Tag Archives: Church of England

Was Judas’ Betrayal of Jesus any worse than the U.S. Episcopal Church’s Betrayal of its own English Heritage?

Today, April 2, marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Confederate States of America as a viable political entity.  There were no memorials or eulogies.  The world, even the South, lives largely in a state of amnesia induced by foreign occupation and subjugated defeat.  We have betrayed our ancestors ideals of constitutional government and genuine freedom by tolerating the most corrupt and perverse government, and a culture filled with lies, that is humanly imaginable.

While serving as President of the CSA, Jefferson Davis once commented on the comparisons to be made between the war of 1861-65 between the Northern and Southern United States and the English Civil War between “Roundhead” Protestant Radicals, led by Oliver Cromwell, and the Church of England and its Constitutional Monarchy, led by the two Kings Charles Edward Stuart, I and II.

Davis commented that the South had inherited the noble Cavalier mantle of King Charles the Martyr and that it was at war with a nation of self-righteous meddlesome bigots.  Davis never understood the close relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Karl Marx, or the historically decisive nature of that alliance.   

But the fact remains that there is a close relationship between the Episcopal Church/Church of England, and the South and its heritage.  Almost all the leaders of the Confederate South, including Jefferson Davis, Alexander Hamilton Stephens, Braxton Bragg, Jubal Early, Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, Joseph E. Johnston, and John Bell Hood, and Patrick Cleburne were Episcopalians.  Major exceptions were Judah P. Benjamin (Jewish) and P.T.G. Beauregard (Roman Catholic).

On this day a hundred and fifty years ago, April 2, 1865, General Robert E. Lee and President Jefferson Davis evacuated the Confederate Capital at Richmond. It had been a terrible mistake to move the Capital from inaccessible Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, too close to Washington.

But today, on this sad sesquicentennial, I attended Maundy Thursday services at Christ Church Cathedral in the 2900 block of St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, where Confederate General Leonidas Polk was First Bishop of Louisiana, and where that Southern hero’s remains are buried.

Yesterday, Canon Steve Roberts in his Holy Week Wednesday Homily had spoken of betrayal—Judas’ “betrayal of Jesus, of course, being one of the key events of Holy Week. Canon Roberts had spoken of the experience of betrayal in everyday life—“there has to be a relationship of trust, for betrayal to happen…..we cannot be betrayed by strangers who hardly know us.”

I charge again that the Diocese of Louisiana has betrayed the Memory of General Polk by condemning the freedom Polk (and a million other southerners) fought for, and for which so many hundreds of thousands gave their lives.

Polk is a gigantic figure in the history of this place. Even today his name has a visible relationship to this Diocese and to many a parish in this state. His picture is on the walls of Christ Church. His tombstone is the largest single monument to any North American personage at the right hand of the Great Christ Church Altar.

Trinity Episcopal on Jackson Avenue still has “Bishop Polk Hall” as its central and largest meeting place. I do not think it should ever rename that Hall…. because the name of Leonidas Polk is hallowed from Natchitoches Trinity Church where my grandmother Helen was baptized on South.

I ask today, as I have asked before—how can we be true to ourselves if we distain, if we dishonor our heritage?

Could Rome ever disown Saints Peter and Paul? Could Jerusalem ever forget James, the Brother of Jesus, and that City’s own first Bishop? Should England, Greece, Russia, and Scotland ever forget Saints Andrew and Saint George?

No more should Louisiana forget Bishop Leonidas Polk and the Constitutional Government of the Confederate States of America for which His Grace, General Leonidas Polk, fought and died.

Reflections on Love and Pride in Lent

To all my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, a Blessed and Deeply Reflective and Repentant Lent.Above all we should reflect on God’s love for us, and the nature and extent of all love here on earth among us mortals in the course of our Salvation.Without the three species of love, the world is a desolate place indeed. But Agape, Philios, and Eros are not and have never been equal or easy to understand and relate to one another.

During Lent we should all reflect deeply on the things inside us that destroy and build up love of all types, but especially Agape, the love and charity of God Himself towards us all.

Pride is considered one of the seven deadly sins, for example, but is loving Pride sinful or Godly? 

And how can parental pride in their children or a child’s or a group.of children’s pride in his or her parents be considered as anything other than an expression of love?

Pride is love, but it is obviously neither eros nor philios, although it is certainly in some contexts similar to and compatible with brotherly love, and the pride of a man in his beautiful wife or of a woman in her successful husband is equally compatible with eros, and seems virtuous in all ways rather than sinful.

I simply cannot accept that all pride is sinful.  In her song, the Magnigicat, the Blessed Virgin Mary articulates a series of emotions which can only be called pride, pride in the Glory of God, pride in God’s justice, pride in her own inheritance as a daughter of Abraham, and pride above all in her unique and special relationship with God and her unique and special role in His plans for the salvation of the world.  I think it is fair to say that Mary’s expresdions of pride are filled with Agape, the love and charity of God. 

Pride is an issue for many of us in America, Europe, Australia, and South Africa as we confront the demands of the Church of England and its Anglican Commmunion and Episcopal affiliates abroad that we apologize for our own Christian parents, grandparents, and ancestors for their sins, real and imaginary, such as Slavery, Segregation, or belief in the righteousness of White Supremacy.

I, for one, refuse to believe that family pride is sinful, or that the extended family pride we might call pride in our bilogical, constitutional, cultural, ethnic, legal, national, political, racial, or social heritage is sinful either.

I suggest that deeper study and understanding of history are critical to the analysis and comprehension of all the elements of our heritage.  Historical study and reflection seems like a good appropriately reflective and potentially penitential activity which might constitute a good sacrifice of time for Lent.

Bishop Morris K. Thompson in his Ash Wednesday homily yesterday (March 5, 2014) suggested that such a sacrifice of reflective time was a much more appropriate item to dedicate one’s demonstration of commitment to Lent than giving up chocolates or candy bonbons.  

I believe that there is room for both Godly love and Godly pride in Lent, and that we can and should love our families, both near and far. It was with great happiness and pride, for example, that I followed the example of Saint Paul in addressing this letter to my “Brothers and Sisters in Christ.” 

May the Fourth be with You (and with thy Spirit)…. May 3rd was Day of the Holy Cross (in the Old BCP anyhow); Warnings from History about the Coming Dark Age: May 3 is also Polish Constitution of 1791 Day, and the 60th Anniversary of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company Petition for Certiorari

Yes, May the Fourth is international Star Wars Day (“May the Fourth be with You”—but watch out for the “Revenge of the Fifth”), and yesterday, all over Western Christendom, is or at least used to be called “the Day of the Holy Cross” (this construction of the Calendar is sometimes said to be a “Gallican” custom, involving the mixture of Celtic rites of Beltane [May Day] with Christianity, in the time of Saint Gregory of Tours and other such French sources predating the time of Charlamagne*, but even as a 20th century Anglican/Episcopalian, I grew up thinking that Constantine’s Mother the Empress Helen**  went to Jerusalem and found the “true Cross” fragments on May 3, and when I started traveling to and living in Mexico I found that the Mexicans [in “Veracruz” and elsewhere] still celebrate the 3rd, notwithstanding anything Pope John XXIII did the year I was born [1960], and the Maya of Yucatán—see my birthday greetings for Pedro Un Cen on May 1—still celebrate May 3 as the day that the Chaacs (the Ancient Maya Raingods) return to the land from the East to start the beginning of the rainy season, but Last things first:

POLISH CONSTITUTION OF 1791 Day: A Warning for our Time

Most Americans have heard of American Revolutionary War hero General  Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko (at least by the shorter version of his name: Tadeusz Kosciuszko).  He came to the United States to assist in the War of Independence for no reason other than he thought it was the right thing to do.  He was a volunteer Patriot in Founding a country 1/3 of the way around the world from his homeland.  

I have the feeling that Kosciuszko lived to feel even more defeated than John W. Davis….(see my adjoining post on the 60th Anniversary of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Petition for Writ of Certiorari) possibly more like Jefferson Davis must have felt…..  

Kosciuszko lived long enough after the American Revolution to see first the French Revolution, then the final partition of his own homeland by three of the major powers OPPOSED to the French Revolution, the restoration of the core of his homeland (briefly) between 1807 and 1815, and then the final re-annexation of Poland by Russia after the Congress of Vienna in 1815—a situation which would endure for another 104 years….

After helping launch the American nation, with a career comparable and in some ways parallel to the actions of the Marquis de Lafayette in France, Kosciuszko went back to his native Poland where he tried to rebuild and save his own nation, and modernize its constitution in light of what he had learned and seen in America. I have previously, on this blog, mentioned the wonderful Polish Professor Wiktor Osiatynski under whom I was privileged to study at the University of Chicago 1990-1991 and my fascination with the Polish nation and constitutional history has never ceased since then.  Poland is a Phoenix-like nation having been consumed by fire into ashes and portioned by its neighbors Germany and Russia at least twice (and Austria once).  The metaphoric image of the mythical Phoenix arising from its flames parallels takes on added and appropriate meaning given Poland’s association with the City and University of Chicago, not least since Chicago is the largest Polish-speaking urban area anywhere outside of Poland and the City itself has at least once or twice in history arisen from the flames (after the Great Fire of 1871, but arguably again after the riots of 1968 also…).  

On May 3, Poland celebrated the 221st anniversary of the Constitution of 1791, the last Constitution before the two final (18th century) partitions of Poland 1793-1795.   The Twentieth Century Partition of Poland, between Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia was in a thousand ways much worse, more brutal, more destructive, but also much shorter in duration.  The 18th Century Partitions of Poland were reversed by the Emperor Napoleon I Bonaparte in 1807 as he vainly tried to restrict and limit the power of Prussia.  The Von Ribbentrop-Molotov (aka “Stalin-Hitler”) Pact of 1941 was reversed a mere four years later, but not before Poland had not only been savaged by Nazi occupation but by the Stalinist reprisal which, in terms of meaningful reality, involved much vaster forced migrations than any that history had ever seen, and comparable only to the forced internal migrations (poorly documented though they are) which took place in Maoist China during the “Cultural Revolution”.  

Now you might ask, why should an American care about learning the details of Polish Constitutional History?  As Professor Wiktor Osiatynski made us all aware in the two courses he taught that year at the University of Chicago, Poland’s constitutional history was a major source of its downfall.  Prior to meeting and studying with Wiktor, my primary familiarity with recent modern Poland had been a vague knowledge of the partitions of the late 18th century, the fact that Napoleon I had created the Duchy of Warsaw, and that Chopin and many other 19th century artists had gained fame for the culture of Poland and quietly advocated the restoration of Polish Sovereignty and Nationality.

Of course, I had also been very generally aware from a lifetime obsession with historical cartography, I was aware that Poland had once been the largest nation in Europe—a fact, again, which probably very few Americans must know.***  Yes, the combination of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland once not merely “dominated” but in effect “was” all of Eastern Europe—controlling during most of the 15th-early 18th Centuries all of the territory from the Baltic to the Black Seas, dwarfing “barbarous” Russian during most of that time, although Russia started climbing out of an inferior position in the 16th century, though it did not achieve “world nation” status until the 18th under Peter and Catherine the Great.  

But indeed, the Constitutional History of Poland and Lithuania together is very interesting, and historically relevant for Americans, especially in this day and age.  Lithuania, so it was forced to ally more closely with Poland, uniting with its western neighbor as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Commonwealth of Two Nations) in the Union of Lublin of 1569. According to the Union many of the territories formerly controlled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were transferred to the Crown of the Polish Kingdom, while the gradual process of Polonization slowly drew Lithuania itself under Polish domination. The Grand Duchy retained many rights in the federation (including a separate government, treasury and army) until the May 3 Constitution of Poland was passed in 1791. 

I submit to you, “my fellow Americans” that we today are much like Poland—because of the abrogation of our traditional Federal Union into a centralized dictatorship, we are weak and face extinction, division, and perhaps even partition between, say, China, Mexico, and a resurgent Europe.  

* Pope Adrian I between 784 and 791 sent Charlemagne, at the King of the Franks’ personal request, a copy of what was considered to be the Sacramentary of Saint Gregory, which certainly represented the Western Roman “Early Dark Ages” use of the end of the eighth century.  This book, far from complete, was edited and supplemented by the addition of a large amount of matter derived from the Gallican books and from the Roman book known as the Gelasian Sacramentary, which had been gradually supplanting the Gallican. The editor may well have been Charlemagne’s principal liturgical advisor, the  Englishman Alcuin. Copies were distributed throughout Charlemagne’s empire, and this “composite liturgy”, as Duchesne says, “from its source in the Imperial chapel spread throughout all the churches of the Frankish Empire and at length, finding its way to Rome gradually supplanted there the ancient use”. More than half a century later, when Charles the Bald wished to see what the ancient Gallican Rite had been like, it was necessary to import Hispanic priests to celebrate it in his presence, because the Gallican rite took root firmly in Toledo, Viscaya, Aragon, Catalunia, and elsewhere in the land of the Christian Visigoths of Hispania before the arrival of the Moors (and survived there ever after, even during the Caliphate of Cordoba—which resilience explains why May 3 remains the Day of the Holy Cross everywhere in Latin America).

The Luxeuil Lectionary, the Gothicum and Gallicum Missals, and the Gallican adaptations of the Hieronymian Martyrology are the chief authorities on this point, and to these may be added some information to be gathered from the regulations of the Councils of Agde (506), Orléans (541),Tours (567), and Mâcon (581), and from the “Historia Francorum” of St. Gregory of Tours, as to the Gallican practice in the sixth century.

** Constantine’s Mother the Empress Helen did a lot of traveling and established a lot of Churches.  Named after Helen of Troy, Empress Helen kept the name alive and popular among the Christians, and it was the Empress Helen, I am told, after whom were named both my Louisiana-born grandmother who raised me with love and my Greek-born wife who razed me with something else.

***For my lifelong obsession with maps, I have mostly my mother to blame, because she bought me so many Atlases–Shepard’s Historical Atlas, Oxford Historical Atlas, just for starters–when I was very small and for some reason decorated my boyhood room with a collection historical individually framed maps of almost every county in England, Wales, & Scotland—this led to my grandparents, somewhat later, always putting me in charge of studying the maps when we traveled and making reports on local geography as we did—Baedeker was almost like a family friend, and sometimes AAA and National Geographic.

For the Second Sunday in Easter, Ponder the Words of the Former Archbishop of Canterbury

‘Vilified’ Christians ‘fear arrest’ in the United Kingdom—where is the Queen, still the Fidei Defensor?

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  • Lord Carey said Christians were excluded from many sectors of employment because of their beliefsView Photo

    Lord Carey said Christians were excluded from many sectors of employment because of their beliefs

Christians are being “persecuted” and “driven underground” while the courts fail to protect their religious values, a former Archbishop of Canterbury has claimed.

Lord Carey said Christians were excluded from many sectors of employment because of their beliefs, “vilified by state bodies” and feared arrest for expressing their views.

The former archbishop’s claims are part of a written submission to the European Court of Human Rights, seen by the Daily Telegraph, ahead of a landmark case on religious freedom.

The hearing will deal with the case of two workers forced out of their jobs after visibly wearing crosses, the case of a Relate therapist sacked for saying he may not be comfortable giving sex counselling to homosexual couples, and a Christian registrar who wishes not to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.

In the submission, Lord Carey said the outward expression of traditional conservative Christian values has effectively been “banned” under a new “secular conformity of belief and conduct”.

The former archbishop argued that in “case after case” British courts have failed to protect Christian values and urged European judges to correct the balance. He said there was a “drive to remove Judeo-Christian values from the public square” and argued UK courts have “consistently applied equality law to discriminate against Christians” as they show a “crude” misunderstanding of the faith by treating some worshippers as “bigots”.

In his submission, Lord Carey, who was archbishop from 1991 to 2002, wrote: “In a country where Christians can be sacked for manifesting their faith, are vilified by state bodies, are in fear of reprisal or even arrest for expressing their views on sexual ethics, something is very wrong. It affects the moral and ethical compass of the United Kingdom. Christians are excluded from many sectors of employment simply because of their beliefs; beliefs which are not contrary to the public good.”

He added: “It is now Christians who are persecuted; often sought out and framed by homosexual activists. Christians are driven underground. There appears to be a clear animus to the Christian faith and to Judaeo-Christian values. Clearly the courts of the United Kingdom need guidance.”

He argued British judges have used a strict reading of the equality law to strip the legal right to freedom of religion of “any substantive effect.”

Keith Porteous-Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, told the Telegraph: “The idea that there is any kind of suppression of religion in Britain is ridiculous. Even in the European Court of Human Rights, the right to religious freedom is not absolute – it is not a licence to trample on the rights of others. That seems to be what Lord Carey wants to do.”

I say, for my part: God Save the Queen and May She Yet Live to Appoint Nick Griffin as Prime Minister someday of a BNP Led Government to restore the national values of Winston Churchill! (She wouldn’t have him to tea as I recall, but I presume that would change if he were elected—we’ll see how Marine Le Pen does in France—that will be a key test!  I mean, I like Nick and the BNP just fine, but I’d rather have Marine ANY DAY as my President…. if only there were anybody like her AT ALL in the USA….)

Seven Days before Christmas, remember that the Supreme Court at one time boasted of the Christian Faith and identity of the United States of America

Church of The Holy Trinity v. United States143 U.S. 457

Holy_Trinity_v_US_143_U_S__457_2-29-1892

An interesting case to read one week before Christmas, look especially to the text starting on about page 143 U.S. 464, 12 S.Ct. 514, 36 L.Ed. 229 concerning the proud history of Christianity in what is now the United States Holy_Trinity_v_US_143_U_S__457_1892_doc:

But beyond all these matters no purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation. The commission to Christopher Columbus, prior to his sail westward, is from “Ferdinand and Isabella, by the grace of God, King and Queen of Castile,” etc., and recites that “it is hoped that by God’s assistance some of the continents and islands in the   ocean will be discovered,” etc. The first colonial grant, that made to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584, was from “Elizabeth, by the grace of God, of England, Fraunce and Ireland, queen, defender of the faith,” etc.; and the grant authorizing him to enact statutes for the government of the proposed colony provided that “they be not against the true Christian faith now professed in the Church of England.” The first charter of Virginia, granted by King James I in 1606, after reciting the application of certain parties for a charter, commenced the grant in these words: “We, greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desires for the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God, and may in time bring the Infidels and Savages, living in those parts, to human Civility, and to a settled and quiet Government; DO, by these our Letters-Patents, graciously accept of, and agree to, their humble and well-intended Desires.”

Language of similar import may be found in the subsequent charters of that colony, from the same king, in 1609 and 1611; and the same is true of the various charters granted to the other colonies. In language more or less emphatic is the establishment of the Christian religion declared to be one of the purposes of the grant. The celebrated compact made by the Pilgrims in the Mayflower, 1620, recites: “Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid.”

The fundamental orders of Connecticut, under which a provisional government was instituted in 1638-1639, commence with this declaration: “Forasmuch as it hath pleased the Allmighty God by the wise disposition of his diuyne prudence   so to Order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and vapor the River of Conectecotte and the Lands thereunto adioyneing; And well knowing where a people are gathered together the word of   God requires that to maintain the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Gouerment established according to God, to order and dispose of the affairs of the people at all seasons as occasion shall require; doe therefore associate and conioyne our soleus to be as one Publike State or Comonwelth; and doe, for our soleus and our Successors and such as shall be adjoined to vs at any time hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation together, to maintain and pressure the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess, as also the discipline of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said gospel is now practised amongst vs.”

In the charter of privileges granted by William Penn to the province of Pennsylvania, in 1701, it is recited: “Because no People can be truly happy, though under the greatest Enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Consciences, as to their Religious Profession and Worship; And Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the Author as well   as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith and Worship, who only doth enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the Understandings of People, I do hereby grant and declare,” etc.

Coming nearer to the present time, the Declaration of Independence recognizes the presence of the Divine in human affairs in these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare,” etc.; “And for the support   of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

If we examine the constitutions of the various States we find in them a constant recognition of religious obligations. Every constitution of every one of the forty-four States contains language which either directly or by clear implication recognizes a profound reverence for religion and an assumption that its influence in all human affairs is essential to the well being of the community This recognition may be in the preamble, such as is found in the constitution of Illinois, 1870: “We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and transmit the same unimpaired to succeeding generations,” etc.

It may be only in the familiar requisition that all officers shall take an oath closing with the declaration “so help me God.” It may be in clauses like that of the constitution of Indiana, 1816, Article XI, section 4: “The manner of administering an oath or affirmation shall be such as is most consistent with the conscience of the deponent, and shall be esteemed the most solemn appeal to God.” Or in provisions such as are found in Articles 36 and 37 of the Declaration of Rights of the Constitution of Maryland, 1867: “That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore, no person ought, by any law, to be molested in his person or estate on account of his religious persuasion or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the color of religion, he shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their natural, civil or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent or maintain or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain any place of worship, or any ministry; nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief: Provided, He   believes in the existence of God, and that, under His dispensation, such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefor, either in this world or the world to come. That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this constitution.” Or like that in Articles 2 and 3, of Part 1st, of the Constitution of Massachusetts, 1780: “It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. . . . As the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality, and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality: Therefore, to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts and other bodies-politic or religious societies to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.” Or as in sections 5 and 14 of Article 7, of the constitution of Mississippi, 1832: “No person who denies the being of a God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this State. . . . Religion,   morality and knowledge being necessary to good government, the preservation of liberty, and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education, shall forever be encouraged in this State.” Or by Article 22 of the constitution of Delaware, 1776, which required all officers, besides an oath of allegiance, to make and subscribe the following declaration: “I, A.B., do profess   faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.”

Even the Constitution of the United States, which is supposed to have little touch upon the private life of the individual, contains in the First Amendment a declaration common to the constitutions of all the States, as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” etc. And also provides in Article 1, section 7, (a provision common to many constitutions,) that the Executive shall have ten days (Sundays excepted) within which to determine whether he will approve or veto a bill.

There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this ia a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private   persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people. While because of a general recognition of this truth the question has seldom been presented to the courts, yet we find that in Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, 11 S. & R. 394, 400, it was decided that, “Christianity, general Christianity, is, and always has been, a part of the common law of Pennsylvania; . . . not Christianity with an established church, and tithes, and spiritual courts; but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men.” And in The People v. Ruggles, 8 Johns. 290, 294, 295, Chancellor Kent, the great commentator on American law, speaking as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New York, said: “The people of this State, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice; and to scandalize the author of these doctrines is not only, in a religious point of view, extremely impious, but, even in respect to the obligations due to society, is a gross violation of decency and good order. . . . The free, equal and undisturbed enjoyment of religious opinion, whatever it may be, and free and decent discussions on any religious   subject, is granted and recurred; but to revile, with malicious and blasphemous contempt, the religion professed by almost the whole community; is an abuse of that right. Nor are we bound, by any expressions in the Constitution as some have strangely supposed, either not to punish at all, or to punish indiscriminately, the like attacks upon the religion of Mahomet or of the Grand Lama; and for this plain reason, that the case assumes that we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity, and not upon the doctrines or worship of those impostors.” And in the famous case of Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, 2 How. 127, 198, this court, while sustaining the will of Mr. Girard, with its provision for the creation of a college into which no minister should be permitted to enter, observed: “It is also said, and truly, that the Christian religion is a part of the common law of Pennsylvania.”

If we pass beyond these matters to a view of American life as expressed by its laws, its business, its customs and its society, we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth Among other matters note the following: The form of oath universally prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty; the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies and most conventions with prayer; the prefatory words of all wills, “In the name of God, amen;” the laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath, with the general cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts, legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that day; the churches and church organizations which abound in every city, town and hamlet; the multitude of charitable organizations existing every where under Christian auspices; the gigantic missionary associations, with general support, and aiming to establish Christian missions in every quarter of the globe. These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation. In the face of all these, shall it be believed that a Congress of the United States intended to make it a misdemeanor for a church of this country to contract for the services of a Christian minister residing in another nation?

Suppose in the Congress that passed this act some member had offered a bill which in terms declared that, if any Roman Catholic church in this country should contract with Cardinal Manning to come to this country and enter into its service as pastor and priest; or any Episcopal church should enter into a like contract with Canon Farrar; or any Baptist church should make similar arrangements with Rev. Mr. Spurgeon; or any Jewish synagogue with some eminent Rabbi, such contract should be adjudged unlawful and void, and the church making it be subject to prosecution and punishment, can it be believed that it would have received a minute of approving thought or a single vote? Yet it is contended that such was in effect the meaning of this statute. The construction invoked cannot be accepted as correct. It is a case HN10Go to the description of this Headnote.where there was presented a definite evil, in view of which the legislature used general terms with the purpose of reaching all phases of that evil, and thereafter, unexpectedly, it is developed that the general language thus employed is broad enough to reach cases and acts which the whole history and life of the country affirm could not have been intentionally legislated against. It is the duty of the counts, under those circumstances, to say that, however   broad the language of the statute may be, the act, although within the letter, is not within the intention of the legislature, and therefore cannot be within the statute.