Friday, March 12, 2010

Governor-General Submits 'Toleraction Act' to Parliament

-- Wentworth House.

The following act has been presented to both Houses of Parliament by the Governor-General:

Whereas as Granting some ease to scrupulous Consciences in the Exercise of Religion and Clarification of the same may be an effectual means to unite Her Majesty's Subjects in Interest and Affection;

And Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; and all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness;

And Whereas religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence;

And Whereas it is the duty of every person to worship the Creator in such manner as he thinks most acceptable;

And Whereas no person ought to be, or of right can be, compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of worship;

And Whereas it seems to us proper that the freedom of the conscience be declared before the People;

And Whereas it has not yet been publicly so declared by a Parliament of Her Majesty's Dominion of British West Florida.

Now, therefore, be it enacted by the Grace of Queen Elizabeth the Second's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the Commons of Her Majesty's Dominion of British West Florida, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same as follows:

Article One, Certain Penalties and Pains for Nonconformity Expressly Removed
That neither the Statute made in the three and twentieth year of the glorious reign of Queen Elizabeth the First, Entitled “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 Entitled “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 The aforesaid Act, nor that Branch or Clause of a Statute made in the first year of the Reign of the said Queen Entitled “An Act for Uniformity of Common Prayer and Service in the Church and Administration of the Sacraments”, Nor the Statute made in the third year of the Reign of King James the First of happy memory Entitled “An Act for the better discovering and repressing Popish Recusants”, Nor that other Statute made in the same year Entitled “An Act to Prevent and Avoid Dangers which may grow by Popish Recusants”, Nor any other Law or Statute of this Realm, Nor any Act made against any other Faith, Sect, Church, or Assembly for Worship Shall be construed to extend to any person or persons that shall take the Oath or make the Solemn Declaration mentioned in Article Six of this Act.

Article Two, Nonconforming Persons Exempted from Ecclesiastical Courts
And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That all and every person or persons that shall as aforesaid take the said Oath or make and subscribe the Declaration aforesaid as defined in Article Six of this Act, shall not be liable to any Pain, Penalties or Forfeitures mentioned in an Act made in the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First Entitled “An Act to retain the Queen's Majesty's Subjects in their due Obedience”, Nor in An Act made in the two and twentieth year of the Reign of King Charles the Second and in the tenth year after his most fortunate Restoration and the return of his subjects to their due obedience Entitled “An Act to prevent and suppresses seditious Conventicles” . Nor shall any of the said persons, or any other person or persons having duly sworn or solemnly affirmed as set forth in Article Six of this act be prosecuted in any Court Ecclesiastical or Temporal for or by reason of Nonconformity with the Church of England.

Article Three, Nonconforming Persons Released from Parochial Duties
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 Churchwarden, Overseer of the Poor, or any other Parochial Office and such person shall scruple to take upon him any of the said Offices in regard of the Oaths or any other Matter or 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 That the said Deputy be allowed and approved by such person or persons in such manner as should otherwise by Law have been allowed and approved.

Article Four, All Ministers who take the Oath to enjoy Equal Privileges
And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That every Minister, Teacher, or Preacher that is a Minister, Preacher, or Teacher of a Congregation or assembly that shall take the Oath herein required shall enjoy all the Privileges, Benefits and Advantages which any other dissenting or conforming Minister within or without the Church of England as aforesaid might have or enjoy by virtue of this Act. All charitable or religious assemblies, sects and denominations, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good citizens of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law; providing always that the liberty of conscience, hereby granted, shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this Dominion.

Article Five, Any Justice of the Peace may Accept the Oath or Declaration
And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid That every Justice of the Peace may at any time hereafter accept of any person that goes to any Meeting for the Exercise of Religion, that they may make and subscribe the Oath or Declaration described in Article Six of this Act.

Article Six, the Oath or Affirmation Required for these Liberties
I Full Name and Titles do sincerely promise and solemnly declare before God, these witnesses, and the World that I will be true and faithful to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second and her Heirs and Successors according to Law.

And I do solemnly Profess and Declare that I do from my heart abhor, detest, and renounce as impious and damnable, any thought that Officers, Lords, or Sovereigns excommunicated or deprived, by any Religious, Moral, or Philosophical Authority whatsoever, whithersoever located, may be Deposed or their temporal authority rejected by their Subjects or any other Persons.

I further Profess and Declare that I support the continued Establishment of the Anglican Church, the Protection of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Recognition of all other such Churches or Assemblies as Required by the Constitution of this Dominion or as may be Provided for by Law.

I further Profess and Declare that neither I, nor the Assembly to which I resort, teaches nor asserts in any manner that liberty of conscience extends to Acts which would be contrary to the Public Peace or Safety of this Realm and Dominion of Her Majesty the Queen.

I make this Profession and Declaration of my own free will, my conscience clear before God and the World.

Article Seven, Banning Disturbances within Chapels, Cathedrals, and Other Places of Worship or Charitable Assembly
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 next ensuing do and shall willingly and of purpose maliciously or contemptuously come into any Cathedral, Parish Church, Chapel or other Congregation or Assembly permitted by this Act and disquiet or disturb the same or misuse any Minister, Preacher or Teacher such person or persons upon proof thereof before any Justice of the 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 Session of Court and upon conviction of the said offence at the said Session shall suffer the pain and penalty of ten pounds to Her Majesty's Treasury, and of ten pounds to the Privy Purse for the use of Her Majesty's Governor-General, and of ten pounds above any restitution to the Congregation so disturbed.

Article Eight, Registration of Place of Worship
Provided always that no Congregation or Assembly for Religious Worship, or other Charitable Society and Gathering by this Act enabled, shall be permitted or allowed by this Act until the place of such Meeting shall be certified to the Justices of the Peace for the County City or Place in which such Meeting shall be held and registered in the said Baronial or Lord Lieutenant's Court respectively. 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 none greater Fee nor Reward taken than the Sum of six pence.

Article Nine, wherein the Act is Named
This Act Shall be known as “Her Majesty's Gracious Act of Toleration Towards Those Nonconforming to the Church of England”, or by the Short Title of “The Toleration Act”.

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