The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 82
In its Relationship to the Future Prosperity of the Race
In its Relationship to the Future Prosperity of the Race.
The freethought movement has had a very prosperous career within the past few years. Many persons now living, can recall the time when to question the truth of the popular superstitious, would be certain to subject the offender to the loss of many acquaintances, and to make him the object of general scorn and execration. Not unfrequently matters assumed a more serious aspect, and the outspoken freethinker had to endure legal persecution, involving costly litigation besides numerous fines and imprisonment. These dangers exist to-day, it is true, though not nearly to the same extent as they did formerly. This great change in social endurance, and in fact, in social liberty, has been gradually brought about by the organisation of institutions, persistent public lecturing, and the publication of literature specially directed to the furtherance of the cause. All this has been on the whole satisfactory, but still it is incomplete in one very important particular. Nearly all the efforts of freethinkers in the past have been devoted to the adult; and the rising generation, in nearly every instance, has been almost entirely forgotten. It needs very little reflection to see what a serious oversight that is. As a general rule, the adult mind is measured, prejudices are deep-rooted, and many of the arrows of common-sense miss their mark, when directed to the intellects of those who have spent a few score summers in theological belief. It is not so, however, with the mind of youth. In childhood, the mind is unfilled with ideas and prejudices; it is open, and receptive; and the impressions then created are deep and lasting. It is at such a time that the minds of children should be carefully attended to, and the propensities for critical, free and independent thought instilled into them. The Christian bodies, in the decay of their creeds, have already found this out, and are putting the discovery to good use. Religious tracts are spread broadcast over the land to fill the mind of the coming race with superstition and bigotry. Attractive illustrated magazines are issued with the same design, and are largely circulated, both by associated bodies and private individuals. The fictitious dogmas are interwoven with the school-books at every turn; and the books issued as prfzes and presentation volumes generally, have still more of the superstitious element pervading them. Scarcely an elegantly bound book can be found fur a child, that has not this taint about it. The Christian bodies have done their work well, and it is time these mental pirates are made to haul down their flag, and the banner of free-thought floated in its place. What Robert Raikes did for tottering Protestantism, freethinkers must do for Secularism. Secular Sunday-schools should be established in every community where freethinkers reside. But in order to ensure attractiveness and stability it is absolutely necessary that they should have a magazine which shall prove interesting and instructive, and at the same time be throughly representative of their opinions.
It should be borne in mind that "the child is father of the man," and that every precaution must be taken to keep the young from the priest. Give your child to the priest and it will grow up a bigot; give it sound Secular literature, and wise counsel, and it will grow up a Freethinker; and it may then make more Secularists in its lifetime than you have done in your's. Whatever you do," strike the iron while it's hot," attend to your child's requirements before it is too late, for "a stitch in time saves nine." Do not make the stupid mistake of many, who say : "Oh ! I grew out of theology, and my child can do the same." To take such a stand is not only unmanly and unwomanly, but it is a gross injustice to the being of which you are the parent, and for the welfare of which you are responsible.
All energy should be spent in the most profitable channel; and what is more profitable than the education of the young ! Most of the aged theologians living are too bigcted to become converts to common sense; such efforts are almost invariably wasted. Let us, then, all unite together in filling the minds of our future nation with real knowledge; and keeping them free from the vile influence of the priesthood and their brutalizing superstition.
Every well-wisher and friend of the young should render his or her assistance to this paper, which has been projected for their benefit, by becoming a subscriber to it; where possible it should follow the religions tract, as the antidote follows the poison; and everyone should make the inexpensive experiment of showing it to his friends and foes.
If this assistance is forthcoming from our friends, we shall spare no pains ourselves in endeavouring to make the Young Secularist a first-class paper, both as regards quantity, quality, and general excellence, so that it may prove an effectual lever in the great movement for the attainment of seculatization and Freedom of Thought.