John Earl Hosmer — April, 1902
All evil originates and grows from the dismal swamp of ignorance. There seems to be three main branches in our twentieth century civilization. At the head stands one that Freethinkers are proud to be rid of, and many of us are loud in our ridicule and denunciation of those who still seek shelter ‘neath its weakening shade. It is superstition. Much has been said about this evil and much more must be said before its deadly shadow passes away and all have a chance to breathe the pure air of unfettered thought.
When we think of the many religious sects, their awful prejudices, their unscientific deductions, their salaried leaders and their many victories, we almost despair of ever cutting away this great rotten hearted limb of orthodoxy which has been such a barrier to the children of men in their work of unearthing the rich jewels of Science. But perhaps, after all, the greatest hindrances to the work we must do, or allow the wheels of progress to at last rust and then reverse their action, lies within the borders of what is commonly thought of as Free Thought territory. One of the great branches of this upas tree is the habitual use of stimulants and narcotics.
Words fail to express what the true cause of Free Thought has lost by the communion and indwelling of these most unholy spirits. Tobacco alone robs our people of more of the raw material out of which free thinking is made than all the priests and preachers this side of the brimstone lake.
The immediate cause, however, of the postponement of freedom of thought and the resulting salvation of the world from its mental, moral and physical diseases through the teachings of pure science and morality, is the anarchistic-freelove-libertine clement that grafts itself upon every attempt at organization. It at one time puzzled me to understand why Robert G. Ingersoll did not work along the line of organization. I tried to satisfy my mind by thinking that in common with all men he had his weaknesses, and that a slight attack of selfishness was at fault, but I have recently heard from the lips of one familiar with the facts that Ingersoll knew well the results that would follow any attempt to organize on a so-called “broad” basis, and the fearful fight that would be necessary for him to try to organize on any other.
Every attempt to organize has been a flat failure, and in every case it has been on account of the element” of which I have spoken. The average moral members of Free Thought organizations do not realize the conditions. They do not comprehend the mighty mob of evil doers who try to justify their mistakes hy advocating them as being the right road to salvation itself ami the mighty, immoral avalanche of destructive work of their young converts. The well-meaning members have voted and worked blindly and the orthodox workers point at our workers, and in shame our best men and women sneak off, or, as Ingersoll did, “go it alone” until death answers the prayers of the godly.
What a mighty work now needs to be done! What a mighty work can now be done if those who believe in purity and realize its power will organize. We have made attempts in the past by which we have learned the true solution-found the key to the mighty problem. Shall we throw the key away? The time has come for a new protestant-puritan church to be organized. This church must be straight up and down, as was the puritan church of old; that is, it must have a definite purpose, have that definitely defined and strictly followed. It must prevent, convert, establish and organize. It must be progressive but not reckless. It must have charity for all men, but he most perfect in discipline.
It will thus gain the respect, the approval and help of all thinking people and of all good people—the saviors of our race. We have learned much since the protestations of the first Protestants, and we new Protestants must use this knowledge in building our new church, which will rapidly supplant the old, whose protestations have about reached the limit of their usefulness. Such a church as I have in mind will take the world by storm. It will recommend itself to every honest thinker. It will start such a crusade of righteousness as will capture and assimilate the good in all other churches, attract, enhance and put forward the works of scientists, solve the temperance and other social and political problems save the world from its awful corruption.
It must not be understood that I condemn any one for his honest belief. If one is honest and faces the world with an unpopular theory, though he stands alone, though he is in gross error, all thinking people will respect him for his honesty. But it is the deception of the evil workers that has destroyed the organizations of the most advanced thinkers of the world, and in all ages prevented the rapid conversion of all to higher things.
The unbelieving parasites in the Christian churches are destroying Christianity both in its moral good, what little it possesses, and in its superstitious bad. The good and bad are going down together. The moral Freethinkers, through organized efforts, must save the good or our civilization will soon be a thing of the past. But all organized efforts as yet have been destroyed by those who play a dual part-who work under cover their unpopular theories, theories that the better class, or at least the majority of members abhor. These parasites profit by living off the organization until it becomes entirely eaten up, and, being anarchistic, they (the parasites) fall apart and graft themselves upon another society and history again repeats itself.
Therefore, those who believe—those who know that honest, moral, secular righteousness must save the world ultimately—should now adopt such disciplinary and careful methods as will enable our forces to again organize and stay organized. It can be done. We have been long in learning how to checkmate the deceivers in our own ranks, and verily this is the problem of problems of to-day. The orthodox churches can put up but a feeble fight against us if we, as an organized power, become better than they from every standpoint. I have been studying this problem of secular organization for a number of years, and in my actual attempts have met on several occasions the greatest enemy with which our cause has to contend. I have met defeat, but one battle nor a series of battles does not end a war, and I still feel full of hope and confidence that a mighty victory will at last crown the efforts of those who are engaged in the greatest struggle of any age-the twentieth century struggle for mental liberty and its resulting unification of our race in equity and love.
The object of this article is no less than to discover if there are a few who understand the conditions, who can meet the requirements and who are willing to do all in their power to bring into existence an organization that will purge the civilized world of its superstitions, its drunkenness and its licentious follies, and whims, the sooner crown Science, Purity and Love the triune god that must inspire and save humanity. Let us talk through the columns of this excellent Free Thought Magazine, or by private letter, and when we have a quorum we will submit our plans, perfect them, adopt them and do business. Let us “make haste slowly,” but let us make haste.
J. E. Arnold — May, 1902
Editor Free Thought Magazine: I have carefully read the article of J. E. Hosmer in the April Magazine, theorizing on organization that will effectually unite Free Thought people in one solid, compact organization and at the same time keep out the parasites. At the beginning of his article I felt as if my thoughts were connected with his by the wireless system of telegraph, until his church broke the connection.
Just as sure as the church has been the altar upon which the Christian religion has throttled free speech, chained the intellect, clipped the wings of Liberty, and kept the bondage of superstition tied over the brow of mankind for the past two thousand years, in the same degree, superstition and bigotry would enter Brother Hosmer’s church, the parasites would be first in, and the next thing we would realize would be a new creed, stalking around in the borrowed clothes of the Christian religion.
No! no! Let’s not administer on the estate of the Christian religion yet; too much danger of appropriating the goods. Let us keep on hand in hand with Science killing the old dogmas, and wearing out the saints. Then, when they are all good and dead, we can administer on the estate and turn the goods over to some museum. I am heartily in accord with the advocated Secular Sunday school, not because I think Sunday any better than any other day, but it is a recognized day of rest; that being the case, it would give Free Thought people an opportunity to propagate their ideas. I also like the lecture room and libraries, etc., but don’t give us a church.
The name reminds us too much of the rack and thumbscrew; we can smell the grave clothes of saints. We can never tramp out the fires of hell nor start a gold mine in the Biblical heaven via the route of the church. We want an organization to be sure, one that will appeal to the intelligence of the Liberal mind. We want something that will nerve a man for the future by clearing his intellect, strengthen his knees, brace his back, elevate his chin, tear off the bondage of superstition, and open his eyes and start him on the correct line of thought.
I have often heard it said, “History repeats itself;” that which mankind has once done he will do again. This being the case, it occurs to me that the finger of prediction is pointing to an approaching social upheaval as broad as the confines of human reason; they should be a strong society to stem the tide in the approaching upheaval, perhaps conflict! There are two propositions to meet: First, the return of the dark ages; second, protection of the existing institutions of learning against the poison venom of a dying religion, and the assaults of a new creed. If we can get an organization that will do these things, then history will fail to repeat itself in that particular. It is due to Free Thought people to see to it that the torch of civilization is ever kept aloft and the ever-broadening brow of Science is freely protected. If this article finds room in our Free Thought Magazine, I will be glad to be permitted to submit my plan for an organization that I think would be aggressive, progressive and protective.