Rev. William Clayton Bowman – Background
Archivist Note: Below are two paragraphs from a larger document, full text presented afterwards, that summarizes the Rev. Bowman’s involvement in bring the Universalist faith to Atlanta in the late 1800’s.
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“Reasoning as to the love and the goodness of God in connection with a hell of endless torment, I said: ‘Had I foreseen that a certain number of my children would be miserable to all eternity, I would not voluntarily have become their father. Had God foreseen such a destiny awaiting any of his creatures, would he have brought them into being? If so, then I am more merciful than God.’ For various other reasons, equally conclusive, I was compelled to abandon the doctrine of endless punishment. I had been taught that it was wrong to reason about such things, but I could not help it. Believing, as I then did, that such use of reason was an act of enmity to God and a peril to the soul, I prayed earnestly that my tendency to so be taken from me. But my prayer was not answered. I continued to reason. The result was I found it necessary either to abandon the Bible or to put another interpretation upon its teachings. I chose the latter, and in the light of the ‘higher criticism’ I became a Universalist. I still held to the Bible as the infallible word of God, but it was redeemed in my mind from the horrible meanings given to it by orthodoxy. This was a long stride toward liberation — a great change for the better. The difference between a universe with an orthodox hell in it and one without that foul blot is a din to the benevolent soul.”
But this new things had its drawbacks, soon learned. He was no longer a safe teacher for the young, and no longer was he a well-paid sermonizer, for young or old. He commenced preaching Universalism — working for people who hold fast to the hope that all will be saved. Such never paid as liberally as do those who are striving by aid of the priest to escape the damnation of hell. Professor Bowman therefore was obliged to earn his living by the labor of his hands. He cleared off some wild land, cutting the wood, grubbing up the roots, and preparing the soil, until he had a well cultivated farm, on which he sustained his family by hard labor during the week, and on Sunday pointed out to his Universalist brethren the way toward a higher and better life on earth. After five years of such work, he went to Atlanta, Ga., and organized the first Universalist Church of that city. He was successful in his new field, but after a few years, becoming interested in the writings of Andrew Jackson Davis, and having now time for study, he began an investigation of the Harmonial Philosophy, and without much aid from the phenomena of Spiritualism, he became convinced of its essential truths. With him to be convinced is to act. He therefore severed his connection with the Universalists, and in 1881 organized a Spiritual society in Atlanta. He also edited a Spiritual magazine called The Progressive Age, and later a weekly publication called Light For Thinkers, which was afterward combined, with The Better Way, now ‘The Light of Truth, Cincinnati. After speaking for the Spiritual society in Atlanta a year, he accepted an invitation to go to Cincinnati, where he remained as speaker for the Spiritual society a year and a half. Concerning his growth out of Universalism.
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William Clayton Bowman, now a resident of Los Angeles, Cal., was born in the year 1833 in Western North Carolina. Jacob Bowman, his grandfather, being a pioneer of the mountain region of that State. His father, Joseph Bowman, as the settlement of the country advanced, in order to gratify his preference for life amid Nature’s wilds, made repeated moves still further away from “the busy haunts of men.” Born to the freedom of rural life, nurtured in the atmosphere of the highlands, accustomed to outlooks from mountain peaks over wide expanses of country, young Bowman imbibed and insensibly incorporated into his very nature the spirit of freedom which, in later years, enabled him to break away from the thralldom of a narrow religion, to welcome the broader teachings of Universalism, and, finally, to embrace the still more advanced ideas of the Harmonial Philosophy , until now, as the founder and pastor of the “Church of the New Era,” he is among the foremost advocates of religious liberty, and of moral, social, and political reform. An earnest exponent of the philosophy of spiritual unfoldment, a worthy teacher of the art of right living (which is the essence of true Spiritualism), he is devoted to the emancipation of humanity from all hurtful restraint and from every debasing condition, and the induction of mankind into a higher life on earth — the fraternal love, freedom, purity, and justice of the new era.
Mr. Bowman’s mother, whose maiden name was Sarah I Jarland, was the daughter of Elisha Garland, a Methodist preacher, of whom it is said: “He was habitually filled with the Holy Ghost,” which, in the Methodism of those days, meant not only the occasional ecstasy of deeply religious feeling, but on all occasions great solemnity of manner and awfulness of discourse — an austere bearing and words of deep seriousness being at that time considered as specially befitting an ordained preacher, who must never forget that his holy calling, as the representative of an angry God, required from him a demeanor in the presence of his people that would continually remind them of the terrors of divine wrath. Yet Mr. Bowman writes: “Dreadful as were the visits of my grandfather, I revere his memory because he was sincere, and his somber life was in honest keeping with his faith.”
Sarah Garland Bowman, though a woman of limited education, was liberally endowed by nature, intellectually and spiritually. Her secluded life, and the simplicity of the times in which she lived, prevented the full development of her intellectual faculties, yet the earnestness and sincerity of her character left a lasting impress on her children. Having no newspapers and very few books, she became a devoted student of Scripture, especially interested in the prophesies, and a believer in the speedy coming of the end of the world, when “the heavens shall roll up as a scroll, and the elements melt with fervent heat.” Having no access to any rational interpretation of the Scriptures, her sensitive spirit was oppressed with the dread of a coming catastrophe. As the Jehovah of the Jews visited the iniquities of parents upon the children to many generations, so the God of her imagination was a being of awful majesty and power, whose wrath might at any time be wreaked on the children of men. Death, to her, instead of being the decree of nature, was the direct act of God. As a consequence, young Bowman became subject to fears of impending evil and gloomy thoughts of death, which even the beauty and brightness of nature could not at all times dispel. In relation to this early experience, he writes
“Religious teachings are fastened upon the minds of children at an age when they are incapable of distinguishing between truth and fiction, and are enforced under the awful name and authority of God, written in a book they are taught to revere as divine and infallible truth. Add to this the fact that religious prejudices and superstitions are the deepest and most ineradicable of all the prejudices which enslave mankind, it ceases to be a matter of astonishment that thousands of intellects, otherwise clear and cultured, are still in bondage to the myths and fables of the world’s childhood.”
The Bowman family consisted of eleven children, of whom William C. was the fourth. There were ten boys and one girl. The head of the family, Joseph Bowman, was a moral but not a pious man. Therefore, there were no family prayers, except when a preacher or other zealous Christian visited them. They lived too far from churches for frequent attendance, and Sunday Schools were then unknown in that part of the country, so the children, in spite of their mother’s influence, grew up comparatively free from the early religious bias which priests consider so essential in molding the minds of the young so as to fit them for future service in the church, From his early religious experiences written by Mr. Bowman, the following is taken:
“The little preaching I heard was about equally divided between three Methodist, Baptist; and Tankers or Dunkers (usually called Dunkards), more properly ‘Christian Brethren.’
The preaching consisted mainly of doctrinal controversy, alike unprofitable and uninteresting to those not members of the church. ‘Soul-saving’ seemed only an incident connected with questions of baptism, the Lord’s supper, ‘feet-washing,’ etc. The Dunkards differed from the other two not merely in ritual forms, but on the subject of conversion, commonly called ‘getting religion.’ The Dunkard preachers maintained that the process of ‘getting religion’ under revival excitement was unscriptural. Having a number of relatives on my father’s side who were preachers of that denomination, and noticing that their arguments seemed more plain and scriptural than those of their opponents, I inclined to their views; yet, when I attended the Methodist revivals, where my mother’s people were largely represented, I sometimes found my Dunkard principles severely tested by the earnest exhortations of relatives and friends urging me to go to the ‘mourner’s bench’ and ‘seek religion.’ While I did not doubt the sincerity of those undergoing these ‘religious’ experiences, my doubts as to such being the genuine way of salvation made me stubborn to withstand their entreaties.
Up to the age of nineteen years, young Bowman’s facilities for obtaining school training had been slight indeed. In that region, at that time, boys learned to read, write, and spell imperfectly, and some acquired knowledge of the fundamental rules of arithmetic. Nothing beyond this was thought of in the free schools of that mountain country. Concerning this period of his life, Mr. Bowman writes:
“I had never heard an educated person speak. But, attending a Methodist meeting one Sunday, I had the pleasure of hearing a preacher named Adams, who had just opened a ‘high school,’ at the county-seat, twenty miles away. He was a man of culture, and I was so captivated by his manner of speech, and the strangely beautiful words he used, that I then and there said in my heart, ‘I must go to school of that man.’ The revelation of this purpose to my parent was a surprise to them, my sudden resolve a mystery they could not understand. For awhile they treated my request for permission to attend school an unreasonable proposition, but perceiving that I was determined they final assented, my mother going with me; she had never been to the village. I attended the school three years, paying my way at first by chopping wood, and afterward by teaching, at intervals, in the district schools.
“It was while attending this school that I passed through the experience of ‘conversion’; a psychological phenomenon of much interest to the student of mental science, although easily accounted for by the well-known laws governing the action of mind upon mind; it is still held by revivalists to be of supernatural character due to conviction of sin and faith in Christ as a Divine Savior. It was a reality to me, as it has been to thousands, in my subsequent progress of observation and thought, though never doubting for a moment the moral and spiritual change wrought in me by that experience, I have been compelled to adopt a theory of its nature and causes widely different from that of the revivalists. My first doubt of the truth of the revivalist theory came very soon after my ‘conversion,’ long before my general revolt from orthodoxy. This doubt arose from the want of harmony between the facts of my experience, and the theory of faith in Christ by which the facts had to be explained. I knew there was a change. The transformation was marvelous. It was darkness changed to light, sorrow to joy, hell to heaven. I knew there was no mistake as to that, yet I also knew that there was no preceding faith in Christ on my part. On the contrary, all had been doubt and utter inability to exercise such faith.
“The principal of the school at that time was Rev. R. N. Price, a Methodist preacher, who had succeeded Reverend Mr. Adams, the founder of the school. For both these men I still cherish a memory akin to reverence. Under Mr. Price’s ministrations a revival was started in the school, the students being required to go on with their school duties as usual, and attend the revival services at night. Having been, years before, familiar with revival proceedings, and skeptical as to the real character of such experiences, I at first took little interest in the revival further than to attend the meetings, as required, and look on with indifference, while my schoolmates were yielding to the appealing sermons, the earnest prayers, and heart-stirring songs. From what I have since learned of the laws of mind, of the psychological influence exerted by magnetic persons and the effect of long-continued excitement, together with the appeals of friends and my natural desire to yield to their wishes, it seems remarkable that I held out so long, especially as I was not at that time fortified by a knowledge of the natural laws underlying such phenomena. But the process is plain enough now. Persistent concentration of mental and moral effort, with one accord, in one place, and for one purpose, can always be relied upon to produce the desired result, in some degree at least. Such result (depending on laws inherent in the mind itself) will follow independently of the truth or error of the beliefs or theories on which such efforts are put forth — just as the rock is broken by the accumulated blows of the hammer, no matter what the purpose for which the blows are wielded, even though it be under the delusion that the rock is full of gold.
“Here seems to be the true explanation, not only of the puzzle of real conversions under the delusions of a fictitious and absurd theology, but of the entire class of religious phenomena so numerous, and otherwise so unaccountable, including ‘jerks,’ ecstasies, and extravaganzas of revival work. Some phases of the trance, also the numerous forms of religious healing, and ‘mind cure’ in the various names of Magnetism, Spiritualism, Mental Science, Christian Science, etc., may be included. In all these phenomena it is evident to the unprejudiced mind that the effect is independent of the theories held by the various schools of religious faith practicing these diverse methods of revival and healing. The phenomena are the result of well-understood causes, being plainly due to the operation of natural law under certain conditions, such as mental suggestion, concentration of influence, persistent effort, abnormal excitement, intense expectancy, exhaustion, reaction, etc.
“It may here be pertinently asked: In a case like my own, where there was no faith to begin with — in fact, a positive disbelief in the whole business of ‘getting religion’ in that manner — how was it possible to even make a start in that direction? My answer is in one word — hypnotism. I was intently listening to the sermon. It was full of ‘holy unction’; it was pleading, inspiring, sympathetic. The speaker, the people, and the very place in which they were assembled had become magnetized with the spirit of the revival work. My attention became absorbed, and I was thus held captive. The eye of my soul was fascinated to one spot, focused to one point — that spot where the preacher stood; that point, the preacher’s mind. My personality had become lost in the oversoul of the magnetic man, who over-mastered me. I could think only his thought — could do only his will. I was mesmerized, and, at his bidding, went to the ‘mourners’ bench’ as helplessly as any subject who obeys the command of the hypnotist. But when I knelt with the other mourners where the magnetic eye of the preacher no longer gazed into my own, and his pleading voice no longer seemed to appeal to me — especially to me — to surrender my will to his — the spell was broken, and my normal condition of mind, with all its power of reasoning, was restored. Freed from the influence which had bound me, my doubts were as strong as ever. What was I to do? Thus openly committed to religion, my self-respect would not permit me to turn back. And there I was kneeling at the altar with no faith in what I was apparently professing. After a few moments thought, I decided to persevere, because failure after perseverance would be less disgraceful than to stultify myself on the spot. So, as though I despised myself for the part I was playing, I remained with the mourners as if, like them, ‘under conviction,’ and continued to go to the ‘anxious seat’ night after night, hoping that I might, by prayer and earnest endeavor, work myself into a different state of mind. After several nights of praying and crying, with no other result than a greater dissatisfaction with myself, an increasing sense of gloom, and, finally, a feeling of utter despair, after a long struggle in my accustomed place at the mourners’ bench, I became exhausted, and sank into a state of profound sleep, a condition of entire unconsciousness. Though there was a great noise of singing, praying, and shouting all around me, there was to me a stillness as deep as death — a blankness of mind as profound as nonentity.
“The intelligent reader will note that this part of nightly religious experience was due to a cause entirely different from that which controlled my will when I first went forward to the mourners’ bench. What was the result of the mesmeric influence of mind over mind: the swooning was the result of mental and physical exhaustion from excessive and long continued excitement and mental agony. The profundity and duration of such syncope are proportionate to the violence and prolongation of the strain which causes it. I have witnessed revival swoons which lasted several hours. In my own case, the time was probably an hour. The return to consciousness never to be forgotten. To the ear, it was like the gradual awakening from sleep by the music of a midnight serenade, the soft strains lulling the mind to quiet enjoyment while arousing it to happy consciousness; and to the eye the resuscitation was like the slow forming of pictures on the canvas in a panorama of dissolving views. Every sound was melody, every scene beauty, and every thought and reeling full of sweetness, harmony, and love.
Why was this? From whence came the great happiness, the feeling of peace and joyousness glorifying the very existence of one whom an hour before all had been discord and wretchedness? No wonder in the world’s ignorance of the laws of nature such experiences have been deemed supernatural, but in the light of the psychological science of our day, the supernaturalism of modern theology is fading away, as the supernaturalism of ancient mythology disappeared before the advance of physical science hundreds of years ago. But it may be asked, ‘If these religious experiences are real, and if they change men’s lives for the better, why are they not good for the world, and why attempt to undeceive the mind as to their nature, and thereby dissipate the charm and hinder the good accomplished by it?’ The answer is: Truth is better than error; the true interests of mankind are better subserved by knowledge of the truth than by any accidental advantages which may arise from the delusions of error. Besides, a bliss which depends upon ignorance is not enduring in its nature, neither is it worthy of rational beings.
“After my conversion naturally came the ‘call to preach.’ I say naturally because nothing is more natural for one under the influence of excitement based on a belief in the orthodox hell than to feel a strong impulse to rescue sinners from such awful peril. So I became a student of theology, and at the same time a traveling Methodist preacher, and continued in the business fifteen years, meantime passing through the Civil War, serving a part of the time as a chaplain in the confederate army. I fully believed in the divine right of slavery and the justice, (the necessity even) of secession, for I had been so taught. Our politics and our religion — the result of early teachings — are mainly dependent upon locality; so in a sense they may be said to be geographical questions; and later in life, when I began to think about the reason of things I doubted whether a God of justice would send people to hell for purely geographical reasons. When I spoke of my doubt to some of my brethren in the ministry, they informed me that the heathen would be saved through ignorance, whereupon my missionary zeal began to cool, for it seemed to me hardly the proper thing to enlighten the heathen if nine-tenths of them were to be eternally damned in consequence.”
Near the close of the war, in 1864, came the main turning point of Mr. Bowman’s life, his marriage to Sarah A. Colbert, of Virginia, who, like himself, was an early believer in orthodoxy and who, like him also, by fearless questioning of its correctness, has come out of the shadow of that cold and cheerless religion into the warmth and sunlight of rationalistic belief. One in spirit and purpose through all the joys and sorrows of more than thirty years, and in spite of the struggles and trials that always attend those, who, regardless of material reward, choose the right because it is right, this happy couple have ever kept even step in the march of progress. Happy is the man, who, no matter what wrongs he receives from his fellow men in the struggles of life, can, at the close of each day, turns to his own home, knowing that whoever else is false, there is one, at least, who is true and whose loving faith in him never fails. Especially does the worker in the field of reform need such a place of refuge, where he can get renewed faith in human love, renewed confidence in human integrity, renewed hope in the ultimate triumph of the right, and consequent renewal of strength for the labor yet to come. Fortunate is the man who is blessed with such a home — doubly fortunate he who appreciates his great blessing.
Young Bowman’s high school education, though better than, in his early youth, he had hoped ever to receive, was not satisfactory to him. It served only to show the vast fields of inquiry that lay beyond, and which he could not explore unless better prepared by mental discipline. He accordingly entered upon a three-year course in the University of Virginia, which he found of incalculable value in his future career. Besides preaching, Professor Bowman devoted himself to the cause of education in his native State, including two years service in the Asheville Female College. He was about to establish an educational institution of his own in Bakersville, N. C, to be called “The People’s College,” when his theological views so changed that he gave up his plan, knowing that he would not be sustained by the people of that orthodox community. The following is from a statement recently made by Professor Bowman, concerning his growth out of orthodoxy. He writes:
“Reasoning as to the love and the goodness of God in connection with a hell of endless torment, I said: ‘Had I foreseen that a certain number of my children would be miserable to all eternity, I would not voluntarily have become their father. Had God foreseen such a destiny awaiting any of his creatures, would he have brought them into being? If so, then I am more merciful than God.’ For various other reasons, equally conclusive, I was compelled to abandon the doctrine of endless punishment. I had been taught that it was wrong to reason about such things, but I could not help it. Believing, as I then did, that such use of reason was an act of enmity to God and a peril to the soul, I prayed earnestly that my tendency to so be taken from me. But my prayer was not answered. I continued to reason. The result was I found it necessary either to abandon the Bible or to put another interpretation upon its teachings. I chose the latter, and in the light of the ‘higher criticism’ I became a Universalist. I still held to the Bible as the infallible word of God, but it was redeemed in my mind from the horrible meanings given to it by orthodoxy. This was a long stride toward liberation — a great change for the better. The difference between a universe with an orthodox hell in it and one without that foul blot is a difference of vast significance to the benevolent soul.”
But this new and pleasanter view of things had its drawbacks, soon learned. He was no longer a safe teacher for the young, and no longer was he a well-paid sermonizer, for young or old. He commenced preaching Universalism — working for people who hold fast to the hope that all will be saved. Such never paid as liberally as do those who are striving by aid of the priest to escape the damnation of hell. Professor Bowman therefore was obliged to earn his living by the labor of his hands. He cleared off some wild land, cutting the wood, grubbing up the roots, and preparing the soil, until he had a well cultivated farm, on which he sustained his family by hard labor during the week, and on Sunday pointed out to his Universalist brethren the way toward a higher and better life on earth. After five years of such work, he went to Atlanta, Ga., and organized the first Universalist Church of that city. He was successful in his new field, but after a few years, becoming interested in the writings of Andrew Jackson Davis, and having now time for study, he began an investigation of the Harmonial Philosophy, and without much aid from the phenomena of Spiritualism, he became convinced of its essential truths. With him to be convinced is to act. He therefore severed his connection with the Universalists, and in 1881 organized a Spiritual society in Atlanta. He also edited a Spiritual magazine called The Progressive Age, and later a weekly publication called Light For Thinkers, which was afterward combined, with The Better Way, now ‘The Light of Truth, Cincinnati. After speaking for the Spiritual society in Atlanta a year, he accepted an invitation to go to Cincinnati, where he remained as speaker for the Spiritual society a year and a half. Concerning his growth out of Universalism, Professor Bowman writes:
“After eight years of thought and preaching as a Universalist minister, notwithstanding the great breadth and brightness of my new faith as compared with the old, I found myself again hampered with limitations which had to be broken. These limitations were the One Book and One Savior ideas. Although the change from the orthodox to the liberal theology was a very decided change, yet it was still theology — a binding of the mind and conscience to traditional sources of authority, and supernatural revelation. I saw that the theological plane had to be wholly abandoned, and that I must henceforth trust to absolute liberty of thought and conscience, untrammeled by authoritative limitations to any one book, savior, creed, or system of religion. Authority must not be accepted as truth, but truth must be made the basis of authority. This second transition (the change from theology to philosophy) was made, and I found myself with the universe for my Bible, the soul of the universe my God, obedience to its laws for my Savior, and the dictates of conscience, reason, and experience for my authority. I am free to confess that this surrender of the personal for the impersonal, the definite for the indefinite, the narrow for the boundless, is to launch the barque of an ordinary mortal upon a very wide sea. But every sailor knows it is safer on the bosom of the great deep than in the shallows of the shore, though the sailing may be less spirited and the voyagers less boisterous, because the waters are calmer, and the storms less violent, than along the surfy coasts and the narrow channels of dogmatism! ”
In 1884, Professor Bowman left Cincinnati with his family and went to New Mexico, where he expected to join a co-operative colony (since disintegrated), but on investigation he concluded to not do so, and engaged in other work, first as a laborer, then as clerk, then studied law, practiced three years in the courts of races, and finding such employment uncongenial, he went to Tucson, where he became Principal of the High School and Citv Superintendent of Public Schools. In 1890, he came to California, lectured for a Spiritual society in Los Angeles for two years, stumped the State for John P. Weaver in 1892, returned to Los Angeles and organized the church of the New Era. In 1893, he was the People’s Party candidate for Congress in the sixth district in 1894, and has since resided in Los Angeles, most of the time in charge of the Church of the New Era. Professor Bowman has six daughters and one son — all bright, active, progressive young people, three of the daughters are married, the eldest to James G. Clark, Jr., son of the people’s greatest reform poet and singer.
As a fitting close to this brief sketch of the reform work of Professor Bowman, the following extract is taken from an account written by him concerning his present position in relation to religion, and the circumstances that led to the organization of his reform church. He writes:
“In the transition from the theological to the philosophical plan, I have not abandoned religion. I only view the subject from a different standpoint and treat it in a different manner. Under the philosophic regime, I am free to investigate, criticize, and judge in matters of religion as on all other subjects. Under theology, one cannot do this, but must accept and believe — the penalty for failure being eternal death. Theology assumes to be identical with religion, but philosophy discriminates between the two. Religion is something essential and permanent in the very nature of man. Theology is but a system of doctrines and theories growing out of religion. Religion is innate in man’s spiritual nature; theology is an exotic planted in the mind by education, drawing its life and nourishment from the religious sentiment, but shaped according to environments. Religion, subjectively, in man, is a constant quantity; objectively, its external expression in theological dogmas and rituals is a variable quantity, differing according to the ethnic and historic peculiarities of each case.
“The abandonment of any particular scheme of theology or form of worship is not the abandonment of religion any more than would the rejection of any particular theory of government, therapeutics, or morality be the repudiation of the science of sociology, medicine, or ethics. The so-called liberalists, who make war on religion itself because of the errors and absurdities of theology, are as unreasonable as if they should war against chemistry or astronomy because the ancients held such crude and unscientific views on these subjects. The art of building must not be destroyed because our ancestors built so rudely. The true reformer comes not to destroy, but to fulfill. Religion, innate in man, has found expression in accord with human development. Modern religion is a branch of civilization, not an unnatural excrescence upon it. It should, therefore, be treated as all other branches of civilization are treated — not warred against, but improved upon. The primitive gods and primitive religions need civilizing as much as primitive modes of agriculture or navigation. As a spiritual being, man can no more abandon religion than he can, as a physical being, abandon the atmosphere or the sunshine.
So, although I have been compelled to relinquish my faith in the entire system of theology or ‘plan of salvation,’ yet I hold on to religion as a necessary factor in human life, and to a church as necessary to represent the claims and conserve the interests of religion in the world, believing such to be the highest claims and the most important interests of humanity. But, having rejected the theological foundations on which existing churches stand, it became necessary, before a church could be inaugurated under the new idea, that a new plan on a new basis should be devised for the new church. This new plan was the outgrowth of many years of experience, but more especially of my California experience. After lecturing two years in Los Angeles on Spiritualism, and on religious, social, and political reforms, and becoming deeply interested in the great third-party movement, I became convinced that all reforms aiming at the overthrow of wrong and the establishment of justice are, in their deepest meaning, essentially religious, and, as such, should be taken into the church as a part of its practical work, and as a necessary part of true religion. This conviction was followed by the thought: We must have a church of the new era to realize this ideal — a church broad enough and fearless enough to advocate all righteousness and all truth, irrespective of ecclesiastical customs and theological traditions. My thought was communicated to kindred minds, and the result was the organization of ‘The Church of the New Era,’ devoted not to the propagation of any creed, but to the advancement of universal truth for the truth’s sake, and for the promotion of every human interest, social, intellectual, moral, civil, and religious. The Articles of Incorporation provide that in matters of belief and opinion there is to be absolute liberty of mind to accept whatever is proved or seems probable, and to reject whatever is disproved or seems improbable, unprejudiced in all matters not yet investigated — truth alone being the object sought, and the only authority relied upon.”
THIS BOOK PRESENTED BY Ernest C. Miller
UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH LIBRARY
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, Copyrighted by the Author, 1896.