Charles Bradlaugh was elected five times but he still refused to become a member of the parliament!
In 1879, a man was elected to the parliament of England. His name was Charles Bradlaugh and at that time only the people in his area knew him. According to the tradition followed in the parliament, Bradlaugh was asked to take the oath of allegiance which is sworn to God. But Bradlaugh was one of the firmest and famous atheists of that time. He refused to swear to God and asked to be allowed to make an affirmation citing the Oaths citing the Evidence Amendment Acts.
Bradlaugh was ready to swear to the law and to the constitution but not to god and that is why he asked to take an affirmation instead of an oath of allegiance to God. A Select Committee was appointed to look into this matter and answer the question whether Bradlaugh should be allowed to simply affirm to the law instead of taking an oath. This committee answered in denial and he was asked to take oath on a decided day. In response, he wrote an open letter to the ‘The Times’ explaining his stand which was taken as a direct attack by the others in the House of Commons.
On the decided day, certain parliamentarians objected to him taking the oath. So a Second Select Committee was set up by the Prime Minister but it made no difference. Bradlaugh was also imprisoned at the Big Ben for his refusal.
In 1881, Bradlaugh was elected again. Once again he refused to hold the Bible in the hand and take an oath and once again he was ousted from the parliament. After that in 1882, 1884 and 1885 the history repeated and Bradlaugh was again ousted from the parliament. His point was simple, that if he was ready to affirm to the law then why was he compelled to take an oath?
In 1886, he was finally allowed to affirm to the law instead of taking an oath of allegiance sworn to God. Two years after he was elected, he got an Act passed that allowed the ones elected and the ones in the trials at court to not swear to God and simply affirm to the law, as per their choice.
It takes courage to stand by what you believe in at the risk of losing everything. Bradlaugh proved that if you have a firm mind and believe in yourself, you can change even the most rigid laws and rules.
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