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DOMESTIC . Religious . UNITARIAN ASSOCIATION . Proceedings at a Meeting to consider the Propriety of forming an Association for protecting the Civil Rights of Unitarians . We are enabled this month to present our readers with an Account of the Proceedings of a Meeting of Unitarians , held
at the London Tavern , on the 13 th January , for the purpose of considering the propriety of forming an Association for the Protection of their Civil Rights . Such a Society has , we know , been long' anxiously desired by many Unitarians , and we trust that it will now receive their support as a measure which cannot fail to be productive of the most beneficial results .
John Christie , Esq . being called to the Chair , observed , that all present were acquainted with the object for which they were assembled , and that their friend Mr . Fox had been instrumental in convening them . He would , therefore , not enter at any length into the subject , but should request that gentleman to explain the circumstances out of which the present
meetinghad arisen . Mr .: Fox . —It would , no doubt , be perfectly understood , that , although his name only appeared , the meeting had not been convened merely at his suggestion . About three months ago , the Committee of the Unitarian Fund was applied to by several gentlemen who were desirous that an Association for the Protection of the Civil
Bights of Unitarians should be instituted , and who wished the Committee to co-operate with them . Some cases had arisen which seemed to render the measure expedient , and a general wish had been expressed in fa vow r of it from the country ; so much so , that it was probable , if it was
not begun in London , something would be attempted elsewhere to meet the general feeling . In consequence of the application made to them , therefore , the Fund appointed a sub-committee to meet and cooperate with the applicants ; and , after matura consideration , it was deemed
expedient to call a general meeting to consider the subject . In order to convene this meeting- , some line seemed . proper to l > e drawn to regulate the mode of summoning-. Public advertisements would only have drawn many persons together , some
from idle curiosity , and others , perhaps , to disturb the proceedings : the easiest and simplest way , therefore , was thought to ^ be , to taks the lists of the two known bodifcs of friends to Unitarianisjni , the Bqqk-Safety and the Fuml adding to them the names of
the officiating" ministers of . all congregations which occurred to the Committee ' s remembrance . The time chosen was thought most proper , as it would enable some country friends to attend . This was the course adopted , ; many errors might have , and , iio doubt , had arisen in issuing summonses 5 the lists were found very imperfect in some respects ; and some from misdirection had been returned from the Post-office : but it
was trusted that every one would give credit for such errors being involuntary . Many , it was feared , had been omitted whom it would ha , ve been highly desirable to summon , but he hoped any such omissions would be excused .
Mr . Aspjlanb said , the gentlemen who acted as a Committee to prepare the way for the meeting had done him the honour to request he would explain the object of the proposed Association , and propose the Rules intended to be submitted for
consideration . In bringing forward the subject , he wished it fully understood that the utility of such an Association would come fairly into discussion . The conveners of the meeting had but one object , one only desire , to secure themselves in the
possession of their Civil Rights ; and if it was clear that they were already sufficiently sec tired by other means , he should be the first to waive further proceedings . There was no novelty in instituting a Society for protecting the Civil Rights of Religious Bodies . Several such societies were in existence .
The body of Deputies of the Three Denominations was one , the oldest amongst Dissenters , and a most respectable association . The recently-formed society , called the Protestant Society , was another most useful institution , which arose from the opposition to Lord Si ^ month ' s bill , embracing chiefly members of Calvinistic
communions . The Quakers , it was well known , had their Committee of SufFeriags to watch over their Civil Rights , and the Wesleian Methodists had a committee for the like purpose . There was nothing new , therefore , in the proposal 3 it only remained to consider how far it was expedient to adopt it . It was known to all ,
that Unitarians were , at least , as much exposed to obloquy as any sect , and that it was but recently that they had been brought within the pale of the law . Till within a few years they h , ad been protected by po law , although they had been shielded , in « - j __ . _ - „ - _ ^_ — ^ —_^_ v _ vw ^^ ^^ mttm ^^ ¦ ^ ^^ iwri * ' *^ ^~ * m ^> TJ ^ ^^ 7
spite of the law , by public opinion . Tlie legislature had , however , liberaljy ex ^ iv ^ M its toleration by the repeal of tfoe excepting clause d » the Act of WilUani ajfcd iJJfaw * but since that time cases have aw # en , which it was well known had created doubts
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1819, page 48, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1768/page/48/