Churchgoers Following The World’s Ridiculous Extremes

The world goes from one ridiculous unbiblical extreme to another. For example, in the early 1800’s in Australia, government legislation decreed the death penalty for numerous less serious offences than murder. Up until 1832, offenders were executed in Australia for stealing from a dwelling money or goods to the value of 5 pound, horse stealing, cattle stealing, sheep stealing or killing any of these animals owned by others and up to 1837 for the riotous destruction of buildings and machinery, escaping from lawful custody more than once and smuggling while armed. [1]

Such barbaric practices reflected British laws in the 1700’s and 1800’s. Many of the laws came into effect in the years of Queen Anne and then George 1 in the early 1700’s.

In his “A History of English Criminal Law and its Administration from 1750”, [2] Leon Radzinowicz records that the Anglican minister Dr William Paley (1743-1805) in his many years of college lectures at Cambridge University and in his book “Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy” (1785) agreed that the death penalty should be applied to those who steal cloth, sheep or horses or commit similar offences. Paley argued that if the death penalty was applied to less serious crimes than murder, this would scare many potential criminals from committing crime.

Paley’s abovementioned book was used as a textbook at Cambridge University, went through fifteen editions in his lifetime and influenced many of the Anglican ministers who trained at Cambridge University Professor T. Birks wrote in 1874 that Paley’s teachings strongly influenced “a very large number both of the clergy and educated (churchgoing) laity of England” for many years. [3] These compromising churchgoers did not follow Biblical standards about capital punishment. The Bible nowhere sanctions using the death penalty for any stealing offences.

Today many liberal humanistic churchgoers have gone to the opposite extreme by supporting misguided judges who give ridiculously small prison sentences for murderers.




[1] T.A. Coghlan, “The Wealth and Progress of N.S.W. 1900-01”, Government Printer, Sydney, 1902, page 244.

[2] Leon Radzinowicz, “A History of English Criminal Law and its Administration from 1750”, Stevens and Sons, London, 1948, Chapter 8.

[3] Ibid, page 257, footnote 89.



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