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Evening Star, Issue 15644, 7 November 1914
“If you don't give nio my own way, I
" Render unto Caesar,” etc.
“ shan't play in your backward,” This is apparently the present attitude of the Biblo-in-Schooks
League towards candidates for parliamentary honors who decline to accept their “ platform " and all that it connotes And we are informed on good authority that the members of this league are being enjoined to abstain from exercising their votes at tho forthcoming General Election if they cannot find a candidate who will accept tho “platform” of the league in its entirety. From such an injunction our readers are warranted in making two deductions :
1. That the Bible-in-Schools League have no belief in their declaration that thoir membership contains a largo majority of the doctors of tho Dominion. 2. That the league, qua league, are prepared to demand that their members shall sacrifice their civil rights at the call of the Executive thereof. Our readers arc perfectly cognisant of tho fact that the opposition of this journal to tho "platform” of the league has boon consistently based not on the proposal to restore the Bible under specified conditions as part of the daily life of the national schools, but to tho project of bringing the priest in these schools, and so opening up (ho floodgates of dogmatic disputation —which is a vastly different thing. Politics sometimes gives the companionship of strange bedfellows, and we arc reminded that there was a time (and only once) when we were in hearty agreement with the Rev. Dr Gibb, now of Wellington. That wan when the rev. gentleman publicly expressed himself (about Febmruary, 1903) after this fashion: His name was prominently associated ' with the movement for the restoration of the Bible in the schools of tho colony. For that ho would fight strenuously and to tho very end ; but he would not fight more earnestly lor that than ho would against any proposal to introduce tho priest into the schools of New Zealand- If ever the time came when an attempt should be made to use the schools of this colony as the English Education Act would use tho schools at Home—for the purpose of proselytism for the propagation of the tenets of anv sect—he would be found standing in the van of those who would resist that to lire uttermost. Ho had every sympathy with the molton and with tho Nonconformists of England- in the stand they were now taking against a measure that, would strike a deadly blow at the liberty in religion which their fathers had won at so great a price. . . . That measure was designed by its promoters to
enable the Anglican body to indoctrinate tho youth of England with tenets which the Ncncohformists held'in detestation—tenets that they believed were contrary to the plainest teachings of the Word of God. They did well to give battle to this insidious thing. Bible in .schools, Dr Gibb reiterated, was one thing, priest in schools was another. They were equally united in theiv determination to obtain the one and to resist the other with all their power. It is true that to-day Dr Gibb, with hie accustomed vehemence, is prepared to welcome the' priest as well os tho Bible into our schools. What steps have led to so curious a change of front in tho reverend doctor only flint self can say. Apparently the “ priest in schools ” has ceased for him to bo an “ insidious thing.” Eleven years form a considerable part of any man's life. During that period tho rev. doctor has ceaoed to believe that such a measure was designed by its promoters to enable the, Anglican body to .indoctrinate youth with tenets not then held by him. However that may be, it is an open secret that the Bight of Entry is an Anglican doctrine pure and simple.
It remains to be seen whether the electors in this part of the Dominion, where freedom of thought and action has ever been tho watchword, are to-day—in these critical and stirring times—prepared to deliver their consciences, their responsibilities, and their duties over to a small priestly coterie. A fen months ago, during the early stages of patriotism engendered by tho war, the league were ready to stand aside, relying (as they would have tho public to believe) upon thenimmense voting majority. Now, when Parliament has done its duty, fearless of the big battalions allegedly controlled by tho league, the ukase has gone forth: “ Vote for our chosen candidate, or vote for none at all ” Listen to their teaching, which says in effect: “Buffer the “ little children to come, unto Mo, but only “ through the portals of this league. Wo “ know, dear brethren, that these arc “ stirring times. Wc know, too, that our “ beloved Empire is struggling for its very “ existence, but all this notwithstanding, “we insist upon it. As your spiritual “guides we have a right to demand that “you shall vote for the man (assuming “ that wo can always lay our hands upon “ him) who pledges himself to support our “ ‘ platform,’ no matter what may be his “views on general politics or on other “matters. And wo further forbid you to “ vote for any candidate who jjftrcs to “ share the views expressed 11 years ago “by one of our most valiant loaders to- “ day.” Electors who respond to this untimely and unjustifiable beating of tho drum ©ecclesiastic need not flatter themselves that in so doing they are promoting the cause of true religion, while they will assuredly be fading to discharge their obligations to tho .State. Shortly put, the thunder of the Biblc-in-Sch'ools League means that it is well to do evil in order that good may come. The good is, however, problematical; the evil is certain. Wo say to the electors of Otago : Think, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. “The “ words of his mouth were, smoother than “ butter, but war was in his heart; Ids “words were softer than oil, yet were they “ drawn swords.”
Evening Star, Issue 15644, 7 November 1914
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