The Idle Parsons Bless the Busy Soldiers

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth : I come not to send peace but a sword.—Matt. X. 34.

“Peace and goodwill towards all men” is thought, by some to be the watchword of the Christ! in Church. The Church which is the organisation, above all else, claiming to be the Party of peace and the promoter of better relations between man and man. Nineteen hundred years have passed since their creeds were estab­lished and yet almost the whole of “Christian” civilisation is embroiled in deadly war. Verily, it is said the Church is paid by the ruling class to do the work of the rich, for we find the para­sitic parsons to-day praising and defending what is undoubtedly the most mercenary massacre which ever stained the pages of history. Every section of the Christian faith adds its blessing to this savagery.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Anglican Church, who gets £15,000 per year to preach the “Gospel of love,” said (“Standard,” August 25th):

“So far as I can see, our conscience as a Christian State and people, is as regards this war, wholly and unchallengeably clear. We might, I suppose, for a time have stayed outside the arena, but to have stayed outside at this time would, as I understand it, have been at the cost of England’s honour, at the cost of Eng­land’s chivalry to weakened peoples, at the cost of England’s faithfulness to her plighted word. Could any of us for the sake of avoiding war have asked God’s blessing upon our reticence ? . . . It was not in quiet and peaceful times that Christian heroes like Henry Lawrence Havelock or Gordon bore an undying message which will live while England stands.”

The awful cant and hypocricy about “Eng­land’s honour” and “England’s chivalry” is well taken if we recall how the tiny Boer Re­publics were treated, the deeds of valour amongst the Indians and Egyptians and nearer home in the ” Emerald Isle.”

St. Paul’s Cathedral is the Mecca of modern Christians and the Canon of the Cathedral, therefore, was sought for his attitude. This is what Canon Alexander said (“Standard,” Aug. 25th, 1914):

“At this, one of the greatest crises of the world’s history, we could not pray for success, we could not look up in simple trust and confidence to God, unless our hands were clean, un­less we were convinced that our cause is just. It is God’s leading that we are following now.
“War is the instrument through which God is working out His own purpose. It is Him we are called upon to serve and if we are faithful and loyal and true, He will bring us, in the language of the scripture, “through fire and water,” “out into a wealthy place.”

“Trust in God and keep your powder dry” was the famous charge of Oliver Cromwell to his Ironsides, and to-day Lord Kitchener has struck the same note iu advising each member of the force he has sent out that “the first duty of a soldier is to fear God . . . God holds in his hands the issue. Fortunately the strikes and troubles that existed here are settled now. Classes are united. Rich and poor alike are shoulder to shoulder in a righteous cause and in this we see God working out our salvation.”

The Roman Catholic Church is, of course, in the same position as their Anglican confreres in crime. Cardinal Bourne, Archbishop of West­minster, states his views thus (“Standard,” August 22nd, 1914):

“War cannot itself be a sin, since God Him­self has actually commanded war on many occasions and even aided His own people to obtain the victory by miraculous means. It is quite certain that God cannot at any time have done or commanded anything sinful. Moreover, in the New Testament the profession of arms ia treated as a perfectly legitimate one ; special favour was shown to the officers of the Roman army (Luke VII, 2, 10). St. John the Baptist, far from advising soldiers to abandon their calling, urged them to be careful to observe military discipline (Luke III, 14), and our Lord not only foretold the coming of war in the future (Matt XII, 36); but declared that he came “not to bring peace but a sword,” and we are told in the Apocalypse (XII, 7) that there was war even in heaven.”

Such an authority for war has rarely been surpassed by the followers of the meek and lowly Nazarene.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Salford also agrees as to the divine origin of the war for he says (same paper) :

“The war is the result of the sins and passions of men; it is the great scourge used by the Almighty to chastise the sins of the world.”

The Nonconformist Conscience has also been appealed to and the Pastor of Westminster Chapel, the Rev. G. Campbell-Morgan, blesses the wholesale butchery in these words (same paper):

“I preach peace at all seasons, but with regard to the course of Great Britain in the present greai conflict, I have changed my views because I believe that my fellow-countrymen are pusuing the only honourable course open to them by upholding the cause of a small nation, upon which all the horrors of a ruthless invasion have been forced. … I am certain that Great Britain has been drawn into the present strife by the highest and noblest of emotions. . . We are thankful to God for the readiness of the sons of the nation to go forth upon their stern duty.”

Even the Quaker testifies for the “Fatherland and the Flag.” E. B. Sprigg, of the Society of Friends, asked by the “Standard” (19.8,14), says:

“The action of Great Britain on embarking on her present adventure in Europe is probably a righteous one.”

Westminster Abbey is the home of kings and from this shrine the voice of Canon Westlake speaks a good word for the war. His views appear in the “Standard” for August 18th:

“I cannot think there is any negation of Christian principles in a Christian people going to war … In the present instance we find Great Britain, Belgium, France and Russia resisting warlike agression on the part of other nations, and their cause is therefore a righteous one. Great Britain could not have kept out of the conflict and retained her honour.” After quoting from the Bible he goes on to say: “This sanction of the sword by the Christian Religion is borne out by the fact that the old Bishops of the Church were warriors, and often rode into the fight with the armies. Then again, there is the blessing of flags and arms, which is a religious ceremonial, and the appoint­ment of Chaplains of fighting regiments. This indicates that the Church gives its sanction to war.”

Cottonopolis must, of course, get its religious representative’s blessing and hence Bishop Weldon, Dean of Manchester, writes thus “Standard, August 27th, 1914):

“The soldiers of the King stand in need of prayer so that by their conduct, as by their courage, they may show themselves worthy of their Christian native land.”

The Dean of Ripon informs the “Standard” readers that “the Lord is on our side,” having undoubtedly received a private wire, uncensored.

Numerous others of the “Black Squad” could be quoted in the same strain for the Church is doing its work well.

It is, of course, quite incidental that many of the dignitaries of the Christian faith have shares in the armament firms who live on war and war scares. The Bishop of Kensington, for instance, is listed as a shareholder in the International armour plate ring known as the Harvey United Steel Co. The Bishop of Chester is a shareholder in Vickers, the International firm whose works at Fiume supplied Austria with torpedoes to be used against the marines the dear bishop blesses. The Bishop of Hexham is a share­holder in Armstrong Whitworths, which be­longed to the world combine of armament manufacturers in company with Krupps. The Bishop of Newcastle is another shareholder in Vickers, whilst that bitter and outspoken enemy of Socialism, Dean Inge of St. Paul’s, is a shareholder both in Armstrong’s and Vickers. The Bishop of Newport is a shareholder in John Brown & Co., and the President of the Free Church Councils, Sir J. Compton Rickett, owns 3,200 shares in John Brown & Co., and 2,100 shares in Cammell Laird, the two famous firms in the death trade.

Rumour has it that these eminent Christian firms do not spend all their time “beating swords into ploughshares” but that report is, of course, untrue.

Space does not allow of any more names, but those given are sufficient to show the material interest of these “Ambassadors of Christ.”

Well does the Nonconformist “British Weekly” declare “United, we stand,” for the parsons and plutocrats hang together lest other things happen. When the war heat has passed away for a time, we can imagine a banquet in honour of the Church and the spokesman of Capitalism blessing it, with the words : “Well done ! thou good and faithful servant.”

A. K.

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