Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- January 14, 1875Church and School (Editorial)
"If the Illinois Staats-Zeitung can see no practical value for America in our article entitled 'State and Church,' it need only read our today's article about Catholic public schools in Saint Louis. [Translator's note: Verbatim. No doubt, the author uses the word public in the sense of free, meaning to say that no tuition was charged.]
"Thus the editor of the Illinois Staats-Zeitung can convince himself that it is the firm intention of the Catholic Church to destroy the American system of nonreligious schools, for the purpose of placing the education of our youth in the hands of religious institutions. This movement has made only modest progress to attain that goal in America; but in New Brunswick, which is not far from our country, Bishop Sweeny, of Saint John, has already shown the way to rebellion against the school tax. He even went so far, in his resistence, as to expose the property under his 2jurisdiction to forced sale for nonpayment of taxes. He said: 'Every Catholic citizen is conscience-bound to refuse to contribute to the support of schools in which his religion is attacked or offended.'
"The offense referred to evidently consists therein, that no religion is taught in the public schools of Saint John."
Anzeiger Des Westens
The "firm intention of the Catholic Church"? Well, if it exists, we in Chicago should see it, or hear of it, for Missouri is not America, by any means, nor is a Saint John bishop the Catholic Church. And as far as the American system of nonreligious (public) schools is concerned it could be destroyed only if it really existed.
It does not exist. The public school has a Protestant tinge; and that, very likely, is true, not only of our local schools, but also of those of Saint Louis.3
When we speak of a Protestant tinge we refer not only to the reading of the Bible, praying, and the singing of religious hymns, but also to the contents of textbooks. Surely, the books used in Saint Louis are no better in this respect than those which serve as textbooks in Chicago. In the latter we find numerous touching references to "Jesus" and the "Lamb of God," references which must be, and are, extremely offensive to the children of Jewish parents. If the Anzeiger Des Westens will kindly examine the textbooks of the public schools of Saint Louis, he will certainly find ample proof for our statement that our public schools are not nonreligious.
Anglo-Americans are so naive in their religious narrow-mindedness that they do not even notice it when they offend people of a different religious belief. The average Anglo-American says: "I am certainly not prejudiced; I do not wish to disturb anyone in his religious views; but anybody can read the New Testament, and, surely, it can harm no one to hear about our Saviour." However, they never consider that there are people who do not wish to read the New Testament, and to whom Jesus is not "our Saviour"; but there are such people, and they are 4forced to pay taxes to support our public schools. By what right? We do not know whether or not, or how, a certain religion is being attacked in the public schools of New Brunswick; but we do consider it probable, in view of the fact that Anglo-American Protestants are naively impudent, that the adherents to the offended religious denomination have just cause to complain about being forced to contribute to the maintenance of such schools. An atheist, who pays taxes, also has a good reason to remonstrate if the opinion that a person who does not believe in a personal God is dishonest, unmoral, and unreliable, is drummed into the head of his child. No religion should be taught in public schools, nor should the pupils be forced to listen to the damnable lie that a man is depraved and unmoral, just because he does not profess a religion.
Not until our schools have been made nonreligious in this respect will the state have a right to compel every citizen, irrespective of his religious belief, to contribute to the maintenance of our public schools. Then, and then only, can the state demand that children whose parents do not provide for other means of educating them, be sent to public school. And when our institutions of learning have been rendered completely nonreligious, we will 5gladly support the enforcement of the compulsory school attendance law. However, we certainly are not in favor of forcing the narrow-minded doctrines of the Protestant Church upon Catholics, Jews, or Gentiles.
I A 1 a, I B 4, I C
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