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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 49

What is Sectarianism?

What is Sectarianism?

The greatest abuse of language is in the popular meaning of the word "sectarian." On the frenzied brain of many it acts like the cry of "mad dog," in a crowded street. Who inquires into its signification? Light thrown on it would only weaken its power for mischief. The analyzation of the word by John C. Spencer, Secretary of the State of New York, and one of the ablest lawyers the State has produced, dissects it thoroughly, and exposes the erroneous sense in which it is used. After saying that "Religious doctrines of vital interest will be inculcated, not as theological exercises, but incidentally, in the course of literary and scientific instructions," and that such teachings are sectarian, he goes on to say : "It is believed to be an error to suppose that the absence of all religious instruction, if it were practicable, is a mode of avoiding sectarianism. On the contrary, it would be in itself sectarian, because it would be consonant to the views of a particular class, and opposed to the opinions of other classes . . . . His only purpose is to show the mistake of those who suppose they may avoid sectarianism by avoiding all religious instruction."