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
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
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
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
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
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.
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