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Special Parliamentary Reception


8 January 2019

Tuesday 15 January 2019
 
How Britain led the world in developing freedom of religion
 
300th anniversary of the first Test Acts repeal on 11 January 1719
 
Barnabas Fund, working with Rt Hon Sir John Hayes CBE MP, have organised a special parliamentary reception to mark this historic event.
 
Please write to your MP asking them to attend the reception on Tuesday 15 January 2019 at 4.00 p.m. in the Thatcher room to mark the 300th anniversary of parliament’s first Test Act repeal and affirm their support for the UK’s heritage of religious freedom.
 
What were the Test Acts?
Test Acts, which began to be passed from the early 1660s, were laws that made eligibility for certain jobs, public offices or even studying at University conditional on an individual affirming a particular religion or set of beliefs. Individuals were subjected to a “test” to prove they agreed with the required beliefs.
 
January 2019 marks the 300th anniversary of the British parliament starting to repeal the Test Acts – by abolishing a law which excluded any non-Anglicans from being a school teacher. The final development came with the Oaths Act 1888 which allowed MPs to take a secular oath.
 
An important milestone for religious liberty in the West
The repeals were an enormously important, though often forgotten, milestone in the development of freedom of religion. Countries such as the USA (in 1787) and Australia (in 1901) wrote into their constitutions specific clauses designed to prevent any future government requiring people to hold particular beliefs.
 
Some countries still have “Test Acts”
With the repeal of the last UK Test Act in 1879, an important aspect of religious freedom was achieved, contributing significantly to the development of the religious freedoms enjoyed in many Western countries today. However, there are still countries in the world which have “Test Acts”, such as the Maldives where only Muslims are allowed to become citizens, or Brunei where only Muslims are permitted to be Members of Parliament.
 
To find how to contact your MP please click here.
 
If your MP tells you they intend to come please let us know: info@barnabasfund.org