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The contents of this volume were originally published as a series of articles in the correspondence columns of THE INDEPENDENT. During their publication the author received numerous letters from various parts of the country, expressing a strong interest in the discussion, and suggesting that, at the completion of the series, the whole should be given to the public in the form of a book. The approval of the articles thus indicated, the references occasionally made to them by the secular and religious press, and the insertion of some of them in other newspapers, led the author to conclude that their collection and publication in a volume might possibly contribute some help to the public mind in arriving at the true solution of the much debated School question. They now appear just what and as they were at their original publication, with the exception of a few changes made in their titles.
The School question has for years past excited no little attention among the people, and it will probably continue to do so for years to come.
is only a branch of the larger question that relates to the proper attitude to be assumed and maintained by civil government with reference to religion. In respect to this larger question, the American people, alike in their constitutions and laws, have adopted a policy entirely antagonistical to any union between Church and State. Shall this policy be applied to the public school, organized and managed by State authority, and supported by general taxation? Shall this school, like the State itself, be exclusively secular in its purposes and processes, or shall it, in addition to the secular element, be made the instrument of religious instruction and worship?
The object of this volume is to answer these questions. As to the correctness of the conclusion, and the pertinency and power of the argument to sustain it, the reader can fairly judge only by perusing the entire series of essays. If he will turn to the last number, entitled “The Conclusion,” he will find a summary of the whole discussion, and be the better able to judge of the relations of its several parts to each other. No one aspect of the question exhausts it; and no examination of it can be deemed at all thorough or complete that does not carefully consider the principles and ends of civil government, especially as constitutionally established in this country.
It being granted that civil government should confine itself exclusively to the attainment of secular and temporal ends, and it being further granted