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Evening Star, Issue 15670, 8 December 1914
When Professor Hewitson, at the recent meeting of tho Presbyterian .Assembly, eaid that the policy
rhe Blfafo Out of the Schools.
of the Bible in State Schools League, if adopted hy the assembled fathers and elder?, would mean the entrj' of the Church into politics and the publication of a Presbyterian " ticket," he was greeted with shouts of " Xo." Possibly, if the Assembly were .sitting to-day, the interjocted cries might be " Yes,"' though it is .still doubtful. Professor Hewitson and his friends were indisputably in tho right in their assertions, but experience has shown that Faith, fanatic Faith, once wedded fast To some dear falsehood, hugs it to the last.
There are, of course, "tickets" and tickets. The most common form is that which brazenly asks tho elector to vote for Snorkins and Jorkins and higher wages. The Bible in State Schools League have improved upon the methods of rotten boroughs and crude democracies. The electors are no longer told for whom they shall vote, but for whom they shall xot vote. The form may differ, but tho thing itself is tho same, even though it bo moro subtly presented. What the Chinches, in their new rolo of electioneering agents, fiay is: "Abstain from voting for any " man, be his party what it may, who " will not clearly and definitely promise "that lie will support tho referendum on "the Bible-in-Schools issue." The words are not our own, but those of the Jlev. Dr Gibb, of Wellington, and as such they have been accepted by perhaps a majority of tho Ministers (not the laity) of the Presbyterian and Anglican Churches. Whatever roluctance may once have existed in the minds of Church ministers has gone. The policy of the Bible in State Schools League has been adopted, its sup,porters and advocates have issued their " ticket," and electioneering tactics are in active operation. On Sunday last many Christian ministers made tho league's platform the subject of their discourse, and in other churches there wore placed on a table in tho entrance lobby piles of handbills, the heading of which was " How to Vote," the subheading "Consult Conscience," and the most striking sentence of its literary contents the -words w© hare already Quoted,
by Dr Oibb. It was from an Anglican Church that our own copy came. We think, therefore, that it is a reasonable inference that Professor Hewitson was within the facts of the situation in asserting that once the Church touched politics it would be an easy step to a Presbyterian or an Anglican ticket. Wo arc not among thoso who condemn the introduction of religion into politics. On tho contrary, a little more of the refining and gracious influences of religion in our candidates for parliamentary honors, and among the average political audiences, would bo as welcome as it is desirable. But wo demur to the assertion that the introduction of the Bible in State Schools Referendum proposals is to introduce religion into politics. Rather is it to have introduced a factor that has been most potent in bringing into play more bitter and humiliating controversy, more personalities of a reprehensible character, and more prima facie perversions cf truth, fair play, and civic virtuo than have arisen out of any other social or political topic now before the electors.
We have been told that if tho people by way of referendum refused to endorse the league's demand that the Church would have to begin again converting New Zealand to Christianity. Are we, then, to infer that New Zealand at this hour is not a Christian community, that tho generation of men and women who aro the products of the New Zealand system of education are not Christians, and that tho tens of thousands who would most certainly vote against the league's referendum are pagans without the pale? Surely not. The statement is, unhappily, one of many of a similar kind. Dr Gibb, for example, in the electioneering circular or "ticket" that was circulated last Sunday, is made to say: "The Bible is banned in our
••schools and the national character is " suffering grievously in consequence." We have repeatedly pointed out that the Bible is not banned from our schools; on the contrary, it is read daily in a great many of our schools, and would bo in more if tho clergy did their duty. Which brings ua to the heart of the matter. It is not the Bible in the State schools that is being asked for by the Anglican and Presbyterian Churches-. If it were so tho demand could be met without great difficulty. Nor does tho league's referendum ask for a plain "Yes" or "No" on tho Bible as a text book in tho primary schools. It is this fact that constitutes the fatal stumbling block in the league's path. The league aro not asking that the Bible be admitted into the schools as a reading book. They demand that tho ministers, clergymen, or priests of the various denominations shall have tho Eight of Entry into the State schools in order that they may there perpetuate their own particular theological interpretations, and maintain intact those differences of religious faith that are the fruitful parents of sectarian strife. Even this does not exhaust the scope and intent of tho league's platform. The league further declaro that the men and women of New Zealand shall have the Bible in the schools only with the priest to accompany it, or they shall not have it at all. The elected representatives of the people are to be brushed contemptuously aside as of no account; men and women whose lives aro a silent and unobtrusive witness to the reality of their faith are to be classed as non-Christian; candidates for Parliament whoso character is unimpeachable aro to be. boycotted because they have dared to say that Parliament, and Parliament only, is qualified to decide questions of this nature; and all this not in order to bring the Bible into tho schools, but to keep it out unless the price demanded by tho league is paid in full. There ought to be no hesitation as to tho answer on the part of the people of the Dominion.
Evening Star, Issue 15670, 8 December 1914
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