The presiding elder of the Methodist
churches of Washington, preaching in President McKinley’s church
on Sept. 8, said in his sermon that the assassination of the
President had almost converted him into “an advocate of lynch
law;” while Dr. T. DeWitt Talmage, preaching on the same day
at Ocean Grove, N. J., called forth applause from 10,000 church-goers
by saying in his sermon:
“I wish the police at Buffalo
who arrested the scoundrel who shot our adored President had
taken the butt of the weapon and dashed the man’s brains out
on the spot.”
The assassination of the President,
occurring as it did near the end of the week, served to exhibit
the preachers on the following Sunday in all the wolfishness of
their unreflection. Had they been given a day or two longer in which
to restrain their man-hunting instincts, their “religious” feeling,
expressed so freely in the pulpits, would doubtless have been less
sanguinary. Some of them declared that had they been present they
themselves would have murdered the anarchist with the unpronounceable
name. Others were content merely to justify the lawless act of lynching.
All, however, hastened to express the attitude that is the utmost
antithesis of Christian teaching. They all thirsted for blood.
There is something unspeakably hideous
in this evidence of the spirit of murder among those who by their
assuming to teach religion, are conceded to possess more of God
than other men. Should one be surprised at such an act as the killing
of a President by a man who had never come under the sway of the
nobler instincts and examples; when among the refined and educated
teachers of society one has only to scratch the hide to reveal red-handed
murder? These preachers are convicted by their own utterances, which
the yellow press greedily licked up for the people’s delectation.
These preachers are red anarchists.
That is, they have the night side of anarchism. The dawn side, the
liberty side, they do not see.
If they had had any respect for law,
they would never have gone on record 
as they did. If they had any respect for God or humanity they would
be now on their knees praying Jehovah to take from them the thirst
for killing. Mr. McKinley himself did not froth at the mouth, nor
howl like a wolf for the blood of the poor savage who shot him.
He asked that no one should hurt him.
Mr. McKinley knew, perhaps, that savages
of the Czolgosz type are the natural result of the preachers’ divorcing
religion from human life;—preferring theology to natural justice.
When a church becomes a society for “good,” people only, the proletariat
does not see its religious side. It sees only its snob side.
Czolgosz is the type of Hun and Vandal,
which Macaulay, the English historian, declared long ago in a letter
to Thomas Jefferson would ravage our republic in the twentieth century.
Macaulay said that these Huns and Vandals would be the product of
our own civilization. He was a privileged person himself, never
having to give anything in return for the food he ate and clothes
he wore unless he wanted to; and yet he was not so blind as these
preachers are. He saw that you could not pacify all hungry men by
telling them that Heaven is for them. It is no good trying to tell
a joke to a man in agony.
Human life can only be sustained upon
If society therefore is so organized
as to make all the material resources of the earth the private property
of less than all the people;—if a single man is left outside,—then
this man becomes an enemy to society.
Czolgosz seems to have been left outside.
It is related that several preachers
had asked him to come to church. Some had advised him to be good.
But it does not appear that any of them took him by the hand and
promised to help him get his share of life through normal political
When a man is left outside he is generally
ignorant. He has had no one to teach him that it is a wrong system
which is oppressing him and not a single individual who may achieve
political distinction. Men have been striking all through history
at the result or product of institutions instead of at the institutions
themselves. This is why the peoples in their long catalogue of revolutions
have never really gotten anywhere.
There was no one to teach this to
Czolgosz. The preachers could not teach it to him because they do
not know it.
Czolgosz thought he could stamp out
economic tyranny by killing Mr. McKinley.
The preachers think they can stamp
out anarchy by killing Czolgosz.
Czolgosz and the preachers are alike
in one particular. They are both damnably ignorant.
For Czolgosz there seems to be some
excuse for this ignorance. If reports are true even the anarchists
in Chicago would not teach him.
But most preachers are the product
Of course, it must be remembered that
the yellow journals quote only the bloodthirsty preachers—the prominent
ones in the big churches. There are assuredly a few who have not
joined in the blood-baying. Preachers are no worse than other men,
save when they know the truth and prostitute their souls by ignoring
it. That is a depth to which, from his peculiar occupation, only
the preacher can fall.
The outcast who, owing to an unrighteous
social system, has been denied access to the opportunities to live
a complete life, and who strikes blindly with physical force at
some individual, may be designated as an assassin of the body.
The preacher who in this same society
purchases his opportunities for a complete life by voicing false
doctrines agreeable to the privileged classes, may be designated
as an assassin of the soul.
By estimating the difference in value
of the body, which is clay, and the soul, which is immortal, the
relative criminality of Czolgosz and the preachers who are preaching
what they are paid for may be properly estimated.