Mr. Yeaman to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatches to No. 81, of the 18th February, inclusive.
Touching political affairs here, very lively interest and discussion have been excited by a proposed law amending the organization of the established church. By constitutional recognition the Lutheran is the established church, and the constitution or organization of this national church is required to be regulated by law. But liberty of dissent is complete, and every citizen has the right to unite with any society or communion for divine worship, according to his own conviction, subject only to the restriction that their doctrines are not contrary to good morals and public order.
The clergymen of the several parishes and congregations of the Lutheran church are appointed by the authority and under the superintendence of government. The principal feature of the change now proposed is, that whenever in any parish 20 or more families unite in the desire to select their own pastor and of themselves form a congregation for religions worship and teaching, they may do so, but without thereby dissolving their connection with the Lutheran or established church, and may continue, as constituent parts of that church, to be entitled to all the rights and privileges, civil and ecclesiastical, of its membership.
This has given rise to very animated discussions among the people, who are divided upon it, about as would be natural to expect, viewing [Page 87] it in its political aspects; among the bishops, who are nearly all opposed to it; by the public press, which is nearly unanimous for it; and in the Rigsdag, where it has passed the Folkething by a large majority, and where it meets with very great opposition on the Landsthing.
The cabinet are united in its support, not so much, I think, on account of the importance they attach to it, as on account of the belief that it is harmless if not advantageous, and that making this concession now may prevent further agitation and other demands much more serious. It has been, so far, made a ministerial measure, and therefore a cabinet question, that the continuance in office of the present ministry appeared to depend in a large measure, if not directly, upon the adoption or rejection of the law by the Landsthing. But recently the minister of religion and instruction, under whose special charge the measure falls, has, owing to his very feeble health, tendered his resignation, which the King will probably accept, and then the matter will not likely be further urged until the selection and nomination of another minister of similar views. * * * * * * * *
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.