A duty of free enquiry

“A duty of free enquiry”

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The charismatic William Johnson Fox, Minister of Parliament Court Chapel and South Place Chapel (forerunners of Conway Hall Ethical Society) addressed his radical congregation on 27 March 1842:

I believe in the duty of free enquiry, and in the right of religious liberty. Such was the confession of faith on which I became minister of this congregation in the year 1817, [and] this declaration was publicly recognised as the basis of our union.

The commitment of this pioneering congregation to liberty and self expression can also be seen in the rules of the Chapel’s friendly conferences. All members of the Chapel were encouraged to participate in the weekly conferences as these handwritten rules from around 1815 show:

Image © Conway Hall Ethical Society

Humanist Library and Archives reference: SPES/5/2/1 (1)

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