Considerable interest has been aroused by the publication of a series of recommendations advocated by a Special Committee on Church and State, in a report given to the 1962 General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (Relations between Church and State, Office of the General Assembly, Philadelphia). This report has caused a division of opinion and inspired debate among laity and clergy.
The committee recommended that there be a cessation of celebration of religious holidays, Bible reading, and prayer in public schools; that Sabbath laws be made less stringent; that there be no tax exemptions for religious agencies; and that there be no special exemption from military service for clergymen. The report also questioned whether the clergy should serve as military chaplains, paid by the State.
The recommendations lead us to think of the danger to which Philip Schaff called attention in his excellent monograph, Church and State in the United States. Schaff, a truly great church historian who taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, accused the Liberal League of attempting “to heathenize the Constitution and to denationalize Christianity.” He quotes from the organ of the Liberal League, The Index (Jan. 4, 1873), as follows:
The Demands of Liberalism
1. We demand that Churches and other ecclesiastical property shall no longer be exempted from just taxation.
2. We demand that the employment of chaplains in Congress, in State Legislatures, in the navy and militia, and in prisons, asylums, and all other institutions supported by public money, shall be discontinued.
3. We demand that all public appropriations for sectarian, educational, and charitable institutions shall cease.
4. We demand that all religious ...1
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