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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Priest bemoans ‘degeneracy’ of movies, demands censorship

“Nations that have gone down in the wreck have done so, not because of the beating of invaders without, but from moral decay within,” he said. (SR archives)
“Nations that have gone down in the wreck have done so, not because of the beating of invaders without, but from moral decay within,” he said. (SR archives)

The Very Rev. William C. Hicks demanded a “stricter censorship of the moving pictures” from the pulpit of All Saints Cathedral in Spokane.

“In many performances, there is an increasing travesty on marriage, on love and the home, the most sacred things in our national life,” he said. “There is a constant sex appeal which is far from healthy and which is so suggestive that it really passes the limits of suggestion.

“The degeneracy of the movies is seen not only in the character of some of the principal actors and actresses, who evidently regard the marriage ceremony more as a convenience than a divine institution, but in its accompanying ‘jazz.’ The great organs in these theaters, capable of expressing the most sacred emotions, are prostituted to the lowest use and are made to do the braying of an ass rather than express the finer sentiments of the soul.”

Rev. Hicks feared that movies threatened the nation’s very future.

“Nations that have gone down in the wreck have done so, not because of the beating of invaders without, but from moral decay within,” he said. “At present, a wave of unmoral, if not immoral, actions is sweeping over the country. The life of the young people is giving serious concern. There is a clamor for luxury, there is a lack of responsibility, a movement of dishonesty and a general irreverence which is breaking the finer life of our young people and causing them to look on life and its relations with sordid eyes.”

He noted that we have state food inspectors for pigs and cattle – but nobody protecting “the morals of our young men and women.”

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