Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 182
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 182
 
influence that the songs or the sermons or the prayers had upon them they might have lived there and died like rats in a hole. They did not believe in God, nor heaven, nor hell, other than that in which they lived. Church-goers were to them a lot of canting hypocrites who wrapped their comfortable robes about them and cared nothing for the sufferings of others. Hunger and misery were daily realities.
  No, it was not a yellow newspaper. It was a religious publication, and it told how a warm human love did find them out, and showed them what the Church had failed to do—what God’s love is like. And I am not attacking the Church either. God forbid! I would help, not hinder it; for I, too, am a churchman. Only—well, let it pass. It will not happen again. That same year I read in my paper the reply of the priest at the Pro-Cathedral in Stanton Street to a crank who scoffed at the kind of “religion” they had there: kinder-gartens, nurseries, boys’ and girls’ clubs, and mothers’ meetings. “Yes,” he wrote, “that is our religion. We believe that a love of God that doesn’t forthwith run to manifest itself in some loving deed to His children is not worth having.” That is how I came to be a churchman in Bishop Potter’s camp. I “joined” then and there.
  Our Italian is ignorant, it is said, and that charge

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