Lutherans and Education — Personal Liberty.
(Interview in "Quincy Journal.")
"Judge, what do you understand the position of the Lutherans to be with reference to the compulsory school law?" he was asked.
"The Lutheran people," he replied, "are among our most intelligent and substantial citizens. Instead of being opposed to education they are its strongest advocates, and instead of being opposed to a compulsory school law, they are strongly in favor of it. They do not believe that any child should be absolutely neglected.
"They cheerfully assist in supporting our public school system,
225and then, in addition to that, they pay out of their own pockets to maintain their own private schools.
"They maintain their private schools as a matter of conscience. They believe that their children will receive a degree of religious instruction in their private or church schools that they will not get in the public schools, and they oppose the existing compulsory law because it recognizes the right of the State to supervise — and if it can supervise then it also can destroy — the private school, toward which the State contributes nothing, and they oppose it because it interferes with the right of the parent to determine how and where his child should be educated.
"They oppose it because it seems to be the beginning of an attempt to have States regulate the church, for they consider their school as a part of their church. It is the principle involved in the present compulsory law that the Lutheran people are opposed to, and not to the idea of compulsory education. They look upon the existing law as being a part and parcel of that legislation that has grown common of late years, which interferes with the personal liberty of the citizen."
"What is the difference between the two parties on this question?"
"The Democratic party is opposed to all legislation that interferes with the liberty of the citizen. It also has been the strongest supporter of our public school system. The Democrats oppose the existing law for the same reasons that the Lutherans opposed it. They are opposed to the principles upon which it rests.
"The Republican party, on the other hand, has supported that whole line of legislation which interferes with the personal liberty of the citizen, and the Republican party of this State, at the last session of the Legislature, after the obnoxious features of the existing compulsory law had been pointed out, and after many good citizens had been prosecuted, or, rather, persecuted under the provisions of that law, still insists on maintaining it, and offers to make only an insignificant modification of the right of the State to interfere with the education of the child against the wishes of the parents, and even when the parent is educating the child.
In short, the Republican party fought in the last Legislature to maintain those principles which are the most obnoxious in the present school law.
The recent change of base of the Republicans on this question is simply a vote-catching maneuver, so that we have the Democrats opposing the existing law from principle, and the Republicans pretending also for the present to oppose it, but simply with a view of carrying