Spiritualists' National Union
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The Spiritualists' National Union (SNU) is a Spiritualist organisation, founded in the United Kingdom in 1901, and is one of the largest spiritualist groups in the world. Its motto is Light, Nature, Truth.
Over its history, it has organised test cases regarding the legal status of spiritualist mediums, with regard to such matters as exemption from national service. In legal terms, spiritualist mediums were considered to violate such laws as the Vagrancy Act 1824, which outlawed fortune telling, and the Witchcraft Act 1735. The Union campaigned against these laws for many years. They were eventually repealed by the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951, which legalised the practice of mediums unless it was shown that they were profiting financially from a fraudulent service.
In more recent time it found itself fighting the biggest legal battle in its history in the High Court Chancery Division in 2002 (July 15 and 16, Liverpool) with Kevin West, who was at the time, President of Waterloo Spiritualist Church in Liverpool, England. Although a complicated case, its particulars dealt with who had the right to conduct services of religious worship and other activities in an affiliated church as well as exclusive possession of the property, land and assets. The Church President's defence argued that because the SNU only held the deeds on beneficial trust for the members of Waterloo Spiritualist Church, and that those same members were the true purchasers and owners of the church building, the SNU as sole trustee could not direct the affairs of the church committee.
Kevin West had written and published an article in both the church magazine and on the church website called 2B Or Not 2B. The SNU used its extensive bye laws to remove Mr West as President stating, (Letter 6) "Arising from its consideration of the enquiry report into matters in relation to Waterloo Church the National Executive Committee resolved that [Mr West] be suspended from membership of the [Waterloo Spiritualist] Church with immediate effect on the grounds of conduct prejudicial to the ideals of Spiritualism". The SNU won the case but was not joined in the action by the Charity Commission for England & Wales. The Charity Commission joined Kevin West as a second defendant against the SNU.
True copies of legal papers can be found at the following URLs:
Also in more recent times, the Union has organised educational courses in spiritualism-related subjects, and has participated in scientific research into mediumship.
Mission Statement and Goals In 2000 the SNU adopted the following mission statement:
To Promote the Religion and Religious Philosophy of Spiritualism as based upon The Seven Principles
It also re-defined its goals as:
- To procure perfect religious equality
- To assist in the formation of new Societies and Churches
- To strengthen the fraternal relations between Spiritualists
- To increase all classes of membership
- To print, publish and distribute literature
- To promote mission work
- To do all such lawful things as are for the advancement of Spiritualism
In the same year it began work on forming what is now called the Philosophy & Ethics Committee. It was created following a series of complaints from members about the ethics of certain SNU Trust Investments. The issue was originally highlighted by an internet article about the use of what are termed "surplus funds".
The SNU was founded on 18 October 1901 as the Association of the Spiritualists' National Union Ltd. In 1916, it campaigned to get government recognition for the religion of spiritualism.
The Seven Principles
The Philosophy of SNU Spiritualism is based upon seven principles. The Principles are not intended to be binding rules or the basis of a dogma but to provide a moral and ethical framework upon which people can base their lives.
1. The Fatherhood of God. The core belief of the religious philosophy of Spiritualism is the acceptance of a Divine Energy. This force, whatever name given to it, has created all there is and sustains all its creation. The ‘Spirit of God’ exists within and around everything. It is within all of us: we are all children of God so are part of one family. We acknowledge God as our Father.
2. The Brotherhood of Man. We are all part of the universal creative force and therefore one family in God. The operation of true Brotherhood throughout the word would create betterment to the lives of many, bringing equality, security and peace. Spiritualists try to understand the needs of others and help all people regardless of race, colour or creed
3. The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels. Communion with divine energy is a natural and essential part of existence. Communication between Spirit itself and its creations is an inbuilt ability. Spiritualists use this ability for communication directly, or via a medium, between those in the spirit world and ourselves. This is not supernatural; it is a normal activity. The main purpose of communication with the spirit world is to provide the evidence which supports our philosophy. The Ministry of Angels brings enhanced wisdom to enlighten the individual, society and the world in which we live. This includes those who are dedicated to the welfare and service of mankind bringing inspiration guidance and healing.
4. The Continuous Existence of the human soul. Spirit is part of the ‘Creative Force’ and thus indestructible. Energy cannot be destroyed; it can only change its form. After death the physical body is left behind whilst the soul continues to exist in a different dimension that we call the spirit world. The individual personality continues unchanged by the event we call ‘death’.
5. Personal Responsibility. In His wisdom, God has given us enormous potential; we can use that potential to improve our own lives and the lives of others. We have the ability to make decisions throughout our lives as we see fit. What each of us makes of our life is our Personal Responsibility no one can replace or override that right. No other person or influence can put right our wrongdoings.
6. Compensation and Retribution hereafter for all the good and evil deeds done on earth. This Principle expresses the natural law of ‘cause and effect’. This law operates now, on earth, as well as in the spirit world. As we move through life making choices, the outcome of those choices affects our soul growth. When we leave this earthly life there will be no divine judgement. We will have the opportunity to reassess, take stock and decide what might have been done differently.
7. Eternal Progress open to every human soul. Eternity does not begin at death; Progress is open to all now! Any action, or intent to change, to promote soul growth and progression, creates a positive reaction. There will always be the opportunity to develop and move forward, no one is ever deprived of the all embracing love of God.
These principles were the summary of faith of Emma Hardinge Britten, a pioneer for the UK's Spiritualist Movement and were adopted by the SNU. Emma was a medium and gifted orator and it was during her many speeches in trance state, that 'spirit communicators' gave various statements of faith. This resulted in the creation of the Seven Principles of Modern Spiritualism in the UK. Many believe that the influence of the 'spirit' of Socialist Robert Owen was paramount in this process.
- 1970 - 1993 Gordon Higginson
- 1993 - 1996 Minister Eric L. Hatton
- 1996 - 2000 Minister Judith J. Seaman
- 2000 - 2010 Minister Duncan P. Gascoyne
- 2010 - to date Mr David R. Bruton OSNU
- Hon. Presidents-in-Spirit: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Gordon Higginson
- Hon. President: Minister Eric Hatton
- Hon. Vice-President: Minister T. Horton, Minister D. Hudson
- "High Court of Justice. King's Bench Division. Spiritualists and Military Service. Oaten vs. Anty". The Times: pp. 6. April 8, 1919.
- "News in Brief". The Times: pp. 13. July 5, 1927.
- "Spiritualists and the Law: Mr Morrison's Statement". The Times: pp. 2. December 16, 1943.
- "Spiritualists and the Witchcraft Act". The Times: pp. 2. July 20, 1946.
- "News in Advertisements". The Times: pp. 9. April 17, 1919.