Download A Perfect Freedom: Religious Liberty in Pennsylvania by William J. Frost PDF

By William J. Frost

Using a large choice of sources--laws, complaints, church files, sermons, political tracts, diaries, newspapers, and govt records--Frost strains the advance of non secular freedom in Pennsylvania from the founding of the colony as much as global warfare II.

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Extra resources for A Perfect Freedom: Religious Liberty in Pennsylvania

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39 Keith and McComb were convicted andfined«£5, which they do not appear to have paid; Bradford's jury, in spite of some attempts at coercion, could reach no verdict. Still, the government kept the press until Governor Benjamin Fletcher had it returned. Keith soon returned to England and Bradford moved to New York. The Crown's appointment of Fletcher as governor in 1692 ended any further moves against the Keithians by magistrates. Friends in England rebuked Pennsylvania Quakers for their heavy-handed actions in civil court against religious opponents.

The Quaker position was that courts could and should function without oaths. No Friend should be forced to take an oath, and, equally important, no Quaker justice should be required to tender an oath. Yet Quakers, because they established the colony and were the most numerous religious group, had the right to serve on juries and to be justices. Because county courts operated with a minimum quota of three judges and most magis- 24 A PERFECT FREEDOM trates were Friends, particularly in Chester and Bucks counties, the Anglicans felt that justice could not be achieved because criminals could escape testifying under oath.

67 The significance of the affair for religious liberty is this: in 1730— 1 the assembly again took up the issue of the property rights of churches. Though the bill did not esentially change the law of 1714, this time it passed in Pennsylvania and England. 68 THE CREATION OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN PENNSYLVANIA 27 If all churches were legally equal, were clergymen subject to the same jurisdiction as other citizens? The medieval concept of benefit of clergy, which had long lost its clerical content, was taken over from English law and incorporated in the 1718 criminal code.

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