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The Presbyterian of the South : [combining the] Southwestern Presbyterian, Central Presbyterian, Southern Presbyterian. [volume] (Atlanta, Ga.) 1909-1931, February 28, 1917, Image 3

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/10021978/1917-02-28/ed-1/seq-3/

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RELIGION IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
The Christian Statesman is one of onr best
exchanges. It is devoted to reform move
ments based upon great fundamental prin
ciples. It stands for the observance of the
Sabbath, the suppression of Mormonism and
the use of the Bible in the public schools,
among other similar matters.
In the February number it quotes an edi
torial paragraph from the Presbyterian of the
South, in which we said: "Is it not the part
of the Church rather than of the State to
furnish religious training? Suppose the whole
Christian Church of this country were doing
all that it possibly could do to train all the
people, young and old, in the vital truths of
religion, there is no reason why everyone in
all this land should not be reached. And if
this should be done, there would be no need
to turn this duty over to the State, which can
not do it half so well. The serious question
for the Church to consider is whether it will
do its duty or shirk it and try to turn it over
to the State."
In commenting upon this, the Statesman
says: "It is distinctly and in a pre-eminent
sense, the function of the Church to furnish
religious training to all of her people, and to
all others, older and younger, whom she may
be able to reach. But the State, as a moral
being, can also deal with moral matters. The
responsibility of the State for the punishment
of crime implies the previous obligation to fur
nish instruction in morality. The State is the
only organization that can provide a universal
system of education. . . . To allow the work
of moral education to remain wholly in the
hands of the Church would be to allow the
most needy, from a moral point of view, to re
main in a considerable degree untouched as
to moral education."
We must admit that we are not quite sure
as to the apparent distinction which this
writer makes between religion and morality.
Our point was that the State ought not to
teach religion. He says that it ought to teach
morality. Of course we recognize the fact
that the principles of morality must be based
011 religion. But, in the ordinary acceptance
of the terms, religion has to do with the state
of the heart in relation to God, while morality
is the manifestation of some of the principles
of religion in the acts of the outward life. A
man is often said to he a very moral man who
makes no pretension of religion. lie observes
all the outward requirements of correct deal
ing with his fellow-man, and so keeps all the
laws of the State and of society.
These practices are all based upon religion.
But a man may be taught them by a man
who is not religious and who does not. teach
or practice religion.
If this is what the Statesman means by
teaching morality, there can certainly be no
objection to the State's giving such instruc
tion. It is entirely right for the State to
teach the duty of obedience to its laws. All
just laws are based upon the principles of
religion, but this does not imply that, when
laws are promulgated, the religion, upon whose
principles they are founded, must be promul
gated with them.
It is very true that if laws are to have
their full value, it must be shown that their
violation is sin against God. Still the law may
be of great value in restraining evil, even
when it is only shown that its violation is a
crime against the State.
The difficulty about teaching religion in the
public schools is to decide what kind of re
ligion is to be taught. Who is to prepare the
text books'/ We called attention a few weeks
ago to an illustration of the danger in this
matter. The National Reform Association,
with headquarters in Washington, is making
a very strenuous effort to place the ten com
mandments on the walls of all the school
rooms of the country. This is a most com
mendable undertaking, if it were to stop with
merely putting up the commandments as taken
from the word of God. But this association
is sending along with the commandments a
series of questions and answers as to their
meaning. These were prepared by a Roman
Catholic priest and contain teachings which
no Protestant would want instilled into the
mind of his child.
It has been proposed that some system
should be prepared by representatives of the
various denominations, working together, so
that the views upon which all agree may be
collected and used. Hut who is to select these
representatives? Because a man is a member
of the Presbyterian Church is no proof in
itself that he represents that Church in his
views. And so with the other churches.
Another very important question to con
sider is who is to teach this system of religion?
Religion cannot be properly taught except by
a believer in that religion. We doubt very
seriously whether any good will come of the
teaching of religion by a man who is known
not to be religious. If a man is to be a suc
cessful teacher of the Christian religion, he
must be a Christian.
This would, therefore, impose a religious test
upon the man who is to be a teacher, and State
officials would have to pass upon his religious
qualifications. This would necessitate these
officials being Christians. And so the diffi
culties multiply.
Of course we would all like to have religion
taught in the schools provided our views of
religion are taught by teachers of whom we
can approve. But it is impossible to do this
to the satisfaction of all.
The evidence of the difficulty of adopting
any satisfactory plan is shown by the fact that
none has ever been devised that has proven
practical and acceptable.
Several plans have been tried, but so far as
we can learn they have not met with much
success. One of these is what is known as the
Gary plan, which derives its name from the
city of Gary, 111., where the plan originated.
This plan allows the children to leave school
one afternoon each week during school hours to
go to the churches of their parents' selection to
receive any religious instruction which the
church may provide. The school takes no ac
count of attendance or instruction. Attend
ance and study are entirely voluntary, and the
furnishing of the instruction is voluntary with
the church.
Another plan is what is known as the Col
orado plan. In this plan also the church fur
nishes the instruction; but, by an arrange
ment between the school and the church, the
scholar is given credit on his school course for
his standing in his Bible study. But this also
is voluntary, and investigation has shown that
where this plan has been tried, not more than
15 per cent, take advantage of the opportuni
ties offered.
Whenever the study of religion is left en
tirely optional, the probability is that those
who need it most will not be reached.
Until some better plan is devised than any
we have ever seen or any that we can imagine,
we want the schools to stick to the simple
reading of the Scriptures, "without note or
comment." This is the basis upon which the
great Bible societies of the world have done
their inestimable work, the results of which
are seen in all paj-ts of the world.
WHAT THE KINGDOM OF GOD NEEDS.
That God has set up a kingdom in this world
is without question. The word we use so often,
"the Church," occurs but seldom in the Scrip
tures. Christ's own title is "the kingdom of
heaven," or "the kingdom of God." This
kingdom has its subjects, its ordinances and
laws, its message and its purpose.
Every kingdom depends on its subjects. To
it they owe loyalty and service. Ffom them
must come its support, and by them its pur
pose must bo carried out.
These truths are axiomatic. They need no
proof.
The subjects of the kingdom of God are the
blood-bought souls, the redeemed out of every
nation.
The ordinances and laws are contained in
the Scriptures of the Old and New Testa
ments. They are ordained of God, and are
only to be changed by Him. Every law made,
whether at Sinai or on the Mount, is in force
until repealed by God, or fulfilled in Christ
Its message is the offer of the gospel to all
men everywhere to repent and come to God.
To believe in His Son, and yield subjection to
him.
Its purpose is to establish righteousness as
a rule of conduct in the world.
As this kingdom is in the world, though not
of it, it has a material side. The old economy
recognized this. Altars must be erected, priests
ordained and supported, animals procured and
slain, a tabernacle first, and then a temple,
must be built at great cost.
While the k^igdom under the New Testa
ment dispensation was simpler and less costly,
yet the demands for means to propagate it
were larger. Though holding the power of
supplying his wants and those of his dis
ciples in his hands, Jesus depended on the gifts
of his little flock for the supply of his simple
needs. The apostle insists that every man lay
by him in store as the Lord has prospered
him on the day of worship.
The objection men have to the question of
money in connection with the Church has no
weight in view of the teaching and practice
of the King.
Money is needed and the kingdom will fail
unless the people of God recognize this and
supply the need.
The question occurs, how much shall be
raised, and by what means?
A very much larger amount ought to be
raised than is done now. As Dr. Jowett says,
"The most pathetic thing about Jesus is that
he is always short of money." We throw in
a dime or a quarter as if that was the size
of this project. The Southern Presbyterian
Church docs not average $20.00 per member a
year; a little over five cents a day. The un
necessary things of life, cigars, soda-water,
chewing-gum, fine clothing, equipages, &c., get
the dollars, the kingdom of God has to con
tent itself with the pennies.
Is it any wonder that men of the world pass
this greatest of ay plans by with a sneer or a
patronizing air, when we project it on the
plane of the lowest 1
God has very plainly told us what part we
are to contribute to the promulgating of His
kingdom ; not less than one-tenth of all we
have and make is for Him. This is the mini
mum. Below this we are robbing God and
degrading His kingdorti, Jesus said to the
Pharisees, "This ye ought to have done, that

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