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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, March 24, 1915, NOON EDITION, Image 11

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1915-03-24/ed-1/seq-11/

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COCHRAN ON THE RELIGIOUS ISSUE IN THE
CAMPAIGN FOR MAYOR
BY N. D. COCHRAN
However much both Sweitzer and Thompson may decry the religious
issue in the present campaign, and however much tolerant Catholics and
Protectants may deplore the raising of this issue, the cold fact remains
that it is in the campaign and will doubtless influence more voters than
any of the issues discussed by candidates and the press.
It is not local to Chicago, but has been at work all over the country
for several years. When such an issue gets into politics all other issues
are dwarfed into practical insignificance; and many voters go to the polls
and vote as they worship, throwing aside old party labels as they would
throw off an old coat.
There are politicians on both sides of the controversy who will make
political capital of the issue when they can, but the rank and file on both
sides are earnest, sincere and well-meaning men and women who are moved
by one of the deepest of human emotions. And as in the case in all wars,
women and children are the greatest sufferers. They have to take most of
the punishment.
I don't Toiow whether either Sweitzer or Thompson has made use of
the issue to help his cause, but neither can fairly be charged with raising
the issue, because the fight was on in every state in the union before
either of them was mentioned as a candidate for mayor of Chicago. It
will doubtless be a hve issue m next
year's presidential election, as it was
in elections all over the country last
year.
There is no reasoning with it. The
fires of hatred rage fiercely until they
burn out and die down, and then we
have religious calm for another 20
years.
But while it is on it is discussed at
the family fireside, around the family
table, at the shop, the store, the fac
tory and wherever men and women
congregate. The prejudices of par
ents are communicated to children,
and these innocents of different faith
learn to hate one another without
knowing why. And even with chil
dren entirely too young to know the
meaning of any creed.
I have been through two of these
trying periods in the life of this re
public. First in the early seventies,
when as a pupil in the public schools
I fought with my schoolmates the
Catholic boys of the parish school a
block away. In the winter time we
had real snowball battles, even going
so far as to put stones in the snow
balls and "water-soakers" with which
to soak our "enemies," the Catholics.
One day I came home somewhat
bruised from battle and my father
aaTted me what I had been doing. I
told him, and rather proudly boasted
that "We licked the Catholics today."
His face sobered, and he took me
into his library. He was a lawyer,
was then on the bench, and had been
an officer in the union army during
the civil war. Religiously he was a
Methodist, and was superintendent of
a Methodist Sunday school, which I
attended.
In the library he put an arm around
me said said: "My boy, I felt that
way toward the Catholics once. I
was as ready to fight them as you are
now. On the battlefield of Stone
River I saw the, little Sisters of Mercy
risking their lives to help my wound
ed comrades, and without asking
what church any of the poor fellows
belonged to. And my bitterness
toward the people of ANY church
then pased from me forever. I hope
you will never hate any human being
because he doesn't belong to youi;
church." i
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