The Liberal Association.
The Liberal Association has now been established for nearly four years, and although it has not made much noise in the Colony, good seed has been unostentatiously sown. The opening of the Art Gallery on Sundays was in a great measure due to outside pressure brought to bear upon Parliament, most opportunely, by way of a large petition prepared by that warm-hearted Liberal, Mr. George Lacy, as the Secretary of this Association. The Liberal newspaper was started and published for some time under the auspices of the Association, and notwithstanding the fact that the loss upon its publication was very heavy, it was sustained for the sake of its good service in the advancement of Liberal thought, especially in the country districts, where lectures on Rationalism are seldom if ever heard. The reading-room of the Association is open to members daily, and a good supply of Free thought literature, from various parts of the world, may be found there; whilst the library comprises a splendid collection of works by writers of originality and 'eminence.
We want now to enter upon other important work. One of the principles upon which our Association is based is "the complete Secularisation of the State," or government, and how long we shall have to labour for this will depend largely on the unity and energy we display. Religious teaching in public schools must be stopped; church property must bear ad-valorem taxation; judicial oaths require to be abolished; and governmental interference with Sunday recreation must be peacefully but firmly resisted. Toleration to all religions, and endorsement of none, by the State should be the demand of all Freethinkers. Sunday is the only day in the week 011 which the great mass of the people can obtain a respite from business, and with the view of affording increased facilities for those in search of pleasure and health, the Association is taking steps to induce the Government to run excursion trains every Sunday. The success which has attended the efforts in this direction of railway companies in England and other countries is too well known to need comment here. Secularisation as advocated here will not interfere with the religion, or irreligion, of any man, woman, or child; but it will simply secure to all equal rights in this respect.
The question of the continuity of life beyond the grave has caused great division of opinion amongst Liberals, and progress is impeded everywhere through want of unity of action on the part of free and independent thinkers. For successful work we must have thorough organization; the two great elements of Freethought, Secularism and Spiritualism, must be combined. The co-operation of negative and positive principles is the mode of nature's operations. Here then is the plan of action which she reveals for our guidance. Whatever the respective merits of Secularism and of Spiritualism may be, the true progressionist will not confine his attention to either system of philosophy. Each school of thought will of course benefit the world in proportion to the amount of truth it contains and its capability of increasing the happiness of humanity.
All who wish to do something for freedom and reform should support us in the organized struggle we want to make against the various forms of Christian bigotry which now appear under the cloak of authority. If, as the Materialist asserts, "there is no life without organization," it is clearly the duty of all who accept this doctrine to show their vitality by joining our Association. Friends of Liberal thought who are living in or near the large towns of the Colony should form branches of the Association, and every candidate for Parliament should be challenged upon the important question of State secularisation. The rules of the Association have been amended so as to increase its activity, and printed copies of the same will shortly be ready for distribution. We must never cease to agitate until the objects we have in view are realised. "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance," and the price of membership of the Association is only ten shillings per annum; but you can pay either half-yearly or quarterly if you wish it. Readers, do you believe in the trinity of Liberty, Truth, and Justice? If so, give your heart to Liberalism, and support our Association. Subscriptions and donations will be thankfully received and duly acknowledged by the Hon. Secretary, L. A. Rooms, 212 Castlereagh-street, Sydney.