At new mercantile
Thursday Evening, July 2, 1868
MARK TWAIN’S CHAMPIONSHIP OF THOMAS K. BEECHER
(See Chapter lxxiv)
There was a religious turmoil in Elmira in 1869; a disturbance among the ministers, due to the success of Thomas K. Beecher in a series of meetings he was conducting in the Opera House. Mr. Beecher’s teachings had never been very orthodox or doctrinal, but up to this time they had been seemingly unobjectionable to his brother clergymen, who fraternized with him and joined with him in the Monday meetings of the Ministerial Union of Elmira, when each Monday a sermon was read by one of the members. The situation presently changed. Mr. Beecher was preaching his doubtful theology to large and nightly increasing audiences, and it was time to check the exodus. The Ministerial Union of Elmira not only declined to recognize and abet the Opera House gatherings, but they requested him to withdraw from their Monday meetings, on the ground that his teachings were pernicious. Mr. Beecher said nothing of the matter, and it was not made public until a notice of it appeared in a religious paper. Naturally such a course did not meet with the approval of the Langdon family, and awoke the scorn of a man who so detested bigotry in any form as Mark Twain. He was a stranger in the place, and not justified to speak over his own signature, but he wrote an article and read it to members of the Langdon family and to Dr. and Mrs. Taylor, their intimate friends, who were spending an evening in the Langdon home. It was universally approved, and the next morning appeared in the Elmira Advertiser, over the signature of “S’cat.” It created a stir, of course.
The article follows:
Mr. Beecher and the clergy
“The Ministerial Union of Elmira, N. Y., at a recent meeting passed resolutions disapproving the teachings of Rev. T. K. Beecher, declining to co-operate with him in his Sunday evening services at the Opera House, and requesting him to withdraw from their Monday morning meeting. This has resulted in his withdrawal, and thus the pastors are relieved from further responsibility as to his action.”—N. Y. Evangelist.
Poor Beecher! All this time he could do whatever he pleased that was wrong, and then be perfectly serene and comfortable over it, because the Ministerial Union of Elmira was responsible to God for it. He could lie if he wanted to, and those ministers had to answer for it; he could promote discord in the church of Christ, and those parties had to make it right with the Deity as best they could; he could teach false