Early Adventists had principled reasons for protesting the Sunday Law beyond simply “Mrs. White said.” These writings are reproduced to educate and inspire modern readers regarding the same principles, that they may be prepared to take the same stand on all religious legislation.
The Logic of Religious LegislationA.T. Jones, Signs of the Times, March 19, 1896
If the principle be admitted that the state has the right to legislate in regard to religion, and to enforce religious observances, then no blame can ever be attached to the Roman Empire for putting the Christians to death. Nor can it be admitted that such dealings with the Christians were persecution.
The enforcement of right laws can never be persecution, however severely the law may deal with the offender. To hang a murderer is not persecution. To hunt him down, even with bloodhounds, to bring him to justice, is not persecution. We repeat, therefore, that the enforcement of right laws never can be persecution.
If, therefore, religion or religious observances be a proper subject of legislation by civil government, then there never has been and there never can be any such thing as religious persecution. Because civil governments are ruled by majorities, the religion of the majority must of necessity be the adopted religion; and if civil legislation in civil things be right, the majority may legislate in regard to their own religion. Such laws made in such a case must be right laws, and the enforcement of them therefore can never be persecution.
Why Sunday Laws are Wrong
Sunday legislation is wrong. It can only work injustice to the citizens of the state. It is therefore to be condemned. And all organizations and movements seeking such legislation are to be condemned likewise. The following are some of the evils of Sunday legislation:–Signs of the Times, March 19, 1896; quoted from Bible Echo
1. It is religious legislation.
2. It favors a class of citizens in matters of religion.
3. It invades the sacred precincts of the conscience.
4. It deprives men of their individual rights.
5. It leads to religious persecution.
This, we know, is a severe indictment against Sunday legislation, but we believe that each count can be sustained by plain, undeniable facts.