Secret Societies

Secret Societies

Confessions, Secret Societies

From the book The Clergyman’s Hand-book of Law, about Confessions, Secret Societies (1): At common law, confessions were admissible; but there is no case in the United States since 1813 where the court has sent a priest to jail for contempt for refusing to disclose a confession, and no case in which a priest disclosed a confession. Immediately after a priest was committed for contempt for refusing to divulge the secrets of the confessional, in 1813, New York enacted the following law: “No minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatsoever, shall be allowed to disclose any confession made to him in his professional character, in the course of discipline enjoined by the rules or practice of such denomination.” A similar law has been adopted in the following States and Territories: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Hawaii. The secrets of a secret society are not privileged, and a member as a witness must answer all relevant questions in court.396


Notes and References

  1. Charles M. Scanlan, The Clergyman’s Hand-book of Law. The Law of Church and Grave (1909), Benziger Brothers, New York, Cincinnati, Chicago

See Also

  • Religion
  • Church