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A "Criminal Waste Of Space" Foments Concern About Possible Vestiarian Crisis

This month's issue of Orange County Lawyer includes another entertaining column by Court of Appeal Justice William D. Bedsworth.  He points out that Government Code Section 68110 requires every judge in open court during the presentation of causes before him or her "to wear a judicial robe, which the judge shall furnish at his or her own expense."  

Reading about California's judicial robe mandate could not help but remind me of the vestiarian crisis under Queen Elizabeth I.  The crisis arose when the Church of England sought to require the clergy to wear vestments.  The legal basis for the requirement was the Act of Uniformity (1 Eliz. 1 c 2)  that retained the "ornaments" of the church as in effect during the second year of the reign of King Edward VI.  The controversy erupted a few years later in 1566 when Archbishop of Canterbury Matthew Parker issued "advertisements" mandating strict conformity to the "ornaments" requirement of the Act, including the wearing of vestments (surplices).

The theological debate over the clerical vestment mandate centered on whether vestments were edifying or merely adiaphora.  The latter term refers to something that is permissible but not essential.  The word is derived from the Greek word ἀδιάφορα which translates as not different or indistinguishable. Dissenters argued that requiring observance of trivial requirements infringed on their consciences.  Eventually, some of these dissenters became known as "puritans".  It was English puritans who would eventually migrate to New England and become famous for establishing the first Thanksgiving.

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