THE TWO REPUBLICS
WILL IT SUCCEED?
(A. T. Jones)
(A. T. Jones)
EVIDENCE has been given showing the strength of the religious combination for the political object of making the civil power subordinate to the ecclesiastical in this government. This evidence also shows that just as soon as their design can be made a political issue dependent upon votes, the question will be decided in their favor, because the combination can easily cast enough votes to carry any election in their favor. It is important next to inquire, What, if any, encouragement has this movement already received from the national government ? It is too bad that it should be so, but it must be confessed that there is abundance of evidence to show that the encouragement which the movement has received is so extensive and of such a material character as to render the situation at the present moment actually alarming to every person who has respect for Christianity, or the principles of the United States Constitution, or the rights of his fellow-men.
As a matter of fact, it is certain unconstitutional practices of the national government that have established a precedent which has been made a coign of vantage to the religious movement from the date of its organization. Contrary to the Constitution and to the intent of its makers, the United States government almost, if not quite, from the beginning has employed chaplains in the army, the navy, and in Congress; and has thus retained that relic of the union of Church and State, and perpetuated the imposture begun by Constantine and the political ecclesiastics. That it is contrary to the intent of the founders of the national government, is made clear by the following words of Madison, written in a letter to Edward Livingston , July 10, 1822 : --
"I observe with particular pleasure the view you have taken of the immunity of religion from civil jurisdiction, in every case where it does not trespass on private rights or the public peace. This has always been a favorite principle with me ; and it was not with my approbation that the deviation from it took place in Congress, when they appointed chaplains, to be paid from the national treasury. It would have been a much better proof to their constituents, of their pious feelings if the members had contributed for the purpose a pittance from their own pockets."
He observed likewise that the precedent was " not likely to be rescinded, " which has not only proven true, but the precedent has been made the basis of this loud demand for a religious government altogether.
That it is contrary both to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, is made clear by the qualifications that are required as essential to an appointment to a chaplaincy.
The following is an official statement received from the War Department, concerning the rank and pay of chaplains, and the qualifications required to become a chaplain : --
"The attention of applicants is directed to the following laws from the Revised Statutes of the United States : --
" SECTION 1121. The President may, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint a chaplain for each regiment of colored troops, and thirty post chaplains . . .
" SECTION 1122. Chaplains shall have the rank of captain of infantry, without command, and shall be on the same footing with other officers of the army, as to tenure of office, retirement, and pensions.
" SECTION 1123. No person shall be appointed as regimental or post chaplain until he shall furnish proof that he is a regularly ordained minister of some religious denomination, in good standing at the time of his appointment, together with a recommendation for such appointment from some authorized ecclesiastical body, or from not less than five accredited ministers of said denomination.
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"SECTION 1261. The officers of the army shall be entitled to the pay herein stated after their respective designations.
"Chaplain : Fifteen hundred dollars a year.
"SECTION 1262. There shall be allowed and paid to each commissioned officer below the rank of brigadier-general, including chaplains and others having assimilated rank or pay, ten per centum of their current yearly pay for each term of five years of service."
Here is a distinctly religious qualification required. The applicant shall prove that he is a regularly ordained minister of some religious denomination and must be recommended by some authorized ecclesiastical body. It is true that he is not required directly by this law, to declare that he believes in the Trinity, or the communion of saints, or the resurrection of the dead. It is true he is not required to pass such a direct test as that. But he is required to be religious and to belong to a religious denomination. If he is not this, he cannot be appointed. This is nothing else than a religious test as a qualification for office under the United States, and is clearly a violation of that clause of the Constitution which declares that "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification of any office of public trust under the United States."
More than this: although, as stated above, no direct test as to a belief in the Trinity, etc., is required, the same thing is done indirectly. For in order to be an ordained minister in good standing in some religious denomination, he must necessarily pass a close and searching test upon many religious points. Therefore this requirement does indirectly what it does not do directly, and is just as certainly a violation of the Constitution, as though it were done directly.
That it is contrary to the principles of Christianity, is evident from the actual situation as it exists. This point is discussed from actual knowledge gained by experience, as the author of this book spent five full years in the regular army of the United States. Army chaplains are supposed to be for the spiritual benefit of the soldiers; but they are no benefit at all, either spiritually or otherwise. I have been in different garrisons where chaplains were stationed and never in the whole five years did a chaplain visit the quarters where I was, or any of the men in the company to which I belonged; unless, perhaps, in company with the officers at Sunday morning inspection. Never was there a visit made by a chaplain to the company in which I served -- Company I of the 21st Infantry, from November 2,1870, to same date 1875,-- for any spiritual purpose, or for any purpose in the due exercise of the duties which he is appointed to perform.
The fact of the matter is, chaplains cannot work for the spiritual interests of the soldiers in the regular army. They rank as commissioned officers, and are to be considered by the enlisted men with the same deference and military respect that is due to the officers. The chaplain wears an officer's uniform, and an officer's insignia of rank. And whenever he appears, the soldier must strike an attitude of "attention" and salute, as he would any other commissioned officer. Thus, the very position which he holds, ranking as an officer, places an insurmountable barrier between him and the soldier. He cannot maintain the dignity of his rank and meet the common soldier upon the level where he is, and approach him upon that common level as every minister of the gospel must do with those whom he is to help spiritually. He cannot enter into the feelings, the wants, the trials, the temptations, the besetments, of the common soldier, as one must do to be able to help spiritually, and as the minister of the gospel must do in the exercise of his office anywhere, with any person in the wide world.
Jesus Christ set no such example. He did not appear in the glory, the dignity, the rank, and the insignia of office, which he bore as the King of eternity. He laid this aside; he came amongst men, meeting humanity upon humanity's level. He though divine, came in human form ; and made himself subject to all the temptations which humanity meets. This he did in order that he might be able to help those who are tempted. The great apostle to the Gentiles, following the way of his Master, became all things to all men, that by all means he might save some. To the weak he became as weak, that he might save
The Two Republics – A.T Jones
them that are weak; to the tempted and tried, the same, that he might save them, and bring them to the knowledge of Him who was tempted and tried for their sakes, that he might deliver them from temptation and give them strength to overcome in time of trial. This is the divine method; it is the only right method.
The appointment of chaplaincies in the United States army, with the rank, the dignity, and the insignia of superior office, is contrary to the principle illustrated by Jesus Christ in his life and taught in his word, and frustrates the very purpose for which professedly they are appointed. The money that is spent by the United States government in paying chaplains could scarcely be spent in a way that would do the soldiers less good. In the nature of the case, it is impossible that chaplains can benefit the men. Besides, having it devolved upon them to maintain the "dignity" and "respect" that is due to their rank they do not, in fact, make any very strenuous efforts to help the men. It is difficult to conceive how any man who has the spirit of Christ, and who really has the burden to help the enlisted men of the army, could ever think of accepting such a position; because the acceptance of the position becomes at once the greatest hinderance to his helping the men at all.
This much upon the merit of the question. The principle shows that in the circumstances of their appointment, army chaplains cannot benefit the men; and practice shows not only that they do not benefit them, but that they do not try. Madison's statement that the precedent was not likely to be rescinded, was simply the expression of a consciousness of the power of precedent in government, however pernicious the precedent and the practice under it may be. The statement was prophetic. In the Thirty-third and Thirty-fourth Congresses, 1853 to 1857, there were strong efforts made to abolish government chaplaincies. The efforts failed, though there was not a valid argument offered to sustain the practice, but only "precedent;" and "it does not cost enough to justify complaint," and "there is no danger of union of Church and State,"etc. If those who so argued then, were only alive now, and could see what claims are made upon the practice and precedent which they perpetuated, it is altogether likely they would think there was danger in it then. To the Thirty-fourth Congress the Baptists sent up a memorial asking that chaplaincies be abolished, and the argument is good for all time. We can present only a portion of the document as follows : --
"The immense increase of the number of chaplains employed by the government within the past few years, has alarmed us to apprehend that an extension of the system may ultimately subject us all to the serious and oppressive features of an unholy union of Church and State, with which the world has been so grievously burdened in all ages, and from which we had hoped we were forever delivered by the glorious epoch of the American Revolution.
"The number of national clergy which the citizens of our country are annually forced to support, by indirect taxation, is as follows: Thirty in the army; twenty-four in the navy, and two in Congress, besides a large number at the various naval and military schools, stations, and out-posts; and at various missionary stations, ostensibly as teachers of Indian schools. The aggregate amount which we are annually compelled to pay for the support of clergymen, as officers which the Constitution gives Congress no power to create or impose upon us, but on the contrary, positively prohibits, cannot therefore vary far from a quarter of a million of dollars annually ! Should the number of national chaplains continue to increase in the ratio of the past few years, it will soon equal that of the national clergy in the despotisms of the Old World, where the Church and State are allies in corruption and oppression. Indeed, we know of no stopping place or limit that can be set to arrest its progress, when precedent has overthrown the protective barriers of the Constitution.
"We cannot perceive why clergymen should be sustained by government in either house of Congress, at our military and naval stations, on board our vessels of war, in each regiment of our army, any more than in each township, parish, district, or village throughout the land: and to sanction the former could not be regarded otherwise than as an assent to the extension of the same system that would place us upon a level with the priest-ridden despotisms of the Old World. Our members of Congress, military and naval officers, soldiery and seamen, are, or should be, paid a just compensation for their services,
The Two Republics – A.T Jones
and be left, like all other citizens, to support any clergymen, or none, as their consciences may direct them, without legal agency or coercion. Neither Christianity nor the genius of our institutions contemplates any aristocracy predicated upon the clerical profession, and no special provision therefore is necessary by the government to admit clergymen to our army and navy, as they may enlist like other men, and labor like Jesus himself and his apostles among the poor fishermen on the sea-side. If it be objected that few clergymen would serve among the troops and marines upon such terms, we can only say that, if actuated by correct religious motives, no minister would wait for government gold to lead him to his labors of love among them, and that none but hypocrites would be debarred by the want of it. We think the government should not evince more religious zeal than professed ministers of the gospel themselves, by bribing them to perform religious service. If the clergymen in the army and navy look for other compensation then the voluntary contribution of those among whom they labor, the various religious societies of the country might be more appropriately appealed to, as their funds are voluntarily contributed for such purposes; while those of the government are taken for national purposes, by authority of law, equally from all classes of citizens of whatever sects, and whether professors or non-professors or religions."
Lest these views should be passed by as only the views of opponents, respectable though they be, we present the views of an admirer and defender of the institution, one who from long acquaintance knew it thoroughly : --
"All these chaplaincies are filled in a way which renders it possible that it may be done by the managing of political wire-pullers, with very little, if any, reference to the appropriate qualifications of those who receive the appointment . . . Let us look at the manner in which the two chaplains to Congress, and also, we might add, the chaplain who is appointed to the Penitentiary at Washington, reach their election. The same course of electioneering which the clerk of the House, the door keeper or sergeant-at -arms has to pursue; namely, to scramble for it. Letters are written before-hand soliciting votes. The successful candidate must be on hand to meet his `friends' as they alight from the cars at the railroad station, who follow him to his hotel, and who will not hesitate to stand in a barroom, and talk distinctly of his devotion to the party ! But the successful candidate is not usually the man whom his own denomination even, not to say the Christian Community generally, would wish to see at such a post.
" The confidence and respect of the best men in the country has lessened in the same ratio as this Congressional usage has been subjected to wire-pulling and strife. It is now well understood that modest merit, eminent piety, and that kind of talent which is best adapted to the position, is no longer sought for in a chaplain to Congress. But the successful candidate is he who has a face to enter the ring of competitors; who knows how to lay his hand upon the right wires, and has strength to pull harder than the others who may be contending with him for the prize. The men best adapted to fill the office will not be found managing and scrambling for it. Instead of seeking the office, they are the very men who will be found at their post in their appropriate calling until the office seeks them. They are the men whose conscious merit and becoming modesty will not suffer them to enter the ring against such odds as they might chance to find striving for the place."
As stated above, these statements were written by a defender of government chaplaincies; but no argument that the most decided opponent could make could more fully or more justly condemn the whole institution as a living imposition, and a fraud upon the people.
Though this was written so long ago, there has been no change for the better since, as both facts and practical experience show. The Christian Statesman of May 8,1891. contains the following : --
"The Rev. James C. Kerr, the most recent appointee to the post of army chaplain, is familiarly known as `Father Kerr' and belongs (according to the Army and Navy Register)` to a very church branch of the Episcopal denomination." The same paper states April 26: ` The newly appointed post chaplain James C. Kerr, gave a banquet to two hundred of his friends at Slaughter Beach, near Milford, Del.,
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April 24. Three ex-governors were present, and one prospective governor. The chaplain (the telegraph tells us) received congratulations in a graceful manner, and everything was free to his guests, bowling alley, billiard room, and bar room included.' We quote to emphasize the remark of the National Baptist: `It seems to us that evangelical Christians cannot reflect with any satisfaction upon this appointment. We humbly submit that a gentleman who celebrates his appointment by throwing open the bar-room to his friends, is not the sort of man who is going to do much good either to officers or men, among whom drunkenness is a wide-spread calamity and curse.'"
True enough, but it requires "influence" to secure a position as chaplain, precisely as it does to any other appointive office, and it is only such characters as that, that can exert the right kind of "influence" to gain such an appointment. No Christian can do it.
Nor is it surprising that drunkenness should be widespread among officers and men, for just before this man was appointed, there was dismissed from the army because of habitual drunkenness a chaplain who, as a drunkard, had held the office seven years, and was an habitual drunkard when he was appointed. The facts as stated by the New York Independent of May 22, 1890, are as follows: --
"A telling example of the evil of intoxicating liquors is that offered by the dismissal of Post-Chaplain John Vaughan Lewis, formerly a popular minister of St. John's church, the most fashionable church in Washington City, who was appointed to a chaplaincy in the army in 1883. He was compelled to leave his church by his unfortunate, and we must add, criminal habit of drinking. The habit pursued him after he left the church, and while a chaplain in the army. A year ago he was confined in an insane asylum for treatment, after having been recommended for retirement by a retiring board. It was hoped that the treatment would result in a partial cure, so that he might be restored to duty; but such has not been the case, and an order has been issued directing his retirement with a year's pay."
That is indeed a telling example of more than the evil of intoxicating liquors. It is a telling example of the evil principle of State chaplaincies. There was a man dismissed from the church for drunkenness, and then by some "influence" or other hocus-pocus was made a chaplain in the army. That is to say, he was not fit any longer to minister to a church, therefore it was proper for the State to take him up and give him charge of the spiritual interests and the moral culture of its soldiers. And this, too, under a rule that required that he should be "in good standing" in his denomination. Perhaps he was.
Addicted to habitual drinking when he was appointed in 1883, he kept it up all these seven years "while a chaplain in the army." Meantime he was confined in an asylum for treatment, with the hope of "a partial cure, so that he might be restored to duty." That is to say, an habitual drinker is worthy to be appointed a chaplain in the army, and so long as he is not entirely gone in besotted inebriety, he is capable of performing "duty" as a chaplain. When, however, it is no longer possible to keep him even partially sober, then it is proper to retire him "with a year's pay." Eight years' pay, therefore, -- not less than twelve thousand dollars of public money, -- has been paid to this chaplain for doing a drunkard's "duty."
Such a misappropriation of public money, however, is a very small item in comparison with the standing insult thus imposed upon every enlisted man in the United States army. For, to assume -- as the appointment of such a character as that to the office of chaplain, and as the keeping of him there knowing him to be such, does assume -- that the soldiers of the United States army are so low and degraded that a confirmed drunkard is a fit instructor in morals and a proper person to take charge of their spiritual interests, is nothing short of a base insult imposed upon every enlisted man in the service.
And in the Congress which was in session when this man was dismissed, and which conferred the appointment of the other one, there was introduced a bill to increase the number of chaplains from thirty-four to one hundred! Instead of this, there should have been a bill not only introduced but passed, totally abolishing the whole system of chaplaincies under the United States government.
The Two Republics – A.T Jones
Legally, they are unconstitutional loafers.
Physically, however, they are strictly constitutional loafers - - when
they are not constitutional drunkards. . . .
. . .