chapter  1
8 Pages

A sabbath breaker in the stocks

ByLuke Beck

The presence of a provision in the Australian Constitution separating religion and government and offering some protection of religious freedom in Australia owes much to the civil disobedience – or perhaps wilful criminality – in 1894 of a bricklayer. Robert Shannon was one of about 80 members of a Seventh Day Adventist congregation that met at Chippendale. Shannon's workers were not compelled by law to observe any Sabbath and had freely entered into Shannon's employment knowing his business did no work on Saturdays. In Melbourne, the leader of Australasian Union Conference – the governing body of the Seventh Day Adventists in Australia – an American called A G Daniells gave a protest speech before a large audience at Prahran Town Hall. The Australian history of section 116 has a broader Australian context. The history of section 116 can be understood properly only in the context of Federation Australia's broader constitutional and legal culture.