Senator Blair, under date of April 18th, gives to the press a statement of his views on religion and education. We agree with him as to the generally growing sentiment against full religious liberty, but we disagree with him in his supposition that Romanism is about to be crushed out. In the troublous times coming, Papacy will convince the people, for a time at least, that her strong arm is needful to the bridling and restraining of the people. However, the Scriptures indicate that this return to influence on Papacy's part will be of short duration, and will be followed by its complete overthrow and destruction as a system. Mr. Blair says:
It is becoming more and more evident that the forms and methods of education are the subjects of increasing interest among the people in all parts of the country. The heterogeneous composition of our population and the vast space over which it is scattered, combined with the strong tendency to local independence which is characteristic of our form of government, are sure to result in the segregation of this continental mass into sections and non-affiliating and perhaps antagonistic communities unless there be some general system of education and training extending to the whole during the formative period of life, and reaching all parts of our vast domain.
Three centuries since our continent was substantially as vacant as the spaces between the planets. The scattering savages, who did not constitute a population of more than one person to five square miles of territory, were so few that it could hardly be said that the surface constituting what now are the United States and Canada was inhabited at all. Instead of being the arena for the gradual development of savage tribes into civilized nations through periods of almost interminable time, our country has been filled, as it were, in a day, historically speaking, by conflicting races, nations and civilizations, so that we exhibit all the elements of both life and destruction in full and contemporaneous action. Now the American people behold and are beginning to comprehend their own condition. They are admonished by the lessons of history. They realize that their existence in any desirable sense depends upon the nature of the religion and of the education which shall prevail among them and fashion the generations as they play their part and replace each other upon the soil.
Only a homogeneous people can be great. No nation can exist with more than one language, more than one religion, more than one general form of education for the masses of the people. There may be change, modification, improvement in all these, but community of language, of religion and of educational forces are indispensable to the development of nationality, and there is no hope [R1212 : page 2] of prolonged existence in great communities where there is not either already complete unification in all these respects, or a strong increasing tendency to the same. The American people instinctively feel and know these things to be so. Hence it is that everywhere we now find the public mind arousing itself and grappling with the adverse and hostile elements which are almost everywhere to be found in our physical, mental and spiritual life.
I do not believe that it is possible that the American nation will develop in the direction of toleration of all religionsthat is, so-called religions. Whether the general public conviction shall be right or wrong, I yet believe that instead of selecting and finally tolerating all so-called religions, the American people will, by constant and irresistible pressure, gradually expel from our geographical boundaries every religion except the Christian in its varied forms. I do not expect to see the pagan and other forms existing side by side with the former, both peaceably acquiesced in for any considerable length of time. I do not think that experience will satisfy the American people that the inculcation of any positive religious belief hostile to the Christian faith or the practice of the forms of any other worship is conducive to the good order of society and the general welfare. There may not be an exhibition of bigotry in this. I believe that religious toleration will yet come to be considered to be an intelligent discrimination between the true and the false, and the selection of the former by such universal consent as shall exclude by general reprobation the recognition and practice of the latter.
No religion which interposes any agency between man and God is Christianity. No other religion than Christianityand Christianity as I have thus defined itis consistent with the existence of human liberty and republican institutions. This country will not long exist as a free country if any other religious teaching comes generally to prevail. No one human being is the superior of any other human being in kind, however much we may differ in the extent of our several endowments, and no religion which finds space for an authority between the creature and the Creator can prevail without destroying the republic. Now, religious belief is a matter of education, and hence no free people will, or at least can, safely permit a system or a practice of education which sets up any human master of the human soulsave only the supremacy of each soul over itself.
This does not imply that the people will undertake to teach affirmatively the dogmas of religion in the sectarian sense, or perhaps, even, in the most general and fundamental sense. But it does imply that the people of the Republic shall see to it that certain things are not taught to the American child. The people will not rest until they have subverted all schools and teachers who create in the soul of a child a belief in a power greater than the right of public judgment and less than the authority of Godan allegiance to any spiritual power except the highest, or any prince, potentate or power, save only the Eternal King, which can inflict pains and penalties of a spiritual nature, or in any other life than this on earth.
The people will not rest in their study of the subject, nor in the regulation of the educational forces of the land, until they have compelled all citizens to be the masters of the English tongueuntil they have secured the eradication of all religious teaching which enslaves the soul of the child to any other master than its Supreme Father, or which clothes a mere man with powers which partake of the prerogatives of God.
The people are studying these subjects anew. They are questioning as to whether there be not some mistake in theories of religious liberty which permit the inculcation of the most destructive errors in the name of toleration, and the spread of pestilence under the name of that liberty which despises the quarantine.