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- DISENDOWMENT-IS IT PLUNDER?

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DISENDOWMENT-IS IT PLUNDER? Of all the reasons urged against Welsh Disestablishment the most unworthy and incongruous, the most ignoble and imper- tinent is that, Disendowment is plunder; that a State recovery for public purposes of part of the property of the Church is a mischievous interference with the rights of property. It is argued that no degree of neglect of duty by the Church in the past will justify the perpetration in the present of what opponents of disestablishment regard as the terrible crime of invading the rights of property. All other considerations-the right of the people to manage their own affairs, national aspirations, religion itself- must be sacrificed to preserve inviolate this sacred thing called property. We read that He who was so poor that He had nowhere to lay His head, once drove from the Temple the merchants and the moneychangers who turned the house of prayer into a den of thieves. One cannot help wondering whether Christ would not find it necessary to make a scourge of small cords again were He to visit his church to-day. One thing is certain; He would meet with a stouter resistance to-day than He did in the Temple of old. There are some who, if they spoke the thoughts of their hearts, would tell Him that the church that bears His name was no longer devoted to His religion, but had been converted into the temple of the idol property. There is no denying the political sagacity of those who make property the bulwark of the Church. There is no battle-cry better calculated to rally the forces of blind ignorance, unreasoning intolerance, and despotic prejudice, than the cry that rights of property are in danger. The incongruity of raising that battle cry in the sphere of religion is another matter one that does not appeal to those whose concern is not the religion of Christ. They are fighting for their class interests and their political supremacy and they reckon on the common ignorance of the meaning of property, and the innate cowardice of men in presence of something which they do not understand, and which they have been taught to regard as of fundamental importance, to help them to a victory. Men have been taught for centuries that the rights of property are a condition of the stability of society and the progress of civilisation. They accept without criticism or examination the doctrine that in the interest of everything that is best and progressive the rights of property must be inviolate. To proclaim loudly enough that the interests of property are linked with those of a threatened cause will gain a sufficient defence for any unjust cause-for a time. On the principle that a known and commensurate evil is less undesirable than one unknown and incommensurable, men will allow an injustice to remain rather than do anything to hasten the horrible disasters they have been taught to believe will follow any relaxing of the defences of the sacred rights of property. It is only after they have acted that they begin to question whether the connection proclaimed with such open-mouthed garrulity ever had an existence in fact. But woe to the man who has gained their support by trickery, when they discover the falsehood, as some day they always do. The destruction they work is then proportioned to the indignation they feel, as their erstwhile support was a measure of their ignorance. And if the cry of plunder serves to delay yet awhile the dis- establishment of the Church in Wales the Churchmen of a later day will learn that resentment of a deception practised on their ignorance leads the people to carry out more radical measures to remove an injustice which they have once been tricked to sup- port. The calm spirit of to-day will rest content with a partial disendowment; the fierce indignation of to-morrow will sweep away all endowments, and probably the whole system of religion as well. D. (To be continued.)

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