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order and felicity here, by separating and folding our children thus, in the stringent limits of religious non-acquaintance and consequent animosity, it will be because the laws of human nature and society have failed.
Besides, there are other consequences of such a breach upon the common school system, implied in yielding this demand, which are not to be suffered. A very great part of the children, thus educated, will have very inferior advantages. They will be shut up in schools that do not teach them what, as Americans, they most of all need to know, the political geography and political history of the world, the rights of humanity, the struggles by which those rights are vindicated, and the glorious rewards of liberty and social advancement that follow. They will be instructed mainly into the foreign prejudices and superstitions of their fathers, and the state, which proposes to be clear of all sectarian affinities in religion, will pay the bills !
It will also be demanded, next, that the state shall hold the purse for the followers of Tom Paine, and all other infidels, discharging the bills of schools where Paine's Age of Reason, or the Mormon Bible, or Davis' Revelations are the reading books of the children.
The old school Presbyterian church took ground, six years ago, in their General Assembly, at the crisis of their high church zeal, against common and in favor of parochial schools. Hitherto their agitation has yielded little more than a degree of discouragement and disrespect to the schools of their country; but if the Catholics prevail in their attempt, they also will be forward in demanding the same rights, upon the same grounds, and their claim also must be granted. By that time the whole system of common schools is fatally shaken. For, since education is thrown thus far upon the care of individual parents, still another result is certain to follow in close proximity, viz., the discontinuance of all common schools, and of all public care of education; and then we shall have large masses of children growing up in neglect, with no school at all provided to which they can be sent; ignorant, hopeless and debased creatures; banditti of the street; wild men of anarchy, waiting for their leaders, and the guerilla practice of the mountains; at first the pest of society, and finally its end or overthrow. A result that will be further expedited, by the fact that many children, now in our public schools, will be gathered into schools of an atheistic or half pagan character, where they will be educated in a contempt of all order and decency, to be leaders of the ignorance and brutality supplied by the uneducated. How different the picture from that which is now presented by our beautiful system of common schools—every child provided with a good school, all classes and conditions brought together on an equal footing of respect and merit, the state their foster-mother, all property a willing and glad contributor for their outfit in life, and their success in the ways of intelligence and virtue!
Take it then for a point established, that common schools are to remain as common schools, and that these are to be maintained by the state as carefully as the arsenals and armed defenses of the country—these and no other. Just here, then, comes the difficult question, what we are to do, how to accommodate the religious distinctions of the people, so as to make their union in any common system of schools, possible-how the Catholics, in particular, are to be accommodated in their religion, in those societies and districts where Protestants are the majority; how Protestants, where Catholics are the majority ?
The question how Pagans, Mohammedans, and Atheists, are to be accommodated, is, in my view, a different question, and one, I think, which is to be answered in a different manner. They are to be tolerated, or suffered, but in no case to be assisted or accommodated, by acts of public conformity. I can not agree to the sentiment sometimes advanced, that we are not a Christian nation, in distinction from a Pagan, Mohammedan or Infidel. Indeed I will go further, assuming the fact of God's existence, I will say that no government can write a legitimate enactment or pass a valid decree of separation from God. Still, after the act is done, God exists, God is the only foundation it has of public right or authority. The state, indeed, is a fiction, a lie, and no state, save as it stands in him. And then as Christianity is only the complete revelation of God, otherwise only partially revealed, it follows that the state can not be less than a Christian state, can not any more disown or throw off its obligations to be Christian, than an individual can. Nor in fact has our government ever attempted to shake off Christianity, but has always, from the first day till now, taken the attitude and character of a Christian commonwealth-accepting the Christian Sabbath, appointing fasts and thanksgivings, employing military and legislative chaplains, and acknowledging God by manifold other tokens. Accordingly our schools are, to the same extent, and are to be Christian schools. This is the American principle, and as we have never disowned God and Christ, as a point of liberty in the state, or to accommodate unbelievers, so we are required by no principle of American right or law to make our schools unchristian, to accommodate Turks and Pagans, or rejectors and infidels.
Common schools, then, are to be Christian schools—how Christian? In the same sense, I answer, that Catholics and Protestants are Christians, in the same sense that our government is Christian, in the same that Christendom is Christian, that is, in the recognition of God and Christ and providence and the Bible. I fully agree with our Catholic friends regarding what they say in deprecation of a godless system of education. Dr. Chalmers, engaged in a society to establish Catholic schools in Glasgow, went so far as to say that if he had not been able to obtain "favorable terms from the priest, that is, the liberty of making the Bible a school-book,” he would still have persevered, “ on the principle that a Catholic population, with the capacity of reading, are a more hopeful subject than without it.” Perhaps he was right, but the statistics reported in France, a few years ago, showing that public crimes, in the different departments, were very nearly in the ratio of education, increasing too in the ratio of the increase of education, are sufficient to throw a heavy shade of doubt on the value of all attempts to educate, that increase the power of men, and add no regulative force of principle and character. It is, to say the least, a most perilous kind of beneficence. The chances are far too great that knowledge, without principle, will turn out to be only the equipment of knaves and felons.
The greater reason is there that our Catholic fellow-citizens should not do what they can to separate all the schools of the nation from Christian truth and influence, by requiring a surrender of every thing Christian in the schools, to accommodate their sectarian position. Or, if they reply that they would wholly supplant the common schools, leaving only parochial and sectarian schools in their place, on the ground that our government can not, without some infringement on religion, be made to coalesce with any thing Christian, then is it seen they are endeavoring to make the state "godless” in order to make the school Christian. Exactly this, indeed, one of their most distinguished and capable teachers in Pennsylvania is just now engaged to effect; insisting that the civil state has no right to educate children at all; not only controverting a constituent element of our civil order, but claiming it as a Christian right that the state shall exercise no Chris tian function. Which then is better, a godless government or a godless school? And if his own church will not suffer a godless school, what has it more earnestly insisted on than the horrible impiety of a state separated from God and religion, and the consequent duty of all kings and magistrates to be servants and defenders of the church? The Catholic doctrine is plainly in a dilemma here, and can no way be accommodated. If the state is godless, then it should as certainly withdraw from that as from the school, which, if it persists in doing, it as certainly does what it can, under the pretext of religion, to empty both the state and the schools of all religion.
The true ideal state manifestly is, one school and one Christianity. But it does not follow that we are to have as many schools as we have distinct views of Christianity, because we have not so many distinct Christianities. Nor is any thing more cruel and abominable than to take the little
children apart, whom Christ embraced so freely, and make them parties to all our grown up discords whom Christ made one with himself and each other, in their lovelier and, God forgive us if perchance it also be, their wiser age. Let us draw near rather to the common Christ we profess, doing it through them and for their sake, and see if we can not find how to set them together under Christ, as his common flock.
In most of our American communities, especially those which are older and more homogeneous, we have no difficulty in retaining the Bible in the schools and doing every thing necessary to a sound Christian training. Nor, in the larger cities, and the more recent settlements, where the population is partly Catholic, is there any, the least difficulty in arranging a plan so as to yield the accommodation they need, if only there were a real disposition on both sides to have the arrangement. And precisely here, I suspect, is the main difficulty. There may have been a want of consideration sometimes manifested on the Protestant side, or a willingness to thrust our own forms of religious teaching on the children of Catholics. Wherever we have insisted on retaining the Protestant Bible as a school book, and making the use of it by the children of Catholic families, compulsory, there has been good reason for complaining of our intolerance. But there is a much greater difficulty, I fear, and more invincible, on the other side. In New York the Catholics complained of the reading of the Protestant Scriptures in the schools, and of the text-books employed, some of which contained hard expressions against the Catholic church. The Bible was accordingly withdrawn from the schools and all religious instruction discontinued. The text-books of the schools were sent directly to Archbishop Hughes, in person, to receive exactly such expurgations as he and his clergy would direct. They declined the offer, by a very slender evasion, and it was afterward found that some of the books complained of were in actual use, in their own church schools, though already removed from the schools of the city. Meantime the immense and very questionable sacrifice thus made, to accommodate the complaints of the Catholics, resulted in no discontinu