Page:Conventional Lies of our Civilization.djvu/46

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32

THE LIE OF RELIGION.

some European and American countries, every one to be enrolled on the list of members of some religious community, and by means of its organization exacts contributions from all sides.

Religion receives into her arms at its birth the infant of civilized life, she becomes its unyielding, implacable companion throughout its entire existence, and will not relinquish her claims even upon its death-bed. A citizen is born—the parents are obliged to present him for baptism, as a refusal, in some countries, would render them liable to a fine and prosecution by the State. He wishes to get married—this he can only do in the church, with the co-operation of the minister. Many countries recognize a civil marriage as legal, it is true, but, in the first place it is only introduced into a comparatively small number, in the second, where it is already introduced powerful influences are at work undermining it, and, in the third place, social customs have not kept pace with the law, consequently in those countries where the civil marriage is a recognized, permanent institution it is not considered as a complete marriage. He dies—a minister follows his corpse to the grave, and he is laid to rest in consecrated ground, surrounded by the tokens and symbols of Religion. In many cases he can only advance his most authorized interests by taking an oath, based upon religious ideas. He is willing to serve his country, by shedding his life's blood at her command—he can not do so unless he takes the oath of allegiance before God; he applies to the legal authorities to maintain his rights—he is straightway called upon for an oath. He can not give his testimony before his fellow-citizens without an oath; neither can he without first having taken the oath of office, uphold the rights of the people, nor enter into possession of any public office. A passionate resistance met