Fraudulent Mediums Act

Fraudulent Mediums Act

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In Great Britain prior to 1951, if anyone was caught cheating using Spiritualism, fortune-telling, or the like, the only way they could be prosecuted was under the old Witchcraft Act. This seemed rather silly in the middle of the twentieth century, so the Witchcraft Act was repealed and it was replaced by the Fraudulent Mediums Act.

The Fraudulent Mediums Act, 22nd June, 1951

An Act to repeal the Witchcraft Act, 1735, and to make, in substitution for certain provisions of section four of the Vagrancy Act, 1824, express provision for the punishment of persons who fraudulently purport to act as spiritualistic mediums or to exercise powers of telepathy, clairvoyance or similar powers.

Be it enacted by the King’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

  1. (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, any person who:

    • (a) with intent to deceive purports to act as a spiritualistic medium or to exercise any powers of telepathy, clairvoyance or other similar powers, or,

    • (b) in purporting to act as spiritualistic medium or to exercise such powers as aforesaid, uses any fraudulent device, shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) A person shall not be convicted of an offence under the foregoing subsection unless it is proved that he acted for reward; and for the purpose of this section a person shall be deemed to act for reward if any money is paid, or other valuable item given, in respect of what he does, whether to him or to any other person.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding four months or to both such fine and such imprisonment, or on conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding five hundred pounds or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

(4) No proceedings for an offence under this section shall be brought in England or Wales except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Nothing in subsection (1) of this section shall apply to anything done solely for the purpose of entertainment.

  • II. The following enactments are hereby repealed, that is to say:

    • (a) the Witchcraft Act, 1735, so far as still in force, and

    • (b) section four of the Vagrancy Act, 1824, so far as it extends to persons purporting to act as spiritualistic mediums or to exercise any powers of telepathy, clairvoyance or other similar powers, or to persons who, purporting so to act or to exercise such powers, use fraudulent devices.

  • III. (1) This Act may be cited as the Fraudulent Mediums Act, 1951.
  • (2) This Act shall not extend to Northern Ireland.

The Constitution of the United States of America doesn’t contain anything similar to the British Fraudulent Mediums Act. However, there are various state and local laws that do cover the legality of so-called fortune-telling and mediumship. The present day legal position of mediums varies from state to state, and many mediums go under the protective shell of ordination, adopting the religious title of “Reverend.” The National Spiritualist Association of Churches is one legal protective organization, offering valid legal ordination of mediums.

Sources:

Buckland, Raymond: Buckland’s Book of Spirit Communications. St. Paul: Llewellyn, 2004
Friends, Society of see Quakers