Upton Sinclair, ed. (18781968). The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.
From the Bottom Up
By Alexander Irvine
(The life-story of an Irish peasant lad, born 1863, who became in turn stableman, man-of-wars-man, slum-missionary, clergyman, and Socialist agitator)
AFTER some years experience in missions and mission churches, I would find it very hard if I were a workingman living in a tenement not to be antagonistic to them; for, in large measure, such work is done on the assumption that people are poor and degraded through laxity in morals. The scheme of salvation is a salvation for the individual; social salvation is out of the question. Social conditions cannot be touched, because in all rotten social conditions, there is a thin red line which always leads to the rich man or woman who is responsible for them.
Coming in contact with these ugly social facts continuously, led me to this belief. It came very slowly; as did also the opinion that the missionary himself or the pastor, be he as wise as Solomon, as eloquent as Demosthenes, as virtuous as St. Francis, has no social standing whatever among the people whose alms support the institutions, religious and philanthropic, of which he is the executive head. The fellowship of the saints is a pure fiction, has absolutely no foundation in fact in a city like New York except as the poor saints have it by themselves.