Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

8 articles on this Page


[No title]






RADICALISM, DISSENT, AND DISENDOW- MENT. ] Sir,—Speaking of it as an institution, Non- conformists assert that the Church of England 1 is public property, and accordingly can be dealt ] with as to money value by the public. They ] are further of opinion that their own chapels, as public places of worship, are quite distinct J from such view as to being public property, that, indeed, all such chapels are private, 1 and, therefore, must not, and cannot be, dealt 1 with in the same manner as the churches belonging to the Church of England. This, of course, is applied by Nonconformists 1 generally (there are honourable exceptions < among them) to endowments, funds, and moneys held by the Church of England as a public institution distinct from those who ] have thought well to leave it-or the Non* conformists. 'Devise not evil against thy neighbour, seeing that he dwelleth securely by tbee: would seem very appropriate in such a case for those who dissented from the Church of England. Having so left it of their own tree will, why seek its disestablishment and disendowment, for are not Nonconformists in the eyes of all publicly established and en- dowed also ? I am of opinion that a Nonconformist chapel is as much a place for public worship as its neighbour church of the Church of Eng- land also that such chapel is not the property of any one individual, seeing that its erection has been brought about by funds obtained indiscriminately from among the community at large, in which are found mem- bers of the Church of England. And, accord- ingly, uch chapels have not been hitherto, and are not even now, built solely from funds or money of Nonconformists. Besides this, it is a fact that innumerable instances are forth- coming to shew that the very land upon which Nonconformist chapels have been built has been the gift of a member of the Church of England. Further, many of those Dissenters who are so fond of speaking unkindly and unfavourably as to money matters and endowments possessed by the Church of England must not overlook the startling fact, which I challenge them to deny, that they (the Nonconformists who so much dislike endowments when in the hands of the Church of England), have been themselves endowed, and by the State, too, since the year 1690, to an amount approaching closely upon three millions of money. I maintain also that such Nonconformist chapels are further endowed, and by that I mean the money value of the erection in brick and mortar. And if in no other manner the building is of itself tangible proof of endow- ment according to its assessed value, represent- ing in its erection moneys contributed and obtained indiscriminately from among the public community. Therefore it is impossible, seeing the public character of both church and chapel, to discriminate, as to confiscation and distribution of the property of the one, while leaving the other scathless and entirely free and intact-to say nothing of the difficulty there would be in handing back to the givers their respective offerings and donations. To treat the matter differently would be nothing if not robbery. The Churches of England and Nonconformist chapels are clearly buildings set apart for the use of all who choose to avail themselves of the services, which in both instances-Church and chapel-are distinctly public, and for the use of the public without let or hindrance.' There- fore, as to disendowment, it is nothing if not confiscation or robbery, and cannot be applied in any one-sided way-both Church and chapel must stand or fall together. Both are public, and for the use of the public. Then the same rule of disendowment will apply to both or not at all. If the principle of disendowment be admitted, i.e., disbursement of funds belonging to a public institution, in what sense may funds also belonging to the public in a bank or any other corporation be exempt ? And why should not the same principle of disendowment, or dis- bursement, equally apply ? Who is to be the judge, and where is the line to be drawn ? Nonconformists may say that the Church possesses funds which they do not. I take it that Nonconformists form as much a part of the Church, being Christians, as do members of the Church of England themselves, and as a community are not satisfied that the endowments of the Church of England should be held by that particular Church. In such an event, and the fact of equality (as members of the Christian community), being admitted, by what pretext can Nonconformists claim special, separate, and isolated exemption under a confiscatory Bill having for its object the plunder of their neighbour Church only as a part and to be considered totally and entirely distinct from them- selves. It is impossible, and would be robbery pure and simple under an admission of equality as members of Christ's Church to legislate in any one-sided manner, such as Nonconformists desire. They will not see that while we willingly grant them equality as members of the community meeting publicly for the worship of the one recognised God, yet deny their right, and their claim to be separately dealt with, when it comes to the hard and fast logic of pounds, shillings, and pence. I take it that great objection in Wales has been made to payment of tithe, but only in comparatively recent years. The principal reason given was the dislike of the payee, farmer, or holder of the land that such payment or money should be made to a clergyman repre- senting a religious denomination in whose minis- trations were unsought or not desired by such payee, who would, I presume in numerous instances, be a Nonconformist. Therefore, what amazes me is the apparent want of true sincerity and sterling honesty on the part of any individual, who while in the first place consenting and agreeing to take a farm holding, or land, having such tithe charge upon it, should afterwards, years it may be, turn round and seek to avoid such payment. Would not such individual enter into and upon an agreement of the kind with his eyes fully open ? I maintain that he would. Then why turn round and seek shelter in non-carrying out its terms ? Is that what Nonconformists would have people generally to believe as being a true definition of honest practice? Non- conformity having, as already named, thought well to separate itself from the Mother Church. It would now appear as if the degradation of such parent in this grand old historic Church of England were sought and gloried in, that a scramble if possible might follow for loaves and fishes which Dissenters are unable otherwise to obtain. Truly the grapes are sour. And what a nice example such Dissenters place before mankind in the carrying out of the divine command expressed in the New Testament, viz.: to avoid envyings, strifes, bitterness, jealousies, heartburnings, &c. I assure you I many times marvel as to the authority for the above animosity shewn by many Nonconformists towards the Church of England. The Divine Saviour certainly left no such command, but the great reverse. Will Dissenters and Repudiators of tithe deny this ? Chester, Sept., 1897. A. CESTBIAN.