September 18, 1862: Rabbis should be exempt from the draft

The Richmond Daily Dispatch notes that the Confederate conscription act exempted Christian ministers, but the wording would have excluded rabbis — they argue that this should be remedied. Oh, and while we’re at it, newspaper editors should be exempt too.

The conscription act.

An act passed the House of Representatives yesterday, extending the operations of the conscription act to forty-five. It authorizes the President to call on the Governors of the respective States for their respective quotas of men. The Senate was engaged yesterday on the exemptions to be made in the conscription act now before that body.

Exempting ministers.

Under the Exemption bill, as it passed the Senate, “ministers of the Gospel” are exempted — a phrase which does not embrace ministers of the Hebrew faith. We can scarcely suppose that it was the design of the Senate to exclude this class of clergymen from the privilege of exemption; but the House ought to amend the bill so as to leave no doubt on the subject. Whilst this is a Christian country, the principles of religious liberty are opposed to any such discrimination as is implied in the clause referred to. The Jewish ministers are entitled to exemption on the principles of the Constitution as much as any others, and we hope the House of Representatives will amend the action of the Senate.

The Press and exemptions

The Confederate Senate committed, Tuesday, the extraordinary inconsistency of exempting from military service the journey men printers of newspapers, and refusing to exempt editors, even voting down an amendment that was offered exempting one editor of every paper. If the freedom and influence of the press are of as much importance as the majority conceded, they have taken a very singular way of proving their appreciation of it. What is a newspaper without an editor? It is the business of journeymen printers merely to put in type what editors put in their hands, and to refuse exemption to editors is simply to suppress all newspapers. We venture to say that the press of the South has given an impetus to this Revolution, in the beginning and a power in its progress, second only to that achieved by our arms. It has been the very light and life of the Southern cause, and now the Senate proposes to put out this light, extinguish this life, and leave the people in the darkness and silence of the tomb. We hope the House of Representatives will put a veto on this oppressive action of the Senate, and secure to the people, by the exemption of editors, that powerful palladium of liberty and irresistible incentive to patriotism, a Free Press.

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