As an atheist (and a republican), he objected to the religious oath and preferred non-religious affirmation; but when he was prevented from affirming he not only tried to take the oath eleven times but actually did so three times. His victories in two general elections and four by-elections didn't force a change in the law, because he was eventually allowed to take his seat after taking the oath in 1886. The law was changed to make non-religious affirmation possible when his own Bill was passed in 1888, but he died in 1891 before being able to take advantage of it.
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