The evolution of the intolerance of the human mind may be...

The Christian Science Monitor

The evolution of the intolerance of the human mind may be traced very easily in the history of religious and civil disability throughout the world. The pagan emperors of Rome decreed their own deification, and, when they were threatened by the advancing tide of Christianity, crystallized their dogmas in a famous phrase, "Aut Christus, aut Diana." Those were the dog-days of the persecution of the primitive church. It was Diana or the amphitheater for every man who questioned the authority of Diana. When at last the Bishop of Rome took the place of the Pontifex Maximus and paganism found refuge in the northern forests, an orthodox hierarchy made it just as unpleasant for the heretic as ever the pagan priests had for the early Christians. It did not seem as if there were any place on the civilized globe where a man might think as he liked about religion. The great Protestant Reformation largely swept away the terrors of the torture chambers of the Inquisition, which had substituted for the candles of Nero the stake in the market-place. Their own past experiences, however, proved in no way a deterrent to the Protestants when they came into their own. The dissenter from their views received as scant consideration as they ever had received from the Roman Catholic hierarchy. It is true that the dissenter was not burned, but he was for a time tortured, and even when public opinion became too strong for the employment of the boot or the thumb-screw, he still found himself the victim of conventicle acts, and five mile acts, and test and corporation acts.

It was from out such conditions as these that the Puritan Pilgrims took ship for America. The Puritans themselves were men of just as dour convictions as the Scottish Covenanters, and the early history of the American colonies leaves little to be desired in the way of a strictness of religious discipline. One advantage, however, America emphatically possessed. It at any rate had no church "by law established." Consequently the American sects grew up beside each other in an equality unknown in other lands, and out of this equality there emerged the public school system on a basis undreamed of in other lands.

Between the public school system of the United States and the public school system of the United Kingdom there is today a great gulf fixed. The great public schools of the United Kingdom are private schools of the closest description. To have been educated in a "public" school in England is to have become a member of a corporation which has played a tremendous part in the life of the country. To find anything corresponding to the public school system of the United States you must turn in the United Kingdom to the county council schools, which have taken the place in later days of the old national schools. But between the public school in England and the county council school there flows a stream which has never yet been bridged. There the public schools exist under the shadow of the Church of England. Many of them are the descendants of the old monastic schools, which attained a new lease of existence when the monasteries were suppressed by Henry VIII. The county council schools are a growth of modern times, evolved from the old national schools, which also were largely church schools, but which have become free from sectarianism.

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October 28, 1916

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