carry on his ordinary vocation on Sunday.

     “2. It shall be unlawful for any person or *corporation to operate on Sunday any freight or passenger train [main public means of transportation back then], or mail train, or any other train, or part of a train, on Sunday in the carrying on of Interstate commerce, trade, or traffic of any kind.

     “3. It shall be unlawful for any post office to be open on Sunday or to deliver mail on Sunday; it shall be unlawful for any mail to be carried or delivered on Sunday by any employee of the United States, whether in city or country.

      “4. It shall be unlawful for any newspaper or other paper or publication published or purporting to be published on Sunday to be received, carried, or delivered as mail by any agency of the United States, in any post office, or over any route under the jurisdiction of the United States.

      “5. It shall be unlawful for any person or corporation engaged in interstate commerce, or carrying on any business or vocation under the laws of, or with the permission of license from, the United States or any of its agencies, to do or carry on ordinary vocation or business on Sunday, the purpose of this act being to express our national determination to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as God commands, thereby securing for all that opportunity for spiritual and bodily refreshment decreed by our Lord for the happiness of all men and the safety of all nations.

     “6. Any person who does any of the things above declared unlawful, or who procures or aids another in doing any of the things above declared unlawful, it shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished upon conviction by due process of law by a fine of not under $100 nor over $10,000 for each offense, and by imprisonment for not over six months, in the discretion of the court.

     “7. And any corporation that does or aids in doing these forbidden things shall upon conviction be fined not less than $1,000, nor over $100,000 for each offense, and upon conviction a second time for like offense shall forfeit its charter and franchise and be enjoined from operating in interstate commerce: Provided, however, That emergency instances of charity and necessity are not included nor punishable under the provisions of this Act.”

     “Those who proposed this drastic religious measure called it a purely, and declared they saw nothing in it that would contravene the Constitution of the United States, or that would interfere with the religious liberty of any citizen.  But such radical provisions constitute a grave danger, not only in the hardship they would inflict upon millions of American citizens, but in the precedent they would establish, for further legislation of the same character.

     “The requirement to observe holy time is fitting and appropriate if adopted by a church for its own members, as a standard of their religious conduct, and as a matter of church discipline. But when a religious organization demands that these rigid religious regulations be enacted into law for the government of all citizens, requiring of them the observance of religious customs peculiar to its faith, and insists that Congress shall enact legislation which in its enforcement imposes church discipline upon the whole population of the United States, it is apparent that it has made a demand which is altogether unwarranted. Congress cannot comply with such a demand without overriding the Constitutional limitations placed upon its powers. If theseSunday law advocates could have their way, and could marshal numerical [and political] strength sufficient to manipulate Congress and the courts of our land, it would not be long until the cruel religious persecutions of the former days would be revived.

    “This proposed Sunday law, framed by a branch of the strongest and most influential Protestant denomination in America, clearly indicates the great lengths to which, in misguided zeal, the churches will ultimately go. The conscience of the dissenter will be utterly ignored, and his property and business confiscated, if he works on the first six days of the week and rests on the seventh instead of the first.

     “Some may comfort themselves with the thought that such a drastic law will never be passed by Congress, or that if passed, it will be a mild one. Unfortunately, no such assurance can be relied upon, and even a mild Sunday law takes away the right of the individual to  obey the dictates of conscience, and establishes a dangerous precedent, paving the way for more and more legislation of the same kind. Such a course eventually would impose a yoke of bondage on the necks of the American people worse than that which the scribes and Pharisees of Christ’s day imposed upon the Jews.

    “In Christ’s day the religious legalists, who believed that salvation was by the law [particularly the ceremonial law and their own added burden-some laws and traditions], added to the fourth commandment of the Decalogue more than 450 Sabbath-day restrictions which God had never given nor sanctioned. Christ utterly ignored and swept aside these human provisions, because they were in conflict with the spirit and purpose of the [Biblical] Sabbath day. God intended the Sabbath to be a spiritual blessing and continual delight to His people, not a day of gloom and meaningless forms. Christ sought to restore the Sabbath day to its original purpose and primitive glory; and when in His effort to show them the nature of true Sabbath observance, He ignored the legal restraints which the Jewish rulers and priests had placed upon it, they sought to take His life, and did finally secure His condemnation and crucifixion.

“Aims of the National Reform Association. – The Southern Methodists are not the only religionists who are demanding of Congress and of the various State legislatures and of city and town councils, the enactment ofSunday laws. The National Reform Association, officered principally by Presbyterian clergymen, was the first country-wide organization in our day to demand of Congress and other legislative bodies, not only drasticSunday observance laws, but other religious measures in order to make the United States ‘a Christian nation’—not in fact, but in name. In order to be fair, we shall let the National Reform Association state its own aims and purposes, as set forth in Article II of its constitution, which reads thus:

     “The object of this Society shall be to . . . secure such an amendment to the Constitution of the United States as will declare the nation’s allegiance to Jesus Christ and its acceptance of the moral laws of the Christian religion, and so indicate that this is a Christian nation, and place all the Christian laws, institutions, and usages of our government on an undeniably legal basis in the fundamental law of the land.”

    “The Christian Statesman, official organ of the National Reform Association, tells why this association wants a ‘Christian amendment’ added to the Constitution, which will ‘place all the Christian laws” and ‘institutions,’ especially the Sunday institution, ‘on an undeniably legal basis in the fundamental law of the land.’ It is because, say they, ‘we need it to correct our most unfortunate attitude under the First Amendment, which restrains Congress from prohibiting the free exercise of any false religion.’ – Christian Statesman, 1888.  Since the day those words were written, the organ of the National Reform Association has not changed its hostile attitude toward the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which it calls ‘a most dangerous weapon.’”

     “How to take a most dangerous weapon out of the hands of secularists: Amend the highest written law of the land, our Federal Constitution, so it shall plainly proclaim the will of the Lord of nations as the rule of our national life and the standard of our national conduct in dealing with all our problems—internal and external, national and international . . . . .”

 Macaulay, in an essay on “Gladstone on Church and State,” wrote: “Have not almost all governments in the world always been in the wrong on religious subjects?”

(To be continued next week)