Opposition to the School Amendment. (June 1920.)
The amendment proposed has, on cursory reading, a very innocent appearance. If the amendment is interpreted with exactness, it means several things. In this brief statement, I am not going to discuss the amendment in detail. One thing I'm sure, it has for one of its objects the closing of the parochial schools of Catholics, Holland Reformed and Lutherans. Beyond a doubt it would affect a goodly number of private schools which are attended by pupils under sixteen years of age.
My own belief is that the aim of the amendment is primarily, to close the parochial schools. I am too much of a democrat to know that any attempt on the part of the state to make an attempt of this kind would be ruinous to Michigan democracy. I am talking about constitutional democracy. What possible objections can a loyal American citizen raise to parochial schools? They are all teaching the subjects in the English language. They are all teaching patriotism. They are loyal to the Stars and Stripes. I feel that this is a cowardly attack upon thousands of our best citizens.
While I was Governor of Michigan several attempts were made to close parochial schools that did not succeed. I could see no possible objection to the teaching of religion in the parochial schools of the state, so long as it in no wise interfered with our political or social right. Why should this quarrel among churches be kept up any more than a quarrel among nations? Isn't it high time we Americans practiced a little wholesome religion?
I refuse to discuss the amendment from the standpoint of what the state would lose financially by closing the parochial schools. I refuse to discuss what other organizations would lose by the passing of this amendment. I concentrate my forces on a religious bias that is involved in the amendment.
The amendment should be overwhelmingly defeated.
The recent war taught us that Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Christian Scientists, and other denominations can all work together. Our democracy should guarantee this privilege.
If necessary, I am willing to go forth and try to show my friends that this amendment is un-American; therefore, dangerous and undesirable.
WOODBRIDGE N. Ferris
Big Rapids, Mich., June 9, 1920.