*** DEBUG END ***

Oaths — in magistrates’ courts and the C of E

08 November 2013


From Mr Andrew Melling JP

Sir, - Many magistrates agree that the time has come to replace the religious oath (Letters, 1 November). The motion brought to the annual general meeting of our Association in Cardiff attracted some media attention, even talk of demonstrations, but did not go far enough.

My amendment to simplify the proposal was approved by a large majority, and the wording finally put to the vote was "I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and I understand that if I don't I will be committing an offence for which I will be punished and may be sent to prison."

Contributions to the debate included reference to multi-faith groupings who wanted to keep the oath, and members who were active church members who wanted to see it go.

In court last week, a Christian witness was asked by the legal adviser (looking for the right book) whether he was Roman Catholic. I have never understood that particular distinction in this context, nor the benefit of having in every courtroom a library of religious texts that are there not to be read or even opened.

The motion was defeated, but not by a large majority. If there is another opportunity, perhaps it will be more favoured. Or perhaps, since it is not magistrates who make the rules, it will be picked up elsewhere.

39 Salisbury Road
Bexley, Kent DA5 3QE

From Canon John Goodchild

Sir, - You report(News, 1 November) that the steering committee on women bishops says that the oath does not mean agreeing to obey every episcopal instruction.

I would hope that those ignoring their bishop would have the grace to give reverently a reasoned defence for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3.15-16) rather than simply cite "theological conviction" like the Taliban.

39 St Michaels Road
Liverpool L17 7AN

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events


Church Times/RSCM: 

Intercultural Church for a Multicultural World

28 May 2024

A Church Times/Church House Publishing webinar

Tickets are FREE


Church Times/Modern Church:

A Political Faith?

Monday 3 June 2024

This panel will explore where Christians have come to in terms of political power and ask, where should we go next?

Online tickets available


Church Times/Modern Church:

Participating in Democracy

Monday 10 June 2024

This panel will explore the power of voting, and power beyond voting.

Online tickets available


Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Church Times/Canterbury Press:

Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

Early bird tickets available



The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)