300 years of state-sponsored discrimination

LONDON (Catholic Online) – More than 300 years of state-sponsored sectarian discrimination and bigotry against Catholics was challenged by an opposition party in England this week with a legislative motion calling for its end.

Liberal Democrat equality spokesperson Lorely Burt announced May 23 that the party has introduced in the House of Commons the “Discrimination Against Catholics” motion that takes aim sections in the Bill of Rights 1688, Act of Settlement 1700 and the Union with Scotland Act 1706 which prevent a “monarch from being a Catholic and the spouse of the monarch from being a Catholic.”
"There is a fundamental principle of discrimination here,” said Burt, reported Independent Catholic News. “It is unacceptable that in 2007 we still have ridiculous laws on our statute books that, for example, prevent a Catholic from marrying the heir to the throne.”

The text of the Early Day Motion 1532 reads as follows: “That this house believes that nobody should be subject to unfair discrimination on grounds including, but not limited to race, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, gender identity or religion; notes that the laws of this country continue to discriminate against Catholics in a completely unjustifiable manner; resolves to remove the bar on a Catholic marrying the heir to the throne; and further resolves to allow a Catholic diocese to be given the same name as an Anglican diocese and calls on the government to include such measures in its forthcoming Single Equality Bill. “Currently the Bill of Rights 1688, Act of Settlement 1700 and the Union with Scotland Act 1706 prevent the monarch from being a Catholic and the spouse of the monarch from being a Catholic. These laws concerning Catholics have not been repealed. The Roman Catholic Relief Act (1926) ended punishment for naming a Catholic diocese that same as an Anglican diocese, but doing so still remains technically illegal.” Last year, a Scottish cardinal launched an attack on the 300-year-old Act of Settlement, decrying “state-sponsored sectarian discrimination” which leaves a blight on the cultural landscape.

Change in the Act of Settlement would have to be ratified by 15 parliaments of the British Commonwealth and would require amendments to at least eight separate acts stretching as far back as 1688, and including the Union with Scotland Act of 1706.
Opponents of repeal believe that repeal could lead to a Catholic assuming the throne, and could lead to the disestablishment of the Church of England as the state religion, as the English monarch must swear to defend the faith and be a member of the Anglican Communion.

Earlier in 2006, Blair rejected calls for repeal.

"Talking about Prince William, he can marry by law a Hindu, a Buddhist, anyone, but not a Roman Catholic,” he said. "That seems to me anomalous and I think it should go."


Reviewing the Act of Settlement of 1701
9 April 2008
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says he is prepared to consider repealing those sections of the Act of Settlement of 1701 that prevent Catholics from ascending the throne or marrying into the Royal Family. Anglican theologian Theo Hobson and Conservative Party politician Adrian Hilton debate the issue.

The act of settlement, 1701
And it was thereby further enacted, that all and every person and persons that then were, or afterwards should be reconciled to, or shall hold communion with the see or Church of Rome, or should profess the popish religion, or marry a papist, should be excluded, and are by that Act made for ever incapable to inherit, possess, or enjoy the Crown and government of this realm, and Ireland, and the dominions thereunto belonging, or any part of the same,

Act of Settlement, 1701 [Full Text]

Stephen Crittenden : Adrian, just go back and tell me about your central argument, which is that a Catholic royal family would destroy the liberties of England.

Adrian Hilton: No, that’s how it was perceived in back in the 17th and 18th century. It is no longer the case. But the tradition and culture that has grown up in England now fully embraces a central role for the Church of England. I actually think Roman Catholics should support the Act of Settlement, and if you like bear a little anti-Catholicism as the lesser evil because the Act of Settlement presently keeps Christianity at the centre of our parliamentary proceedings. It’s if you like, a bulwark against further evils. And for that reason alone, the Roman Catholics should support the Act. abc.net.au/rn/religionreport/stories/2008/2211786.htm

Just now?
320 years?

Considering you have a signature in Gaelic there I’m surprised you are not aware of the length of time this has been on the books - a direct outhrow of William’s little fracas with James II and that is of course a defining moment in Irish and British history.

I just assumed it had been at least modified sometime in the '90’s when it seemed the whole world was changing.

Nope and despite the move by some to do so now it is unlikely to be overturned. It is a relic of a time when there was serious bigotry and prejudice enshrined in law in the UK towards Catholics. For most Catholics it is not of major import, as the British royal family tends to marry among an elite class distant from people of any major religion here. There was a period when Prince Charles was much younger and he was involved with a Catholic royal from abroad that people started to agitate about this before, both for changing it and retaining it.

It’s the last remnant of foolish laws that disallowed Catholics from inherting or serving as officers in the army or been members of parliament etc. Most of the rest have been gone for getting on close to 150 years or so. As this one doesn’t really impact on peoples daily life though on a regular basis it’s hung around in the shadows.

It kind of brings to mind some of the “sundown laws” in my area that are just getting taken off the books now having been unenforced and totally forgotten for decades. Someone sits down to read an entire city or county charter and does a little double-take and it requires a big process to get rid of a law we hadn’t known we had and didn’t want in the first place.

I think there’s some serious shortsightedness going on on this thread. In America there is no state church. That’s fine. In England there is (and in Scotland, but it’s a different one!). In my book that’s fine too. You are applying the rules of one society to another, and I don’t think that’s fair. I see no precept of justice or natural law that is violated by the rule in question. (I would like to see it changed, because I would like to see the Church of England united to Rome. But my views have nothing to do with an opposition to such rules in general.)


1702 - In Maryland, the Anglican Church is established as the official church, financially supported by taxation imposed on all free men, male servants and slaves.

1706 - South Carolina establishes the Anglican Church as its official church

1649 The Religious Toleration Law of 1649 establishing toleration for all religions in early Maryland

1692 Maryland’s famous Religious Toleration Act officially ended, and the Maryland Assembly established the so-called Church of England as the official State religion

Papal States
also called Republic of Saint Peter or Church States , Italian Stati Pontifici or Stati della Chiesa territories of central Italy over which the pope had sovereignty from 756 to 1870. Included were the modern Italian regions of Lazio (Latium), Umbria, and Marche and part of Emilia-Romagna, though the extent of the territory, along with the degree of papal control, varied over the centuries

Lets set everybody back to 1701?

For me it’s an irrelevance and an outdated law but not one that directly affects me as my head of state is Uachtarán na hÉireann (The Irish President) and there are now laws regarding what religion they may be and we’ve had several Protestant ones as well as Catholic ones.

The law is outdated and should be removed in my opinion but it is of minor importance ot me as it is for the British to decide on their own laws ultimately.

Considering the success of royal marriages in England, it’s probably a blessing. But then you have sad characters like the new wife of the Queen’s grandson, Peter, who gave up her Catholic faith to marry him.

Islamic party forms in Finland
Helsinki, Sep. 12, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Europe’s first Islamic political party has formed in Finland.

The Finnish Islamic Party plans to collect 5,000 signatures in order to qualify for official registration by the end of the year. Counting on support from the 55,000 Muslims living in Finland, the party anticipates some success in next year’s municipal elections as well as in the 2011 parliamentary elections. Party spokesman Abdullah Tammi acknowledged to reporters that to date the party has enrolled only a few dozen members.

The Finnish Islamic Party platform supports a ban on alcohol sales, the option for Muslim children to be excused from school music classes and outings to swimming pools, legal status for ritual animal killing and male circumcision, and the eventual introduction of shari’a law in Finland. Tammi added that the purpose of Sharia law was to prevent crime.

GLOBAL INSECURITY 40% of young UK Muslims want sharia law Over a third say conversion from Islam should be ‘punished by death’ Forty percent of Muslims between aged 16 to 24 said they would prefer to live under sharia law in the UK, compared to only 17 percent of those over 55. Thirty-six percent of the younger group said a Muslim who converted to another religion should be “punished by death,” while only 19 percent of the older group agreed. Thirteen percent of young Muslims surveyed said they “admired” organizations such as al-Qaida and others who were prepared to “fight the West.” The newspaper says there was also strong support for wearing the veil in public, 74 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds compared with only 28 percent of over-55s, and Islamic schools, 19 percent of over-55s, increasing to 37 percent among 16-to-24-year-olds worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54018

Anglican Archbishop Supports Sharia Law in U.K.
February 7 2008
The Archbishop of Canterbury
Rowan Williams, the most senior figure in the Church of England, said that giving Islamic law official status in the UK would help achieve social cohesion because some Muslims did not relate to the British legal system.

Earlier, in a BBC interview, he was more succinct. He said it was a “matter of fact” that sharia law was already being practised in Britain.


Have you read the Archbishop’s speech?

Your confidence that the Guardian gets religious matters correct would be touching if it were not almost certainly shaped by prejudice against Anglicans. If the Guardian said the Pope said something nutty, would you put such childlike faith in their word?


In the interests of fairness - here’s a link to the Archbishops speech so people can read it:-


Sharia law in UK is 'unavoidable’
Updated: full text of lecture now available

The BBC reports:

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in the UK is “unavoidable”.

“There’s a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law, as we already do with some other aspects of religious law.”

[unless your Catholic]

Your style of communication is not very clear. It is easier to talk to people when they write coherent paragraphs in their own words rather than stringing links together.

I do not believe that clocks are morally relevant implements. In other words, I do not believe in the myth of inevitable linear progress. There are some ways in which it would be very bad to be set back to 1701–others in which it might not be.

But in this case we are obviously not talking about going back to 1701. I do not want to see a state church established in North America. I have been negligent in filling out the paperwork required for American citizenship in part because I am so out of sympathy with the basic principles of the Republic in which I reside that I do not want the responsibility of taking part in the government of that Republic (and of course all citizens are supposed to be taking part in governing the United States, if only through voting for elected officials). But I certainly think there are many advantages to the separation of church and state as it exists in America. There are also disadvantages. The fact is that in England there has been and continues to be a state Church (there is one in Scotland as well, though it’s a somewhat different one, which makes things complicated!). This is not “setting things back.” It’s the present reality. It is quite reasonable to require the monarch to be a member of the state Church. As I said, things are complicated because the monarch is a member of the Church of Scotland as well, which has somewhat different doctrine and polity. But membership in the Roman Communion (or one of the Eastern Churches) would be of a different order of difficulty, given the exclusive claims made by your Communion and the Communions of the East. A Catholic monarch could not be a member of either the Church of England or the Church of Scotland.

I would love to see the Church of England (and the Church of Scotland, but that’s less likely) united to Rome. But until that time it would be inappropriate for the monarch to belong to your Communion.


I repeat: have you read the lecture? I find it hard to believe that you have, given your final parenthetical remark. The Archbishop explicitly mentioned Catholicism as well as Islam. The Guardian focused on what he said about Islam because it is more provocative in the current climate. But his point was a general one about the need for governments to respect religious communities and not simply the religious convictions of individuals.

If you have not read the speech, you need to stop making claims about what is in it.


Map of the Papal States; the reddish area was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1860,

Give us back The Papal States

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