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Why People in America Don't go to Church., Issue 7906, 14 May 1889
Why People in America Don't go to Church.
During the recent ministers’ conference in New York ‘The World ’ interviewed a large number of people on the reasons why they did not go to church. The interviews were taken at random among all grades and classes of society, and some of them are strikingly suggestive A young man said; “ Well, I’ll tell you. If they were to give me permission to talk back to the preachers I would go. Nowadays the preacher has all the say.” A Washington market butcher said: “ What’s the use of wasting my time listening to them chaps who don’t know what they are talking about. They chin about the methods of relieving the poverty in this big city, but it’s fellows like us who give away our spare stuff to those starving wretches who wouldn’t be let inside a church if the sexton saw them. When the ministers learn how to preach sensibly I may take a notion to go to church, but you can bet I won’t till then.”
A news dealer said : “ How do you expect a man to go to church who starts working at four o’clock every morning of his life, and sella Sunday papers besides ?” “ I can’t go into ‘he high-toned churches,” said a mechanic. “I am not dressed well enough; and the mission church the rich men provide for us is too much like receiving crumbs from the table of the rich man.”
“When I look at the well-fed preacher, with the fine brown-stone house, and hear him drawling out the text, I ask myself How much of it does he believe?” said a magazine writer. “ Does he care if the poor are starving ? If you are meanly dressed, does he kindly receive you when you call at his house? Not at all. He is too busy gabbing with fashionable ladies that have called, and leaves you to an assistant to transact the business for yon.” “How can I go to church?” said a bar tender in an up-town saloon. “I am here until all hours on Saturday night, and on Sunday I am busy watching the side door to see that no copper conies, and handing the stuff over the bar. No, young fellow, I haven’t got the time.” “ I am as well employed in reading a good book as hearing the same subjects preached over and over,” said another. A hotel employ 6 said; “ I work at night and am too tired to think about going to church.”
“ I go to church, poorly dressed as I am,” said a girl in the Tenth avenue factory, “ to have the usher stare at me and tell me I shall find a seat in the gallery, and then, when I go to a pew up there, to have the people draw away from me because- my clothes are not as nice as theirs ! No, indeed, I would rather stay at home,” A sales girl in a big up-town store said; “ I don’t go to church because my employer does, and is of the bright and shining lights of what now passes for religion. If a man who treats his employes as Air does can be honored by the church, I will honor myself by staying away. He pays starvation wages to the women who make our garments and expects his clerks to keep respectablein appearance at least —on salaries barely sufficient to keep body and soul together. He never gave a half-holiday until shamed into it, and he had no regard for the health or comfort of the people who serve him. If such men can find an opiate for their conscience in religion, I want none of it.” A French shoeblack said : “ When 1 went to the church I was asked for ten cents at the door. I had none, and got no seat. I have never gone since.” Said another: “lam asked for ten cents a head. There are four of us, and 1 do not always have the money,” A young lawyer : “ What first got me out of it was the enormously high prices of pews iu churches where there is really good preaching.” A druggist; “ Drug stores must he open on Sundays. That is a settled fact.” An actor : “ The old dogmas of Christianity are a little worn out, and the faith, to remaiu popular, must keep apace with the advancement of science.” A business man : “ Ministers, as a rule—that is my experience—are the most unpractical men in the community, and yet they will persist in directing their sermons at the bankers and the business men of the country, advising them what steps to take in accumulating a fortune, and how to deal with their employes. Our minister, so my wife tells me, is particularly gifted in this way. If I were to adopt his ideas and follow his Christian teaching, as he calls it, practically applied, why 1 should soon be bankrupt, and my 500 odd workmen should soon be without a job.” An inventor could not afford to hire a pew, A street car conductor had a wife and five
children to provide for, and all he could earn by working seven days was 15dol 7oc a week. He couldn’t afford to take a day off, even to attend church, though he would like to do so. tf Their necessities,” he said, “ keep thousands of men in this city away from church every Sunday. The low rate of wages prevailing compels working people to labor seven days in the week, if they are lucky enough to find employment.” A truckman, idling on his truck, said the churches were not for such as him. He had no fine clothes to dress in, nor had his wife, and neitW would go where they could not appear as well as other people,
Why People in America Don't go to Church., Issue 7906, 14 May 1889
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