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Superstition Unveiled   By: (1814-1860)

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Abridged by the Author from his "APOLOGY FOR ATHEISM."

"Not one of you reflects that you ought to know your Gods before you worship them."




Religion has an important bearing on all the relations and conditions of life. The connexion between religious faith and political practice is, in truth, far closer than is generally thought. Public opinion has not yet ripened into a knowledge that religious error is the intangible but real substratum of all political injustice. Though the 'Schoolmaster' has done much, there still remain among us, many honest and energetic assertors of 'the rights of man,' who have to learn that a people in the fetters of superstition cannot, secure political freedom. These reformers admit the vast influence of Mohammedanism on the politics of Constantinople, and yet persist in acting as if Christianity had little or nothing to do with the politics of England.

At a recent meeting of the Anti State Church Association it was remarked that throw what we would into the political cauldron, out it came in an ecclesiastical shape . If the newspaper report may be relied on, there was much laughing among the hearers of those words, the deep meaning of which, it may safely be affirmed, only a select few of them could fathom.

Hostility to state churches by no means implies a knowledge of the close and important connection between ecclesiastical and political questions. Men may appreciate the justice of voluntaryism in religion, and yet have rather cloudy conceptions with respect to the influence of opinions and things ecclesiastical on the condition of nations. They may clearly see that he who needs the priest, should disdain to saddle others with the cost of him, while blind to the fact that no people having faith in the supernatural ever failed to mix up such faith with political affairs. Even leading members of the 'Fourth Estate' are constantly declaring their disinclination for religious criticism, and express particular anxiety to keep their journals free of everything 'strictly theological.' Their notion is, that newspaper writers should endeavour to keep clear of so 'awful' a topic. And yet seldom does a day pass in which this self imposed editorial rule is not violated a fact significant, as any fact can be of connection between religion and politics.

It is quite possible the editors of newspapers have weighty reasons for their repugnance to agitate the much vexed question of religion; but it seems they cannot help doing so. In a leading article of this days' Post , [Endnote 4:1] we are told The stain and reproach of Romanism in Ireland is, that it is a political system, and a wicked political system, for it regards only the exercise of power , and neglects utterly the duty of improvement. In journals supported by Romanists, and of course devoted to the interests of their church, the very same charge is made against English Protestantism. To denounce each other's 'holy apostolic religion' may be incompatible with the taste of 'gentlemen of the press,' but certainly they do it with a brisk and hearty vehemence that inclines one to think it a 'labour of love.' What men do con amore they usually do well, and no one can deny the wonderful talent for denunciation exhibited by journalists when writing down each other's 'true Christianity.' The unsparing invective quoted above from the Post is a good specimen. If just, Irish Romanism ought to be destroyed, and newspaper writers cannot be better employed than in helping on the work of its destruction, or the destruction of any other religion to which the same 'stain and reproach' may be fairly attached... Continue reading book >>

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