Wednesday, February 15, 2012

120 years ago: Rev. Charles Parkhurst denounces New York City's corrupt civic administration

Unlike so many of today's Romans 13 extremists who view all officeholders as being placed in their positions by God and must be obeyed without question in almost all circumstances, Rev. Charles Parkhurst, pastor at Madison Square Presbyterian Church in New York City from 1880-1918, made no attempt to curry favour with those in power and didn't mince words in denouncing politicians he regarded as crooked.

On February 14, 1892, Rev. Parkhurst, from his pulpit, denounced the Tammany Hall administration of Mayor Hugh J. Grant as "a lying, perjured, rum-soaked, and libidinous lot" of "polluted harpies," and offered additional comments, such as:

"While we fight iniquity, they shield and patronize it; while we try to convert criminals, they manufacture them..."

"Every step that we take looking to the moral betterment of this city has to be taken directly into the teeth of the damnable pack of administrative blood-hounds that are fattening themselves on the ethical flesh and blood of our citizenship."

When challenged to produce evidence, Rev. Parkhurst hired a detective, and delivered a message on March 13 that included documentation. The allegations subsequently led to the appointment of the Lexow Committee (1894-1895) to investigate corruption in New York City, and the 1894 election of reformer William L. Strong as mayor.

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