Upton Sinclair: The Profits of Religion

Book Five - The Church of the Merchants

Birth Control

I assert that the control of our thinking on ethical questions by minds enslaved to tradition and priestcraft is an unmitigated curse to the race. The armory of science is full of weapons which might be used to slay the monsters of disease and vice - but these weapons are not allowed to be employed, sometimes not even to be mentioned. Consider the misery which is piling itself up in the slums of our great cities - the degenerate, the defective, the insane, who are multiplying as never before in history. There exists a perfectly harmless and painless method of sterilizing the hopelessly unfit, so that they can not reproduce their hopeless unfitness; but religion objects to this operation, and so the law does not make use of this knowledge. There exists a simple, and practically costless method of preventing conception, which would enable us to check the blind and futile fecundity of Nature, and to multiply as gods instead of as animals; consider the festering mass of misery in the slums of our great cities; consider the millions of terrified, poverty-hounded women, bearing one half-nurtured infant after another, struggling desperately to feed and care for them, and seeing them drop into the grave as fast as they are born - until finally the mother, worn out with the Sisphean labor, gives up and follows her misbegotten offspring. Consider how many women, in their agony and despair, make use of the methods of the primitive savage, to escape from Nature's curse of fecundity. Dr. Wm. J. Robinson has estimated that in the United States alone there are a million abortions every year; and consider that all this hideous mass of suffering - a bloody European war going on continually, unheeded by any newspaper correspondent - might be avoided by the use of a simple sterilizing formula, which we are not permitted to give! The Federation of Catholic Societies have placed a law upon the statute-books of the nation, and of all the states as well; the whole power of police and courts and jails is at the service of religious bigots, and a young girl is sent to prison and forcibly fed with a tube through the nose for telling poverty-ridden slum- women how to keep from becoming pregnant!

And go among the sleek, cynical men of the world, the judges and district attorneys, the commissioners of correction and doctors who perpetrated this infamy under a so-called "reform" administration in New York City - and what do you find? The first thing you find is that they themselves, one and all, practice birth-control with their wives or their mistresses, The second thing you find is that the statute-books are crowded with other laws which they make no pretense of enforcing; for example, the law which forbids the saloons to be open on Sunday - which law they take the liberty of understanding to mean that the saloons shall not have their front door open on Sunday. You will find that they are not at all afraid of the religious taboos; they are afraid of the religious vote - and even more they are afraid of the campaign contributions of sweat-shop manufacturers and landlords, who cannot see what would become of prosperity if the women of the slums were to cease to breed, So once more we discover the wolf in sheep's clothing, the trader, making use of Tradition-worship; hiding behind the skirts of devout old maiden aunts and grandmothers, who repeat the instructions which God gave to Adam and Eve, "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth." As if God were as blind as a Fifth Avenue preacher, and could see no difference between the Garden of Eden, full of all fruits that grow and all creatures that run and fly and swim, and a modern East Side tenement-room, with an oil stove and no windows and no water-closet, and the price of cabbage 7c a pound!

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