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Published by jack elliot

What is religious dissent?

Modern dissent dates from the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, and is essentially a consequence of the 1662 Act of Uniformity. The Restoration political settlement was founded on an exclusive episcopalian Church of England.


The Act of Uniformity required all those in holy orders, every minister, teacher, lecturer or university fellow, to choose between submission to Anglican authority or the loss of their livelihoods. Before St Bartholomew’s Day (24 August) 1662, they had to declare their ‘unfeigned assent and consent’ to everything in the newly revised Book of Common Prayer, including ceremonies such as kneeling to receive communion and the use of the sign of the cross for baptisms.

Clergy were required to have been ordained by a bishop.


Although the majority accepted these and other terms and conformed to the Church of England, a significant minority refused to do so.


Nearly a thousand (perhaps a sixth of the total) gave up their livings, and in all just over two thousand clergymen and teachers were displaced or silenced in England and Wales between 1660 and 1662, creating what became a permanent division in the religious life of the country. 


Crucially they had considerable lay support.


Most were moderate Puritans or Presbyterians. Baptists, Quakers,

and the other separatists were already worshipping outside the national church.

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