Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

Relaxation of Anglican Monopoly

75
Unitarian Relief Act (Trinity Act) July 21, 1813

The Toleration Act ( 1689) did not benefit persons denying the Trinity, and the Blasphemy Act ( 1698) expressly provided for punishments, including imprisonment, for anti-Trinitarians. Though these penalties were not enforced and the Toleration Act was broadened in 1779 (permitting adherence to scripture "as commonly received among Protestant Churches" in place of subscription to the doctrinal articles of the Thirty- Nine Articles), Unitarians sought the removal of all statutory disqualifications. After success, they organized in 1819 the Unitarian Association for Protecting the Civil Rights of Unitarians for further security.

WHEREAS, in the Nineteenth Year of His present Majesty an Act was passed, intituled An Act for the further Relief of Protestant Dissenting Ministers and Schoolmasters; and it is expedient to enact as hereinafter provided; Be it therefore enacted . . . That so much of an Act passed in the First Year of . . . King William and Queen Mary, intituled An Act for exempting His Majesty's Protestant Subjects dissenting from the Church of England from the Penalties of certain Laws, as provides that that Act . . . should not extend . . . to give any Ease, Benefit or Advantage to Persons denying the Trinity as therein mentioned, be and the same is hereby repealed.

II. And be it further enacted, That the Provisions of another Act passed in the Ninth and Tenth Years of . . . William, intituled An Act for the more effectual suppressing Blasphemy and Profaneness, so far as the same relate to Persons denying . . . the Holy Trinity, be . . . repealed.

III. And whereas it is expedient to repeal an Act, passed in the Parliament of Scotland in the First Parliament of King Charles the Second, intituled An Act against the Crime of Blasphemy; and another Act, passed in . . . Scotland in the First Parliament of King William, intituled An Act against Blasphemy; which Acts respectively ordain the Punishment of Death; Be it therefore enacted, That the said Acts . . . are . . . repealed.

Source: 53 Geo. III, c. 160; The Statutes of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 53 George III. 1813 ( London, 1813), p. 797.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

R. G. Cowherd, The Politics of English Dissent ( New York, 1956), pp. 15-21.

U. Henriques, Religious Toleration in England, 1787- 1833 ( Toronto, 1961), pp. 206-216.

K. S. Latourette, Christianity in a Revolutionary Age ( New York, 1958- 1962), II, 316-320.

E. M. Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism in Transylvania, England, and America ( Cambridge, Mass., 1952), pp. 316-362.

-189-

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