When the Lord's Day Alliance publishes convincing maps to show the increase of godliness in the United States, and theatrical producers, tobacco magnate and movie corporations simultaneously condemn these maps as empty boasting, one has difficulty in understanding just what conditions actually exist. The "antis" are proceeding along three lines of attack: successes in one gild over similar reverses in others; and in the same way, the "Devil's Disciples" camouflage their Western defeats with their Eastern triumphs.
In the cigarette campaign, which threatened to succeed prohibition as a national catastrophe, the reformers have met definitely with misfortune. Whereas five years ago there were six states which prohibited absolutely the sale of cigarettes within their boundaries, there are now only two. In the others, the drastic laws have been repealed. Another sphere of operations shows better results. Seven states and a number of cities have established censorship for motion pictures. But even here, their future is not too bright. A referendum showed Massachusetts squarely against such censorship, and fourteen other States have voted against it in their legislatures.
By far the most debatable subject is the progress of "Sunday legislation". Theatres, baseball games and all kinds of amusement have been the targets of the Lord's Day Alliance, and brilliant success is claimed in the South and West. While three states have let down the bars, six have moved forward toward perfection and prohibitions. But as the militant reactionaries point out, the three states which have retrogressed to more freedom are New York, Connecticut and Oregon with large and important populations; and conversely, the "good" states are mostly rural, thinly inhabited and poor fields for theatrical exploitation anyway.
Apparently, the devil has inspired the amusement people with the wit to call for referenda, for everywhere except in South Dakota these popular ballots have been favorable to their cause. The "decline" and "de-generation" of Rome, caused, as Mr. Tarkington has shown, by Sunday gladiatorial combats, have failed to impress America with the importance of one day of absolute holiness. The Lord's Day Alliance is peculiarly fortunate; it will never be out of a job.