RELIGION AND POLITICS
[By J. Cavghi.ey, of Christchurcli.]
The real issue in the Bible-in-schools Refei<mdum Question was not the question of for or against the Bible, or religion, or religious instruction, or secularism, or agnosticism, or what some churches offensively termed Romanism. Tne issue was whether a religious matter should be dealt with by political machinery, and especially by a form of machinery cunningly contrived in the interests of on" party. —The Decision of Pailiamcnt.— After a long and exhaustive taking °f evidence from all viewpoints the Parliamentary Committee decided by 6 to 4 against granting the referendum desired by the Bible-in-Schools League, the voting on that issue being : For the adoption of the report: Messrs Hanan, M'Callum, Poland, Statham, and J. C. Thomson. Against: Messrs G. M. Thomson.. Guthrie, Sidev, and the Hon. Jas. Allen. On another division the committee affirmed tjnanimously in favor of the maintenance of an education system as by law established, and the report Li'iuyht down by the Education Committee was affirmed by Parliament on a division, the numbers being:—For, 'l6: against, 17. Now, this report declared aga-n»t the Bible-in-schools referendum on every point. The representatives of the people thus most emphatically rebuked and defeated these who had thrust this religious quest ion into the politkal arena. This sliould have ended the matter, but the Bibk-in-Schools League declared that 75 per cent, of Ihe people were on their side, and tluy llouiished 150,000 signed cards, and attempted to awe the candidates at the election. —The Candidates' Decision.— Of 173 candidates who stood for election, only 57 gave a whole or pU'tiul port to the. Religious Referendum Bill scheme, while IGB were opposed to submitting a religious question to a rci'eier.duni \ole. Some candidates did not d<e'are My.ir attitude. Thus two-thirds of Ihe caididates seeking the votes of the pcoj Je did not consider that the people .ft odd I*. or even wanted to be, "trusted with •itiitr people's religious concerns or other ptonie's coisciences." The temerity of these cam; ca'es in ignoring the boasted J50.000 cards of tin league was surely aston'.shn g. O' the other candidates many shewed a ludicrous ignorance of the Bill thev were si-..porting.
—The New Parliament. — Of the members elected to the new Parliament, 48 are totally opposed' to a religious referendum. Of the remaining 28 who are prepared to support a Referendum Bill, only 18 would support the whole Bill as demanded by the league. Several have made provisos which would be rejected by the league. Thus there is a majority of 29 against the whale Religious Referendum Bill, and a majority of 30 against the unaltered Bill, as demanded by the league. —The Electors' Decision.— Few people took seriously the boasted array of 150,000 cards collected by league canvassers, or the threat to make the league's votes a dangerous factor in th.election. Still, as the league made the threat, and set up the test to show that "thci people" were determined to have a referendum, I may note how the olectTs * to U!c\i:.n<:].!£" •- ' Votes recorded for candidates who opposed the religious referendum 511,26;} Votes recorded for candidates who supported the religious referendum 176,750 Majority against the religious referendum "' ... 154,553 It is theiefore plain that the people do not want to be trusted with other people's religion. —ln the .Stronghold.— Canterbury was the stronghold of the Biblc-in-Sehools League. Their oppoi nents were also strongly represented there. An imposing lift of 15 candidates supporting the religious referendum was officially published, and the might of the league, incited by many ministers of various denominations, who all became prelates for the occasion, was urged to support the unlucky 13. Alas! Eleven of the 13 "went under." The other two, who were re-elected, with diminished majorities, were "certainties" in any aiac. T!u> I league's influence was—nil, though in some I of these 15 electorates they claimed 5,000 supporters. In other electorates the Hon. Mr Fisher, .Mr Statham, and perhaps Sir W. ] I Buchanan, all of whom opposed tho j league were defeated ; but in each case his I onlv i.nponcnt. was also an opponent of the league. —Machinery v. Just ice.--The net result proved the saying •'Tl)ri"o is he armed that hath his quarrel just, and he hut naked though locked up in steel whose conscience with iujus- : tiee is corrupted." The Religious Refer- j eiidum League' secured the oliicial aid of j three of the largest Churches in New | Zealand, with their ministers as advocate-? ! in the pulpits, with the organisation of j the Churches and members as means of I advertising, distribution, and canvassing. j The league spent £2XOO per year. .Money | seemed no object, though Sunday schools I and country churches and even ministers i were being starved. There were offices ; witli staffs in eaeh centre, and lectu ers i and travelling agents as well. At the i head of the wnole machine was the Napo '■ i Icon from .Australia, " our chief strategist." ; j aa one minister proudly called Canon' Ga- ; land. Yet the league have signally i [failed, and Napoleon has met his VVate-f- ! I 100 in New Zealand. The opposing league (National Schools Defence) did not ! consider it necessary to rival the appar- I entry invincible fighting machine of the j other league. They contented themselves ; with educating the public through the i IVcss as to tlie true nature of the league's ; scheme for a. religious referendum, and ' that was sufficient. Xo organisation in | tho world, no combination even of ; Church'.':?, no object even so laudable a.= j the religious training of the children, no I title even so. attractive as the Bible, in- ! ' Schools Lepguc. no expedients of the \ | " chief strategist " could succeed with ihe ■ insuperable handicap which the Bible-in- ; schools, and Bight of Entry, and Compul- ' sory Teaching of Religion League irn- ; posed on themselves. The triple handi- | cap was: . j The injustice of trying to deal with ! religious matter by a count of heads. The injustice of framing an unfair ' ballot paper to suit one section of the ' league while disfranchising hundreds i of electors who could not vote on a j double issue. j The injustice of compelling teachers to ' give Scripture lessons, even if thev were as a matter of religious belief violating their conscience in doing 60. j WHAT FAILURE MEANS. ; One of the league's election leaflets de- I clared that failure to secure a majority of members to support their Religious Re- , ferendum meant "the deaih of the Bible-in-schools movement." To which I sav ! ««n.i.p." '; THE REMEDY. | Let- the churches now combine in a Sun- ! day School and Home Bible League, as j well organised, financed, and manned as I the defunct league, and they will do tenfold mow for the Bible, religion, and the!
children than they could have done eves if the State Religious Instruction 6chem« had 6uece<?ded. They will be able to dc it without any political action or agita. lion, without any strategy, without "anj need for eomcir-nce clause,'without any injustice.- The re. ult would bs a strengthenin t of church and home influence, and the linking of the children of the Dominion tc the Church which has thus met their needs and earned their devotion.
Ox Saturday Jlr Balfour, speaking at Bristol, characterised, not for Two the first time, the war in Opinions. which the world is now engaged as "a crime against civilisation." It is this truth which constitutes its absorbing fascination, to the relegation into a minor and subordinate place of all other mundane things ; and it is for this reason that eminent statesmen, and those whose words carry to the uttermost ends of the earth, do well from time to time to remind their countrymen of the vital significance of the conflict in which they are engaged. We are all prone to forget that the crime which horrified us yesterday becomes a half-forgotten memory on the morrow. And with this fading of our first emotions of righteous anger and holy wrath there come a laxity and a falling off in our desire to inflict punishment. In the quick rush of ever new sensations that which first caused us to leap to our feet and cry for justice and judgment and adequate penalties may lose its rightful position, and tempt us to regard the Kaiser of Germany and his war party not as enemies against that civilisation in which we iive and move and have our being, but as opponents with whom we and our Aihes ha\e been unhappily but not angrily drawn into a quarrel that'could only be settled by the sWurd. Such an outlook is nut only wrong, but. if indulged in, would prove uio fruitful parent of even greater disasters than those that have gone before. Already there are men in England—men wiiuse whole past career as public advisers should disqualify them for ever from daring to offer an opinion as to what should or should not be done with Germany—who are saying that Germain" must not be crushed and humiliated*. That the Allies will ever retaliate against Germany in kind—that they will, when their hour comes, a, come 'it will, visit upon Cologne and btrasburg the fate of Louvain and Termmde and ilheims—mav be dismissed without limitation. Neither the British, nor the lieigians, nor the French are made that way. The Allies are not fighting against women and children an.! historic building--. Nor are the-,-lighting for territoiy—although there will be a cnange of frontiers and of possessions as a result of the war—or jmwer, save such power as may be u.-od for tin- advancement of mankind. JJut the nations on whom has falkn the main burden of tne awful sacrifices that at this hour are being paid in blood and treasure will, none the less, exact pawnent to the uttermost farthing, if by p.iynicut is meant the imposition of conditions that shall make it impossible for many generations . for auoT.ii i- ■» ': ;.■: . to ;:f.iict ,iie lives of men. Uur Kmpirc, in a sen.-e, and the world as we know it to-day are the fruits of war, but not of war involving the destruction of those religious faiths and ethical standards on whicn their continued existence was based
It is not the ka.d. noteworthy anions I the many iVtin,; that the wai" is constantly direk/sino ilitit (iermanv. \h -. challenger of ]»■».■.—.■nt-thiv < iviiinatkni. appears, as far a.-; can I e gathered, if i!ot entirely in;'" nsi iou- of I lie intensity of (in- Icatliii:- and detestation sbo ha> inspired, a,; well as of the thoroiiidines.s and universality of the determination 'to cum bat and enp,. .05..; her. Ihat "kti!i tin-'' which .Mr l!ai;<..i.ir truly says is to I bo raiiiint.il down Hntodi throats with iUvman bayonets, and wni. n i. s apr.iov-d uy ■ German protessoiv. ;neo.i. gntn-. ani.-t=, I autnoic-, teachers, and (tin.- pity of it. :• | women, has been repudiated by a horrihe 1 ! and in. ivjiml. ]f h;u> made no i< unveils cave the " I'm-p/akaole lurk." land even his ecniwrsiim -nay be ar.«ip;i:cd lo j c r olu rathei than v, biiiei. Jn any event. j the alLance bet.wiii ihe authors end p-r- ---| petratuis ot Armenian. and AJaccU'iiiiuu ina. .-atje-. and the inntobiei.. of a (Toes bclnini d with ti.j Venom ot Niet/.sene, '.ldcil.o in.'.\ and iiernbardi can I only be vie.n.o a.- a logical and r.ainra! one. if the t;i;i.-t i.- to !...■ dfjnonrd, if j K.«sen gums and /itppeiin Poinds and not 'the teaiinng.- el toe Si.imoit on the j .\i(Uiiiit tiro iieiiLVtoi'.ii t'j #iveni tins jvartii, then what is m< le littinjr than a i combination <d (i.-nnan "ktillur" and [.l urkifih Islami.-jii to tarry it through! j .Mr lia'iLer •:,-. (.Jeimunistii as ;i j and its author, therefore, a& a. i criminal. Th. ; Khedive of Jvgypt, a man | who mi? v,hat tie is and all he has to ! .British rtiie. jn'ociaiins tiiis .same criminal | as "our i;ieate.:t iivo.g statesman," and a j man " v.h m I revere"! AJao, poor ! J'iy pt I liu'iy yt-t.tii ago, a land of hope- : iesn poverty, iiuirtan niibery, intertribal ; anaiehy, and <i- sji..iv. Jo-day, a new land i and a ne.t pi ..p.'.-. (Ji tiu thriving piovinee of i>- tig. ia in 16ii7 j)r Waiiis ; .said: "iiujius and briers and " bramnlcs had taken pcs-es.-:on ct nearly ("all the land whi< hj had fonneriy been j "'feline tieiu.-. . , . iiuin and de'cwia- | " tion were every win re. men and cattie j " were randy .•.fen. and cv< n the d"#i had | " been wipci out. What thi„ value land i is to-day tni: world kno.v.s; and tiiat it is (what it js is dm- to jiiitidi brains and I courage- a;.d • •nt-ci prise. j.t ai tin.-. ; hour in a Jiving .-, iim-.-r. <ii lb/- isupcriurity ■of JJj-iij:-)i jij.V io Herman "liintai." hui 'i lho khed:v.' in'..; minded iiis, eyee. U'has choren, and . iuo.-u Ther ;.s nothmg now ::ai !>■ <an etf'-r to ids U\i trayed ami i...rsa!;eii peop.e. Willingly and ! arrogantly, and with the unol.ts ai the : tiros ot desolated lioigium vcl rising be■fore him, and with the /unconquerable de- ' termination of her hcintdt-w millions; to die j rather than yield to inspire him, ha has j chosen to ca.st in liia lot with the men I who have made the hell it is, and to stiiice as best he can the natiw ; tliat will yet save and restore it. A j pitiful choice, the wages whereof are ■ death. The- above appeared in portion of qui , yesterday's issue.
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RELIGION AND POLITICS, Evening Star, Issue 15676, 15 December 1914