CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES by Fred P. Wortman Against our brains there beats a tide of never-sub

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CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES by Fred P. Wortman Against our brains there beats a tide of never-subsiding propaganda, not reasoning, just beating. It has battered all but the taller minds. Indeed, some of the very highest have been sprayed. Thomas Paine, while demoting Jesus to the station of mere man, called him a great teacher. Robert Ingersoll said, "Make the Sermon on the Mount your religion and I am with you," though that sermon rigidly followed would destroy civilization. This ever-splashing propaganda persuades that Christian principles underlie our way of life, are the pattern of our laws, and without them our jurisprudence would be barbarous. Free from double meaning, from mysterious implication, and from riddles hidden in parables, the principles of our government have been written in clear and simple language, such as: All men are equal before the law; government proceeds from the consent of the governed; public officials are public servants; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights; the right of any man ceases where it invades the same or similar right of another; the greatest good to the greatest number takes precedence; and others as simply stated. Christian tenets have also been written, some very clear, most vague and misty, but they have all been written. It is no great task to place the two sets alongside, that those who read may compare. This no critic has in fullness done. This no Christian dares do. Constitutional government takes cognizance of man as he is constituted, of his basic urges, basic needs, his emotions, his passions, his endurance. It does not try to legislate him into some imaginative angelic status, unmindful that he must eat, wear clothing, and be sheltered. It aims to permit the widest range in living, aspiring to provide the greatest latitude for his ambitions, his preferences in this life on this earth. Theology gives to this life a small subordinate station. Earthly welfare is trivial compared to the eternal bliss waiting in another world, about which theologians know all. The brief stay here is to be spent as in a dressing room garbing for eternity. Life must not be devoted to making the most of itself, but to preparation for death, and must be lived to that end. Happiness in this world destroys the one chance for it in the next. Misery on this side is the wet nurse of endless joy on the other side of the marble slab. The unseen "affectionate" deity must be cruel to be kind, and the evils of his creation must not be opposed in their serving the one grand purpose. This spiritual philosophy utterly destroys the material philosophy of happiness here and now. There is nothing in common. It makes patriotism a devilish thing, and obedience to the hierarchy the price of admission to paradise, an attitude necessarily hostile to and contemptuous of natural concern for present human welfare. This hostility is vividly portrayed in the highest Christian authority. True, there have been priests and preachers who have championed material philosophy and opposed flagrant abuses, but they did so in defiance of the written Word, and were genuine heretics. Apologists often hold up these noble heretics as examples of Christian merit, but they must be classed on the side of natural humanism with an import above the supernatural. The apologists confess their weakness when they abandon authority and point to the higher plane of the random rebels. The Sermon on the Mount is quoted more than the Decalogue, yet will not half so well survive the acid test of investigation. Much of it is in misty platitudes (the church calls them "Beatitudes," whatever that may mean). "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." Not paradise but earth, which must mean earthly things, earthly possessions, earthly advantages. If in the two thousand years since that was promised the meek have inherited anything but hobnails, what is it? Can that be written down as a principle of administration, or even morals? "Blessed are they that mourn . . ." If the slaughter of loved ones bringing grief until hearts are weak and sick is a blessing, then this world has recently been blessed (by World War II and other wars) as never in history. Can such an expression be written into a principle? Today the best minds, Atheistic and other, are striving to do away with all war and mourning. The other platitudes have a heavenly sequel and apply very slightly to earthly life. One more is worthy of notice. "Blessed are the peacemakers." What a hollow ring that has, coming from one who said that he came not to send peace but a sword, to set families against themselves. "Agree with thine adversary quickly" lest prison and fine result is both hypocrisy and cowardice in a single breath. No word as to who may be the adversary, and who the one in agreement. It has to mean that the minority, the weaker, and the few must yield and pretend. Who will write that into a principle, when as a moral doctrine it is to be despised? Neither the church nor any government recognizes it. The church glories in its martyrs who did not fear prison, and all lovers of freedom honor their heroes who resisted tyranny to the death. That alone almost obligates god himself to agree with his great adversary, the devil, who wins more spoils, is more powerful, more prevailing, and conducts the prison. That a right eye can offend and be plucked out, or that a right hand should be cut off that the whole body be not cast into hell, sounds like gibber from a padded cell. That would argue strongly for the guillotine, which casts off both eye and ears and the slanderous tongue. Can that be written into a moral tenet supporting our way of life? To take no thought of tomorrow, of food, drink, or covering, because the lily fares well, neither toiling nor spinning, is a tramp's philosophy. Sixty days of such observance by a converted world would see civilization crash. We are learning that it requires diligent, almost desperate thought, extending to many long tomorrows to escape death from pollution or lack of as simple a thing as drinking water. Let the propagandists try writing that into a principle. Now we come to one commandment that can be, and has been, written into law and enforced by the Torquemadas until rivers of blood have run or been dried in flames: "They that would not that I should rule over them, bring them before me and slay them." What matters is that this same god, before he took on flesh, said, "Thou shalt not kill"? Who reads H. C. Lea gets a grasp on the unbelievable horror growing out of this command. Civilization has left that behind. Who would rewrite that into our statute books today? Repeatedly, this demigod of all shows racial antipathy. He speaks with scorn, "these things the Gentiles seek." He advises "Go not in the way of the Gentiles." He calls them "swine" and "dogs," and would not cast his pearls before them. He spoke to them in parables, "lest they understand and become converted," and then crash heaven's gate where he did not want them. He "came only to the lost sheep of Israel." "Salvation is only for the Jew." Anti-Semitism is a religious antipathy directed at a small race, but his Semitism of the god-on-earth was a hostility involving all eternity and all the races of the earth except the small one. Who will dare venture that racial antipathy written into our law would be a prop to our civilization? If there was a little band of thirteen, earning nothing, wandering, and haranguing, it would naturally preach charity, ask charity, threaten the uncharitable, and be without any concern for a solution of the world's dire problem of poverty. To sell all and give to the poor would soon bring an end to giving. Very naturally, too, would such a group pray "Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors," with probably many debts to be cancelled, but no debtors to be forgiven. "The poor ye shall have with you always," was as far as those "teachers" could think. They left it to the Atheists of the Orient to grapple with poverty and plan to abolish it in a few short years. Charity does not solve. It glosses over, it extends and thereby increases the evil. It delays, prevents reform; it cures nothing. The church with ready texts has opposed every advance and reform that intelligence has established in the teeth of religious hostility; scientific education, abolition of slavery, and the rights of women. With a bland and shameless affront, orthodox religion has barged on to the soil of its own defeat, trumpeting that it is the author of the reforms. For a century it has dinned that it originated the idea of the equality of man, and his brotherhood. Nothing is more distant from the truth. It had seventeen centuries to develop and establish equality, before our infidel and heretic fathers wrote it in the Declaration of Independence. With strong hands it built its structure of divine right of kings, of submission to despotism, feudalism and serfdom, chattel worship and slavery. It was not until fifty years after the Declaration that Sinai ceased to smoke and thunder against the idea of equality as "novel, subversive and dangerous." Now in defeat, the apologists want memory dimmed, and have abandoned all texts hostile to freedom, yet in their book of contradictions they cannot point to a single text asserting civil equality. Instead they flood all avenues with the argument that the god sacrificing himself to himself to appease his own wrath thereby made all men equal. How? In the first place it provided a hitherto unknown hell for all those minds who do not sanction the notion of a cleansing sacrifice, without considering whether those minds be honest in their doubt. Sincerely questioning the dogma becomes an eternal crime. It makes thought, not deeds, damnation fodder. It truly inspired the first un-American committee to establish the guilt of thought. If there is any idea of equality in the Bible, it applies only to the ranks of harpists in the next world, not to any citizen of this one. Salvation was offered to prince and pauper, to king and subject, to lord and serf, and to master and slave without suggestion that it would make them equals before their state tribunals. All this is a cunning priestly fiction, disputed by Holy Writ, as per, "Servants, be obedient to your masters," approving mastery and servitude. It allows the vineyard owner to pay a penny for a day or an hour of labor. It harps "King of kings and Lord of lords" as a blessed ideal. There is rendering unto Caesar. There is offering to favorites on earth a favorite place in heaven. There is condemning woman to submission, humility, and subjection, forbidding her to learn except from her owner, or to teach, to be in authority, to wear braided hair or jewelry or broidered garment, and denouncing her beneath the man as man is beneath Christ, degrades to the level of chattel beasts the most important half of the human race. Are these passages torn from the Bibles at Smith and Vassar Colleges? If not, why not? The major division of Christianity, Roman Catholicism, is a perfect despotism, with ranks of authority graded down to the masses, which have no rights but to serve and obey. Equality of Man, what a ghastly joke! Driven to the curb, asked to mention a single Christian principle fit to be rated as legal support of civilization, the apologists take refuge in "Love thy neighbor" with the distorted definition of neighbor, or "Love thine enemy," studiously overlooking "Hate thy family." Well he knows this cannot be written into law. Law can neither compel nor inspire love. It is an emotion residing in the division of sensibility, outside the faculties of reason and will. It answers to stimuli, not to commandment or force. Neither can commandment make one hate mother or wife. Had the priestly writers ascribed to the Galilean (Jesus), "Respect the rights of your neighbor, even of your enemy," they would have written a gem. The law can and does forbid trespass against neighbors we dislike. The last defense of an apologist is to quote his Golden Rule "Do unto others . . ." W. J. Bryan was its great champion (the religious fanatic in the play _Inherit the Wind_). He clearly shows it is a positive rule, and takes the offensive, in contrast to the negative rule of Confucius and Hillel, which says: "Do NOT unto another that which is hateful to thyself," meaning "Withhold thy hands," an injunction even a moron can understand. To go and do to another requires great wisdom on the part of the doer, or wise advice attached to the rule. No advice accompanies the Gospel version. It is left to the doer to estimate the good. Every aggressive and conquering nation has pretended it did to others for their good even when pleading "the white man's burden." Had the Christian world been saturated with the idea of withholding unwanted hands from overt acts, what a different and better world we would have. Every cruelty of history has come from hands laid on, not from hands withheld. In the Middle Ages, zealous Christians reasoned that if their souls were in danger of eternal hell, they would want their friends to save them though it required the thumbscrew, the rack, the wheel and the torture chamber. Thus they did to others, to the erring ones, by the million. At its ultimate, the Golden Rule is a vicious thing, and the man does not live who will dare to write it into a law compelling men to go and do as they think best. It is depressing to see secular writers remarking that Secularism more faithfully observes the teaching of Jesus than do the churches, which makes Secularism a Christian sect claiming superiority. Every Christian sect makes that claim. Let the next secular writer so tempted first try to lay down, in clear and concise language, any Christian principle he would approve. He will be cured. Every great principle can be stated in simple words. If Christianity can be said to have fixed principles, they are but hereditary, that son and grandson are as guilty as the father. Only thus could they invent the Fall of Man. Attainder is positively forbidden in our Constitution, and denounced by the whole civilized world. It only exists in the craw of Nazism. Yet it is the essence of Christianity, by which it extends conviction to the last child born, making it a co-culprit with Adam, whose felony was reaching into the tree of wisdom. Without attainder, orthodox religion is an insolvent void, yet no man will attempt to underwrite it as a principle of civilization or jurisprudence. The other fixed fundamental is Vicarious Atonement. Without it salvation would fade. Without it Christianity would die. It cleanses with the blood of an innocent victim, wipes away guilt through the suffering of a blameless one on the easy condition that the condemned simply believe it was so intended in the Scheme. It makes strong appeal to the criminal element. It establishes a laundry, whose solvent is blood, in which the reddest smocks and blackest robes can be "made whiter than snow." With all its pretense of being religious, no court in the civilized world will recognize blood atonement and permit a substitute to accept the penalty. No court will allow a mother to step on the trap door for her son, though he believe, would actually know, she would do it for love of him. The stupidest court knows this would not rectify a crime, but simply add another victim. Will the most fanatical apologist rise to urge this to be written into the law of today? These are not trivia, not fancied faults. They are the foundation, embodied in every Christian church from the approach to the tip of its uttermost spire, these principles: Attainder of Blood, by which heredity attaches guilt to innocence, and Vicarious Atonement, which washes guilt away in the blood of innocence. MORALS OF THE RELIGIOUS (BEHOLD THE MALODOROUS RECORD OF YE MOST PIOUS) Cardinal Gibbons, attacking Protestants as being criminal in their nature, said, "Criminality is absent or rare among the non-religious." In _The New Criminology,_ Max D. Schlapp and Edward E. Smith say that two generations of statisticians found that the ratio of convicts without religious training is about one-tenth of 1 percent. W. T. Root, professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, examining 1,916 prisoners in the penitentiary said "Indifference to religion, due to thought, strengthens character," adding that Unitarians, Agnostics, Atheists, and freethinkers are absent from penitentiaries or nearly so. During ten years in Sing Sing those executed for murder were 65 percent Roman Catholics, 26 percent Protestants, 6 percent Hebrew, 2 percent pagan, less than one-third of 1 percent non-religious. Steiner and Swancara surveying Canadian prisons found 1,294 Roman Catholics, 435 Anglicans, 241 Methodists, 135 Baptists, and one Unitarian. Dr. Christian, the superintendent of the New York State reformatories, checking 22,000 prison inmates, found only four college graduates. In "Who's Who," 91 percent were college graduates, and he commented that intelligence and knowledge produce right living, and that crime is the offspring of superstition and ignorance. In the survey of a Massachusetts reformatory Steiner and Swancara found every inmate religious, carefully herded by the chaplains. Of 510 paroled, 80 percent returned to crime! In Joliet Prison, Swancara found 2,288 Roman Catholics, 1,020 Baptists, 617 Methodists, and no unbelievers. Michigan had 82,000 Baptists and 83,000 Jews in the population. But in prison there were twenty-two times as many Baptists as Jews, and eighteen times as many Methodists as Jews. In Sing Sing inmates were 1,553 total, with 855 Roman Catholics (over half!), 518 Protestants, 177 Jews, and 8 non-religious. Some were ashamed of their religion, refusing to answer, or said "no preference." Some believe the Bible but think the churches depart from it and so called themselves Protestants. Steiner first surveyed twenty-seven states, and found 19,400 Christians, 5,000 with no preference, and 3 agnostics (one each in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Illinois). In the later survey he found 60,605 Christians, 5,000 Jews, 131 pagans, 4,000 no preference, and the three agnostics mentioned. His last survey was more complete. In twenty-nine states he found fifteen unbelievers, Spiritualists, Theosophists, Deists, Pantheists, and one Agnostic in nearly 83,000 inmates. Calling all fifteen "anti-Christians" made it one-half person to each state. Elmira reformatory overshadowed all, with nearly 31,000 inmates, including 15,694 Roman Catholics (roughly half), and 10,968 Protestants, 4,000 Jews, 325 refusing to answer, and no unbelievers. In the East over 64 percent of inmates are Roman Catholics. In the national prison population they average 50 percent. A national census found Roman Catholics 15 percent. They count from the diaper up. Hardly 12 percent are old enough to commit a crime. Half of these are women. That leaves an adult Roman Catholic 6 percent supplying 50 percent of the prison population! Oh, man, how that thunders for parochial schools, and the claim that religion is the guardian of morals! 52 percent of the people belong to no church, yet live clean lives and supply less than 1 percent of the total criminals. Liverpool, England, produces 3 percent as many young criminals as Birmingham, a larger city, 28 percent coming from Roman Catholic schools. Teaching youngsters that a man, who died 2,000 years ago, is ever ready to shoulder their guilt and have it pardoned, lays the carpet for criminal feet and spades the culture bed of crime. Copyright American Atheist Press. All rights reserved. Printed copies of this pamphlet can be obtained from: American Atheist Press P. O. Box 140195, Austin, Texas 78714-0195. Stock #8350. 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