The Church and the Social Evil, April 23, 1912 (excerpts)




Miss Jane Addams.

New York, April 27. -- Jane Addams, first of the American settlement workers, founder and head of Hull House, Chicago, noted author and lecturer, indulged in some very plain talk to the "Men and Religion Forward congress" which convened recently in this city. Miss Addams is an authority upon almost every subject that she assays to talk upon in public; hence her address was listened to with great interest. She took as a subject, "The Church and the Social Evil."

"The supreme religious test of our social order," she said, "is the hideous commerce in girls, and the sorry results of that test are registered in the hypocrisy and hardness of heart of the average citizen toward the so-called fallen woman. May we not claim that in consequence of this irreligious attitude, the social evil today remains a hard, unresolved mass in the midst of so-called Christian civilization, until it has come to be called a vice which cannot be eradicated, a sin which cannot be forgiven, a social disease that cannot be cured." 

The policy of treating the social evil as a matter of contemptuous indifference, Miss Addams declared, had formed the groundwork for political corruption.

"The corruption spreads until the brothel, the saloon and the gambling den are the trio literally at the base of the real administration of our cities. Certainly the scarlet woman has been avenged upon the city which despises her. The men who consider her a legitimate source of revenue, in a thousand ways fleece the decent taxpayers who refuse to acknowledge her existence and she abides through one administration after another to the confusion and frustration of all movements for civic reform."