Editorial from St. Anthony Falls Evening News July 2, 1859
…Some weeks ago, a suggestion was made in one of the “regular” churches that the little folks connected with the different Sabbath Schools in the city, indulge in a dinner and swing, a romp and a sing, on Nicollet Island as a proper celebration of the Anniversary of our National Independence. The proposal was adopted and the delegates from the different churches were appointed to make arrangements. They met, and not finding all the religious organizations represented, they rashly invited the delinquents to appoint delegates and participate. The Universalist Sunday School children- horribile dictu- were included in this invitation.
Alas-here was the fatal error. The delegates were not astute; – they could not see anything wrong about it. The clergymen of the different denominations – Congregational, Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian- did. They were not so stupidly blind. They had not preached twenty years for nothing. They saw the true way and to avert the catastrophe, attended the meeting of the delegates. They could not vote, but they could talk, advise, and make motions.
At that meeting, the clergymen told the delegates of their discovery, i.e., that inviting the Universalist Sunday School children would be a virtual endorsement of the creed of that Church! This self evident truth was explained and canvassed in all its bearings by the Rev. counselors, but in vain; the destructive heresies of that stone edifice which Father Adams mildly termed “the devil’s insurance office” were held up in all their hideousness, but the dismally opaque minds of those delegates refused to be enlightened. And- we blush to write the disgraceful fact- every single member of that stubborn body declined to recall the invitation with one noble exception,- a young man, who, we regret to say, confessed that he felt just like the rest, but should vote to exclude the Universalists because “his minister” thought he had better. That’s right, be independent!
So the obnoxious school was not expelled, but so fiercely was the question agitated on the streets during the next two days, and so promptly did Revs. Seccombe and Hyde, as a committee to represent the four “orthodox” clergymen,
call upon the Universalist delegates at their homes, and inform them that for them to permit their children to break bread with Universalist children, to play and to sing with them upon this lovely island which God has set an emerald in the mighty stream-would be a compromise of Christian principles, that the Universalist delegates aforesaid sent in a polite note stating that they had withdrawn from the alliance and should have a celebration on their own hook by going to the Lakes.
Now everybody must see that Revs. Messers Seccombe, Hughes, Brooks and Hyde are entirely right. The fact is the rack and thumbscrew were smashed to pieces before the world got though using them. The stake has “been pulled up and the slow fire extinguished altogether too soon. Churches have rubbed together too long by 100 years. The Puritans were obviously right in whipping the Quakers and banishing the Baptists. The fatal tendencies of this familiarity of children of different creeds, these abrasions of congregations and parsons, has been overlooked until religious freedom perils the salvation of the world!
The absurdity and danger of Universalist and Methodist children singing songs of praise to the Lord at the same table, oscillating in the same swing on the Fourth of July, and laughing together upon the grassy bank- why the thought is absolutely startling! The heresy must be stopped, or the world will go to wreck!
We hope this will teach Minnesota one lesson, namely, that it is unsafe for evangelical Christians to associate anywhere in this miscellaneous manner, with Universalists – in preaching or teaching, in buying or selling, in rafting logs or digging Ginseng. The true policy to pursue is to fence off our City into little villages, each village peopled by a separate denomination to the exclusion of all the rest. Let us build as many school houses as there are creeds, and hire teachers sound in the peculiar dogmas of the neighborhood. It is said that a petition is in circulation to have Father Terwall partition off the graveyard- but we think this movement is premature. At any rate, one thing is definitely settled by the firm and glorious stand which our clergy have taken for the truth, that contact is contaminating, and that a little toleration is a dangerous thing.
Above all, let the heretical children be punished. What right have they to play with evangelical grace-hoops, and smack their little sinful lips over good, white orthodox bread and butter?