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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 49

Preliminary Note

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Preliminary Note.

The Free Religious Association, having charge of what are known in Boston as the "Horticultural Hall Lectures," invites to its platform men whose faiths so widely differ that no other platform, distinctively religious, is apt to welcome them to equal rights. That is what the Association is for. It earnestly tries to stand for Freedom and Fellowship in Religion: its objects, as stated in its Constitution, being "to promote the practical interests of pure religion, to increase fellowship in the spirit, and to encourage the scientific study of man's religious nature and history; and to this end all persons interested in these objects are cordially invited to its membership."

One of the subjects selected for this winter was the question on which Roman Catholic citizens are taking ground so generally against their fellow-citizens,—that of the Right and Justice of our long-established Public School System. No question is more certain to be decided with snap-judgments by the thoughtless on both sides, and with prejudice even by the thoughtful. It was believed that a calm discussion between two able men, each stating squarely the strongest argument for his own side, page 4 would help both sides to see more f'airly what the Catholic's sense of justice is demanding, what the demand involves, and what real justice sanctions in the matter. No man represents the Roman Catholic's view better than the Bishop who so courteously consented to come from Rochester, N.Y., to give the first lecture here printed; and no one more strongly represents the opposite view than the Editor of the "Index," who, on the following Sunday, gave the second lecture. The two lectures have been, or will be, printed separately. But is is much to be hoped that they will be widely circulated and read together,— especially that the non-Catholic will read and ponder the Bishop's plea, and that as generally the Catholic will read and ponder the Editor's. After one of the lectures a friend came up to us and praised the Free Religious Association for giving the public the chance to hear both sides : "And now to-day," we said to him," the speaker has been listened to by an audience, most of them opposed to his and your views; how is it with your people,—are they as willing in turn to listen to the other side?" The shoulders shrugged: "Why, no," said he; "what other side is there?" He offered reasons, too; but that is the spirit which all American citizens, whether they call themselves "Catholic" or "Liberal," are equally concerned to avoid and to rebuke. That is the spirit which makes the danger.