OBSERVATIONS FROM AN ATHEIST

"Congregations should allow the minister a little liberty. They should, at least, allow him to tell the truth.

"Christians tell me they love their enemies, and yet all I ask is not that they love their enemies, not that they love their friends even, but that they treat those who differ with them, WITH SIMPLE FAIRNESS...

"One of the first things I wish to do is free the orthodox clergy. I am a great friend of theirs, and in spite of all they may say against me, I am going to do them a great and lasting service. Upon their necks are visible the marks of the collar, and upon their backs, those of the lash. They are not allowed to read and think for themselves... the best are those who repeat, with the fewest mistakes, the sentences they have been taught. They sit like owls upon some dead limb of the tree of knowledge and hoot the same old hoots that have been hooted ... for years. Their congregations are not grand enough, not sufficiently civilized, to be willing that the poor preachers shall think for themselves. They are not employed for that purpose. Investigation is a dangerous experiment, and the ministers are warned that none of that kind of work will be tolerated. They are warned to stand by the old creed, to avoid all original thought, as a mortal pestilence. Every minister is employed like an attorney either for plaintiff or defendant and is expected to be true to his client. If he changes his mind, he is regarded as a deserter, and denounced, hated and slandered accordingly." From Robert G. Ingersoll.

Editor's Note: What Mr. Ingersoll described fits many a modern-day situation mighty well. The passing of time has brought some changes and gradually there is developing among us what Ingersoll recognized among the denominations then. Woe is that preacher, even among us, who dares to think for himself; and who examines everything carefully, desiring to "prove all things" for himself and "hold fast to that which is good." The preacher who refuses to line up with the party and parrot the party concepts is to be marked, boycotted, and completely destroyed. Under question and fire immediately is the preacher who refuses to accept and preach the concepts and conclusions determined by the party officials. Ingersoll had the right view of the preachers (clergy) of his day; and the more advanced we get into that same system the more like that the preachers among us will be. It is definite and certain. We cannot sow the seeds of ORGANIZATIONAL and INSTITUTIONAL religion, regardless of its size and character, and fail to reap the same harvest. Seed still produces after its kind. CAH