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The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1914.

Among the many blunders to the charge of the Massey GoThe Priest In the vemment that of lnSCtlOOl. /licting upon an un-

willing ■community the acerbities and violences of & General Election atatimo when tho very existence of the Empire is at ctako is not tho loa3t. There ia something intolerably irritating in tho fact that tha public should day by day have thrust upon them columns of bitterly controversial matter of no real benefit to anyone side by side with news of the wholcsalo slaughter of our fellow men, the sack of cities, and of unappeasable misery. Should the Government meet with a like fate to that of the Cook Government, who were guilty of a similar act of political ineptitude, they will have few sympathisers.

An election at this hour was neither wanted nor warranted, and some of its regrettable effects are already In evidence. Chief among these is the inevitable internecine war which the controversy over tho right of the entry of the Priest into the public schools has called into being. Nothing at this time could bo more deplorable, in our judgment, than tho introduction of the Bible, or the Priest, or of religion into the political arena, there to be used as a party cry; and nothing ia more certain, irrespective of the outcome at the polls, than that both the Bible and religion will bo the losers. True, the Bible has so far survived, all the attacks made upon it by its alleged advocates and expounders, and on its literary and ethical side it always will do so. But what the clerical party mean by "religion" is doomed to suffer by dragging it through the mire of a political campaign. The Church to-day and for many past days has been on its trial. In every professedly Christian land, ia the Old and New Worlds —in Protestant Germany, as in Catholic France—men and women have in ever-increaaing numbers been abstaining from going to church. Tha war -which has conie upon mankind

like a fiery blast from the pit has driven them back into tho church and down on their kncea. It Remains -with the Church to justify hor claims by growing the world that sho can keep them there. Man, admittedly, is a religious animal, and he both wants and needs religion. But the religion ho asks for here in New Zealand and elsowhero is not tho religion of the Bible in State Schools League. Tho New Zealand bishops in their pastoral base their appeal upon "religious principles" and tho "valuo of religion." What sort of religion is that which denies the Bible an entry into the schools unless it be followed by the Priest to interpret it in accordance with the dogmas of his own particular Church? Yet this is the stand of the Bible in State Schools League; this is tho " religious principle" upon which they rest; this is what they mean by tho "religion of the nation" when they ask 75 per cent, (more | or less) of tho people to refrain from voting unless they can have league candidates. But, if the Episcopal Bench will pardon our saying so, this is not religion nor Christianity, but Sectarianism and Churchianity. No individual and no Church can claim the solo right of saying what is or is not religion. The Churches bavo for centuries been trying to do so, and to-day, when, for tho first time in its history, mankind can read and write, they havo awakened to the fact that they aro slowly but surely emptying. The world (including this small portion of it) does not want the Priest in the public school. It has no objection to provision being mado for Bible-teaching, and what facilities there are have been gratefully utilised by those earnest souls whose patient, unobtrusive labors are rarely mentioned on tho platform or in the Press. One other instance has come under our notice, and may be quoted in support of our contention that it is not truo to assert, as has been repeatedly done for controversial purposes, that the Bible has been flung out of the State schools. A minister writes to us :

For sevoral years I have gono_ to the day school weekly, and have given a Bible lesson to a class of 50 or 60 scholars, and when the lessons are rovicwcd at the end of the year there is abundant evidence that the work is satisfactory, and that great interest is taken in it by scholars and teachers.

Evidence of this character could, of course, be multiplied indefinitely. It is, however, unnecessary to do so. t What is true is that if the league cannot have tho Priest in the schools with the Bible, then there shall be no Bible there at all. To carry out their purpose the league are prepared, through their official executive, to go to lengths that, unfortunately for them, aro so extreme that there are not wanting signs that tho best men of the laity will follow them no further. If 75 per cent, of tho people, as is so confidently asserted, aro in favor of the league's platform, why this too obvious urgency? Surely 75 per cent, of the people can carry anything and everything before them! Wo are sceptical as to the numbers, and we are positive that tho appeal of the league will fail. Once the electors at largo are convinced that the league's platform means nothing else than "No Priest, no Bible," there need be no anxiety as to tho issue. It has remained for a Minister of the Grown, in his private capacity, to attempt to forco so unrighteous and so unjust a dilemma upon tho people of this Dominion.

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The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1914., Issue 15665, 2 December 1914

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The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1914. Issue 15665, 2 December 1914

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