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THE CLERICAL Of POSITION TO THE BIBLE-IN-SCHOOLS REFERENDUM.

TO THE EDIT-R. Sir, —In some quarters « ry considerable importance has been attached to the petition published by you signed by 86 ministers of religion against the Referendum Bill. It is claimed that the Bible-in-State-Schools League represents religious bodies Avhnse professed adherency amounts to about 75 per cent, of the population of the Dominion. It is somewhat difficult to see how many ministers*of religion in the sense of the term “ minister of religion ” as used in this objecting petition are to be found in New Zealand. In this petition of objectors there are those svho are teachers in Government schools, and who are home missionaries in their denominations, and do not anssver to the usual designation of ordained ministers who are recognised by the Government as ministers of religion under the Marriage Act of officiating ministers. The Government recognise about 1,400 or 1,500 ministers of religion. If we add to the 86 who signed this petition the ministers belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, the total number of objectors would not. amount to more than 25 per cent of the ministers, of religion in the land, beventyfivo per cent, of the ministers of religion in, the land may reasonably be reckoned as haying no sympathy "ith the petition of these objectors. Of those_ who sighed the petition no fewer than 52 belong to Congregational and Baptist, churches, ana the Baptist, Church of Christ, and Congregational population iu N"ew Zealand amount to Jess than 4 per cent, of the total population. Among the objectors in this petition avc have at least two I nitarian ministers and at. least one Jewish rabbi. The Church of England is represented bv two ministers —one of whom belongs to the Civil Service, and is not an active minister of his Churchy A remarkable feature in this petition is to be found in the fact that representatives of Churches which form the Bible-in-State-Schools League are to ho found in this petition protesting against the policy formulated by their respective Churches. There are seven Presbyterians at ho have signed this petition, four of whom are ministers of congregations. There are 11 Methodists Avho signed this petition, the majority of avlioiu were formerly Primitive Methodists. The fact that seven Presbyterian ministers sign a position assailing a reform in education for which the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand stands for is made the subject of the following pungent criticism in the ‘Outlook’ of the 20th inst. ; It is, however, a fair subject of comment that Presbyterian ministers, Avhose Church, through its General Assembly, has in the mo.-t emphatic manner approved of this movement, instructed its ministers to preach on it from the pulpit, and to offer prayers for its success, should be found flaunting their disloyalty to the Church in the Parliament of the nation. It is a rare spectacle we are thus presenting to the ungodly. The same criticism might be applied to the Methodist ministers who signed the petition. The German Chancellor considered a solemn covenant a worthless scrap of paper. It is a pity that the German way of looking at things should slioav itself with regard to a few ministers of religion iu relation to solemn covenant entered into by their Church courts. The proportion of Methodist and Presbyterian ministers figuring in this petition is small Avhen Ave compare it with the total number of Presbyterian and Methodist ministers in the Churches. There is nothing in this petition that should prevent Parliament alloAving the people to decide the question at the ballot-box with regard to the introduction of Bible lessons into our public schools. It only shoAvs the smallness of the clerical opposition. Those who signed this petition have, ample protection by exercising their franchise and voting against the proposed change, but it is unfair that a small proportion of ministers should stand in the wav of the immense majority of their brethren of the ministry and their fellow-Chri.stiaus exercising the poAver and the privilege they ask , for of voting on the Bible-in-schools question at the ballot box. This petition that has been within the last few weeks presented to Parliament must have been signed some considerable time ago, because there are names on it of men Avho are in Svdnev. United States of .America, and in the" Old Country. I urther. the home missionaries and teachers in Government schools who figure in this petition have no right to be there. —I am, etc.. Robert Wood. October 22.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141022.2.55.1

Bibliographic details

THE CLERICAL Of POSITION TO THE BIBLE-IN-SCHOOLS REFERENDUM., Evening Star, Issue 15630, 22 October 1914

Word Count
751

THE CLERICAL Of POSITION TO THE BIBLE-IN-SCHOOLS REFERENDUM. Evening Star, Issue 15630, 22 October 1914

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