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Oklahoma’s not doin’ fine

11 May 2018

May 10th, 1918.

IN A previous issue we referred to a recent enactment of the State of Oklahoma, prohibiting absolutely every use of alcohol. The Church, in consequence, is deprived of the Eucharist, unless the clergy are prepared to violate the State constitution by bringing wine in for use at the altar. Our contemporary, the Living Church, in its issue of April 6, writes: “If it is physically possible for them to obtain wine in any honourable manner, we hold that they are bound to do so, and take the consequence. Thus, if any are outside the borders of the State and are able to bring wine with them on their return, we hold that they should do so. If they are caught, let them suffer the penalty of the law and go to jail.” We agree that the spectacle of “a couple of bishops and a goodly number of priests suffering prison terms for the crime of preparing to administer Holy Communion to their people” would impress the people of Oklahoma as nothing else wouId. In view of the possibility of a strict enforcement of the law, theologians are recalling old precedents for what may be done in cases of necessity — the squeezing of a bunch of grapes into the chalice, for instance, to make the matter of the Sacrament. But happily there appears to be an important section even of the strict prohibitionists that shrinks from interference with religious rights and liberty, and it is not unreasonable to believe that its influence will prevail to the relaxing of the rule for religious purposes. The Roman Catholics have tried to get a mandamus compelling the railways to transmit shipments of wine for altar use, and America, a Roman Catholic organ, advocates referring the matter to the Supreme Court of the United States on the plea that the enabling Act of Congress whereby the State of Oklahoma was organized has been violated. We sincerely hope that the American Church will not have to endure for long this tyranny, and meanwhile we would point the moral of what is to be expected when fanaticism becomes powerful.

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