Since 2008 members, mediums and affiliated centres to the ‘SNU’ have been ordered by their organisation, that promotes itself as a company that represents the religion of Spiritualism in its articles and memorandum, to issue disclaimers. These to state: ‘for entertainment purposes only’ or as ‘an experiment- without guarantee of result’.
This sorry situation has been disputed and argued against publicly ever since by Reverend Lyn Gibb de Swarte and the New Christian Spiritualists’ Society. The SNU have now withdrawn those erroneous orders 5 years later after ‘taking advice’!
When the European Directive came into force in 2008 under the new Department for Business Regulatory Reform and the government were to repeal the once upon a time hard-fought for Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951, the founder of this Society as a lone voice argued that it should be retained.
The Spiritualists’ National Union whose executive members had been in the forefront of getting the legislation passed originally that was to prove so beneficial to Spiritualism and its exponents, was her unexpected protagonist.
Reverend Lyn wrote to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as the monarch and Head of the Church of England, His Royal Highness Prince Charles and His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, who all graciously replied by post. The reply from HRH Prince Charles was ‘Private and Personal’…
However, the FMA was repealed in a blanket move among many and various others.
I still maintain that this government was in error. Blame cannot be apportioned solely to the government though. They may well be forgiven for assuming that psychic and mediumistic practices were part of a trade or business! After all there was a show biz element with mediums presenting themselves in theatrical venues receiving substantial remuneration and on television programmes devoted to relaying messages from the ‘dead’ – and then the proliferating ‘psychic phone lines’ charging astronomical fees per minute, either purporting to do the same – or offering psychic readings and forecasts.
The SNU, who naturally presenting themselves as arbiter of all things Spiritualist to the uninformed actually supported the repeal!
No voices from any of the Spiritualist organisations or groups in the UK had been raised to object in advance of the abolition of the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951. Rev Lyn appeared on morning and breakfast time television – on the radio – even on ‘Kerrang’ one evening arguing with the SNU’s spokesperson Graham Hewitt (with whom she was acquainted as a friend!)at her own expense.
She was quoted in The Times, Guardian, Sun and other papers – even getting a mention on ‘Have I Got News for You’. But to no avail. She produced a newspaper whose raison d’etre had been to prevent the repeal for a few months out of her own pocket, but had to shut shop when her funds ran out.
Reverend Lyn’s argument had simply been that the presentation of mediumship and healing within the religious persuasion of Spiritualism was not and never had been a trade! That it was not to be regarded as entertainment or as an experiment. That a fee or donation for spiritual services rendered was acceptable as Spiritualist practitioners or ministers do not receive a stipend or even honoraria from their Church.
However, those who practice their mediumistic and or psychic abilities outside of the Spiritualist religious framework, may well be perceived as being part of a trading industry. There was a quick response to the repeal of the Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951 by a group set up as the ‘Spiritual Workers Association’.
They were only too happy to dwell on the trade aspect and proceeded to sell insurance policies against claims of malpractice to those engaged outside of the churches…The magic words were Department for Business Regulatory Reform. This struck terror it appears into those presenting mediumship wherever they were so doing.
The SNU instructed their members and affiliated churches (called centres more usually by them for preference at the time) to issue disclaimers saying that mediumship – an integral part of our Spiritualist philosophy and belief system, was to be viewed as an experiment – or worse perhaps – as for entertainment only. They also sold insurance.
This New Spiritualists’ Society now with the additional Christian included as the New Christian Spiritualist Society came into being to further Spiritualism and its basic principles as it was in the beginning. It was decided to ignore the other organisations and groups that had decided to become insurance salespersons and who required annual subscriptions to belong to groups that thereafter issued orders and rules and regulations to the people paying them.
The Society has published guidelines for all those who seek the truth about life and after-life based on the concept that Spiritualism is indeed a Christian denomination in so much as it so closely follows the Spiritual Way mapped out by Jesus and too recognises the power of the Holy Spirit. This is why so many from other denominations, including clergy, flocked to its banner and cause at its inception in the mid 19th century.
It began by a group of neighbours gathering to hear spirit communication – grew organically by other groups forming circles to develop their own contact and communication skills, and this is how we have progressed ourselves. In the last two years the Society has attracted many, many good people. Not all of them mediums or healers necessarily but people of like mind, who understand the truth of life everlasting and the implications for living a better life on earth with their fellow creatures. Neither do we issue disclaimers or sell insurance.
Now the Spiritualists’ National Union has taken advice apparently and have told their members and churches that they have withdrawn the edict previously in force regarding experiment and entertainment – as ‘inappropriate’ – although if mediums want to they can still buy insurance – called ‘mediumsure’.
The President of the SNU’s National Executive Committee therefore the organisation, is Reverend David Bruton – although the SNU refuse to apportion the title ‘Reverend’ on their ministers as being too like other religions, even though in common usage in the British Isles if not elsewhere.
On that score you might like to know that the Bible, the Lord’s Prayer and any ‘trappings or ceremonial’ belonging to any other religion are not allowed in their places of worship; neither do they recognise any Spiritualist group organisation or church that follows a ‘religious leader’or whose ministers and deacons etc wear clerical clothing. And they forbid, proscribe, any churches or Spiritualist gatherings that hold Holy Communion.
The SNU being both a company limited by guarantee and is also a charity was obviously cognisant of the fact that the Directors of a company, all its officers and those of its committees of which it has many, would be held responsible for any trading malpractices by them or its members, who only recently in his Blog their President referred to as ‘external stakeholders’ within a pontification on ‘Corporate Image’. I quote:’ All documents to create a single image will bring uniformity across the organisation.
Manual will be developed to be issued to all departments and external stakeholders’. ‘Rules for churches’ will detail employment law ask for membership numbers and fees’. They are putting out a book called ‘The Philosophy of Spiritualism’.
He also made a point that the local Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education has been approached. (These are local to every area in the UK so if you want to contact and donate our Spiritualists’ Handbook that would be an idea!)
The SNU have also got a chart out for members who attend their churches. Talking of ‘launching’ something called ‘Respect’ – common knowledge has it that squabbling has always been a problem in their committees, one chart says – and imagine if you will a cross – they made a kind of diamondish shape .
At the top it says ‘My Attitude – at the foot it says ‘Your Attitude’ left – ‘Your Behaviour’ and right, ‘My Behaviour’. That probably says it all! Point of hidden history as I call it on the subject – Eric Hatton, who served latterly until his passing with the Trust that publishes a magazine called Psychic News, was President of the SNU – got upset – said he resigned and left the room where the NEC were sitting and when recovering his composure returned some few minutes later he was told after he apologised for the outburst and said of course he hadn’t meant that – he was told they accepted his resignation and the Vice President was already President. Lovely stuff!
They have 51 churches under ‘supervision’…and ‘membership numbers have stalled for years’… Prospective members have to do a correspondence course then an interview before getting full membership (for which they pay of course) after a year’s probation.
The SNU President’s Blog certainly gives us food for thought. It certainly had all the hallmarks of a business marketing exercise. Interestingly in amongst all the office speak, a ‘Head Office’ is mentioned, he also referred to the SNU’s ‘Churches’ with a capital ‘C’. It seems to me this might be another lurch in the direction of other religions?
So, no more announcements that what is to take place are experiments in SNU churches then – or entertainment. Better come to our meetings that have never succumbed to that misunderstanding. Or start your own – all you need is a place to hold one, start with a circle,in yours or your friend’s home for instance – the desire to do that and our ‘The Spiritualists’ Handbook’ tells you how and gives you lots of help in the right direction.