Page:On the Political Status of Women (Annie Besant).pdf/19

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THE POLITICAL STATUS OF WOMEN.

American Republic. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," said the Bible, and stern law saved the feeble from the Bible-sharpened sword. If a city is withdrawn to serve strange gods, "thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly," said the Bible to Alva, and Alva obediently harried the Netherlands, and the people rose, and fought for their lives, and won. "Cursed is Canaan: a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren," said the Bible from ten thousand pulpits; but men arose, and swore that, Bible or no Bible, the slave should go free. The Bible! why, it has bolstered up every injustice—it has bulwarked every tyranny—it has defended every wrong. With toil and pain and bloodshed have the soldiers of Liberty wrung from the reluctant hands of priests and Bible-worshippers every charter of our freedom, every triumph of our cause. Every step in science has been won in despite of the Bible; every inch of natural knowledge has been conquered at the sword's point from the realm of the supernatural. From the stake where Bruno stood and died, from the dungeon where Galileo knelt and trembled, a voice has rung out that every advance of science has been struggled against by the Bible and the Church. But take heart, you who cling to your Bibles; as soon as we have gained this one step forward—as soon as it rings through England that women are no longer in subjection, you will be able to claim as the offspring of your Christianity that which, at its birth, you anathematised. Each trophy of advancement, each symbol of triumph, is claimed by the Bibliolator as his as soon as it becomes popular. You will be able to find in your Bibles a sanction for the free development of womanhood, even as you have found room in the six days of Genesis for the vast æons of geology, and space in the petty firmament of Moses for the mighty facts of astronomy. The Bible is claimed as the true parent of modern freedom, as the striker-off of the chains of the slave, the guardian of the feeble from the tyranny of the strong. It is the spirit of Christianity has done it all, you say; when the letter said "kill," it meant "preserve;" when the letter said "obey," it meant "resist;" when the letter said "enslave," it meant "set free." So take courage, ye worshippers of a book; your idol will be shattered once more, but it can once more be re-mended; it will fall once more before the