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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 49

No Religion in a Bank

No Religion in a Bank.

Free Religionists, and the large class of Christian religionists represented by Henry Ward Beecher, answer, Religion has no place in the State school; and, with it kept out, the school is as free to one class of religionists as to another, and equally so to Jews and infidels. To illustrate this theory, they say that as there need be no religion in a bank, a shop, or a business office, so there need be no religion in a school. This is as strong a justification as they can bring.

The comparison fails for want of resemblance between the things compared. A man goes into the bank, the shop, the office. A boy goes to the school. The bank, the shop, the office, has for its object the transaction of its own special material business. The school deals with the boy's mind and heart; is a place set apart for the forming, disciplining, educating the young, by trained and skilled manipulators of the intellect and emotions. The young look up to these teachers with sentiments of respect and often of reverence; nor are they capable of analyzing and judging the influences brought to bear on page 48 them. They are in the school six hours a day, for five days in the week, ten months in the year. They are justified in voting all schooling, in excess of these long hours, a bore. They who go into a bank, or any other place of business, are men grown, fully competent to judge of insidious or open attempts to prejudice their minds on points of religion or morals. These business offices are not monopolies like the State school, and their proprietors know the danger of meddling with their customers' religious opinions. The example of a man asking for a Bible in a hat-shop has not yet occurred; and, when it does occur, it will be met by calling in a policeman to arrest an escaped lunatic. But a child asking a teacher to tell it something about God, Christ, the redemption, sin, or the life to come, would ask a proper question, entitled to an answer from a competent teacher. Much as our opponents may be pleased to protest against religion in the State schools, it is there, and in some shape it will be there till the end of time. I am not speaking of Evangelical schools, but of schools purely secular, in which there is no Bible, no text-book of religion, no prayer, no hymn; and yet, in this expurgated and shrivelledup school, the teaching will be for or against religion, as the teacher happens to be. His children do not come to him to buy bills of exchange, or boots, or hats, but to acquire knowledge, to learn, to take in, through open eyes and ears, information concerning the things it sees, and the truths and facts of which it hears. President Anderson, of Rochester University, is an authority in educational methods and means, of great weight wherever known. He exhibits this power of the teacher in a few striking passages thus:—