Skip to comments.The Demands of Liberalism and the roots of "Separation of Church and State"
Posted on 05/01/2012 9:17:43 AM PDT by ProgressingAmerica
I was contacted privately with large portions of this information, and the doors that it's opened I find to be absolutely fascinating. This was published in 1878, but I can find references to this 9 point list as early as 1872. In a magazine called "The Index", this is listed as their demands:(Page 85)
"THE DEMANDS OF LIBERALISM
"1. We demand that churches and other ecclesiastical property shall no longer be exempt from just taxation.
"2. We demand that the employment of chaplains in Congress, in State legislatures, in the navy and militia, and in prisons, asylums, and all other institutions supported by public money, shall be discontinued.
"3. We demand that all public appropriations for educational and charitable institutions of a sectarian character shall cease.
"4. We demand that all religious services now sustained by the Government shall be abolished; and especially that the use of the Bible in the public schools, whether ostensibly as a text-book or avowedly as a book of religious worship, shall be prohibited.
"5. We demand that the appointment, by the President of the United States, or by the Governors of the various States, of all religious festivals and fasts shall wholly cease.
"6. We demand that the judicial oath in the courts and in all other departments of the Government shall be abolished, and that simple affirmation under the pains and penalties of perjury shall be established in its stead.
"7. We demand that all laws directly or indirectly enforcing the observance of Sunday as the Sabbath shall be repealed.
"8. We demand that all laws looking to the enforcement of "Christian" morality shall be abrogated, and that all laws shall be conformed to the requirements of natural morality, equal rights, and impartial liberty.
"9. We demand that not only in the Constitutions of the United States, and of the several States, but also in the practical administration of the same, no privilege or advantage shall be conceded to Christianity or any other special religion; that our entire political system shall be founded and administered on a purely secular basis; and that whatever changes shall prove necessary to this end shall be consistently, unflinchingly, and promptly made."
For anybody who's been dealing with leftists for a long time, you will note now familiar all of this sounds. Remember, this goes back to 1872. I have often wondered "what kinds of things happened to lead Americans into the progressive movement of the 20th century" and this certainly helps answer that question.
An important note of what's happening in this time period, is the "Christian Amendment". Bad idea. The Founders Fathers had it right, there's no reason to over do it. Because of the Christian Amendment, people were recoiling against it in a very strong way, and this was their national platform for the 1880 election: (It's repeated 11 times within that book)
1 TOTAL SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE, to be guaranteed by amendment of the United States Constitution: including the equitable taxation of church property, secularization of the public schools, abrogation of Sabbatarian laws, abolition of chaplaincies, prohibition of public appropriations for religious purposes, and all other measures necessary to the same general end.
2 NATIONAL PROTECTION FOR NATIONAL CITIZENS, in their equal civil, political, and religious rights: to be guaranteed by amendment of the United States Constitution, and afforded through the United States courts.
3 UNIVERSAL EDUCATION THE BASIS OF UNIVERSAL SUFFERAGE IN THIS SECULAR REPUBLIC: to be guaranteed by amendment of the United States Constitution, requiring every State to maintain a thoroughly secularized public school system, and to permit no child within its limits to grown up without a good elementary education.
I find this interesting. First, this "secularization" push is obvious, the Founders did not give is a secular republic. A Christian Amendment is clearly a bad idea but so to is a secularized republic. Again, the founders got it right the first time in this respect.
Also, "National citizens"? That's another bad idea, the division of power has proven to be an overwhelming success. Yet we suffer from this idea too, to this day. There are never ending attacks on the sovereignty of the states, but long term if our freedom is to be secure it's not going to come from D.C. The states are the answer. If you want to see who has it right, take a trip to Texas. They are clearly Texans - the Texas flag is everywhere, and that's a good thing. We don't need a national government running roughshod over helpless citizens. All 50 states should do what they do. The Founders weren't Americans, they were New Yorkers, Virginians, Georgians, Pennsylvanians, and etc.
But finally, is the issue of the 'total separation of church and state'. As a matter of judicial precedent, it's true that the "separation" goes back to the 1947 Everson v. Board of Education case, but as a matter of liberal thought, it's clear that this had been percolating for a much longer time. They couldn't get it codified as a matter of legislation, so they simply used judicial activists to make it stick. Modern progressives would have you believe that Hugo Black was a big fan of Jefferson, and that's the end of it. While that may be totally true that Black was a Jefferson fan, this is hardly something that just started with one man and ended up on the SCOTUS at sheer coincidence.
The Rev. Benjamin William Arnett has a great response to what these "Liberal Leagues" intended to do, in his 1876 Centennial Thanksgiving Sermon: (Page 47)
The Danger to our Country.
Now that our national glory and grandeur is principally derived from the position the fathers took on the great questions of right and wrong, and the career of this nation has been unparalleled in the history of the past, now there are those who are demanding the tearing down the strength of our national fabric. They may not intend to tear it down, but just as sure as they have their way, just that sure will they undermine our superstructure and cause the greatest calamity of the age.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. One more quote from The Index: (Page 42)
Call to OrganizeCITIZENS of the United States who indorse the appended political platform adopted in convention by the National Liberal League, at Rochester, N.Y., Oct. 26, 1877, are requested to meet in their respective cities and towns on Washington's Birthday, Feb. 22, 1878, for the purpose of organizing themselves into Local Auxiliary Liberal Leagues in accordance with the provisions of the National Liberal League Constitution. Copies of the latter and blanks for organization can be obtained from W.H. Hamlen, Secretary, 231 Washington Street, Boston, or from H.L. Green, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Salamanca, N.Y.
Nice...... a call to organize. Now where have I heard that one from?
"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle" - Sun Tzu (Chapter 3)
Classical liberalism (note the small "l") was a movement to leave people alone. Let them be free. Keep government small. Throughout the nineteenth century (to my knowledge) this is what liberalism meant.
In the 20th century, as communism, socialism, and progressivism all proved themselves to be unworkable, the activists on the Left needed a new name for their unworkable philosophy. Again, to the best of my knowledge, in the middle of the 20th century, the activists on the Left started pushing for "Liberalism" which was big government, high taxes, no religion, no freedom, no families.
I'm surprised to see something from 1878 using Liberalism in this sense.
At some point, liberals made the jump from limited government and liberty to bigger government and statism. This is a lead in, they didn’t make the full transition to statism until the 20th century progressive era. This kind of transition doesn’t just happen over night, it takes years and the continued development of these kinds of sentiments.
You’re right about the usurpation of the term ‘liberalism’, but with these kinds of liberals existing before the progressive era, that would explain why nobody batted an eye when all the progressives switched their labels. There was already a ‘liberal’ movement that was spouting these kinds of ideals.
I was surprised too. But these are all original sources.
Much appreciated, will read and ping out.
In noting the year, I wonder if there is some buried connection in this list of demands to the post-civil-war society and the assimilation of the “new” American negro. Who, in many ways, understood the work of Christian compassion in their emancipation. A Christian value that was obvious in the Constitution, The Declaration of Independence as well as the Emancipation Proclamation.
Many negroes had thrown off their Africa-based animism and embraced the Christianity of their oppressors. Me thinks these “liberals” might be attacking “the church” as a means to hold back full citizenship of the negro?
Just thinking out loud....
Some of the free religionists even blamed Christianity for the rise of slavery. Which is wrong, they should've blamed the King and typical totalitarian schemes. But that's what they did.
Interesting find, PGA.
Predates the Eugenics movement, that got my attention. I did a little digging.
There are several fictional novels of that era, of a socialist/utopian bent. 19th century science fiction, if you will.
Who’da thunk? Raises the possibility that liberals are just late-19th century Trekkies?
They did that a lot.
Francis Bellamy’s book “Looking Backward” did a lot to introduce Nationalism.(While Bellamy wasn’t a progressive, he did start writing for the Fabians toward the end of his life)
Edward House’s book “Philip Dru Administrator” is very much like a progressive blueprint, with expert panels filled with czars running the show.
Ernest Poole’s book “The Harbor” is considered a socialist novel.
All of these books are downloadable for free online, and in audio book formats as well.
Freepmail wagglebee to subscribe or unsubscribe from the moral absolutes ping list.
Very informative history lesson from Progressing America. Leftists/socialist/communists/progressives have been around for a long time. Note their emphasis even more than 100 years ago on nationalism as opposed to states' rights, elimination of the influence of God and "Christian morality", mandatory secular education, and the like.
Successful societies need government to provide for the following:
— defense of the borders
— honest courts and law enforcement
— a means to punish criminals and enforce contracts
But....Even when government does the above its actions are never religiously, politically, or culturally neutral in its consequences.
As for schools, it is IMPOSSIBLE to have religiously, politically, or culturally neutral school. Such a school can not exist because a religious vacuum can not exist in the mind of any sentient human being. Secularism is NOT religiously neutral because it promotes and establishes a godless worldview in the minds of the children who attend. Just to cooperate in a secular classroom the child MUST think and reason godlessly. How could it be otherwise?
Solution: Restrict government to its fundamental purposes: defense of the borders, rule of law, and prisons.
Solution: Work to get government out of the school business. We need complete separation of **school** and state.
Classical liberalism (note the small “l”) was a movement to leave people alone. Let them be free. Keep government small.
Exactly! Not only should government be limited and small it should be kept as **local** as possible.
Please read my post #11.
A great read. Thanks for the ping.
You're right, BTW, about the “Christian Amendment” movement. The Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America is probably the last group of any significance left in modern America where the “Christian Amendment” issue is still alive, but this was once a much bigger controversy.
There are reasons I say America was founded on Judeo-Christian values, not that America is a Christian nation. There are important differences between those two statements. A great deal happened between Plymouth Rock and the Constitutional Convention, not all of it good, but we have to deal with the reality that Franklin, Jefferson, and a number of people who held beliefs later called Unitarian were among the Founders, along with Roman Catholics and others whose religious beliefs were unacceptable in contemporary Britain from which the colonists had revolted.