As few people realize the degree in which these superstitions were encouraged by the Church that claims infallibility, I may mention that the reality of this particular crime was implied and its perpetrators anathematized by the provincial councils or synods of Troyes, Lyons, Milan, Tours, Bourges, Narbonne, Ferrar, Saint Malo, Mont Corsin, Orleans, and Grenoble; by the Rituals of Autun, Chartres, Perigueux, Evreux, Paris, Chalons, Bologna, Troyes, Beauvais, Meaux, Rheims, etc., and by the decrees of a long series of bishops.
The infection was everywhere—Germany, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, England, Scotland, and even America was scourged. It has been estimated that one hundred thousand perished in Germany from the middle of the fifteenth century to the middle of the sixteenth century.
Pope Gregory IX wrote a great mass of nonsense to the bishop and other chiefs urging stringent methods against the Stedingers, Frieslanders, inhabiting the country between Weser and Zeider Zee. He wrote, "The Devil appears to them (the Stedingers) in different shapes, sometimes as a goose or duck, and at other times in the figure of a pale, black-eyed youth, with a melancholy aspect, whose embrace fills their hearts with eternal hatred against the Holy Church of Christ. This Devil presides at their sabbath when they all kiss him and dance around him. He then envelops them in total darkness, and they all, male and female, give themselves up to the grossest and most disgusting debauchery."
The infallible pope of Rome!
The result was that the Stedingers, men, women, and children, were slain, the cottages and woods burned, the cattle stolen and the land laid waste. The pope's letter is a fair example of the theological literature of the time; the slaughter of the Stedingers an average illustration of the evangelistic methods of the Church.
Millions of men, women, and children were tortured, strangled, drowned, or burned on "evidence" that today would be accepted nowhere unless by a court and jury composed of the inmates of a lunatic asylum, if even by them. It is unnecessary to say that the more severe the persecution, the more widespread did witchcraft become. Every person tortured accused others and whole communities went mad with grief and fear and superstition. No amount of human evidence establishing the actual whereabouts of the accused at the time they were asserted by the witness on the rack to have been at the sabbath would avail. The husbands were told that they had seen or held only the devil-created semblance of their wives. The originals were with Satan under the oak. The confessions of tens of thousands of witches are to be found in Europe's judicial records of the period of the Inquisition.
"The Protestant Reformers zealously seconded the exertions of Rome to extirpate witchcraft; they felt that they must prove that they were as orthodox as the Catholics, and were as loyal to the Bible. No one urged their fundamental ideas more than did Luther, Calvin, Beza, the Swedish Lutherans, Casaubon, Wesley, Richard Baxter, the Mathers,—all stood loyally by Rome." (Lecky.)
At Lisbon, a horse whose master had taught him many tricks, was tried in 1601 and found guilty of being possessed by the Devil, for which he was burned.
The witchcraft mania proper in England began in the sixteenth century and reached its climax in the early part of the seventeenth century. Sir Matthew Hale, the great jurist, sanctioned the delusions and passed sentences of death by burning.
Queen Elizabeth made witchcraft a capital offense in England; and King James I wrote a book on the subject, and lent his personal aid and royal support to the persecutions.
Joan of Arc, the noblest of all the victims of this belief, perished by English hands, though on French soil, and under the sentence of a French bishop.
In Scotland, during the sixteenth century, as well as the seventeenth, were seen the most horrible examples of what domination of superstitious minds by ecclesiastics could do.
"Nothing was natural, all was supernatural. The entire course of affairs was governed, not by their antecedents, but by a series of miracles. Going still further, they claimed the power (the clergy) not only of foretelling the future state, but also of controlling it; and they did not scruple to affirm that, by their censures, they could open and shut the Kingdom of Heaven. As if this were not enough, they also gave out that a word of theirs could hasten the moment of death, and by cutting off the sinner in his prime, could bring him at once before the Judgment Seat of God.
"The Scotch clergy preached that, 'Hell was created before man came into the world. The Almighty,' they did not scruple to say, 'having spent his previous leisure in preparing and completing this place of torture, so that, when the human race appeared, it might be ready for their reception.'
"Of all the means of intimidation employed by the Scotch clergy none was more efficacious than the doctrines they propounded respecting evil spirits and future punishment. On these subjects, they constantly uttered the most appalling threats. The language which they used was calculated to madden men with fear and to drive them to the depths of despair.
"It was generally believed that the world was overrun by evil spirits who went not only up and down the earth, but also lived in the air, and whose business it was to tempt and hurt mankind. Their number was infinite, and they were to be found at all places and in all seasons.
"At their head was Satan himself, whose delight it was to appear in person ensnaring or terrifying every one he met. With this object, he assumed various forms. One day he would visit the earth as a black dog, on another day as a raven, on still another day he would be heard in the distance roaring like a bull. He appeared sometimes as a white man in black clothes, and sometimes he became a black man in black clothes, when it was remarked that his voice was ghastly, that he wore no shoes, and that one of his feet was cloven. His stratagems were endless. For, in the opinion of divines, his cunning increased with his age; and having been studying for more than 5000 years, he had now attained to unexampled dexterity. He could, and he did, seize both men and women and carry them away through the air. Usually he wore the garb of laymen, but it was said that, on more than one occasion, he had impudently attired himself as a minister of the Gospel. At all events, in one dress or other, he frequently appeared to the clergy, and tried to coax them over to his side. In that, of course, he failed; but out of the ministers thus tempted, few indeed could withstand him. He could raise storms and tempests. He could work, not only on the mind, but also on the organs of the body, making men hear and see whatever he chose. Of his victims, some he prompted to suicide, others to commit murder. Still, formidable as he was, no Christian was considered to have attained to a full religious experience unless he had literally seen him, talked to him, and fought with him.
"The clergy were constantly preaching about him, and preparing their audiences for an interview with their great enemy. The consequence was that the people became almost crazed with fear. Whenever the preacher mentioned Satan, the consternation was so great that the church resounded with sighs and groans. They believed that the Devil was always and literally at hand; that he was haunting them, speaking to them, and tempting them. The clergy boasted that it was their special mission to thunder out the wrath and curses of the Lord. In their eyes the Deity was not a Beneficent Being, but a cruel and remorseless tyrant. They declared that all mankind, a very small portion only excepting, were doomed to eternal misery.
"The Scotch clergy taught their hearers that the Almighty was sanguinary, and so prone to anger that he raged even against walls and houses, and senseless creatures, wreaking his fury more than ever, and scattering desolation on every side.
"The people, credulous and ignorant, listened and believed.
"For in Scotland as elsewhere, directly the clergy succeeded in occupying a more than ordinary amount of public attention, they availed themselves of that circumstance to propagate those ascetic doctrines which, while they strike at the root of human happiness, benefit no one except the class which advocates them; that class, indeed, can hardly fail to reap the advantages from a policy which by increasing the apprehensions to which the ignorance and timidity of men make them liable, does also increase their eagerness to fly for support to their spiritual advisers; and the greater their apprehension, the greater the eagerness." (Buckle: "The History of Civilization in England.")
James I of England had become imbued with the idea of witchcraft while in Scotland, and he believed that his stormy passage on his return from Denmark was due to witches. This storm was the origin of one of the most horrible of the many horrible Scotch trials on record. One Dr. Fian was suspected of having aroused the wind and a confession was wrung from him by torture which, however, he almost immediately retracted. Every form of torture was in vain employed to vanquish his obduracy; the bones of his legs were broken into small pieces in the boot. All the torments that Scottish law knew of were successively applied. At last, the king (who personally presided over the tortures) suggested a new and more horrible device. The prisoner, who had been removed during the deliberation, was brought in and "His nails upon his fingers were riven and pulled off with an instrument, called in Scottish a 'turkas,' which in England we call a 'payre' or 'pincers' and under everie nayle there was thrust in two needles over, even up to the heads. So deeply had the devil entered his heart, that he utterly denied all that which he avouched," and he was burnt unconfessed.
And this from a king of England!
The methods of obtaining a confession were as follows: If the witch was obdurate, the first, and it was said, the most effective method of obtaining confession was by what was termed "waking her." An iron bridle or hoop was bound across her face with four prongs which were thrust into her mouth. It was fastened behind to the wall by a chain, in such a manner that the victim was unable to lie down, and in this position she was sometimes kept for several days, while men were constantly with her to prevent her from closing her eyes for a moment in sleep. Partly in order to effect this object, and partly to discover the insensible mark which was the sure sign of a witch, long pins were thrust into her body. At the same time, as it was a saying in Scotland that a witch would never confess while she could drink, excessive thirst was added to her torments. Some prisoners have been "waked" for five nights, one it is said, even for nine.
The physical and mental suffering of such a process was sufficient to overcome the resolution of many, and to distract the understanding of not a few. But other and perhaps worse tortures were in reserve. The three principal ones that were habitually applied were the "pennywinks, the boot, and the caschielawis." The first was a kind of thumbscrew; the second was a frame in which the leg was inserted, and in which it was broken by wedges driven in by a hammer; the third was also an iron frame for the leg, which was from time to time heated over a brazier. Fire-matches were sometimes applied to the body of the victim. We read in a contemporary legal register, of one man who was kept for forty-eight hours in "vehement torture" in the caschielawis; and of another who remained in the same frightful machine for eleven days and nights, whose legs were broken daily for fourteen days in the boots, and who was so scourged that the whole skin was torn from his body. This was, it is true, censured as an extreme case, but it was only an excessive application of the common torture.
The witches were commonly strangled before they were burnt, but this merciful provision was very frequently omitted. An Earl of Wear tells how, with a piercing yell, some women once broke half-burnt from the slow fire consuming them, struggled for a few moments with a despairing energy among the spectators, but soon with shrieks of blasphemy and wild protestations of innocence sank writhing in agony amid the flames.
But just picture this scene for a moment! The horror of such a scene! What a crime for one human to commit against another! A burnt offering to the gods! How well pleased the Almighty God must have been with the stench of burning human flesh rising to his nostrils. And how well he must have rewarded his faithful servants, for was this not done in His name? "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."
As Lecky points out in his famous work on the "History of European Morals," such incidents are but illustrations of the great truth that when men have come to regard a certain class of their fellow creatures as doomed by the Almighty to eternal and excruciating agonies, and when their theology directs their minds with intense and realizing earnestness to the contemplation of such agonies, the result will be an indifference to the suffering of those whom they deem the enemies of their God, as absolute as it is perhaps possible for human nature to attain.
It is a historical fact that in 1591, a lady of rank, Eufame Macalyane, sought the assistance of Agnes Sampson for the relief of pain at the time of birth of her two sons. Agnes Sampson was tried before King James for her heresy, was condemned as a witch, and was burned alive on the Castle Hill of Edinburgh.
It is generally said that the last execution in Scotland was in 1722, but Captain Burt, who visited the country in 1730, speaks of a woman who was burnt as late as 1727. As late as 1736, the divines of the Associated Presbytery passed a resolution declaiming their belief in witchcraft, and deploring the scepticism that was then general.
The Pilgrim Fathers brought to our shores the seeds of the Witchcraft Delusion at a time when it was rapidly fading in England, and again history furnishes us with an example of a people with strong religious instincts who, being freed from their persecutors, became in turn the most violent persecutors of those that did not profess their particular creed. It was particularly due to the preaching of Cotton Mather that a panic of fear was created through the New England Colonies. Mrs. Ann Hibbons was tried before the Great and General Court of Massachusetts, sentenced and hanged on the 19th of June, 1656. "Goody Oliver" was executed as a witch on November 16th, 1688.
There were twenty murders in 1692, and these before a civil court. The trials took place before the illegal Court of Oyer and Terminer, appointed by Governor Phipps, at the instigation of the Lieutenant-Governor and Chief Justice Stoughton, and Joseph Dudley, formerly governor, and the Chief Judge of the Court which, in 1688, had sent "Goody Oliver" to her death at the gallows.
Cotton Mather defended this practice in his book, "The Wonders of The Invisible World," and Increase Mather, the father of Cotton, was equally as strenuous in the "Witch Hunt." Increase Mather survived this massacre thirty years, and his son, five years longer, but there is hardly a word of regret or sympathy to be found anywhere, even in their private diaries and correspondence. These executions in Massachusetts form one of the darkest pages in the history of America.
It is not surprising that the clergy of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries supported both in practice and theory the Witchcraft Delusion, but when we find the ablest minds of the laity bursting into print with a vehement defense of this belief, it is difficult for us, in the present day, to conceive of such folly. And yet, today, we have able minds defending a precept of which the Witchcraft Delusion is but a part.
"The defenders of the belief (Witchcraft), who were men of great and distinguished talent, maintained that there was no fact in all history more fully attested, and that to reject it would be to strike at the root of all historical evidence of the miraculous." (Lecky.)
The subject was examined in tens of thousands of cases, in almost every country in Europe, by tribunals which included the acutest lawyers and ecclesiastics of the ages, on the scene and at the time when the alleged acts had taken place, and with the assistance of innumerable sworn witnesses. The judges had no motive whatever to desire the condemnation of the accused, and as conviction would be followed by fearful death, they had the strongest motives to exercise their power with caution and deliberation. The whole force of public opinion was directed constantly and earnestly to the question for many centuries, and although there was some controversy concerning the details of witchcraft, the fact of its existence was long considered undoubted.
For many centuries the ablest men were not merely unwilling to repudiate the superstition, but they often pressed forward earnestly and with the utmost conviction to defend it. Indeed, during the period when witchcraft was most prevalent there were few writers of real eminence who did not, on some occasion, take especial pains to throw the weight of their authority into the scales.
St. Thomas Aquinas was probably the ablest writer of the thirteenth century, and he assures us that diseases and tempests are often the direct act of the Devil; and the Devil can transform men into any shape and transport them through the air.
Gerson, the chancellor of the University of Paris, and, as many think, the author of "The Imitation," is justly regarded as one of the master minds of his age; he too, wrote in defense of this belief. "These men," he wrote, "should be treated with scorn, and indeed, sternly corrected, who ridicule theologians whenever they speak of demons, or attribute to demons any effects, as if these things were entirely fabulous. This error has arisen among some learned men, partly through want of faith, and partly through weakness and imperfection of intellect."
Bodin was unquestionably the most original political philosopher who had arisen since Machiavelli, and he devoted all his learning and acuteness to crushing the rising scepticism on the subject of witches. The truth is that in those ages ability was no guarantee against error; for the single employment of the reason was to develop and expand premises that were furnished by the Church. And this statement is as valid today as it was three hundred years ago.
Bodin was esteemed, by many of his contemporaries, the ablest man who had then arisen in France, and the verdict has been but little qualified by later writers. Amid all the distractions of a dissipated and an intriguing court, and all the labors of a judicial position, he had amassed an amount of learning so vast and so various as to place him in the very first rank of the scholars of his nation. He has also the greater merit of being one of the chief founders of political philosophy and political history, and of having anticipated on these subjects many of the conclusions of our own day. In his judicial capacity he had presided at some trials of witchcraft. He had brought all the resources of his scholarship to bear upon the subject, and he had written a great part of his "Demonomanie des Sorciers" before the appearance of the last work of Wier.
John Wier was a physician of Cleves who had in 1563 published a work which he called, "De Praestigus Daemonum." He was quite convinced that the world was peopled by crowds of demons, who were constantly working miracles among mankind; and his only object was to reconcile his sense of their ubiquity with his persuasion that some of the phenomena that were deemed supernatural arose from disease.
"Wier," said Bodin, "had armed himself against God. His book was a tissue of 'horrible blasphemies.' For the word of God is very certain that he who suffers a man worthy of death to escape, draws the punishment upon himself, as the prophet said to King Ahab, that he would die for having pardoned a man worthy of death. For no one had ever heard of pardon accorded to sorcerers."
Such were the opinions which were promulgated towards the close of the sixteenth century by one of the most advanced intellects of one of the leading nations of Europe at that time; promulgated, too, with a tone of confidence and of triumph that shows how fully the writer could count upon the religious sympathies of his readers: the "Demonomanie des Sorciers" appeared in 1581.
With a man of the caliber of Bodin writing the above, it is not to be wondered at that the mobs were so active in the "Witch Hunt." For as Lecky cites, "Although the illiterate cannot follow the more intricate speculations of their teachers, they can catch the general tone and character of thought which these speculations produce, and they readily apply them to their own sphere of thought."
In 1587, Montaigne published the first great sceptical work in the French language. The vast mass of authority which those writers loved to array, and by which they shaped the whole course of their reasoning, is calmly and unhesitatingly discarded. The passion for the miraculous, the absorbing sense of diabolical capacities, have all vanished like a dream. The old theological measure of probability has completely disappeared, and is replaced by a shrewd secular common sense. The statements of the witches were pronounced intrinsically incredible. The dreams of a disordered imagination, or the terrors of the rack, would account for many of them; but even when it is impossible to explain the evidence, it is quite unnecessary to believe it. "After all," Montaigne said, "it is setting a high value upon our opinions to roast men alive on account of them."
"It was the merit of Montaigne to rise, by the force of his masculine genius, into the clear world of reality; to judge the opinions of his age, with an intellect that was invigorated but not enslaved by knowledge; and to contemplate the systems of the past, without being dazzled by the reverence that had surrounded them. He was the first great representative of the modern secular and rationalistic spirit. The strong predisposition of Montaigne was to regard witchcraft as the result of natural causes, and therefore, though he did not attempt to explain all the statements which he had heard, he was convinced that no conceivable improbability could be as great as that which would be involved in their reception." (Lecky.)
Thirteen years after Montaigne, Charron wrote his famous treatise on Wisdom. In this work he systematized many of the opinions of Montaigne.
Voltaire treated the whole subject with a scornful ridicule and observed that, "Since there had been philosophers in France, witches had become proportionately rare."
In 1681, Joseph Glanvil, a divine who in his day was very famous, took up the defense of the dying belief. "The Sadducismus Triumphatus," which he published, is probably the ablest book ever published in defense of the superstition, and although men of the ability of Henry More, the famous philosopher Casaubon, the learned Dean of Canterbury, Boyle and Cudworth, came to his defense, the delusion was fast losing ground. Lecky points out that by this time, "The sense of the improbability of witchcraft became continually stronger, till any anecdote which involved the intervention of the Devil was on that account generally ridiculed. This spirit was exhibited especially among those whose habits of thought were most secular, and whose minds were least governed by authority."
But the belief did not become extinguished immediately. In France, in 1850, the Civil Tribunal of Chartres tried a man and woman named Soubervie for having caused the death of a woman called Bedouret. They believed she was a witch, and declared that the priest had told them she was the cause of an illness under which the woman Soubervie was suffering. They accordingly drew Bedouret into a private room, held her down upon some burning straw, and placed a red-hot iron across her mouth. The unhappy woman soon died in extreme agony. The Soubervies confessed, and indeed, exulted in their act. At their trials they obtained the highest possible characters. It was shown that they had been actuated solely by superstition, and it was urged that they only followed the highest ecclesiastical precedent. The jury recommended them to mercy, and they were only sentenced to pay twenty-five francs a year to the husband of the victim, and to be imprisoned for four months. In 1850!!
A great many may remember the "Hex" murder case near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1930! This is scarcely different from an incident which had occurred in 1892 in Wemding, Germany: An hysterical woman was "exorcised" by the Capuchin Father Aurelian, who accused a peasant woman of bewitching him.
* * * * *
The foregoing has shown that witchcraft is not an isolated incident in the history of Christianity, as the ecclesiastics would have us believe, but is a vital part of their religion. Witchcraft bears the same relation to Christianity that an arm bears to the body; neither can be removed without destroying the symmetrical aspect of the whole.
Witchcraft is an integral part of the Christian religion, but its falsity has become so obvious that even the most devout have had to abandon it. Yet the other precepts are still maintained; and in the Bible which is claimed to be infallible, something is forgotten and discarded, something is declared to be ridiculous. And yet they call the Bible infallible. Again, if witchcraft is given up, why not the chief witch of the Bible, the Devil? Yet if this be yielded, then the idea of Atonement, the central doctrine of the Christian Church, must also go.
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." If this be God's word, did God err when He said it? If He erred, He probably did so in many other things; if He did not Christians must either still maintain the Witchcraft Delusion or deny the Bible Delusion.
The Witchcraft Delusion is denied and forgotten, and no one thinks of quoting, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." But the Bible Delusion despite all manner of ecclesiastical sophistry still maintains that man was created miraculously some 6000 years ago from the dust of the earth, that woman was made from a bone taken from the side of man, that language came into existence in the course of a single night, that God instituted a horrible massacre of the people by drowning because they did not come up to his expectations. It maintains miracles, virgin births, resurrections from the dead, and a literal heaven and hell.
Again, in the New Testament, Matthew tells how the chief magician of the New Testament, Jesus, exorcised the devils from men and drove them into swine. What could be more explicit? If men were possessed of devils in Jesus' time, what has happened to these devils now? Surely, Jesus could not misinterpret his own words or deeds, if the religionists contend that we are now misinterpreting the Bible? If they state that his recorders were in error, then they admit the error of the entire Bible, for it is illogical for one part to be true and another to be false, when both are components of an infallible statement.
"But they who abandon belief in maleficent demons and in witches as also, for this follows, in beneficent agents, such as angels, find themselves in a serious dilemma. For to this are such committed: If Jesus who came that he might destroy the Devil, and who is reported, among other proofs of his divine ministry, to have cast out demons from the 'possessed human beings,' and in one case, to have permitted a crowd of infernal agents to enter into a herd of swine; if he verily believed that he did these things, and if it be true that the belief is a superstition limited to the ignorant or barbaric mind, then what value can be attached to any statement that Jesus is reported to have made about the spiritual world?" (Edward Clodd: "Pioneers of Evolution.")
The old adage that a chain is just as strong as its weakest link is very apt in this case. A belief in witches is part of the Bible; and if the civilized world rejects that concept, it must reject the Bible, for it is no longer infallible, since it is in error.
Disregarding the internal evidence which declares the Bible to be spurious, and the scientific advances which have proven the Bible to be a myth and a fable, if man still insists on "revealed religion" he must admit that sorcery and witchcraft are an integral part of the Bible teaching. He must still either believe in witchcraft or disbelieve all of the Bible. For again, one part cannot be true and another false of an infallible statement.
I thoroughly and emphatically agree with John Wesley who, in 1769, wrote, "The English in general, and indeed most of the men of learning in Europe, have given up all accounts of witches and apparitions as mere old wives' fables. I am sorry for it, and I willingly take this opportunity of entering my solemn protest against this violent compliment which so many that believe in the Bible pay to those who do not believe it. I owe them no such service. I take knowledge that these are at the bottom of the outcry which has been raised, and with such insolence spread through the land, in direct opposition, not only to the Bible, but to the suffrage of the wisest and best of men in all ages and nations. They well know (whether Christians know it or not) that the giving up of witchcraft is in effect giving up the Bible."
Lecky, in that masterful work, "The Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe," from which I have so freely quoted, states, "A disbelief in ghosts and witches was one of the most prominent characteristics of Scepticism in the seventeenth century. Yet, for more than fifteen hundred years it was universally believed that the Bible established in the clearest manner, the validity of the crime, and that an amount of evidence, so varied and so ample as to preclude the very possibility of doubt, attested its continuance and its prevalence.... In our own day, it may be said with confidence, that it would be altogether impossible for such an amount of evidence to accumulate around a conception which has no substantial basis in fact."
And yet today, in the twentieth century, we do have an amount of "evidence" accumulated around a conception which had no substantial basis of fact. What a perfect analogy presents itself between one precept of revealed religion and religion in its entirety. In the seventeenth century, scepticism confined itself to a disbelief in witchcraft, one particular of revealed religion; in the twentieth century, scepticism expands and reveals the absurdity of all revealed religion. Just as when we read the annals of witchcraft today we sicken with the horror of this insane conception, so will posterity in the none too distant future, perhaps three more centuries, do for all religion what three centuries did for witchcraft. Just so will they regard revealed religion in its entirety as we look upon the one factor, the Witchcraft Delusion.
Men came gradually to disbelieve in witchcraft because they learned gradually to look upon it as absurd. This new tone of thought appeared first of all in those who were least subject to theological influences, and soon spread through the educated laity, and last of all, took possession of the clergy. So shall it be with all religions.
A belief that was held for 1500 years, in the comparatively insignificant period of 100 years, sinks into oblivion; for the last judicial execution occurred in Switzerland in 1782; and the last law on the subject, the Irish Statute, was repealed in 1821. It is not, therefore, too much of a stretch of the imagination to conceive what the inhabitants of this planet will think of all religion 300 years from now. We have the sterling example of the Witchcraft Delusion before us. Yes, despite the otherwise brilliant men of today who still maintain the Bible Delusion, and the "Hedgers," that group of religious apologists who form those various sects, such as the Unitarians, the Humanists, etc. They are but the middle ground; they are but the intermediate between the delusionists and those that maintain the philosophy that eventually must triumph, the philosophy of atheism. When we think back to that group of capable men headed by Bodin, Gerson, and Joseph Glanvil, who turned their ability and learning to the defense of the Witchcraft Delusion, we find the answer to that ever-present response which the confused of this age give when confronted with the incompatabilities in their religion, namely, "Oh, well, more brilliant men than I believe in this delusion."
Bodin, Gerson, and Glanvil could not bolster up a dying belief; and the Bodins, Gersons, and Glanvils of today cannot long bolster up the dying belief in all religions ... no matter what their ability or capacities may be. The handwriting is on the wall; the past teaches us what the future may be, but there is still much work to be done.
RELIGION AND MORALITY
The current religion is indirectly adverse to morals, because it is adverse to the freedom of the intellect. But it is also directly adverse to morals by inventing spurious and bastard virtues.
WINWOOD READE, "Martyrdom of Man."
It had been formerly asserted by theologians that our moral laws were given to man by a supernatural intuitive process. However, Professor E. A. Westermarck's "Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas," and similar researches, give a comprehensive survey of the moral ideas and practices of all the backward fragments of the human race and conclusively prove the social nature of moral law. The moral laws have evolved much the same as physical man has evolved. There is no indication whatsoever that the moral laws came from any revelation since the sense of moral law was just as strong amongst civilized peoples beyond the range of Christianity, or before the Christian era. Joseph McCabe, commenting on Professor Westermarck's work states, "All the fine theories of the philosophers break down before this vast collection of facts. There is no intuition whatever of an august and eternal law, and the less God is brought into connection with these pitiful blunders and often monstrous perversions of the moral sense, the better. What we see is just man's mind in possession of the idea that his conduct must be regulated by law, and clumsily working out the correct application of that idea as his intelligence grows and his social life becomes more complex. It is not a question of the mind of the savage imperfectly seeing the law. It is a plain case of the ideas of the savage reflecting and changing with his environment and the interest of his priests."
Justice is a fundamental and essential moral law because it is a vital regulation of social life and murder is the greatest crime because it is the greatest social delinquency; and these are inherent in the social nature of moral law. "Moral law slowly dawns in the mind of the human race as a regulation of a man's relation with his fellows in the interest of social life. It is quite independent of religion, since it has entirely different roots in human psychology." (Joseph McCabe: "Human Origin of Morals.")
In the mind of primitive man there is no connection between morality and the belief in a God. "Society is the school in which men learn to distinguish between right and wrong. The headmaster is custom and the lessons are the same for all. The first moral judgments were pronounced by public opinion; public indignation and public approval are the prototypes of the moral emotions." (Edward Westermarck: "Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas.")
Moral ideas and moral energy have their source in social life. It is only in a more advanced society that moral qualities are assumed for the gods. And indeed, it is known that in some primitive tribes, the gods are not necessarily conceived as good, they may have evil qualities also. "If they are, to his mind, good, that is so much the better. But whether they are good or bad they have to be faced as facts. The Gods, in short belong to the region of belief, while morality belongs to that of practice. It is in the nature of morality that it should be implicit in practice long before it is explicit in theory. Morality belongs to the group and is rooted in certain impulses that are a product of the essential conditions of group life. It is as reflection awakens that men are led to speculate upon the nature and origin of the moral feelings. Morality, whether in practice or theory, is thus based upon what is. On the other hand, religion, whether it be true or false, is in the nature of a discovery—one cannot conceive man actually ascribing ethical qualities to his Gods before he becomes sufficiently developed to formulate moral rules for his own guidance, and to create moral laws for his fellowmen. The moralization of the Gods will follow as a matter of course. Man really modifies his Gods in terms of the ideal human being. It is not the Gods who moralize man, it is man who moralizes the Gods." (Chapman Cohen: "Theism or Atheism.")
In the formation of the Old Testament, the moralization of Yahveh led to the creation of a god who coincided more with the morality of the later writers, the God Elohim.
"Rather must we say that morality begins in human social relations and passes from them to the relations maintained with the other life and with the Gods. Or, if one prefers to consider ghosts and gods as inseparable elements of the primary organism, then we should say that morality is born in that all-embracing psychical atmosphere. But it does not follow from that fact that the rise and development of morality are conditioned by belief in Gods and in immortality. Merely human relations are sufficient to the production of ethical appreciations. The invisible ghosts and Gods would never have been thought interested in the morality of the tribe, had not the leaders realized the importance of courage, of loyalty, of respect for neighbors' possessions, and the other elementary virtues. It is when the disastrous consequences of their absence became evident that the Gods were made to sanction these virtues. God or no God, immortality or no immortality, the essential morality of man would have been what it is." (J. H. Leuba: "Belief in God and Immortality.")
The best that is in man is generated in the experiences of his daily life. The attributing of moral qualities to the gods was a much later development in the evolution of the moral ideas. At this stage of our development man is fortified by a sense of human fellowship, and in practice, as well as in theory, has long since given up the assumption that he needed superhuman beliefs. He has fully recognized the independence of morality from superhuman beliefs.
James Mill and J. S. Mill taught the greatest happiness of the greatest number as the supreme object of action and the basis of morality. And it was this conception that introduced the new ethical principles of duty to posterity. This conception is a much nobler one than the religious interpretation of morality to consist in mainly defining what man's duty to God is; a morality whose chief selfish inspiration is not the helping of one's fellowmen but the saving of one's own soul. A secular morality teaches that what man thinks, says, and does lives after him and influences for good or ill future generations. This is a higher, nobler, and greater incentive to righteousness than any life of personal reward or fear of punishment in a future life. There are today a rapidly growing number of eminent moral teachers who condemn the clinging to the belief of personal existence after death as a hindrance to the best life on earth. Professor J. H. Leuba, in his work, "The Belief in God and Immortality," concludes that, "These facts and considerations indicate that the reality of the belief in immortality to civilized nations is much more limited than is commonly supposed; and that, if we bring into calculation all the consequences of the belief, and not merely its gratifying effects, we may even be brought to conclude that its disappearance from among the most civilized nations would be, on the whole, a gain."
There are few educated men nowadays who would claim that morality cannot exist apart from religion. Theists are desperately attempting to harmonize a primitive theory of things, with a larger knowledge and a more developed moral sense. Morality is fundamentally the expression of those conditions under which associated life is found possible and profitable, and that so far as any quality is declared to be moral its justification and meaning must be found in that direction. "Our alleged essential dependence upon transcendental beliefs is belied by the most common experiences of daily life. Who does not feel the absurdity of the opinion that the lavish care for a sick child by a mother is given because of a belief in God and immortality? Are love of father and mother on the part of children, affection and serviceableness between brothers and sisters, straight-forwardness and truthfulness between business men, essentially dependent upon these beliefs? What sort of person would be the father who would announce divine punishment or reward in order to obtain the love and respect of his children? And if there are business men preserved from unrighteousness by the fear of future punishment, they are far more numerous who are deterred by the threat of human law. Most of them would take their chances with heaven a hundred times before they would once with society, or perchance with the imperative voice of humanity heard in the conscience." (Leuba.)
The primary motive of moral standards and practices is man's desire to seek happiness and avoid pain. And so it is not strange that morality has become stronger as the power of religion has weakened. "Right through history it has been the social instincts that have acted as a corrective to religious extravagances. And it is worth noting that with the exception of a little gain from the practice of casuistry, religions have contributed nothing towards the building up of a science of ethics. On the contrary, it has been a very potent cause of confusion and obstruction. Fictitious vices and virtues have been created and the real moral problems lost sight of. It gave the world the morality of the prison cell, instead of the tonic of the rational life. And it was indeed fortunate for the race that conduct was not ultimately dependent upon a mass of teachings that had their origin in the brains of savages, and were brought to maturity during the darkest period of European civilization.... And we know that the period during which the influence of Christian theism was strongest, was the period when the intellectual life of civilized man was at its lowest, morality at its weakest, and the general outlook hopeless. Religious control gave us heresy hunts, Jew hunts, burning for witchcraft, and magic in place of medicine. It gave us the Inquisition and the auto da fe, the fires of Smithfield, and the night of St. Bartholomew. It gave us the war of sects, and it helped powerfully to establish the sect of war. It gave us life without happiness, and death cloaked with terror. The Christian record is before us, and it is such that every Church blames the others for its existence. Quite as certainly we cannot point to a society that has been dominated by Freethinking ideals, but we can point to their existence in all ages, and can show that all progress is due to their presence. We can show that progressive ideals have originated with the least, and have been opposed by the most religious sections of society." (Cohen.)
The puerile conception of heaven and the savage conception of hell are still, in modified form, deemed necessary for a religious morality. Why it should be necessary for a supreme intelligence to make all things straight in another world, that he could more convincingly rectify in this one, is a conception which has escaped the reason of a freethinker, but has been very profitable to those on earth that lead their adherents to believe that they hold the keys to our future abodes. Winwood Reade in his "Martyrdom of Man," discussing the moral value of the fears of hell-fire, states, "a metaphysical theory cannot restrain the fury of the passions; as well attempt to bind a lion with a cobweb. Prevention of crime, it is well known, depends not on the severity, but on the certainty of retribution. The supposition that the terrors of hell-fire are essential or even conducive to good morals is contradicted by the facts of history. In the Dark Ages there was not a man or woman from Scotland to Naples, who doubted that sinners were sent to hell. The religion which they had was the same as ours, with this exception, that everyone believed in it. The state of Europe in that pious epoch need not be described. Society is not maintained by the conjectures of theology, but by those moral sentiments, those gregarious virtues which elevated men above the animals, which are now instinctive in our natures and to which intellectual culture is propitious. For, as we become more and more clearly enlightened, we perceive more and more clearly that it was with the whole human population as it was with the primeval clan; the welfare of every individual is dependent on the welfare of the community, and the welfare of the community depends on the welfare of every individual."
The teachings of Christianity towards marriage furnishes a well known example of a reactionary philosophy of morals. The views of St. Paul on marriage are set forth in I Corinthians VII 1-9:
1. Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
2. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
3. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence; and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
4. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband; and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
5. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
6. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.
7. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.
8. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them to abide even as I.
9. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
These precepts furnish an example of the harm that can be done when man follows the absurd and unsocial decrees of an ascetic individual written in a barbaric age and maintained as law in a more advanced period. The enlightened physician holds that it is not good for a man not to touch a woman; and one wonders what would have become of our race if all women had carried St. Paul's teaching, "It is good for them if they abide even as I," into practice. Bertrand Russell, in his "Marriage and Morals," has gone to the root of the matter when he states, "He does not suggest for a moment that there may be any positive good in marriage, or that affection between husband and wife may be a beautiful and desirable thing, nor does he take the slightest interest in the family; fornication holds the center of the stage in his thoughts, and the whole of his sexual ethics is arranged with reference to it. It is just as if one were to maintain that the sole reason for baking bread is to prevent people from stealing cake." But then it is too much to expect of a man living nearly two thousand years ago to have known the psychology of the emotions, but we do know the great harm that his ascetic principles have done. St. Paul took the standpoint that sexual intercourse, even in marriage, is regrettable. This view is utterly contrary to biological facts, and has caused in its adherents a great deal of mental disorder. St. Paul's views were emphasized and exaggerated by the early Church and celibacy was considered holy. Men retired into the desert to wrestle with Satan, and when their abnormal manner of living fired their imagination with erotic visions, mutilated their bodies to cleanse their souls. "There is no place in the moral history of mankind of a deeper or more painful interest than this ascetic epidemic. A hideous, sordid, and emaciated maniac, without knowledge, without patriotism, without natural affections, passing his life in a long routine of useless and atrocious self-torture, and quailing before the ghastly phantoms of his delirious brain, had become the ideal of the nations which had known the writings of Plato and Cicero, and the lives of Socrates and Cato." (Lecky: "History of European Morals.")
This concept that the closest of association between man and wife is an obnoxious deed, has strewn its evil influence down through the ages to the present day. The stealth and obscurity placed upon sexual matters has had its roots so firmly fixed in our manner of dealing with this purely normal function, that at this late date medical science is just beginning to eradicate the evils. It is now well recognized by educators and physicians and all clear-thinking individuals that it is extremely harmful for men, women, and children to be kept in artificial ignorance of the facts relating to sexual affairs. The obscurantism placed upon sexual matters has caused more physical and mental distress than most of our organic diseases. The physician is constantly correcting the abnormal conceptions that exist. The sex act had become something in the nature of a crime which could not be avoided, instead of assuming the manifestation of the consummation of the greatest love and tenderness that can exist between two individuals keenly attuned to the natural desires of a natural act. "The love of man and woman at its best is free and fearless, compounded of body and mind in equal proportions, not dreading to idealize because there is a physical basis, not dreading the physical basis lest it should interfere with the idealization. To fear love is to fear life and those who fear life are already three parts dead." (Bertrand Russell: "Marriage and Morals.")
Religion has brutalized the marital relations, and Lecky, dealing with this subject, states, "The tender love which it elicits, the holy and beautiful domestic qualities that follow in its train, were almost absolutely omitted from consideration. The object of the ascetic was to attract men to a life of virginity, and as a necessary consequence marriage was treated as an inferior state. It was regarded as being necessary, indeed, and therefore justifiable, for the propagation of the species, and to free men from great evils; but still as a condition of degradation from which all who aspired to real sanctity could fly. To 'cut down by the axe of Virginity the wood of Marriage' was, in the energetic language of St. Jerome, the end of the saint; and if he consented to praise marriage it was merely because it produced virgins."
Indeed, the entire ascetic attitude was well summed up by St. Jerome when exhorting Heliodorus to desert his family and become a hermit; he expatiated with foul minuteness on every form of natural affection he desired him to violate: "Though your little nephew twine his arms around your neck, though your mother, with dishevelled hair and tearing her robe asunder, point to the breast with which she suckled you, though your father fall down on the threshold before you, pass over your father's body ... You say that Scripture orders you to obey parents, but he who loves them more than Christ loses his soul."
It has only been with the advance of secular literature that the degrading assumption of St. Paul that marriage is to be regarded solely as a more or less legitimate outlet for lust has been discarded, and the act of love as applied to marriage has come to have any meaning. And in this modern day the conception of the relationship of the sex act to marriage is far from being on the high plane where it rightly belongs. Bertrand Russell comments, "Marriage in the orthodox Christian doctrine has two purposes: one, that recognized by St. Paul, the other, the procreation of children. The consequence has been to make sexual morality even more difficult than it was made by St. Paul. Not only is sexual intercourse only legitimate within marriage, but even between husband and wife it becomes a sin unless it is hoped that it will lead to pregnancy. The desire for legitimate offspring is, in fact, according to the Catholic Church, the only motive which can justify sexual intercourse. But this motive always justifies it, no matter what cruelty may accompany it. If the wife hates sexual intercourse, if she is likely to die of another pregnancy, if the child is likely to be diseased or insane, if there is not enough money to prevent the utmost extreme of misery, that does not prevent the man from being justified in insisting on his conjugal rights, provided only that he hopes to beget a child."
What effect has Christianity had upon our moral life, upon crime, drug-addiction, sexual immorality, prostitution, and perversion? These blights upon our moral character existed long before Christianity, and after Christianity. But what effectual check has Christianity contributed?
The agitation concerning increased crime after the recent world conflict has brought this subject to the fore, and aroused a great deal of discussion and consideration of this problem. In its relation to religion, we have but one undeniable fact to bring before the thinking public. An examination of the statistics of penal institutions reveals that practically all criminals are religious. Absolutely and proportionately smaller numbers of criminals are freethinkers. Although church members nowhere constitute even half the population outside the prisons, they constitute from eighty to ninety-five per cent of the population inside the prison. This can be verified by reference to any census of any penal institution. As strangely as this may strike a great many readers, just so strange did it appear at one time to the multitude that the earth was round. (It is 500 years since the earth was proven to be round, yet there is a large colony of Christians near Chicago officially maintaining that the earth is as flat and four-cornered as the Bible states.) Neither Christianity nor any religious creed has proved an effectual check on civil crime.
The prostitute has been hounded and abused by ecclesiastics since Biblical times, yet, it is only true to say that the religionist is not vitally interested in prostitution. Outwardly, he may pour forth a verbal barrage of condemnation, but if he believes he can save her immortal soul, ahunting he goes. He does not attempt to ameliorate the social welfare of this poor, degraded individual, as he thinks; her pitiful condition in the "everlasting present" on this earth interests him not at all, although it is this existence about which he raves, his only interest is in redeeming her soul not her body. If when the religionist tells the prostitute that only those who believe in Christ as God, in His Virgin Birth, and in His Resurrection in the Body, will go to heaven, and she agrees and repents—all is well; the religionist has saved a soul, and the prostitute goes about her business of spreading hideous venereal disease to others whose souls are saved by believing in Christ as a God. Her soul is saved and safe, but the scholar, the poet, the scientist, the benefactor to mankind, all those who make this life bearable and livable, their souls must roast in hell forever if they do not believe in the creed. Divine Justice?
The greatest number of prostitutes are religious, yet prostitution continues to flourish. The ecclesiastic condemns the prostitute as the cause, never stopping to think that the cause must have an effect, and that prostitution is but the effect. The cause is our economic conditions. Prostitution is purely a medico-social problem, and the more the ecclesiastic keeps his hands off the problem the sooner will the condition be remedied to its best. Attempts to repress prostitution without changing the economic organization will always result in failure. Prostitution has always existed and will continue to exist until our economic system has undergone a radical change. So long as girls have to fight with starvation or with beggarly wages, so long as men are deterred from early marriage by inability to support a family, and so long as many married men remain polygamous in their tastes, just so long will prostitution exist. But we have seen that the clergy is never anxious to interfere with the "rights of the few to tyrannize the many," and since prostitution is an economic problem, religion never has, and never will be, of any help in this case. (Aside from the fact that there are many instances of a few centuries ago where the Church in a period of temporary financial distress has owned well paying brothels.)
When we think of morality we are apt to concentrate more on sexual morality than on the more obtuse moral duties. Religion has from time immemorial been held up to our minds as a great force in the production of this morality. That is another myth. In our own country it is a trite phrase that a man has a "Puritan code of ethics," or as "straight laced as a Puritan."
When the Puritan Fathers landed in this country, they began an existence that has revealed to the world for all time the value of a "burning religious zeal." In a sense they showed this zeal in regard to the Witchcraft Delusion.
Coming as they did, to avoid religious persecution in their own native country, they should have established a colony which for meekness and beneficence would have shown the value of a true religious fervor. Instead, the persecuted immediately became the persecutors—again proving the worth of a mind that is imbued with a dominating religious zeal.
Secondly, the principal vocation and recreation of these Fathers was their religion. It is only reasonable to suppose that in such a truly religious atmosphere morality should have reached its zenith of perfection. What actually happened is well illustrated in a very informative and case reporting work by Rupert Hughes, the novelist, "Facts About Puritan Morals":
"Everybody seems to take it for granted that the behavior of the early settlers of New England was far above normal. Nobody seems to take the trouble to verify this assumption. The facts are amazingly opposite. The Puritans admitted incessantly that they were exceedingly bad. The records sustain them.... The Puritans wallowed in every known form of wickedness to a disgusting degree. Considering the extremely meagre population of the early colonies, they were appallingly busy in evil. I do not refer to the doctrinal crimes that they artificially construed and dreaded and persecuted with such severity that England had to intervene: the crimes of being a Quaker, a Presbyterian, which they punished with lash, with the gallows, and with exile. I do not refer to their inclusion of lawyers among keepers of disorderly houses, and people of ill-fame. I refer to what every people, savage or civilized, has forbidden by law: murder, arson, adultery, infanticide, drunkenness, theft, rape, sodomy, and bestiality. The standard of sexual morality among the unmarried youth was lower in Puritan England than it is today for both sexes.
"It is important that the truth be known. Is religion, is church membership, a help to virtue? The careless will answer without hesitation, Yes! of course. The statistics, when they are not smothered, cry No!
"If church-going keeps down sin, then the Puritans should have been sinless because they compelled everybody to go to church. They actually regarded absence from church as worse than adultery or theft. They dragged prisoners from jail under guard to church. They whipped old men and women bloodily for staying away. They fined the stay-at-homes and confiscated their goods and their cattle to bankruptcy. When all else failed they used exile. Disobedience of parents was voted a capital offense and so was Sabbath-breaking even to the extent of picking up sticks.
"Yet, as a result of all this religion, the sex life of the Puritan was abnormal.... Their sex sins were enormous. Their form of spooning was 'bundling,' an astonishing custom that permitted lovers to lie down in bed together in the dark, under covers. They were supposed to keep all their clothes on, but there must have been some mistake somewhere for the number of illegitimate children and premature children was stupefying. Dunton tells us that there hardly passed a court day in Massachusetts without some convictions for fornication, and although the penalty was fine and whipping, the crime was very frequent.
"Nothing, I repeat, would have surprised the Puritans more than to learn that their descendants accepted them as saints. They wept, wailed, and refused to be comforted. They were terrified and horrified by their own wickedness. The harsh, granite Puritan of our sermons, on statues and frescoes, was unknown in real life. The real Puritan Zealot spent an incredible amount of his time in weeping like a silly old woman. Famous Puritan preachers boast of lying on a floor all night and drenching the carpet with their tears. Their church services according to their own accounts, must have been cyclones of hysteria, with the preacher sobbing and streaming, and the congregation in a state of ululant frenzy, with men and women fainting on all sides.
"The authorities are the best possible, not the reports of travelers or the satires of enemies, but the statements of the Puritans themselves, governors, eminent clergymen, and the official records of the colonies. Hereafter, anybody who refers to the Puritans as people of exemplary life, or morality above the ordinary, is either ignorant or a liar. In our own day, there is an enormous amount of crime and vice among the clergy. Most horrible murders abound, by ministers, of ministers, and for ministers. Published and unpublished adulteries, seductions, rapes, elopements, embezzlements, homosexual entanglements, bigamies, financial turpitudes, are far more numerous than they should be in proportion to the clerical population.
"Governor Bradford breaks out in his heart-broken bewilderment and unwittingly condemns the whole spirit and pretense of Puritanism. The Puritans fled from the wicked old world for purity's sake, they were relentless in prayer, they were absolutely under the control of the church and clergy, and yet, their Governor says that sin flourished more in Plymouth Colony than in vile London!
"If our people are wicked nowadays because they lack religion, what shall be said of the Puritans who were far more wicked, though they lived, moved, and had their being in an atmosphere so surcharged with religion that children and grown persons lay awake all night, sobbing and rolling on the floor in search of secret sins that they could not remember well enough to repent? It is well to remember that there has perhaps never been in history a community in which Christianity had so perfect a laboratory in which to experiment.
"The very purpose of the Colony was announced as the propagation of the Gospel. The Bible was the law book. The Colony lacked all the things on which preachers lay the blame for ungodliness; yet, every infamy known to history, from fiendish torture to luxurious degeneracy flourished amazingly. This ancient and impregnable fact has been ignored. The records have been studiously veiled in a cloud of misty reverence, and concealed under every form of rhetoric known to apologists."
We can only conclude that religion does not seem to act as an effectual check against sexual immorality. Furthermore, high moral principles can be inculcated without any religious background, and have been in spite of religion. A man who is moral because of his reason and his sensibilities, and his comprehension of the necessary social structure of the world is a far better citizen than the man who feebly attempts a moral life because he expects a mythical existence in a delusional heaven or wishes to avoid hell-fire. A secular code of morals based upon the best experiences of communal and national life would place its highest obligation not to a deity but to the welfare of all fellowmen.
CHRISTIANITY AND WAR
"Instead of diminishing the number of wars, ecclesiastical influence has actually and very seriously increased it; we may look in vain for any period since Constantine in which the clergy as a body exerted themselves to repress the military spirit, or to prevent or abridge a particular war with an energy at all comparable to that which they displayed in stimulating the fanaticism of the Crusades, in producing the atrocious massacres of the Albigenses, in embittering the religious contests that followed the Reformation." (Lecky.)
Any institution that can sanction war is the most immoral institution that the mind of man can imagine. That an institution which claims to have under its guidance the moral activity of this earth, has instituted and condoned war is a known historical fact. That the Church has blessed the banners of opposing factions, and has gloried in the butchering of innocent heretics, no manner of present disregard for the facts and apology can refute and redeem. The religious and civil wars, the massacre of the Albigenses and other sects, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, are still alive in the memories of historians and still rankle. The Crusades were a bloody blot in the none too peaceful times of the Middle Ages. Christianity hurled itself at Mohammedanism in expedition after expedition for nearly three centuries. Millions of men perished in battle, hunger, and disease, and every atrocity the imagination can conceive of disgraced the warriors of the cross. When one crusade failed, a papal bull instigated the next. Taxes were imposed to defray the expenses, and Europe was so drained of men and money that it was threatened with social bankruptcy and annihilation.
The Inquisition between 1481 and 1808 had punished 340,000 persons, and of these, nearly 32,000 had been burnt. This was the result of the declaration that "The Inquisition is an urgent necessity in view of the unbelief of the present age." The Church forgot to mention the vast amount of wealth that accrued to her by these means. But we need not turn to the dead ages for material, for the present still firmly holds its war memories.
"Armenians massacred by Turks and Kurds; Christians slaughtered by Mohammedans is a horror as hideous in the name of religion as in the name of war. The persecution of Jews by Christians in the name of Christ is diabolical. The atrocities inflicted on Christian Belgium by Christian Germany stains the Teuton's hand as red as the Turk's, but with a difference. The Teuton outraged his own 'holy women,' despoiled and murdered his own 'sisters in Christ,' while the Mohammedan hordes perpetrated their nameless infamies on those whom they believed to be the imps of Satan. Mercifully, call these things the logical crimes of a state of war! Then we must admit that savagery still is more powerful than religion, and we must concede that no religion so far has achieved the success that one might reasonably expect of a divine institution." (Bell: "Woman from Bondage to Freedom.")
The World War proved the utter worthlessness of Christianity as a civilizing force. The nations engaged were not fighting non-Christians; Germany, Austria, Russia, England, Belgium, Servia, Italy, and the United States are all Christian nations. They all worship the same God, they are all brothers in Christ, but that did not prevent their cutting each other's throats on the battlefield. Their common religious belief did not render the war less bitter nor less bloodthirsty.
Is it not a fact that if the Christian nations of the world would only live at peace together, war would be impossible? Neither Mohammedan nations nor Japan could threaten. When the Christian speaks of the brotherhood of man, he means a brotherhood of believers only. What kind of brotherhood did Christians bestow on Jews or heretics in the Middle Ages? Was it the brotherhood of man that Christianity bestowed on the conquered Mexican and Peruvian nations, and on the Indians of our own country? If Christianity had expended as much energy in teaching its adherents the fundamentals of a sane social life, as it did to prepare mankind for a mythical life in Heaven, civilization would be today greatly in advance of where it is.
Does any one believe that Jew, Mohammedan, Catholic, and Protestant can long live in peace together? Common social needs bring mankind together but religion drives them apart. There can never be a lasting peace until the myth of God is dispelled forever from the minds of men. Then and then only, can the adjustment between economic and political forces lead to a permanent peace.
CHRISTIANITY AND SLAVERY
Nothing during the American struggle against the slave system did more to wean religious and God-fearing men and women from the old interpretation of Scripture than the use of it to justify slavery.
ANDREW DICKSON WHITE.
The Christian Church has had the audacity, in modern times, to proclaim that it had abolished slavery and the slave trade. It is difficult to understand how any "righteous" man could make that contention remembering that it was not until the middle of the nineteenth century that slavery became illegal in Christian countries, with one exception, Abyssinia, the oldest of the Christian countries, which still maintains slavery. In our own country, a nation had to be embroiled in a civil war before slavery could be abolished. Abolished by Christianity in the nineteenth century, when Christianity has been dominant in most civilized countries since the third century, and when the traffic in human flesh flourished right through those centuries in which Christianity was most powerful!
A reference to the facts show that this claim is as spurious as many others which the ecclesiastics have boldly affirmed throughout the ages. For not only is this contrary to the truth, but it is an undeniable fact that it was only by the aid and sanction of the theological forces that slavery was able to degrade our civilization as long as it did.
On referring to that legend which has been the source of most of our suffering and inhumanity, the Bible, a direct sanction for slavery is given in the Old Testament. Leviticus XXV gives explicit instructions as to where and from whom slaves should be bought, and sanctions the repulsive feature of separation of the slave from his family. Leviticus XXVII gives the "price" of human beings.
The Koran, which the Christians look upon as a ridiculous smattering of utterances of a spurious prophet, sets a superior example to the Christian "Divine Revelations."
"God hath ordained that your brothers should be your slaves, therefore, let him whom God hath ordained to be the slave of his brother, his brother must give him of the clothes wherewith he clotheth himself, and not order him to do anything beyond his power.... A man who illtreats his slave will not enter paradise.... Whoever is the cause of separation between mother and child by selling and giving, God will separate him from his friends on the day of resurrection."
The New Testament follows the Old Testament, and there is nowhere to be found in its contents anything to suggest the elimination of this practice. Jesus did not condemn this practice, but accepted slavery as he accepted most institutions about him, and all superstitions. The teachings of Paul on the question of slavery are clear and explicit. Pope Leo, in his letter of 1888 to the Bishop of Brazil, remarks:
"When amid the slave multitude whom she has numbered among her children, some led astray by some hope of liberty, have had recourse to violence and sedition, the Church has always condemned these unlawful efforts, and through her ministers has applied the remedy of patience...."
St. Peter was addressing himself especially to the slaves when he wrote, "For this is thankworthy, if for conscience towards God a man endures sorrows, suffering wrongfully."
The Church certainly saw nothing wrong with slavery when she preached patience to her slaves. It did not condemn slavery, but condemned the slaves for revolting. This in 1888!
In the "Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics" is found: "There is no explicit condemnation in the teaching of our Lord.... It remains true that the abolitionist could point to no one text in the Gospels in defense of his position, while those who defended slavery could appeal at any rate to the letter of Scripture."
It is true that slavery existed under Pagan civilization, but there it represented a phase of social development, while Christian slavery stood for a deliberate retrogression in social life. It was Seneca who said, "Live gently and kindly with your slave, and admit him to conversation with you, to council with you, and to share in your meals."
Think of what would have occurred if one of our philosophers had admonished a slave-holding Christian in the above manner.
"We are apt to think of the ancient slave as being identical with the miserable and degraded being that disgraced Christian countries less than a century ago. This, however, is far from the truth. The Roman slave did not, of necessity, lack education. Slaves were to be found who were doctors, writers, poets, philosophers, and moralists. Plautus, Phaedrus, Terence, Epictetus, were slaves. Slaves were the intimates of men of all stations of life, even the emperor. Certainly, it never dawned on the Roman mind to prohibit education to the slave. That was left for the Christian world, and almost within our own time." (For a good account of the close association of Christianity with slavery see, "Christianity, Slavery, and Labor," Chapman Cohen.)
In Rome, the slave kept his individuality, and outwardly there was no distinction in color and clothing; there was very little sound barrier between the slave and the freeman. The slave attended the same games as the freeman, participated in the affairs of the municipality, and attended the same college. The ancients kept the bodies of their slaves in bondage, but they placed no restraint upon the mind and no check upon his education. It has even been said that the slave class of antiquity really corresponded to our free laboring class. It is also well known that a well-conducted slave, by his own earnings, was able to purchase his freedom in the course of a few years.
There can be no comparison, therefore, between Pagan and Christian slavery, except to the detriment of the latter. The Christian slave trade represents one of the most frightful and systematic brutalities the world has ever known. The contrast between the Pagan and Christian slavery is even more marked when the dependence of the Christian slave upon the good nature of his master is considered. Compare this with the decrees of the Roman emperors:
"Masters were prohibited sending their slaves into the arena without a judicial sentence. Claudius punished as a murderer any master who killed his slave. Nero appointed judges to hear the complaints of slaves as to ill-treatment or insufficient feeding. Domitian forbade the mutilation of slaves; Hadrian forbade the selling of slaves to gladiators, destroyed private prisons for them, and ordered that they who were proved to have ill-treated their slaves be forced to sell them. Caracalla forbade the selling of children into slavery."
"All that need be added to this is that the later Christian slavery represented a distinct retrogression, deliberately revived from motives of sheer cupidity, and accompanied by more revolting features than the slavery of ancient times." (Chapman Cohen.)
In the "History of Ethics Within Organized Christianity" is recorded, "The Church, as such, never contemplated doing away with slavery as such, even though Stoicism had denounced it as 'Contra Mundum.' Nowhere does the early Church condemn slavery as an institution. Kindness to the slave is frequently recommended, but this was done quite as forcibly, and upon a much broader ground by the pagan writers. It would be indeed nearer the truth to say that the Christians who wrote in favor of the mitigation of the lot of the slave were far more indebted to pagans than to Christian influence."
The Church itself owned many slaves, advised its adherents to will their slaves to her, and was the last to liberate the slaves which she owned. Yet, the apologists for the Church would have us believe that she was instrumental in the destruction of slavery, when it is a fact that there is nowhere a clear condemnation of slavery on the part of the Church.
H. C. Lea in his "Studies of the Church History" says, "The Church held many slaves, and while their treatment was in general sufficiently humane to cause the number to grow by voluntary accretions, yet it had no scruple to assert vigorously their claim to ownership. When the Papal Church granted a slave to a monastery, the dread anathema, involving eternal perdition, was pronounced against anyone daring to interfere with the gift; and those who were appointed to take charge of the lands and farms of the Church, were especially instructed that it was part of their duty to pursue and recapture fugitive bondsmen."
It must not be assumed that the Catholic Church was the only ecclesiastical body to condone slavery, or that it was only the traffic in black slaves that flourished a few hundred years ago.
"In the seventeenth century, thousands of Irish men, women and children, were seized by the order or under the license of the English government, and sold as slaves for use in the West Indies. In the Calendar of State Papers, under various dates, between 1653-1656, the following entries occur: 'For a license to Sir John Clotworthy to transport to America 500 natural Irishmen.' A slave dealer, named Schlick, is granted a license to take 400 children from Ireland for New England, and Virginia. Later, 100 Irish girls and a like number of youths are sold to the planters in Jamaica.
"Had the Church been against slavery it would have branded it as a wrong, and have set the example of liberating its own slaves. It did neither. Nay, the Church not only held slaves itself, not only protected others who held slaves, but it thundered against all who should despoil its property by selling or liberating slaves belonging to the Church. The whole history of the Christian Church shows that it has never felt itself called upon to fight any sound institution, no matter what its character, so long as it favored the Church. Slavery and serfdom, war, piracy, child labor, have all been in turn sanctioned." (Chapman Cohen: "Christianity, Slavery, and Labor.")
In Abyssinia, the influence of Christianity has been dominant for a longer period of time than anywhere else in the world. The population of Abyssinia is at least ten million, and of this population not less than one-fifth, probably more, are slaves. In 1929, Lady Kathleen Simon published her book entitled, "Slavery," dealing with the slave trade of the world. In this work it is pointed out that slave-owning is an integral part of the religion of the country, and that opposition to the abolition of slavery comes principally from the priesthood which considers itself the guardian of the Mosaic law, and regards slavery as an institution ordered by Jehovah.
Slave raids are constant in this country, and are accompanied by the greatest brutality and cruelty. Vast areas are depopulated by these raids and even at this date, gangs of slaves may be seen by travelers, with the dead and dying bodies of those that have fallen strewn along the roadside. "The slave trade in Abyssinia is open, its horrors are well known, and it is supported by the Christian Church of the country. Such is slavery in the most Christian country in the world today, the country which has the longest Christian history of any nation in the world. Its existence helps us to realize the value of the statement that the power of Christianity in the world destroyed the slave trade. Slavery flourishes in the oldest of Christian countries in the world, backed up by the Church, the Old Bible, and the New Testament. It has all the horrors, all the brutalities, all the degradations of the slave trade at its worst. Such is Christian Abyssinia, and such, but for the saving grace of secular civilization, would be the rest of the world." (Chapman Cohen.)
The slave system that arose in Christian times, created by and continued by Christians in the most Christian of countries, provides the final and unanswerable indictment of the Christian Church.
Slavery was unknown to the Africans until it was introduced by the Christian Portuguese. In 1517 the Spaniards began to ship negro slaves to Hispaniola, Cuba, Jamaica, and Porto Rica. John Hawkins was the first Englishman of note to engage in the traffic, and Queen Elizabeth loaned this virtuous and pious gentleman the ship Jesus. English companies were licensed to engage in this trade and during the reign of William and Mary it was thrown open to all.
Between 1680 and 1700, it has been said that 140,000 Negroes were imported by the English-African Company, and about 160,000 more by private traders. Between 1700 and 1786, as many as 610,000 were transported to Jamaica alone. In the hundred years ending 1776, the English carried into the Spanish, French, and English Colonies three million slaves.
The cruelty experienced by these human cargoes on their transportation defies description. The chaining, the branding, the mutilation, the close quarters, the deaths by suffocation and disease, are a sterling example of man's inhumanity to man when his conscience is relieved by finding support of his inhumane actions sanctioned in that most holy of holies, the Bible. Exclusive of the slaves who died before leaving Africa, not more than fifty out of a hundred lived to work on the plantations. Ingram's "History of Slavery" calculates that although between 1690 and 1820 no less than 800,000 Negroes had been imported to Jamaica, yet, at the latter date, only 340,000 were on the island.
Slavery in America received the same sanction by the religionists which it received on the continent. George Whitefield, the great Methodist preacher, was an earnest supporter of slavery. When the importation of slaves finally ceased the states began the new industry of breeding slaves; the leading state for this breeding, and the one which contained the largest number of stud farms, was Virginia. Lord Macaulay, in a speech delivered before the House of Commons on February 26, 1845, said: "The slave states of the Union are of two classes, the breeding states, where the human beast of burden increases, and multiplies, and becomes strong for labor; and the sugar and cotton states to which these beasts of burden are sent to be worked to death. Bad enough it is that civilized man should sail to an uncivilized quarter of the world where slavery existed, should buy wretched barbarians, and should carry them away to labor in a distant land; bad enough! But that a civilized man, a baptized man, a man proud of being a citizen of a free state, a man frequenting a Christian Church, should breed slaves for exportation, and if the whole horrible truth must be told, should even beget slaves for exportation, should see children, sometimes his own children, gambolling from infancy, should watch their growth, should become familiar with their faces, and should sell them for $400 or $500 a head, and send them to lead in a remote country a life which is a lingering death, a life about which the best thing that can be said is that it is sure to be short; this does, I own, excite a horror exceeding even the horror excited by that slave trade which is the curse of the African coast. And mark, I am speaking of a trade as regular as the trade in pigs between Dublin and Liverpool, or as the trade in coals between the Tyne and the Thames."
It has been estimated that the members and ministers of the Orthodox churches in the South owned no less than 660,000 slaves.
Thomas Paine, in 1775, when he wrote his article on "Justice and Humanity," was the first to demand emancipation in a lucid manner. The campaign for liberation of the slaves was therefore inaugurated by a freethinker, and triumphantly closed by another freethinker, Abraham Lincoln. In this manner did the Church abolish slavery. With characteristic disregard for the truth, the religionists have laid claim to Lincoln, which claim has been amply refuted; but we are still awaiting the Church's claim to Paine as one of her devotees.
"And, truly, the case against Christianity is plain and damning. Never, during the whole of its history has it spoken in a clear voice against slavery; always, as we have seen, its chief supporters have been pronounced believers. They have cited religious teaching in its defence, they have used all the power of the Church for its maintenance. Naturally, in a world in which the vast majority are professing Christians, believers are to be found on the side of humanity and justice. But to that the reply is plain. Men are human before they are Christians; both history and experience point to the constant lesson of the many cases in which the claims of a developing humanity override those of an inculcated religious teaching.
"But the damning fact against Christianity is, not that it found slavery here when it arrived, and accepted it as a settled institution, not even that it is plainly taught in its 'sacred' books, but, that it deliberately created a new form of slavery, and for hundreds of years invested it with a brutality greater than that which existed centuries before. A religion which could tolerate this slavery, argue for it, and fight for it, cannot by any stretch of reasoning be credited with an influence in forwarding emancipation. Christianity no more abolished slavery than it abolished witchcraft, the belief in demonism, or punishment for heresy. It was the growing moral and social sense of mankind that compelled Christians and Christianity to give up these and other things." (C. Cohen: "Christianity, Slavery, and Labor.")
CHRISTIANITY AND LABOR
The mortgage which the peasant has on heavenly property guarantees the mortgage of the bourgeois on the farms.
The same Christ, the same Buddha, the same Isaiah, can stand at once for capitalism and communism, for liberty and slavery, for peace and war, for whatever opposed or clashing ideals you will. For the life and the power of a church is in the persistent identity of its symbols and properties. Meanings change anyhow, but things endure. The rock upon which a church is founded is not the word of God; the rock upon which a church is founded is the wealth of men.
HORACE M. KALLEN, "Why Religion?"
During the Middle Ages the heads of the Church exercised all the rights of a feudal lord, and were even more tenacious of their privileges. The serfs were prohibited from migrating from one part of the country to another. The daughter of a serf could not marry without the consent of the lord, who frequently demanded payment for permission; or, worse still, the infamous "Right of the First Night." The serf was bonded in a hundred different ways, and it is significant of the esteem in which the Church was held that in every peasant revolt which occurred, there was always a direct attack on the Church.
Professor Thorold Rogers, writing of the twelfth century, gives the following picture of the poorer classes:
"The houses of these villagers were mean and dirty. Brickmaking was a lost art, stone was found only in a few places. The wood fire was on a hob of clay. Chimneys were unknown, except in castles and manor houses, and the smoke escaped through the door or whatever other aperture it could reach. The floor of the homestead was filthy enough, but the surroundings were filthier still. Close by the door stood the mixen, a collection of every abomination—streams from which, in rainy weather, fertilized the lower meadows, generally the lord's pasture, and polluted the stream. The house of the peasant cottager was poorer still. Most of them were probably built of posts wattled and plastered with clay or mud, with an upper storey of poles reached by a ladder."
"What the lord took he held by right of force; what the Church had it held by force of cunning. And as, in the long run, the cunning of the Church was more powerful than the force of the robber-lord, the priesthood grew in riches until its wealth became a threat to the whole of the community. In England, in the thirteenth century, the clergy numbered one in fifty-two of the population, and the possessions of the Church included a third of the land of England. No opportunity was lost by the Church to drain money from the people whether they were rich or poor. The trade done in candles, and sales of indulgences brought in large sums of money, and there were continuous disputes between the clergy and the king and the Pope as to the divisions of the spoil. The picture of the Church watching over the poor, sheltering them from wrong, tending them in sickness, and relieving them in their poverty will not do. It is totally without historic foundation. When the poor revolted, and apart from the great revolts, there were many small and local outbreaks, the anger of the poor was directed as much against the Church as it was against the nobles." (C. Cohen: "Christianity, Slavery, and Labor.")
When the downtrodden masses of Spain, Mexico, and Russia revolted against the tyranny which had held them in the slough of medieval degradation, they likewise, in recent times, proved that they realized that their submission was as much caused by the Church, allied as it is with the state, as by the government itself.
The Church did attend the sick, but its trade was in the miracle cures and prayers, and so they very much resembled men hawking their own goods, and attending to their own business. And there is the plain, historic fact, that in defense of its miracle cures it did what it could to obstruct the growth of both medical and sanitary science. It did give alms but these constituted but a small part of what it had previously taken.
Through all the changes of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, it is impossible to detect anxiety on the part of the Churches, Roman Catholic or Protestant, to better the status of, or improve the condition of, the working classes. Whatever improvements may have come about, and they were few enough, came independently of Christianity, organized or unorganized. Controversies about religious matters might, and did, grow more acute; controversies about bettering the position of the working classes only began with the breaking down of Christianity. And when, as in Germany, there occurred a peasants' revolt, and the peasants appealed to Luther for assistance, he wrote, after exhorting the peasants to resignation, to the nobles:
"A rebel is outlawed of God and Kaiser, therefore who can and will first slaughter such a man does right well, since upon such a common rebel every man is alike the judge and executioner. Therefore, who can shall openly or secretly smite, slaughter and stab, and hold that there is nothing more poisonous, more harmful, more devilish than a rebellious man."
And in pre-revolutionary France, the Church saw unmoved a state of affairs almost unimaginable, so far as the masses of the people were concerned, in their misery and demoralization. And this at a time when half the land of France, in addition to palaces, chateaux, and other forms of wealth were possessed by the nobility and clergy, and were practically free from taxation.
A contemporary observer writes, "Certain savage-looking beings, male and female, are seen in the country, black, livid, and sunburnt, and belonging to the soil which they dig and grub with invincible stubbornness. They stand erect, they display human lineaments, and seem capable of articulation. They are, in fact, men. They retire at night into their dens, where they live on black bread, water and roots. They spare other human beings the trouble of sowing."
In pre-revolutionary France, the clergy, counting monks and nuns, numbered, in 1762, over 400,000, with total possessions estimated at two thousand million pounds, producing an annual revenue of about one hundred and forty millions. The clergy were free from taxation and the higher members of the order possessed all the rights and privileges of the feudal nobility. To the end the Church in France, as in our day, in pre-revolutionary Russia, remained the champion of privilege and misgovernment.
In England, during the latter half of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, developed the English manufacturing system. Woman-and child-labor were common in both mines and factories. The regular working hours were from 5 A.M. to 8 P.M., with six full days' labor per week. One investigator remarks: "It is a very common practice with the great populous parishes in London to bind children in large numbers to the proprietors of cotton-mills in Lancashire and Yorkshire, at a distance of 200 miles. The children are sent off by waggon loads at a time, and are as much lost for ever to their parents as if they were shipped off for the West Indies. The parishes that bind them, by procuring a settlement for the children at the end of forty days, get rid of them for ever; and the poor children have not a human being in the world to whom they can look up for redress against the wrongs they may be exposed to from these wholesale dealers in them, whose object it is to get everything they can possibly wring from their excessive labor and fatigue."
In the mines conditions were still worse, and a report in 1842 states: "Children are taken at the earliest ages, if only to be used as living and waving candlesticks, or to keep rats from a dinner, and it is in pits of the worst character, too, in which most female children are employed. It would appear from the practical returns obtained by the commissioner, that about one-third of the persons employed in coal mines are under eighteen years of age, and that much more than one-third of this proportion are under thirteen years of age." In certain mines there was no distinction of sex so far as underground labor was concerned. The men worked entirely naked and were assisted by females of all ages, from girls of six years to women of twenty-one, who were quite naked down to the waist.
But if oppression was rife, education at a low ebb, and misery prevalent, the religion of the people was receiving attention. The period was, in fact, one of revival in religion. The Wesleyan revival was in full swing, and Evangelical Christianity was making great advances. Between 1799 and 1804 there were founded, "The British and Foreign Bible Society," "The London Missionary Society," and "The Mission To The Jews."
When the Education Bill of 1819 came before the House of Lords, out of eighteen Bishops who voted on the measure, fifteen voted against it! Thus the religionists were most active during the period when a condition approximating white slavery existed. And why should this not have been so, when the Church is not interested in the social and economic status of its adherents during their existence on this planet, but is avowedly concerned with deluding its devotees into a mythical belief in a life hereafter? The greatest number of slaves and the greatest degradation of workers is to be found in those times and places where religious superstition is most powerful.
In our own country, as well as in England, the labor movement has developed not merely outside the range of organized Christianity, but in the teeth of the bitterest opposition to it. Christianity, since it came into power, has always preached to the poor in defense of the privileges and possessions of the rich.
In a recent publication by Jerome Davis, which is entitled "Labor Speaks for Itself on Religion," the author has compiled the opinions of labor leaders in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Russia, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, China, Austria, Australia, Belgium, and Japan. It is a terrific indictment by labor against organized religion. The author tells us, "Here is labor speaking for itself, and in the by and large it feels that the Church has not understood or helped it to secure justice. The majority believe that the Church has a capitalistic bias. It is a class institution for the upper and middle classes." This is putting the matter rather mildly when one considers their grievances expressed in their own words. Again Jerome Davis asks, "Is it possible that our Church leaders are to some extent blinded by current conventional standards? Are they so busy sharing the wealth of the prosperous with others in spiritual quests that they fail to see some areas of desperate social need? Do they to some degree unconsciously exchange the gift of prophecy for yearly budgets and business boards?"
James H. Maurer, the president of the Pennsylvania Federation of Labor, speaks for labor and the title of his subject is, "Has the Church Betrayed Labor?" Mr. Maurer's opinion follows: "A worker living from hand to mouth, and lucky if he is not hopelessly in debt besides, working at trip-hammer speed when he has work, with no security against enforced idleness, sickness, and old age, can hardly be expected to become deeply interested in, or a very enthusiastic listener to sermons about Lot's disobedient wife, who because she looked back was turned into a pillar of salt. He is far more concerned about his own overworked and perhaps underfed wife who, due to the strain of trying to raise his family on a meager income that permits of no rest or proper medical care, is slowly but surely turning into a corpse. To go to a church and listen to a sermon about the sublimeness of being humble and meek, that no matter how desperate the struggle to live may be one should be contented and not envy the more fortunate, because God in His infinite wisdom has ordained that there shall be rich and poor and that no matter how heavy one's burdens on this earth, one should bear them meekly and look for reward in the world to come and remember that God loves the poor—such sermons naturally sound pleasing to the ears of the wealthy listeners, and the usual reward is a shower of gold and hearty congratulations by the sleek and well-fed members of the congregation. But to an intelligent worker such sermons sound like capitalistic propaganda, upon which he is constantly being fed by every labor-exploiting concern in the country, and quite naturally he tries to avoid getting an extra dose of the same kind of buncombe on Sunday....