Disruption of a Prayer Meeting With Political Dynamite.
A Visitor Miscalculates Hawaiian Feeling On Affairs.
The members of the little native church at Kapuukolo near the Fish Market held their regular prayer meeting yesterday evening. As is usual at these meetings a subject was proposed for discussion among members. The subject was, “Whether it is right to worship two Gods?” Argument was going along peacefully when Mr. Jos. Emerson entered the church and, after listening a little while, asked to be allowed to take part in the discussion. Mr. E. was given permission and spoke for some time, finally bringing in the name of the dethroned Queen and reflecting on her career. Among other remarks he is said to have referred to stories that the Queen was in the habit of consulting kahunas regarding her chances for restoration to the throne.
Some of the congregation arose in a body and demanded that Mr. E. close his mouth or he would be summarily removed. S. Kaloa, a native preacher, then addressed the meeting, saying that a committee of church members had had communication and meetings with her Majesty during a year past, and she had told them emphatically she did not believe in kahunas. Now here came a foreigner and told them that she was harboring them. Who would they believe, this man or their committee, who has been in constant communication with the Queen?
Mr. E. asked all who were in favor of the Queen returning to the throne to stand up. All stood up with the exception of five, one a clerk in the office of the Board of Missions.
Kaloa again interfered and asked who dethroned the Queen, was it her people? Another, did Mr. E. consider that the members of the Council, where not a single Hawaiian was present, represented the people?
The argument became hot and finally Mr. Emerson retired and Kaloa held the fort.
A committee from the Church has an advertisement in a native paper calling on all the members to pray to God for the restoration of the Queen.
The foregoing report was gathered by our reporter from several native Hawaiians who was at the meeting. Some of the statements said to have been made by Mr. Emerson have been eliminated on the strength of his emphatic denial that he uttered them. A representative of the Bulletin gained an interview with Mr. Emerson to obtain his side of the story, which is given below:
STATEMENT OF MR. EMERSON.
In answer to questions Mr. Emerson gave in substance the following account of the meeting and his part in it:
“I had been asked by some of the people to visit their meetings. When I went to the meeting last night I sat for some time listening to the discussion. Then I asked if they would like me to speak on the relations of Christianity with the monarchy, and they said they would.
“I began by telling of the difference between the Hawaiians and the natives of other groups, such as the Marquesas. In those islands tribal wars on single islands were common, while in the early times of the Hawaiian Islands each island had its own king. There were human sacrifices on these islands, but not for the purpose of eating the victims. An advance was made when all the islands were brought under the single rule of Kamehameha I.
“In the time of Kamehameha II., I told them, another great advance was made when Queen Kaahumanu, aided by her priest, threw off the shackles of the tabu and caused the idols to be renounced. Then, until Lot (Kamehameha V.) became King, there was a period free from the old system. Lot began a course of returning to the ancient superstitions.
“With the exception of the brief reign of Lunalilo, I said, down through the reign of Liliuokalani there was a disposition to return to heathen customs. They agreed with me that Kalakaua had gone back toward the ancient superstitions. I mentioned the time when Kaunamano in the presence of King Kalakaua at Kailua advocated a return to the old gods. I said I had heard stories about Queen Liliuokalani’s having sacrificed pigs to Pele at the Volcano, and they probably knew whether these stories were true, and they did not deny their truth.
“Is it true, I then asked, that J. W. Alapai was circulating a petition to have a day of fasting and prayer for the restoration of the Queen? They answered yes. Is it true that Alapai claims to have a unihipili (familiar spirit), and that his wife is the kahu (priestess) of that spirit? They said yes. Is it tre that Alapai is a confessed heathen who is at the same time a luna in Kaumakapili church? To these questions they answered in the affirmative.
“Then, I asked, what should be the attitude of Christian people toward this day of fasting and prayer? Are we to join in with a man who is a pronounced heathen and make no distinction between those who are pronounced opponents of heathenism and those who practice it? Shall we join with Alapai for the return of the Queen to the throne? Can we make common cause with a heathen?
“I did not pronounce my own opinion—I simply drew them out. There was a noisy discussion and some left the room.
“No, I was not threatened to be turned out. I said if my remarks gave offense I should sit down. I shook hands with everyone who had not left the room. My question was, ‘Shall we join with Alapai to pray for the restoration of the Queen?’
“Dr. Emerson, who was also present, tried to conciliate the people. He told them it was right for them to pray for the late Queen’s welfare. They should pray for her soul.
“Yes, I took a vote. There were five who voted against joining with Alapai and three in favor of doing so, but most of those present at the time refrained from voting. The question was not whether they thought the Queen should be restored, but whether it was right to join in a movement to that end with Alapai.”
Mr. Emerson, in answer to a question, admitted that results showed it was injudicious to have introduced the question of restoration at all. Had he known that it would have awakened so much feeling, he said, he would have abstained from questioning the people in the manner described.
[This article was translated in Leo o ka Lahui, 2/9/1893, p. 2. It is interesting that there is a note appended to the end of the translated article that they did not have time to translate Emerson’s response.]
(Daily Bulletin, 2/7/1893, p. 3)