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Petition for Voluntary Chapel at Williams.


Much feeling has been aroused at Williams lately upon the question of compulsory attendance at chapel. It has now taken definite form in a petition that has been prepared and circulated throughout the college and which will be presented to the faculty and trustees. The interest in the present agitation is not confined to the undergraduates. A large number of alumni are understood to be very much opposed to the system of compulsory attendance and their influence will probably have considerable weight with the faculty and trustees. The petition reads as follows:

"We the undersigned, in pursuance of deeply seated convictions, respectfully submit the following considerations to the faculty and trustees of Williams College, with the petition that compulsory chapel attendance be abolished. In support of this petition we hereby present the following statements defining our reasons for a system of optional chapel.

"1. We believe that compulsory attendance on religious exercises is prejudicial to the spirit of reverence and devotion which should prompt to particition in all religious services.

"2. We believe that coercion +++aosters a distaste for religious matters which in the end amounts to opposition. In consideration, whereof, we recommend that system which would remove from the student the constraint arising from the present system, and leave him freedom of choice.

"3. We believe, in consideration of the fact that compulsion defeats its object, that a system of optional chapel is the only true and potent means of securing a just recognition on the part of the student body of the claims of religion.

"4. We believe that this change would prove a decided stimulus to the religious activity of the men in college.

"5. We anticipate the objection, that Sunday may be transformed into a holiday and abused, and would say that any such tendency would be squarely met and counteracted by an overwhelming public sentiment.

"6. While admitting that the reaction may diminish the attendance on chapel exercises, we believe that the responsibility thereby thrown upon the thoughtful men will ultimately restore a reasonable standard."

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