News reports of the last religious census contained some significant, if not encouraging, information. On the whole, the increase in church membership did not keep pace with the increase of population; but the Lutherans showed the greatest proportional increase among all Protestant denominations, and the Romanists showed the largest proportional increase of all religious organizations.
In view of Romanism’s superstitions and idolatrous practices, repugnant to an enlightened age; in view of the dark history of Romanism with its persecutions and massacres, repugnant to human sympathy; and in view of allegiance to a foreign pontiff who claims spiritual and temporal power, repugnant to historic Americanism; it might prove profitable to speculate on the causes of Romanism’s increasing strength in these United States of America.
One will make no mistake in looking for a variety of causes. The mere force of numbers-the momentum of geometrical progression, so to speak-undoubtedly produces considerable effect. There is a power in a crowd that draws a larger crowd, and when throngs pour in and out of a great cathedral, people are more inclined to follow the crowd than to generate the necessary stamina to attend a small congregation. There is political power with the crowds; there is money to be spent where it will do the most good; and in Romanism there is also a rather efficient organization for consciously giving direction to this power. Two items testify to the truth of this: First, according to a three-month survey of fifty-six leading daily papers, Romanism got 26.8 percent of the newspaper space devoted to religious news, and the next highest percentage, that of Methodism, was 9.7 percent. And second, the president of the United States, violating a fundamental principle of the nation, appointed an ambassador to the pope.
For very obvious reasons, such denominations as the Orthodox Presbyterian Church will long be unable to gain Machiavellian wisdom by imitating the procedures suggested. But organization and the power of numbers, while they are elements of the situation and elements not to be despised, are not the only factors. They do not, for example, adequately account for the conversion to Romanism of a number of well-educated people.