Legal Thought Of The Day, No. 2

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Legal Thought of the Day, No. 2
Current mood: exanimate
Category: News and Politics

An Act for the punishment of divers Capital and other Felonies.

§1. BE it enacted by the Governour and Council and House of Representatives in General Court Assembled, That if any man or woman shall lie with any beast or brute creature, by carnal copulation, such person shall be put to death; and the beast shall be slain and buried.(1)

§2. That if any man shall lie with mankind, as he lieth with womankind, both of them have committed an abomination, they both shall be put to death; (1) except it shall appear that one of the parties was forced, or under fifteen years of age; in which case the party forced, or under the age aforesaid, shall not be liable to suffer the said punishment.(2)

. . .

§7. That if any person within this state, shall presume wilfully to blaspheme the name of God the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, either by denying, cursing, or reproaching the true God or his government of the world; every person so offending shall be punished by whipping on the naked body not exceeding forty stripes, and sitting in the pillory for one hour; and may also be bound to his good behavior, at the discretion of the superior court who shall have cognizance of the offense.(6)

§8. And be it further enacted, That if any person within this state, having been educated in or having made profession of the christian religion, shall by writing, printing, teaching, or advised speaking, deny the being of a God; or any one of the persons of the Holy Trinity to be God; or shall assert and maintain that there are more Gods than one; or shall deny the christian religion to be true, or the holy scriptures of the old and new-testament to be of divine authority, and be thereof lawfully convicted before any of the superior courts of this state, shall for the first offence, be incapable to have or enjoy any offices or employments, ecclesiastical, civil or military, or any part of them, or profit by them: And the offices, places and employments enjoyed by such persons at their conviction, shall be void.(7)

§9. And such person being a second time convicted of any of the aforesaid crimes, shall be disabled to sue, prosecute, plead, or maintain action in law or equity; or be guardian of any child, or executor of any will, or adminstrator of any estate.(7)
Provided nevertheless, That no person shall be prosecuted by virtue of this act, for words spoken contrary to this paragraph thereof, unless information thereof be given within six months after the offense was committed.(7) . . . .

(1) These were among the “capital laws” established by the general court on the 1st of December, 1642. They were also included in the first penal codes of Massachusetts and New-Plymouth. The following texts of scripture were cited: to §1. Lev. xx. 15, 16; to §2. Lev xx. 13 . . .; which were first left out of the statute-book at the revision in 1750.

(2)The first clause of this exception was added at the revision in 1672; and the last, at that in 1750.

. . .

(6) Blasphemy, from the establishment of the “capital laws,” in 1642, till the revision in 1784, was punishable with death. The original section, which remained unaltered till the period last mentioned was as follows: “If any person within this colony shall blaspheme the name of God the Father, Son, or Holy-Ghost, with direct, presumptuous, or high-handed blasphemy, or shall curse in the like manner, he shall be put to death. Lev. xxiv. 15, 16.”

(7) These sections first appeared in the statute-book revised and printed in 1750. We have searched in vain for an earlier date.

~ACTS AND LAWS Passed by the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the State of CONNECTICUT, The Public Statute Laws of the State of Connecticut, Book I (1808).

All italics, capitalization and footnotes in original. The underlining of “Connecticut” and “1808” have been suppled.

More info:

10:53 PM – 2 Comments – 2 Kudos – Add CommentEditRemove

wow. First of all, HARSH!! super super crappy laws by mean people. Exceot the one about no animal sex, but even that it kinda mean too. Why kill the animal? It was probably totally forced.
second of all… wow, a Zappa album i haven;t been subjected to. i mean, er, haven;t heard. Heh heh.

Posted by The Dog & Pony Show on Tuesday, November 06, 2007 at 11:59 PM
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Welcome to the New World.

Posted by Tim on Wednesday, November 07, 2007 at 1:41 PM
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One Response to Legal Thought Of The Day, No. 2

  1. […] Published September 15, 2008 Legal History of Atheism Ever since I posted Legal thought of the Day, No. 2, regarding Connecticut’s early-nineteenth-century  blasphemy and apostasy laws, I’ve […]

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