Neil Erikson’s Defence

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On Monday 2 August 2021, Neil Erikson was found guilty yet again of the archaic charge of “Disturbing Religious Worship”. This follows his one month sentence for calling mohammed a false prophet, during which Victoria Police’s top brass attempted to murder him by sending him to a prison full of muslims.

The latter charge related to his attendance at a discussion group held in a hall next to a church, in which the attendees were purporting to represent some kind of so-called “gay church”.

Obviously these people are not Christian, hence the charge of “Disturbing Religious Worship” is on its face ridiculous. The Lying Press attempted to mock Erikson for quoting Leviticus, yet considering the context and the charge it was entirely appropriate.

The Lying Press also appeared flabbergasted that Erikson quoted a law from 17th Century England. However, Erikson’s defence demonstrated how 17th and 19th century laws from which the archaic charge of “Disturbing Religious Worship” derives, reinforce the argument that the people whose opinions Erikson challenged have no recourse to protection under the “Disturbing Religious Worship” Law.

It is worth reinforcing the fact that Victorian authorities appear to be enforcing this law unequally, as the vegans who disturbed religious worship at a Greek Orthodox Church in Melbourne at this year’s Greek Easter do not seem to have been charged,

Finally, Erikson should be commended for forcing the Magistrate Court judge to define religious worship:

We believe this is what is known colloquially as an own goal.

Thankfully Erikson has been bailed pending his appeal on 10 September, 2021. Below is the full text of Neil Erikson’s defence as presented last week. It has been lightly edited for spelling and grammar. It is divided into three sections:

  • His defence (itself divided into several sections).
  • The Toleration Act, 1689.
  • The Places of Religious Worship Act, 1812.

Each is several thousand words long and the full text is nearly 10,000 words. For a basic understanding of Erikson’s argument, one only need to read the first section, about 3000 words. For those who are interested you can read the full text of the Acts. The XYZ will leave them here as a resource.

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Neil Erikson’s Defence

Submission for your Honour,
POLLOCK vs ERIKSON – K12152537
Hearing set down for 29/07/2021

Your Honour,

Opening  Court Statement:

The argument from the defence relates to the scope of which this charge shall be laid.

One must ask what devine worship is exactly and where do we draw the line. The Prosecution might as well have brought a football team to court as the complainants. The alleged complainants according to the original intention of this Law are a discussion group and not protected by this Law.

If the court can not legally define what divine worship is, how can the court convict? The court has defined what common assault is and that’s why a court can convict someone for common assault. So I appeal to the court to define divine worship.

I appeal to the court to define what Lawfully Oficiating means, and what would constitute Unlawfully Officiating. What exactly does Lawfully assembled for Religious Worship mean and what would constitute Unlawfully assembled for Religious Worship.

When reading this charge it’s clear that one has to be Lawful, registered, or permitted to receive the protections of this Law, which the complainants are not.

If I’m guilty, I’m guilty but it’s the courts responsibility to explain why I’m guilty and not just take the easy option.

The Facts are, I was invited into a Hall next to a Church not owned by the alleged complainants in a separate building where the witnesses even concede it was a less formal setting and they hold discussions.

The event was advertised for only a Mothers Day event with no mention of service or worship.

I asked for permission to add to the discussion and was given permission, it got heated and I was removed and punched.

I waited for police outside and the meeting continued, and the witnesses even had supper at the end.

There was no worship occurring at the time of the incident and there was no disturbance after I had left.

The complainants don’t follow their By Laws because this is not a Lawful Church.

They are not a legal denomination, the alleged paster is only registered and licensed as a civil celebrant.

To a reasonable person, promoting sodomy is not a Christian trait.

As it states in Leviticus:

Chapter 18 verse 22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

Chapter 20 Verse 13 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

Thank Your Honour.

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The complainant is “Metropolitan Community Church of Melbourne Incorporated” which is not a Lawfully recognised denomination:

https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2018L01607

The alleged Minister Susan Townsend is not a Lawfully recognised Minister of Religion:

https://marriage.ag.gov.au/statecelebrants/other

The Hall where the incident occurred is not registered for “Metropolitan Community Church of Melbourne Incorporated” as a public house of worship.

On these three points the case should be dismissed.

The incident which occurred on April 12, 2019 does not constitute a breach under this Summary Offence according to the two Acts the charge was derived from. It is outlined very clearly that this is not a blanket charge to protect any group claiming to be a religious denomination but rather there is a strict criteria which must be satisfied to apply this law. If a Religious denomination wants to be afforded the protection from Disturbing Religious Worship they must meet the following criteria:

  1. Take an Oath of the Crown (as Government Ministers do).
  2. Governor General to proclaim your church as a Recognised Denomination.
  3. Governor General to proclaim you as a Minister of Religion.

I have not been charged with breaching Religious Freedoms under the Charter of Human Rights. I have been charged with “Disturbing Religious Worship” which is a separate offence and not related to the Charter. Disturbing Religious Worship has a completely different meaning and motivation to the Charter.

The charge Disturbing Religious Worship is not related to religious freedom, its true intention was actually quite the opposite.

The Governor-General declares a religious body or a religious organisation as a recognised denomination by Proclamation.
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The Charge of Disturbing Religious Worship reads:

Any person who wilfully and without lawful justification or excuse, the proof of which lies on him, disquiets or disturbs any meeting of persons lawfully assembled for religious worship or assaults any person lawfully officiating at any such meeting or any of the persons there assembled shall be guilty of an offence. – Religious worship under SECT 21 of the SUMMARY OFFENCES ACT 1966

The Disturbing Religious Worship charge does not stipulate what constitutes “WORSHIP”, It also does not stipulate what “lawfully assembled for religious worship” or “lawfully officiating” means but reading the two acts the charge was derived from its clear that “lawfully assembled for religious worship” and “lawfully officiating” means that the complainants have to be Lawfully recognised as such.

1. The Toleration Act, 1689

“XVIII. Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any person or persons, at any time or times after the tenth day of June, do and shall willingly and of purpose, maliciously or contemptuously come into any cathedral or parish church, chapel, or other congregation permitted by this act, and disquiet or disturb the same, or misuse any preacher or teacher, such person or persons, upon proof thereof before any justice of peace, by two or more sufficient witnesses, shall find two sureties to be bound by recognizance in the penal sum of fifty pounds, and in default of such sureties shall be committed to prison, there to remain till the next general or quarter sessions; and upon conviction of the said offence at the said general or quarter sessions, shall suffer the pain and penalty of twenty pounds, to the use of the King’s and Queen’s majesties, their heirs and successors.”

– The Toleration Act, 1689

2. Places of Religious Worship Act, 1812

“And . . . if any person or persons at any time after the passing of this Act do and shall wilfully and maliciously or contemptously disquiet or disturb any meeting, assembly, or congregation of persons assembled for religious worship, permitted or authorised by this Act or any former Act or Acts of Parliament, or shall in any way disturb, molest, or misuse any preacher, teacher, or person officiating at such meeting, assembly, or congregation, or any person or persons there assembled, such person or persons so offending, upon proof thereof before any justice of the peace by two or more credible witnesses, shall find two sureties, to be bound by recognizances in the penal sum of fifty pounds to answer for such offence, and in default of such sureties shall be committed to prison, there to remain till the next general or quarter sessions, and upon conviction of the said offence at the said general or quarter sessions shall suffer the pain and penalty of forty pounds.”

“every such action or suit shall be commenced within three months”

– Places of Religious Worship Act, 1812.

The origins of Disturbing Religious Worship were not intended for “Tolerance” or “Inclusion”. It was intended for denominations who were Licensed, Lawful and Approved. Other denominations who refused or did not submit to the Crown and who were not Lawful denominations were deemed Unlawful.

According to The Toleration Act, 1689, only those who took an Oath to be faithful to the Crown and who paid a due and registered with the government were considered Lawful and only then would enjoy protections, hence – “lawfully assembled for religious worship” – “lawfully officiating” – Disturbing Religious worship – SECT 21 SUMMARY OFFENCES ACT 1966.

“XIII. And whereas there are certain other persons, dissenters from the Church of England, who scruple the taking of any oath; be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every such person shall make and subscribe the aforesaid declaration, and also this declaration of fidelity following, viz.

I A. B. do sincerely promise and solemnly declare before God and the world, that I will be true and faithful to King William and Queen Mary; and I do solemnly profess and declare, that I do from my heart abhor, detest, and renounce, as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine and position, That princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, or any authority of the See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever. And I do declare, that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate, hath or ought to have, any power, jurisdiction, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority ecclesiastical or spiritual within this realm.

And shall subscribe a profession of their Christian belief in these words:

I A. B. profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His eternal Son, the true God, and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for evermore, and do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.”

“shall take the said oaths, and make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, in manner aforesaid, every such person shall enjoy all the privileges, benefits, and advantages, which any other dissenting minister, as aforesaid, might have or enjoy by virtue of this act.”

– The Toleration Act, 1689

“Provided always, . . . that every person, not having taken the oaths and subscribed the declaration herein-after specified, who shall preach or teach at any place of religious worship certified in pursuance of the directions of this Act shall, when thereto required by any one justice of the peace, by any writing under his hand or signed by him, take and make and subscribe in the presence of such justice of the peace the oaths and declaration specified and contained in an Act passed in the nineteenth year of the reign of his Majesty King George the Third, intituled “An Act for the further relief of protestant dissenting ministers and schoolmasters”; and no such person who, upon being so required to take such oaths and make such declaration as aforesaid, shall refuse to attend the justice requiring the same, or to take and make and subscribe such oaths and declaraion as aforesaid, shall be thereafter permitted or allowed to teach or preach in any such congregation or assembly for religious worship, until he shall have taken such oaths and made such declaration as aforesaid, on pain of forfeiting for every time he shall so teach or preach any sum not exceeding ten pounds nor less than ten shillings, at the discretion of the justice convicting for such offence.” – Places of Religious Worship Act, 1812

And . . . from and after the passing of this Act no congregation or assembly for religious worship of protestants (at which there shall be present more than twenty persons besides the immediate family and servants of the person in whose house or upon whose premises such meeting, congregation, or assembly shall be had) shall be permitted or allowed, unless and until the place of such meeting, if the same shall not have been duly certified and registered under any former Act or Acts of Parliament relating to registering places of religious worship, shall have been or shall be certified to the bishop of the diocese, or to the archdeacon of the archdeaconry, or to the justices of the peace at the general or quarter sessions of the peace for the county, riding, division, city, town, or place in which such meeting shall be held; and all places of meeting which shall be so certified to the bishop’s or archdeacon’s court shall be returned by such court once in each year to the quarter sessions of the county, riding, division, city, town, or place; and all places of meeting which shall be so certified to the quarter sessions of the peace shall be also returned once in each year to the bishop or archdeacon; and all such places shall be registered in the said bishop’s or archdeacon’s court respectively, and recorded at the said general or quarter sessions, the registrar or clerk of the peace whereof respectively is hereby required to register and record the same; and the bishop or registrar or clerk of the peace to whom any such place of meeting shall be certified under this Act shall give a certificate thereof to such person or persons as shall request or demand the same, for which there shall be no greater fee nor reward taken than two shillings and sixpence; and every person who shall knowingly permit or suffer any such congregation or assembly as aforesaid to meet in any place occupied by him until the same shall have been so certified as aforesaid shall forfeit for every time any such congregation or assembly shall meet contrary to the provisions of this Act a sum not exceeding twenty pounds nor less than twenty shillings, at the discretion of the justices who shall convict for such offence.

“and no such person who, upon being so required to take such oaths and make such declaration as aforesaid, shall refuse to attend the justice requiring the same, or to take and make and subscribe such oaths and declaraion as aforesaid, shall be thereafter permitted or allowed to teach or preach in any such congregation or assembly for religious worship, until he shall have taken such oaths and made such declaration as aforesaid”

– Places of Religious Worship Act, 1812

The prosecution could attempt to argue that being lawfully recognized by the Australian Government as a denomination could constitute a Church being Lawful and protected by The Disturbing Religious Worship charge, but the alleged Church in question “Metropolitan Community Church of Melbourne Incorporated” have not met that criteria:

  1. “Metropolitan Community Church” is not Recognised by the Governor General as a Lawful Religious Denomination.
  2. “Metropolitan Community Church” is not authorised to solemnise marriages under Subdivision A of Division 1 of Part IV of the Marriage Act 1961.
  3. Susan Townsend the alleged Minister is not a Minister of Religion and is not authorised to solemnise marriages for religious purposes according to the Governor General Proclamations.
  4. Have not taken the Oath.
  5. Are a foreign alleged faith or foreign organisation which is contrary to the Oath “And I do declare, that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate, hath or ought to have, any power, jurisdiction, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority ecclesiastical or spiritual within this realm” – The Toleration Act, 1689.

This letter gives an example of the true intentions of Disturbing Religious Worship:

“A letter from Secretary Townsend to the Provost of Edinburgh [the chief magistrate] reminding him that legal action will be taken against churchmen who do not pray for the royal family in their services and they will not be to able practice their faith freely as provided by the Toleration Act.”

“Whitehall December 27th 1715

My Lord,

By my last to your Lordship I could only acknowledge the Receipt of your letter of the 14th but having since that time laid it before the king, I have His Majesty’s Orders to return you and the Magistrates of that City His thanks for your hearty zeal [enthusiasm] in His Service; and for your readiness to Execute [carry out] your Duty on all occasions. As to what your Lordship Represents [describes] in your letter, His Majesty is of Opinion that the Episcopal clergy [church government by bishops] who Enjoy publick [public] meeting Houses with you, and do not pray for His Majesty and the Royal Family as directed and appointed in the publick Service of the Church, are no ways Intitled [entitled] to the benefit of the Act of Toleration: And I believe your Lordship will agree with me, that the behaviour of these Gentlemen has been such as to give them no title to any Conivance [consent to wrong doing] or favour. And therefore His Majesty judges it highly just, and for His service, that such meeting houses should be Discharged and proceeded against according to Law. And which I am directed to Recommend to your Lordship and the other magistrates of that City, And at the same time I am directed by His Majesty, to Recommend to you, to give all just countenance and protection to such of the Episcopal clergy as comply with the Terms of the Act of Toleration & behave themselves dutifully,

I am Etc.

Townsend”

I have attached both the Toleration act, 1689 and the Places of Religious Worship Act, 1812.

Thanks for your time Your Honour,

Neil Erikson

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Toleration Act, 1689

http://www.jacobite.ca/documents/1689toleration.htm

A printed version of the most important portions of the text can be found on pages 400-403 of English Historical Documents, 1660-1714, edited by Andrew Browning (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1953).

Forasmuch as some ease to scrupulous consciences in the exercise of religion may be an effectual means to unite their Majesties Protestant subjects in interest and affection:

II. Be it enacted by the King’s and Queen’s most excellent majesties, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled and by the authority of the same, That neither the statute made in the three and twentieth year of the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth, intituled, An act to retain the Queen’s majesty’s subjects in their due obedience; nor the statute made in the twenty ninth year of the said Queen, intituled, An act for the more speedy and due execution of certain branches of the statute made in the three and twentieth year of the Queen’s majesty’s reign viz. the aforesaid act; nor that branch or clause of a statute made in the first year of the reign of the said Queen, intituled, An act for the uniformity of common prayer and service in the church, and administration of the sacraments; whereby all persons, having no lawful or reasonable excuse to be absent, are required to resort to their parish church or chapel, or some usual place where the common prayer shall be used, upon pain or punishment by the censures of the church, and also upon pain that every person so offending shall forfeit for every such offence twelve pence; nor the statute made in the third year of the reign of the late King James the First, intituled, An act for the better discovering and repressing popish recusants; nor that other statute made in the same year, intituled, An act to prevent and avoid dangers which may grow by popish recusants; nor any other law or statute of this realm made against papists or popish recusants, except the statute made in the five and twentieth year of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act for preventing dangers which may happen from popish recusants; and except also the statute made in the thirtieth year of the said King Charles the Second, intituled, An act for the more effectual preserving the King’s person and government, by disabling papists from sitting in either house of parliament; shall be construed to extend to any person or persons dissenting from the Church of England, that shall take the oaths mentioned in a statute made this present Parliament, intituled, An act for removing and preventing all questions and disputes concerning the assembling and sitting of this present Parliament; and shall make and subscribe the declaration mentioned in a statute made in the thirtieth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act to prevent papists from sitting in either house of Parliament; which oaths and declaration the justices of peace at the general sessions of the peace, to be held for the county or place where such person shall live, are hereby required to tender and administer to such persons as shall offer themselves to take, make, and subscribe the same, and thereof to keep a register: and likewise none of the persons aforesaid shall give or pay, as any fee or reward, to any officer or officers belonging to the court aforesaid, above the sum of six pence, nor that more than once, for his of their entry of his taking the said oaths, and making and subscribing the said declaration; nor above the further sum of six pence for any certificate of the same, to be made out and signed by the officer or officers of the said court.

III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all and every person and persons, already convicted or prosecuted in order to conviction of recusancy, by indictment, action of debt, or otherwise, grounded upon the aforesaid statutes, or any of them, that shall take the said oaths mentioned in the said statute made this present Parliament, and make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, in the Court of Exchequer, ar assizes, or general or quarter sessions to be held for the country where such person lives, and to be thence respectively certified into the Exchequer, shall be thenceforth exempted and discharged from all the penalties, seizures, forfeitures, judgments, and executions, incurred by force of any of the aforesaid statutes, without any composition, fee, or further charge whatsoever.

IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all and every person and persons that shall, as aforesaid, take the said oaths, and make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, shall not be liable to any pains, penalties, or forfeitures, mentioned in an act made in the five and thirtieth year of the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth, intituled, An act to retain the Queen’s majesty’s subjects in their due obedience; nor in an act made i the two and twentieth year of the reign of the late King Charles the Second, intituled, An act to prevent and suppress seditious conventicles; nor shall any of the said persons be prosecuted in any ecclesiastical court, for or by reason of their non-conforming to the Church of England.

V. Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any assembly of persons dissenting from the Church of England shall be had in any place for religious worship with the doors locked, barred, or bolted, during any time of such meeting together, all and every persons or persons, that shall come to and be at such meeting, shall not receive any benefit from this law, but be liable to all the pains and penalties of all the aforesaid laws recited in this act, for such their meeting, notwithstanding his taking the oaths and his making and subscribing the declaration aforesaid.

VI. Provided always, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to exempt any of the persons aforesaid from paying of tithes or other parochial duties, or any other duties to the church or minister, nor from any prosecution in any ecclesiastical court or elsewhere, for the same.

VII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any person dissenting from the Church of England, as aforesaid, shall hereafter be chosen or otherwise appointed to bear the office of high-constable, or petit-constable, church-warden or overseer of the poor, or any other parochial or ward office, and such person shall scruple to take upon him any of the said offices in regard of the oaths, or any other matter of thing required by the law to be taken or done in respect of such office, every such person shall and may execute such office or employment by a sufficient deputy, by him to be provided, that shall comply with the laws on this behalf. Provided always, the said deputy be allowed and approved by such person or persons, in such manner as such officer or officers respectively should by law have been allowed and approved.

VIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no person dissenting from the Church of England in holy orders, or pretended holy orders, or pretending to holy orders, nor any preacher of teacher of any congregation of dissenting Protestants, that shall make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, and take the said oaths at the general or quarter sessions of the peace to be held for the county, town, parts, or division where such person lives, which court is hereby empowered to administer the same, and shall also declare his approbation of and subscribe the articles of religion mentioned in the statute made in the thirteenth year of the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth, except the thirty-fourth, thirty-fifth, and thirty-sixth, and these words of the twentieth article, viz. “the Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith, and yet”, shall be liable to any of the pains or penalties mentioned in an act made inn the seventeenth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled An act for restraining nonconformists from inhabiting in corporations; nor the penalties mentioned in the aforesaid act made in the two and twentieth year of his said late Majesty’s reign, for or by reason of such persons preaching at any meeting for the exercise of religion; nor to the penalty of one hundred pounds mentioned in an act made in the thirteenth and fourteenth of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act for the uniformity of public prayers, and administration of sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies: and for establishing the form of making, ordaining, and consecrating of bishops, priests, and deacons in the Church of England, for officiating in any congregation for the exercise of religion permitted and allowed by this act.

IX. Provided always, That the making and subscribing the said declaration, and the taking the said oaths, and making the declaration of approbation and subscription to the said articles, in manner as aforesaid, by every respective person or persons herein before-mentioned, at such general or quarter sessions of the peace as aforesaid, shall be then and there entered of record in the said court, for which six pence shall be paid to the clerk of the peace, and no more: provided that such person shall not at any time preach in any place, but with the doors not locked, barred, or bolted, as aforesaid.

X. And whereas some dissenting Protestants scruple in the baptising of infants; be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every person in pretended holy orders, or pretending holy orders, or preacher, or teacher, that shall subscribe the aforesaid articles of religion, except before excepted, and also except part of the seven and twentieth article touching infant baptism, and shall take the said oaths, and make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, in manner aforesaid, every such person shall enjoy all the privileges, benefits, and advantages, which any other dissenting minister, as aforesaid, might have or enjoy by virtue of this act.

XI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every teacher or preacher in holy orders, or pretended holy orders, that is a minister, preacher, or teacher of a congregation, that shall take the oaths herein required, and make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, and also subscribe such of the aforesaid articles of the Church of England, as are required by this act in manner aforesaid, shall be thenceforth exempted from serving upon any jury, or from being chosen or appointed to bear the office of churchwarden, overseer of the poor, or any other parochial or ward office or other office in any hundred of any shire, city, town, parish, division, or wapentake.

XII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every justice of the peace may at any time hereafter require any person, that goes to any meeting for exercise of religion, to make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, and also to take the said oaths or declaration of fidelity hereinafter mentioned, in case such person scruples the taking of an oath, and upon refusal thereof, such justice of the peace is hereby required to commit such person to prison without bail or mainprize, and to certify the name of such person to the next general or quarter-sessions of the peace to be held for that county, city, town, part or division, where such person then resides; and if such person so committed shall upon a second tender at the general or quarter-sessions refuse to make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, such person refusing shall be then and there recorded, and he shall be taken thenceforth to all intents and purposes for a popish recusant convict, and suffer accordingly, and incur all the penalties and forfeitures of all the aforesaid laws.

XIII. And whereas there are certain other persons, dissenters from the Church of England, who scruple the taking of any oath; be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every such person shall make and subscribe the aforesaid declaration, and also this declaration of fidelity following, viz.

I A. B. do sincerely promise and solemnly declare before God and the world, that I will be true and faithful to King William and Queen Mary; and I do solemnly profess and declare, that I do from my heart abhor, detest, and renounce, as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine and position, That princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, or any authority of the See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever. And I do declare, that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate, hath or ought to have, any power, jurisdiction, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority ecclesiastical or spiritual within this realm.

And shall subscribe a profession of their Christian belief in these words:

I A. B. profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His eternal Son, the true God, and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for evermore, and do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.

Which declarations and subscription shall be made and entered of record at the general quarter-sessions of the peace for the county, city, or place where every such person shall then reside. And every such person that shall make and subscribe the two declarations and profession aforesaid, being thereunto required, shall be exempted from all the pains and penalties of all and every the aforementioned statutes made against popish recusants, or Protestant nonconformists, and also from the penalties of an act made in the fifth year of the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth, intituled, An act for the assurance of the Queen’s royal power over all estates and subjects within her dominions, for or by reason of such persons not taking or refusing to take the oath mentioned in the said act; and also from the penalties of an act made in the thirteenth and fourteenth years of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act for preventing mischiefs that may arise by certain persons called Quakers, refusing to take lawful oaths; and enjoy all other the benefits, privileges, and advantages under the like limitations, provisoes, and conditions, which any other dissenters shall or ought to enjoy by virtue of this act.

XIV. Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in case any person shall refuse to take the said oaths, when tendered to them, which every justice of the peace is hereby empowered to do, such person shall not be admitted to make and subscribe the two declarations aforesaid, though required thereunto either before any justice of the peace, or at the general or quarter-sessions, before or after any conviction of popish recusancy, as aforesaid, unless such person can, within thirty one days after such tender of the declarations to him, produce two sufficient Protestant witnesses, to testify upon oath, that they believe him to be a Protestant dissenter, or a certificate under the hands of four Protestants, who are conformable to the Church of England, or have taken the oaths and subscribed the declaration above mentioned, and shall also produce a certificate under the hands and seals of six or more sufficient men of the congregation to which he belongs, owning him for one of them.

XV. Provided also, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That until such certificate, under the hands of six of his congregation, as aforesaid, be produced, and two Protestant witnesses come to attest his being a Protestant dissenter, or a certificate under the hands of four Protestants, as aforesaid, be produced, the justice of the peace shall and hereby is required to take a recognizance with two sureties in the penal sum of fifty pounds, to be levied of his goods and chattels, lands, and tenements, to the use of the King’s and Queen’s majesties, their heirs and successors, for his producing the same; and if he cannot give such security, to commit him to prison, there to remain until he has produced such certificates, or two witnesses, as aforesaid.

XVI. Provided always, and it is the true intent and meaning of this act, That all the laws made and provided for the frequenting of divine service on the Lord’s Day commonly called Sunday, shall be still in force, and executed against all persons that offend against the said laws, except such persons come to some congregation or assembly of religious worship, allowed or permitted by this act.

XVII. Provided always, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that neither this act, nor any clause, article, or thing herein contained, shall extend or be construed to extend to give any ease, benefit or advantage to any papist or popish recusant whatsoever, or any person that shall deny in his preaching or writing the doctrine of the blessed Trinity, as it is declared in the aforesaid articles of religion.

XVIII. Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any person or persons, at any time or times after the tenth day of June, do and shall willingly and of purpose, maliciously or contemptuously come into any cathedral or parish church, chapel, or other congregation permitted by this act, and disquiet or disturb the same, or misuse any preacher or teacher, such person or persons, upon proof thereof before any justice of peace, by tow or more sufficient witnesses, shall find two sureties to be bound by recognizance in the penal sum of fifty pounds, and in default of such sureties shall be committed to prison, there to remain till the next general or quarter sessions; and upon conviction of the said offence at the said general or quarter sessions, shall suffer the pain and penalty of twenty pounds, to the use of the King’s and Queen’s majesties, their heirs and successors.

XIX. Provided always, That no congregation or assembly for religious worship shall be permitted or allowed by this act, until the place of such meeting shall be certified to the bishop of the diocese, or to the archdeacon of that archdeaconry, or to the justices of the peace at the general or quarter sessions of the peace for the county, city, or place in which such meeting shall be held, and registered in the said bishop’s or archdeacon’s court respectively, or recorded at the said general or quarter sessions; the register or clerk of the peace whereof respectively is hereby required to register the same, and to give certificate thereof to such person as shall demand the same, for which there shall be no greater fee nor reward taken, than the sum of six pence.

This page is maintained by Noel S. McFerran (noel.mcferran@rogers.com) and was last updated October 26, 2003.
© Noel S. McFerran 2000-2003.

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Places of Religious Worship Act, 1812

http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/1812/act/155/enacted/en/print.html

 

PLACES OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP ACT 1812

 

 

CHAPTER CLV.

 

 

An Act to repeal certain Acts and amend other Acts relating to Religious Workship and Assemblies, and Persons teaching or preaching therein.[1[29th July 1812.]

 

 

14 Cha. 2. c. 1.

 

 

17 Cha. 2. c. 2.

 

 

22 Cha. 2. c. 1. repealed.

 

 

Whereas it is expedient that certain Acts of Parliament made in the reign of his late Majesty King Charles the Second relating to nonconformists and conventicles, and refusing to take oaths, should be repealed, and that the laws relating to certain congregations and assemblies for religious worship, and persons teaching, preaching, or officiating therein, and resorting thereto, should be amended: Be it therefore enacted by the King’s most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that from and after the passing of this Act an Act of Parliament made in the session of Parliament held in the thirteenth and fourteenth years of his late majesty King Charles the Second, intituled “An Act for preventing the mischiefs and dangers that my arise by certain persons called Quakers and others refusing to take lawful oaths,” and another Act Parliament made in the seventeenth year of the reign of his late Majesty King Charles the Second, intituled “An Act for restraining nonconformists from inhabiting in corporations,” and another Act of Parliament made in the twenty-second year of the reign of the late King Charles the Second, intituled “An Act to prevent and suppress seditious conventicles,” shall be and the same are hereby repealed. [Rep. 36 & 37 Vict. c. 91. (S.L.R.)]

 

All places of religious worship of protestants to be certified and registered.

2. And . . . from and after the passing of this Act no congregation or assembly for religious worship of protestants (at which there shall be present more than twenty persons besides the immediate family and servants of the person in whose house or upon whose premises such meeting, congregation, or assembly shall be had) shall be permitted or allowed, unless and until the place of such meeting, if the same shall not have been duly certified and registered under any former Act or Acts of Parliament relating to registering places of religious worship, shall have been or shall be certified to the bishop of the diocese, or to the archdeacon of the archdeaconry, or to the justices of the peace at the general or quarter sessions of the peace for the county, riding, division, city, town, or place in which such meeting shall be held; and all places of meeting which shall be so certified to the bishop’s or archdeacon’s court shall be returned by such court once in each year to the quarter sessions of the county, riding, division, city, town, or place; and all places of meeting which shall be so certified to the quarter sessions of the peace shall be also returned once in each year to the bishop or archdeacon; and all such places shall be registered in the said bishop’s or archdeacon’s court respectively, and recorded at the said general or quarter sessions, the registrar or clerk of the peace whereof respectively is hereby required to register and record the same; and the bishop or registrar or clerk of the peace to whom any such place of meeting shall be certified under this Act shall give a certificate thereof to such person or persons as shall request or demand the same, for which there shall be no greater fee nor reward taken than two shillings and sixpence; and every person who shall knowingly permit or suffer any such congregation or assembly as aforesaid to meet in any place occupied by him until the same shall have been so certified as aforesaid shall forfeit for every time any such congregation or assembly shall meet contrary to the provisions of this Act a sum not exceeding twenty pounds nor less than twenty shillings, at the discretion of the justices who shall convict for such offence.

 

Penalty on persons teaching or preaching without consent of occupiers.

3. Provided always, . . . that every person who shall teach or preach in any congregation or assembly as aforesaid in any place, without the consent of the occupier thereof, shall forfeit for every such offence any sum not exceeding thirty pounds nor less than forty shillings, at the discretion of the justices who shall convict for such offence.

 

Preachers in and persons resorting to religious assemblies certified under this Act, &c., shall be exempt from same penalties as persons taking oaths under 1 will. & Mar. c. 18.

4. And . . . from and after the passing of this Act every person who shall teach or preach at or officiate in or shall resort to any congregation or congregations, assembly or assemblies, for religious worship of protestants, whose place of meeting shall be duly certified according to the provisions of this Act or any other Act or Acts of Parliament relating to the certifying and registering of places of religious worship, shall be exempt from all such pains and penalties under any Act or Acts of Parliament relating to religious worship as any person who shall have taken the oaths and made the declaration prescribed by or mentioned in an Act made in the first year of the reign of King William and Queen Mary, intituled “An Act for exempting their Majesties protestant subjects dissenting from the Church of England from the penalties of certain laws,” or any Act amending the said Act, is by law exempt, as fully and effectually as if all such pains and penalities, and the several Acts enforcing the same, were recited in this Act, and such exemptions as aforesaid were severally and separately enacted in relation thereto.

 

Oaths and declaration to be taken by all preachers, &c. when thereto required by a magistrate.

19 Geo, 3. c. 44.

5. Provided always, . . . that every person, not having taken the oaths and subscribed the declaration herein-after specified, who shall preach or teach at any place of religious worship certified in pursuance of the directions of this Act shall, when thereto required by any one justice of the peace, by any writing under his hand or signed by him, take and make and subscribe in the presence of such justice of the peace the oaths and declaration specified and contained in an Act passed in the nineteenth year of the reign of his Majesty King George the Third, intituled “An Act for the further relief of protestant dissenting ministers and schoolmasters”; and no such person who, upon being so required to take such oaths and make such declaration as aforesaid, shall refuse to attend the justice requiring the same, or to take and make and subscribe such oaths and declaraion as aforesaid, shall be thereafter permitted or allowed to teach or preach in any such congregation or assembly for religious worship, until he shall have taken such oaths and made such declaration as aforesaid, on pain of forfeiting for every time he shall so teach or preach any sum not exceeding ten pounds nor less than ten shillings, at the discretion of the justice convicting for such offence.

 

No person to be required to go more than five miles to take such oaths.

6. Provided always, . . . that no person shall be required by any justice of the peace to go to any greater distance than five miles from his own home, or from the place where he shall be residing at the time of such requisition, for the purpose of taking such oaths as aforesaid.

 

Any person may require a justice, &c. to administer the oaths, &c. under this Act.

7. And . . . it shall be lawful for any of his Majesty’s protestant subjects to appear before any one justice of the peace, and to produce to such justice of the peace a printed or written copy of the said oaths and declaration, and to require such justice to administer such oaths and to tender such declaration to be made, taken, and subscribed by such person; and thereupon it shall be lawful for such justice and he is hereby authorized and required to administer such oaths and to tender such declaration to the person requiring to take and make and subscribe the same; and such person shall take and make and subscribe such oaths and declaration in the presence of such justice accordingly; and such justice shall attest the same to be sworn before him, and shall transmit or deliver the same to the clerk of the peace for the county, riding, division, city, town, or place, for which he shall act as such justice of the peace, before or at the next general or quarter sessions of the peace for such county, riding, division, city, town, or place.

 

Justices shall give the parties a certificate of having taken such oath, &c.

Fee 2s, 6d.

Certificate conclusive evidence.

8. And . . . every justice of the peace before whom any person shall make and take and subscribe such oaths and declaration as aforesaid shall forthwith give to the person having taken, made, and subscribed such oaths and declaration a certificate thereof under the hand of such justice in the form following; (that is to say,)

 

‘I A.B., one of his Majesty’s justices of the peace for the county [riding, division, city, or town, or place, as the case may be,] of          do hereby certify, that C.D. of, &c. describing the christianand surname, and place of abode of the party] did this day appear before me, and did make and take and subscribe the several oaths and declaration specified in an Act made in the fifty-second year of the reign of King George the Third, intituled [set forth the title of this Act]. Witness my hand this          day of          one thousand eight hundred and         .’

 

And for the making and signing of which certificate, where the said oaths and declaration are taken and made on the requisition of the party taking and making the same, such justice shall be entitled to demand and have a fee of two shillings and sixpence, and no more; and such certificate shall be conclusive evidence that the party named therein has made and taken the oaths and subscribed the declaration in manner required by this Act.

 

Teachers having taken the oaths, &c. exempt from offices specified in 1 Will. & Mar. c. 18. and from service in the militia.

9. And . . . every person who shall teach or preach in any such congregation or assembly, or congregations or assemblies as aforesaid, who shall employ himself solely in the duties of a teacher or preacher, and not follow or engage in any trade or business, or other profession, occupation, or employment for his livelihood, except that of a schoolmaster, and who shall produce a certificate of some justice of the peace of his having taken and made and subscribed the oaths and declaration aforesaid, shall be exempt from the civil services and offices specified in the said recited Act passed in the first year of King William and Queen Mary, and from being ballotted to serve and from serving in the militia or local militia of any county town, parish, or place in any part of the United Kingdom.

 

Penalty for producing false certificate.

10. And . . . every person who shall produce any false or untrue certificate or paper as and for a true certificate of his having made and taken the oaths and subscribed the declarations by this Act required for the purpose of claiming any exemption from civil or military duties as aforesaid, under the provisions of this or any other Act or Acts of Parliament, shall forfeit for every such offence the sum of fifty pounds; which penalty may be recovered by and to the use of any person who will sue for the same by any action of debt, bill, plaint, or information in any of his Majesty’s courts of record at Westminster, . . . . . . . . or the courts of the counties palatine of Lancaster, and Durham (as the case shall require), wherein no essoign, privilege, protection, or wager of law, or more than one imparlance shall be allowed.

 

Doors of religious assemblies not to be bolted or barred.

11. And . . . no meeting, assembly, or congregation of persons for religious worship shall be had in any place with the door locked, bolted, or barred, or otherwise fastened, so as to prevent any persons entering therein during the time of any such meeting, assembly, or congregation; and the person teaching or preaching at such meeting, assembly, or congregation shall forfeit, for every time any such meeting, assembly, or congregation shall be held with the door locked, bolted, barred, or otherwise fastened as aforesaid, any sum not exceeding twenty pounds nor less than forty shillings, at the discretion of the justices convicting for such offence.

 

Penalty for disturbing religious assemblies.

12. And . . . if any person or persons at any time after the passing of this Act do and shall wilfully and maliciously or contemptously disquiet or disturb any meeting, assembly, or congregation of persons assembled for religious worship, permitted or authorised by this Act or any former Act or Acts of Parliament, or shall in any way disturb, molest, or misuse any preacher, teacher, or person officiating at such meeting, assembly, or congregation, or any person or persons there assembled, such person or persons so offending, upon proof thereof before any justice of the peace by two or more credible witnesses, shall find two sureties, to be bound by recognizances in the penal sum of fifty pounds to answer for such offence, and in default of such sureties shall be committed to prison, there to remain till the next general or quarter sessions, and upon conviction of the said offence at the said general or quarter sessions shall suffer the pain and penalty of forty pounds.

 

Saving as to the services and ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the church.

13. Provided always, . . . that nothing in this Act contained shall affect or be construed to affect the celebration of divine service according to the rites and ceremonies of the United Church of England and Ireland by ministers of the said church, in any place hitherto used for such purpose, or being now or hereafter duly consecrated or licensed by any archbishop or bishop or other person lawfully authorized to consecrate or license the same, or to affect the jurisdiction of the archbishops or bishops or other persons exercising lawful authority in the church of the United Kingdom over the said church, according to the rules and discipline of the same and to the laws and statutes of the realm; but such jurisdiction shall remain and continue as if this Act had not passed.

 

The Act not to extend to Quakers.

14. Provided also, . . . that nothing in this Act contained shall extend or be construed to extend to the people usually called Quakers, nor to any meetings or assemblies for religious worship held or convened by such persons, or in any manner to alter or repeal or affect any Act, other than and except the Acts passed in the reign of King Charles the Second herein-before repealed, relating to the people called Quakers, or relating to any assemblies or meetings for religious worship held by them.

 

Offenders to be convicted before two or more justices.

Forfeitures to be levied by distress.

15. And . . . every person guilty of any offence for which any pecuniary penalty or forfeiture is imposed by this Act in respect of which no special provision is made, shall and may be convicted thereof by information upon the oath of any one or more credible witness or witnesses before any two or more justices of the peace acting in and for the county, riding, city, or place wherein such offence shall be committed; and          all and every the pecuniary penalties or forfeitures which shall be incurred or become payable for any offence or offences against this Act shall and may be levied by distress under the hand and seal or hands and seals of two justices of the peace for the county, riding, city, or place in which any such offence or offences was or were committed, or where the forfeiture or forfeitures was or were incurred, and shall, when levied, be paid, one moiety to the informer, and the other moiety to the poor of the parish in which the offence was committed; . . . . . . . . .

 

Appeal from conviction to general quarter sessions.

16. And . . . in case any person or persons who shall hereafter be convicted of any of the offences punishable by this Act shall conceive him, her, or themselves to be aggrieved by such conviction, then and in every such case it shall and may be lawful for such person or persons respectively, and he, she, or they shall or may appeal to the general or quarter sessions of the peace . . . . . . . . ; and the said justices in their said general or quarter sessions shall and may and they are hereby authorised and empowered to proceed to the hearing and determination of the matter of such appeal, and to make such order therein, and to award such costs to be paid by and to either party, not exceeding forty shillings, as they in their discretion shall think fit.

 

Penalties to be sued for within six months.

17. And . . . no penalty or forfeiture shall be recoverable under this Act unless the same shall be sued for or the offence in respect of which the same is imposed is prosecuted before the justices of the peace or quarter sessions within six months after the offence shall have been committed; and no person who shall suffer any imprisonment for non-payment of any penalty shall thereafter be liable to the payment of such penalty or forefeiture.

 

Limitation of actions, &c.

18. And . . . if any action or suit shall be brought or commenced against any person or persons for anything done in pursuance of this Act, . every such action or suit shall be commenced within three months next after the fact committed, and not afterwards, and shall be laid and brought in the county wherein the cause or alleged cause of action shall have accrued, and not elsewhere; and the defendant or defendants in such action or suit may plead the general issue, and give this Act and the special matter in evidence, on any trial to be had thereupon, and that the same was done in pursuance and by authority of this Act; and if it shall appear so to be done or if any such action or suit shall be brought after the time so limited for bringing the same, or shall be brought in any other county, city, or place, that then and in such case the jury shall find for such defendant or defendants; and upon such verdict, or if the plaintiff or plaintiffs shall become nonsuited, or discontinue, his, her, or their action or actions, or if a verdict shall pass against the plaintiff or plaintiffs, or if upon demurrer judgement shall be given against the plaintiff or plaintiffs, the defendant or defendants shall have and may recover treble costs, and have the like remedy for the same as any defendant or defendants hath or have for costs of suit in other cases by law. [Rep. 5 & 6 Vict. c. 97. s. 2]

 

 

[S. 19 rep. 50 & 51 Vict. c. 59. (S.L.R)]

 

 

[1 Rep. 34 & 35 Vict. c. 48., as to so much as relates to any oaths or to any declaration other than the declaration set forth in the part of 19 Geo. 3. c. 44. not repealed by that Act.]