Hermann Marcus Kottinger.

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Balzer that of Nordhausen ; A. T. Wislizenus another in Halber-
stadt. These men, beside Frederic Schueneman-Pott, Sachse, and
others, became the leaders of the new party ; [/hlich, too, ap-
proached them more and more. In Prussian Saxony alone more
than 40 congregations arose. They united in general meetings

(1847 a^d 1849), and formed a friendly union with the German
Catholics. Periodical papers were issued by Schueneman-Pott,
Edward Balzer, Wislicenus, Uhlich, etc. ; and the favor of the
people for the new cause was increasing.


To these victories of humanity the revolutions of 1848 contri-
buted much, by which the humanitarian rights were increased in
France, Germany, Prussia, and Austria.- But only a short time the
State power and religious liberty followed the same path ; the for-
mer soon gained again the ascendency, and reaction recommenced
its dark work. In Austria, Bavaria, Hessen-Cassel, the free con-
gregations were suppressed by force, in other countries, especially
in Prussia, superintended by the police ; their ministers were im-
prisoned, sent to asylums for the insane or exiled, their schools
shut up, their property confiscated, their adherents who carried on
a trade, starved by hunger. Their dead were hardly permitted to
be' buried. The press was put to silence.

This sad condition lasted eight years ; with William' s accession
to the Prussian throne it partly disappeared. In consequence of
the amnesty granted by him, several agitators of religious freedom,
who lived abroad, returned to Germany; several new communities
were organized, others revived. Their number has since increased
over one hundred. They concluded a new union, and convene
annually provincial Synods, and once in three years a General As-
sembly. The first President of this was Edward Balzer ; after his
resignation Uhlich took his place. In Austria, too, religious liberty
has been somewhat enlarged.

In France, Renan, an intelligent priest, wrote also the life of
Jesus. He professes in general the views of Dr. Strauss, but is
less liberal. His work got an extensive circulation, because it is
composed in a comprehensible, tasteful style.

In England, Bishop Colenzo has proved in a learned book, that
the five books which thus far had been attributed to Moses, were
not written by him. The English Church raised a loud clamor of
discontent, and suspended the Bishop from his office. Darwin,
Huxley and Tyndal, H. Spencer and Mills, Harriet Martineau and
Marian Evans, Buckle, Grote, Lecky, with a hundred more of the
finest intellects of England, are the authors of works hostile to
the Christian religion. The rapid progress of infidelity in this
country is even admitted, and lamented by the advocates of

In Italy, too, finally, free exercise of religion was accorded;


now several Protestant churches there exist in a flourishing condi-
tion; one of them even in Rome. Since all Italian States are united
by a central Government, the Pope has also lost his dominions
(1871). A Council held in Rome, declared him intallible (1870);
but many of the Bishops who were present at it, and several Ger-
man Governments, e. g., that of Wurtembergh, protested against
the declaration. In Switzerland, at last the Jews, too, were emanci-
pated, and are to enjoy in future the same rights as other citizens.

^ 39. America— Sectarianism— Religious Liberty— Thomas


Ajjicrica is truly called the land of sects. To the old sects of
Europe, which all are represented here, from time to time new
ones were added, e. g., the Congregationalists (a revised edition
of the Presbyterians), the Universalists, the Methodists, Baptists,
Shakers, Spiritualists, Mormons, etc. Many of these sects origin-
ated in Europe. The Unitarians and the Universalists are most
liberal. The latter once held that all sin and punishment terminate
with this life. They now, generally, teach that they will extend
beyond this world, but will eventually be conquered by the power
of righteousness.

The Unitarians believe the Scriptures inspired only in propor-
tion to the truth they teach. They generally hold that all great
and good writings are more or less inspired. They do not believe
in a Satan. Unitarianism is a transitional stage of thought be-
tween " Orthodoxy '"' and Rationalism.

The sect of the Methodists is a relative of the Episcopalians,
and originated the last century in England. Its founders were
John Wesley and his brother. The name ot Methodists was given
to them and their followers on account of the regularity of the
manner of their lives. Methodism spread from there, since 100
years, widely in America, and forms presently here the largest
body of Protestant churches. The Methodists count at least five
million members, with thirteen thousand preachers. They are
divided into two sections, the Northern and Southern. The views
of the former are more liberal, e. g., they advocated the aboli-
tion of slavery.


The Spiritualists believe in the existence of a world of spirits,
and that an human intercourse with them is possible and common.
Their number in America is said to amount to several millions
They hold public meetings, have many periodicals, etc. They
havi done more, perhaps, to destroy belief in a personal God,
a personal Devil, and a local hell, than any other form of Lib-

The Shakers got their name from the practice of wild, freakish
gestures. Now-a-days this is rarely done. They join dances and
music to the divine service.

The Mormons, who have also a fifth evangely, hardly deserve
the predicate of a religious society ; for, as polygamy by their
creed is a legal institution, they have not even risen over that
degree of civilization which the Mosaic religion and the Islam
already have attained. They owe their last evangely to their
prophet, Joseph Smith, who asserted to have received it by a
miracle from Heaven. They call themselves the last. saints of

Religious liberty is in America, both by the central Constitu-
tion and by the special Constitutions of most of the States, in a
higher degree granted than in any other country on earth. The
former declares: "Congress shall make no law respecting an es-
tablishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Here the Church is almost completely separated from the State ;
the people elect and pay themselves their ministers. Beside, the
religious instruction of youth is by law precluded from the public
schools. Still some States have encroached on the liberty of con
science, e. g , by severe Sabbath laws. The clergy (almost without
any difference of the sects), occupies still the old standpoint of faith,
and is averse to every reform. They took little interest in the
abolishment of slavery, and believed it to be the duty of every
citizen to deliver fugitive slaves to their masters. Many clergy-
men called slavery a divine institution ; many of them were them-
selves slave-holders. In the report of the pro-slavery meeting in
Charleston, 1835, '^ ^^ stated : *' The clergy of all denominations
attended in a body, lending their sanction to the proceedings."
Neither does the clergy, in general, favor the emancipation of


woman. The American press has vigorously promoted the progress
of free thought in this period. Thomas Paine fought as courage-
ously for religious as civil liberty, in his admirable book : " The
Age of Reason," he submitted the Bible to a severe criticism ; he
denied its divine origin. The first part of his book was written
i793> when he was a member of the National Convent of France.
Being a political adversary of Robespiene, this brought it about
that Paine was confined to prison in Paris, and he would have lost
his life by the guillotine, but that he fell sick in the jail, and
Robespierre was soon after executed himself (1794). After the
death of the tyrant, Paine was set free, and again admitted to the
convent. The second part of the book appeared in 1795. It was
first published in France. It roused many enemies against him,
but procured him also many admirers ; the anniversary of his birth-
day is celebrated in many places of the country. The Paine's
Hall in Boston was erected to his honor. "A lew more years, a
few more rays of light, and mankind will venerate the memory of
him who said, ' the world is my country, and to do good my re-

§ 40. Continued— The Liberal Press— Liberal Orators—
Trancendentalism in New England.

Robert Dale Owen founded (1828), in partnership with Miss
Frances Wright, an English lady, the Free Enquirer, a weekly
journal devoted to socialistic ideas, and to opposition to the super-
natural origin and claims of Christianity After the breaking out
of the rebellion he was a warm champion of the policy of emanci-
pation. He has published : Discussion with Origen Bachelor on
the Personality of God ; The Authenticity of the Bible, etc. He
did, fifty years ago, a great work for Liberalism.

Frances Wright(Frothinghafnj in her book, *'A Few Days in
Athens," defends the Epicurean philosophy, and gives liberal
views on immortality and a personal God. She published also a
course of "popular lectures" on Free Inquiry, Religion and
Morals, delivered in New York, and other large cities of America,
and "popular tracts " in partnership with R. D. Owen and others.
She was the Pioneer Woman in the cause of Women's Rights.


William Lloyd Garrisoft, the pioneer and leader of the modern
anti-slavery movement in America, was committed to jail, but
liberated, his fine being paid by Arthur Tappan, a merchant of
New York. He delivered many lectures in which he first declared
its immediate abolition in the name of God and humanity. He
made special efforts to enlist the sympathy and co-operation of the
clergy and the churches of different denominations, repudiating all
creeds, and alleged revelations that reject the fundamental truth
of the equal and inalienable rights of every man. His efforts had
little success. In 1831 he commenced to issue the Liberator in
Boston, taking for his motto: ^' My country is the world; my
country-men are all mankind." Isaac Knapp was his partner.
Their resources were so restricted that they had to make the print-
ing office their domicile, and to bed themselves on its floor. Garri-
son was frequently threatened with asassination, and the Legislature
of Georgia offered five thousand dollars to any person which should
arrest, and bring him to trial in that State. He organized with
other friends the Anti-Slavery Society of New England, and con-
tinued the Liberator, until the close of the year 1865, when the
abolition of slavery was proclaimed in the Constitution of the
United States.

Other Liberal periodicals are the Correspondent, published as far
back as 1820, the Beacon, by Gilbert Vale, the Regenerator, by
P. S. Murray, the Lnvestigator, the Lndex, edited by F. E. Abbot,
the Truth Seeker, by D. M. Bennett, the Pioneer (a German paper),
by Ch. Heinzen, etc. The Investigator was founded by Samuel
Kneeland (1832); to this paper the Infidel Relief Society was
joined, which still is extant. Kneeland was put in prison, and
tried before the Supreme Court of Boston on a charge of blas-
phemy. In memory of this event that Society has ordered an an-

The most learned and liberal of the American theologians of his
age was Theodore Parker (n86o); he promoted much the cause of
free religion and humanity by his sermons and numerous writings.
He was first an Unitarian minister, but soon widely differed from
the views of conservative Unitarians, and became the leader of a
school which rejected as unhistorical many portions of the Scrip-


ture, and renounced all belief in the supernaturnal. At the present
time liberal pulpit orators and lecturers are : F. Abbott, Rowland
Connor, O. B. Frothingham, B. F. Underwood, M, J. Savage,
W. H. Spencer, Robert TngersoU, the famous author of " The
Gods," and many others.

An important factor in American Liberalism was Transcendental-
ism (idealism), as it is called. Though brief in duration it left a
deep trace on ideas and institutions. Its name denotes the doctrine
of fundamental innate conceptions, or ideas which transcend exper-
ience. The authors of this philosophy asserted that there are such
innate conceptions in the human mind, namely, the idea of God,
and his moral attributes, of moral law, of absolute right and good-
ness, of immortality, etc. They attributed to the mind an intui-
tive faculty to gaze at those ideas with an inward sense, a spiritual
eye, by which their existence becomes as evident as material ob-
jects to the physical eye. The first promulgators of Transcenden-
talism were German philosophers (Kant, Fichte and others), and
their doctrines were imported to New England about fifty years

It advocated free thought in religion, had no sympathy with
dogmatism, and fostered skepticism by causing a reaction against
Puritan orthodoxy. It inaugurated both the theory and practice
of sound dietetics, created reforms in education, and inspired phi-
lantropists. The moral enthusiasm of the last generation which
broke out with such prodigious power in the holy war against
Slavery, which uttered such earnest protest against the wTongs in-
flicted on women, and against capital punishment, owed much of
its glow and force to Idealism. Men and women are healthier in
bodies, happier in their social and domestic relations, more kind
and humane in their sympathies, than they would be if its disciples
had not lived.

It found expression in several magazines and newspapers, es-
pecially in the Dial (1S40 — 46), a treasury of literary wealth
which contains even texts from the Hindoo religion, Confucius,
and Chaldean oracles. To publish and read such scriptures
showed an enlightened and courageous mind, and a disposition to
do justice to all expressions of religious sentiment. Its foremost


advocates were Theodore Parker, R. W. Emerson, and Margaret
Fuller, authoress of " Woman in the Nineteenth Century," a work
which contains all that is worth saying on the woman question, and
has been the storehouse of argument and illustration from that day
to this. Among other prominent disciples were Bronson, Alcott,
W. H. Channing, Henry Thoreau, G. Ripley, Charles Sumner,
Bancroft the historian, the poets Bryant and Whittier, Nathaniel
Hawthorne, Mrs. Lydia Maria Child, and Julia Ward Howe, with
many lesser lights in literature.

Transcendentalism deified the human mind. According to the
Evolution theory there are no innate ideas, and the claim of intu-
itive knowledge of any order whatsoever, is untenable on scientific
grounds. (Views of the Universe, § ii, etc.) Still '' the disciples
of this doctrine were earnest men and women, no doubt ; better
educated men and women did not live in America. Their genera-
tion produced no warmer hearts, no purer spirits, no more ardent
consciences, no more devoted wills." — O. B Frothingham,
''Transcendentalism in New England."

§ 41. Continued— Liberal Associations— The Anti-Slavery Society

—Free Religious Associations— The National

Liberal League.

Among the liberal American associations which, in this Period,
opposed to the orthodox teachings of the Churches, the anit"
slavery society was the strongest and most efficacious. It was or-
ganized in 1833. Its constitution asserted: Whereas slavery is
contrary to the principles of natural justice, and of the Christian
religion, we do hereby agree to form ourselves into a society, and
declare that the object of this society is the entire abolition of
slavery in the United States. It immediately adopted and pub-
lished a '' Declaration of Sentiments," in which they declared that
to invade personal liberty is to usurp the prerogative of Jehovah,
that therefore all slave-laws were, before God, utterly null and void.
The society sent agents, who remonstrated against slavery, circu-
lated anti-slavery tracts and periodicals, enlisted the pulpits and
the press in the cause of freedom, and aimed at a purification of
the Churches from all participation in the guilt of slavery. Ar-
thur Tappa\, Lindley Coates, W. Lloyd Garrison, and Wendell


Phillips successively presided over this society. Numerous anti-
slavery societies were soon organized throughout the North. The
members of the society were frequently the victims of the violence
of the mobs, who disturbed their meetings, assailed their persons,
destroyed their property, and imperilled their lives. Rev. Elijah
P. Lovejoy, editor of the Observer, in which he occasionally cen-
sured the institute of slavery, was in Alton (III) killed by a mob
(1837). Pennsylvania Hall, erected in Philadelphia for anti-slavery
meetings, was burnt to the ground by a furious mob (1838). The
purpose of the society was at last accomplished. When by the
amendment of the United States"Constitution slavery was abolished,
it disbanded its members (1870).

In recent time (since 1868) associations were organized by
liberal x\mericans, the chief object of which is to promote the
practical interests in pure religion ; they call themselves free
religious associations. In those the various religious opinions and
faiths meet and mingle on perfectly equal terms ; their members are
free to avow themselves Christians or non-Christians, or Anti-
Christians, Atheists, Materialists, Spiritualists, etc. They hold
regular annual meetings and have allied with the German free
religious associations.

In the United States, too, the reactionary party of the Christian
Church takes much pains to frustrate religious liberty, and to pre-
vent the religious progress of the age. It calls itself *' The Na-
tional Refor7n Association,'' has created a journal for its special
organ, and conceived the purpose to secure such an amendment to
the Constitution as will acknowledge Almighty God as the author of
the nation's e.xistence, Jesus Christ as its ruler, and the Bible as the
foundation of its laws. A Judge of the United States Supreme
Court is its President, its members are many of the leading divines
in the land, and of other men high in authority.

In order to counteract their unconstitutional aim, a Congress of
Liberals met in Philadelphia, when there the Centennial Festival
of the Union was celebrated (1876), and organized the National
Liberal League. It was the most important body of men and
women ever convened on the American continent. One hundred
and sixty-seven delegates enrolled their names as members of the


League. The Germans of America, especially their " Free Con-
gregations," co-operated with them. An Executive Committee,
and other officers were elected. Francis E. Abbott was chosen
President of the League. It framed a Constitution, and an Ad-
dress to the people of the United States. According to these
documents its general object is to accomplish the total separation
of Church and State, to the end that equal rights in religion, gen-
uine morality in politics, and freedom, virtue and brotherhood in
all human life may be established, protected and perpetuated. As
means to the accomplishment of this general object, the specific
objects of the League are : To urge the adoption of such ^' a Re-
ligious Freedom Artiendment to the United States Constitution as
shall effect -the complete secularization of the Government in all
its departments and institutions. State and National ; to advocate
the equitable taxation of church property ; the total discontinuance
of religious instruction and worship in the public schools ; the
repeal of all laws enforcing the observance of Sunday as the Sab-
bath; the abolition of State-paid chaplaincies; the substitution of
simple affirmation, under the pains and penalties of perjury, for
the judicial oath ; the non-appointment of religious fast, festivals
and holidays by public authority," etc.

In order to realize these objects, the League resolved to promote
the formation and multiplication of local auxiliary Liberal Leagues
throughout the country. The Executive Committee shall be com-
posed of one member from each State and Territory of the Union.

42. Conchded— German Free Congregations— Their Organiz-
ation and League.

At the time when the free congregations in Germany suffered
from persecution, many of their adherents were driven from their
homes ; some went to England, others to Holland or Switzerland ;
the most emigrated to North America. To them joined thousands
of political fugitives, who, after the revolutions of the year 1848
had been expelled, or were tired of their native country, and car-
ried their better knowledge to their new fatherland.

The first free German congregation was founded by Edward
Schroeter, i;i July, 1850, in New York, and some months after this,


the second, in St. Louis, on motion of Frank Smith, Parliamentary
member of Loevenberg ; it still exists there, under the leadership
of Charles Luedeking. The third one, and its organ, the '' Hu-
7nanist'' was likewise called into existence by Schroeter (1851), in
Milwaukee, after he had organized such associations in Boston Hart-
ford, etc. By his efforts similar ones rapidly spread from Milwaukee
over the State of Wisconsin ; but they did not subsist long, be-
cause they lacked able, enthusiastic leaders. Only the congrega-
tion of Sauk City, which for its origin is also indebted to Mr.
Schroeter, subsisted, because he kept up the banner of free human-
ity with a strong arm in all tempests of the time. In Philadelphia
a free association was founded by Edward Graf (1852), whose
place Frederic Schuenemann-Pott took (1854), who during sixteen
years developed much energy as an orator and author. By and
by new congregations were founded, viz : In Milwaukee (1867),
San Francisco (by Schuenemann-Pott), Peru and Granville (La-
Salle Co., Ill), Kilburn Road, Painsville, Mayville, Plymouth,
Bostic Valley and Mosel (all in Wisconsin); in New Ulm, Young
America and Minneapolis (in Minnesota), in Washington, D. C,

The only object which unites the members of these associations
are the deliveries which regularly take place in their meetings.
Their themes are derived from the sphere of the natural sciences,
of the modern views of the Universe, of the Ethics, the universal
History, etc. In most places the orations are accompanied by ex-
quisite songs. Several societies possess their own halls, which are
built, though in a plain style, yet with good taste. Prayers and
all ceremonies are precluded from their meetings. The mutual
care of the cultivation of the whole life supplies the want of a di-
vine service. In their Sunday Schools the principles of morals,
the results of the scientific views of the Universe, the history of the
religions, etc., are communicated. Periodicals, e. g., Blaett-^r fuer
frei religioeses Leben, edited by Schuenemann-Pott (discontinued
1877), the " Freidenker " in Milwaukee, etc., diffuse their views

also in wider spheres. The objects of the free congregations are
also ably discussed by the eminent thinker, Ch. Heinzeu, in his
book : " Six letters addressed to a pious man, with a preface di-
rected to a Jesuit," as in others of his writings.


These congregations organized 2. general league (1859), the ex-
ecutive of which administrates its current affairs. Every third
year the league holds a Diet, at which the delegates of the single
associations consult the general concerns. A periodical paper is
the organ of its resolutions and acts.

The constitution of the league, which was revided 1876, contains
only this article : " The league declares the highest leading princi-
ple, which every member is obliged to acknowledge, to be the free
self-determination according to the advancing Reason and Science
in all relations of life."

The following general principles, also, were adopted by the last
Diet :

1. The books of Nature and History are the sole fountains from
which Reason derives every necessary and useful knowledge, all
moral and political laws.

2. Terrestrial general happiness (happiness of body, intellect
and mind) is our highest good.

3. Universal liberty, universal culture, and universal welfare
are the path for the highest good.

To the aims of the free German congregations those of the
North American Turners' -League are congenial; for, besides other
tendencies of the league it avows also the task to check sectarian-
ism, to promote enlightment and humanity, and to take an interest
in religious progress.

In conclusion, this sketch of the progress of religious Liberalism

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Online LibraryHermann Marcus KottingerThe youth's liberal guide for their moral culture and religious enlightenment → online text (page 17 of 28)