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16. On Sunday Newspapers (1896)

16. On Sunday Newspapers (1896)

Now for a brief intermission, I present you with one of the major cultural arguments against the newspaper, circa this 1896 issue of the New York Times – whether or not the Sunday edition was blasphemous.

“…Promiscuous and indiscriminate denunciation of the existing newspapers is not only not helpful, but is distinctly hurtful . . . We are afraid we must consider as promiscuous and indiscriminate the criticism of the Rev. Dr. Burrel, who opened discussion at the conference in questions and made the principal address.”

‘All the morning newspapers,’ he is reported to have said, ‘are Sabbath breakers. The Sunday newspaper is unnecessary, is issued in violation of divine law, and is disreputable, in some cases unspeakably so . .’

The strictly Sabbatarian view of Sunday newspapers is to be deprecated, not only because it has become negligible, but because it disables those who hold it from discriminating between Sunday newspapers. Thirty years ago there was scarcely a morning paper in New York that published a Sunday issue. The field was left to special newspapers, which tilled it very badly.

Now the Sunday issue of every morning paper is the most voluminous, the most profitable, and the most important issue of the week. For any practical purpose, even as concerns the vast majority of church members, general denunciation of Sunday newspapers is perfectly idle and futile.

As Dr. MacArthur said at the same meeting, the Sunday newspaper ‘has come to stay’ and the ministers ‘ought not to indulge in indiscriminate criticism.’ ‘Indiscriminate criticism’ is in fact not only a contradiction in terms, but it makes worthless the specific criticism of those who indulge in it.”

As an additional point of reference, the work that was done to produce the Sunday edition was very likely done on Saturday, which would be perfectly acceptable. If the strict Sabbatarian’s wanted to be angry at a particular issue of the paper, they would have been better off choosing Monday.

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