Commonwealth v. Nesbit

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We are not forgetting that the public acts of our Pennsylvania ancestors abound with declarations in favor of liberty of conscience, and that some regard these declarations as inconsistent with the Sunday laws. But a little reflection shows, that they indicate the moral idea to which all government ought to approach as nearly as possible, rather than a positive principle of legislation. And in applying such declarations we must bear in mind that they proceeded from an earnestly Christian [i.e. civilized] people, and must receive a practical interpretation.

They never thought of tolerating paganism [i.e. barbarism], or the principle or ecclesiastical supremacy in civil affairs, on the ground of liberty of conscience. They could not admit this, as a civil justification of human sacrifices, or parricide, or infanticide, or thugism ["thugism, n. The act, behavior, or characteristics of a straight up gangsta." --Urban Dictionary], or such modes of worship as the disgusting and corrupting rites of the Dionysia and Aphrodysia, and Eleusinia and other festivals of Greek and Rome.

They did not mean that the pure, moral customs which Christianity has introduced, should be without legal protection, because some pagan or other religionist, or anti-religionist, should advocate, as a matter of conscience, concubinage, polygamy, incest, free love, free divorce, or any of them. They did not mean, thatphallic processions and satyric dances, and obscene songs, and indecent statues, and paintings of ancient or of modern paganism, might be introduced, under the profession of religion, or pleasure or conscience [false "profession of conscience" is an interesting turn of phrase here], to seduce the young and ignorant into a Corinthian degradation; to offend the moral sentiment of a refined Christian people; and to compel Christian modesty to associate with the nudity and impurity of Polynesian, or of Spartan women. No Christian people could possibly allow such things. No written law, founded on such bald and impotent rationalism, could present the slightest obstacle to the sentiment and action of a people in opposition to such things.

Every Christian man is sure, that it is his religion that has suppressed the pagan customs just alluded to, and that to it is due the large advance in justice, benevolence, truth, and purity that belongs to modern civilization ; that it has purified and elevated the family relations ; that it has so elevated the moral standards of society, that the indecencies and cruelties and cheats of paganism are now condemned by custom and by law, as crimes. And he is very sure, this the Sabbath and its institutions were the prominent means of this progress, and are essential to its maintenance and continuance.

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