On this day in 1662 the King of England signed the “Act of Uniformity,’ which demanded that all the churches of Britain had to agree to use the recently revised Anglican “Book of Common Prayer.” Any member of the clergy which did not conform to the law by August 24 of that year would lose his position and property. The Church of England saw this as a great victory, but it had unexpected consequences.

There were already Baptist churches in England, struggling to survive. They had been teaching the truth, and people in the established church were listening – but often without complete acceptance. But as the Act began to be applied, many pastors and believers in the Church of England were pushed into making decisive decisions. It is estimated that 1,760 ministers chose not to conform and were ejected from their churches. At that point they had even more choices to make, and many chose to be immersed and to become more scriptural. During the period of persecution which followed, a great many new Baptist churches were established supported by their members rather by than monies from the state. Even though people were arrested “for either non-attendance at their parish church,” or “for maliciously and seditiously assembling in unlawful conventicles under the pretence of religion (ie. as independents), those churches of Christ flourished.