Upton Sinclair: The Profits of Religion

Book Three - The Church of the Servant-Girls

The Menace

There are, of course, many people in America who will not rest idle while their country falls into the condition of Spain. There are anti-Catholic propaganda societies, which send out lecturers to discuss the Church and its records; and this is exasperating to devout believers, who regard the Church as holy, and any criticism of it as blasphemy. So we have opportunity to observe the working out of the doctrine that the Church is superior to the civil law.

On June 12, 1913, there came to the little town of Oelwein, Iowa, a former priest of the Catholic Church, named Jeremiah J. Crowley, to deliver a lecture exposing the Papal propaganda. The Catholics of the town made efforts to intimidate the owner of the place in which the lecture was to be given; the priest of the town, Father O'Connor, preached a sermon furiously denouncing the lecturer; and after the lecture the unfortunate Crowley was surrounded by a mob of men, women and boys, and although he was six feet three in size, he was beaten almost to death. At the trial which followed it developed that Father O'Connor and also his brother, a judge on the Supreme Bench, were accessories before the fact.

Nor is this a solitary instance. The Catholic military societies, with their uniforms and their armories, are not maintained for nothing. As Archbishop Quigley declared before the German Catholic Central Verein:

We have well ordered and efficient organizations, all at the beck and nod of the hierarchy and ready to do what the church authorities tell them to do. With these bodies of loyal Catholics ready to step into the breach at any time and present an unbroken front to the enemy we may feel secure.

And so, on the evening of April 15, 1914, a group of Catholics entered the Pierce Hotel in Denver, Colorado, overpowered a police guard and seized the Rev. Otis L. Spurgeon, an anti-Catholic lecturer. They bound and gagged him, took him to a lonely woods, and beat him to insensibility. The same thing happened to the Rev. Augustus Barnett, at Buffalo; the Rev. William Black was killed at Marshall, Texas. In each case the assailants avowed themselves Knights of Columbus, and efforts to punish them failed, because no jury can be got to convict a Catholic, fighting for his Pope against a godless state. The most pious Leo XIII has laid down:


It is an impious deed to break the laws of Jesus Christ for the purpose of obeying the magistrates, or to transgress the law of the Church under the pretext of observing the civil law.

There are papers published to warn Americans against the plotting of this political Church. One of them, "The Menace," has a circulation of more than a million; and naturally the Knights of Slavery do not enjoy reading it. Year after year they have marshalled their power to have this paper barred from the mails - so far, in vain. They caused an obscenity prosecution, which failed; so finally the press rooms of the paper were blown up with dynamite. At the present time there is a "Catholic Truth Society" with a publication called "Truth," to oppose the anti- Catholic campaign; and that is all right, of course - except when the agents who collect the $2 subscriptions to this publication make use of Untruth in their labors - promising absolution and salvation to the families, dead and living, of those who "come across" with subscriptions. In the "Bulletin of the American Federation of Catholic Societies" for September, 1915, I find a record of the ceasless plotting to bar criticism of the Catholic Church from the mails. Fitzgerald, a Tammany Catholic congressman, proposes a bill in Washington; and Judge St. Paul, of New Orleans, a member of the Federation's "law committee," points out the difficulties in the way of such legislation. You cannot pass a law against ridiculing religion, because the Catholics want to ridicule Christian Science, Mormonism, and the "Holy Ghost and Us" Society! The Judge thinks the purpose of the Papal plotters will be accomplished if they can slip into the present law the words "scurrilous and slanderous"; he hopes that this much can be done without the American people catching on!

You read these things for the first time, perhaps, and you want to start an American "Kultur-kampf." I make haste, therefore, to restate the main thesis of this book. It is not the New Inquisition which is our enemy today; it is hereditary Privilege. It is not Superstition, but Big Business which makes use of Superstition as a wolf makes use of sheep's clothing.

You remember how, when Americans first awakened to the universal corruption of our politics, we used to attribute it to the "ignorant foreign vote." Turn to Lecky's "Democracy and Liberty" and you will see how reformers 20 years ago explained our political depravity. But we probed deeper, and discovered that the purely American communities, such as Rhode Island, were the most corrupt of all. It dawned upon us that wherever there was a political boss paying bribes on election day, there was a captain of industry furnishing the money for the bribes, and taking some public privilege in return. So we came to realize that political corruption is merely a by-product of Big Business.

And when we come to probe this problem of the spread of Superstition in America, this amazing renascence of Romanism in a democracy, we find precisely the same phenomenon. It is not the poor foreigner who troubles us. Our human magic would win him - our easy-going trust, our quiet certainty of liberty, our open- handed and open-homed and hail-fellow-well-met democracy. We should break down the Catholic machine, and not all the priests in the hierarchy could stop us - were it not for the Steel Trust and the Coal Trust and the Beef Trust, the Liquor Trust and the Traction Trust and the Money Trust - those masters of America who do not want citizens, free and intelligent and self- governing, but who want the slave-hordes as they come, ignorant, inert, physically, mentally and morally helpless!

No, do not let yourself be lured into a Kultur-kampf. It is not the pennies of the servant-girls which build the towering cathedrals; it is not the $2 contributions for the salvation of souls which support the Catholic Truth Society and the Mary Sodality and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and all the rest of the machinery of the Papal propaganda. These help, of course; but the main sources of growth are, first, the subsidies of industrial exploiters, the majority of whom are non- Catholic, and second, the privilege of public plunder granted as payment for votes by politicians who are creatures and puppets of Big Business.

back Contents next page
Raven's Bookshelf at www.corax.com