Historically, churches have been places where fugitives could seek at least temporary protection from the law. In Anglo-Saxon England, churches and churchyards generally provided 40 days of immunity, and neither the sheriffs nor the army would enter to seize the outlaw. But gradually the right of sanctuary was eroded. In 1486 sanctuary for the crime of treason was disallowed, and sanctuary for most other crimes was severely restricted by Henry VIII and later abolished. In the 1980s many U.S. churches provided sanctuary to political refugees from Central America, and the U.S. government mostly chose not to interfere. Today, wildlife sanctuaries provide protection for the species within its boundaries, and farm-animal sanctuaries now rescue livestock from abuse and starvation.
A sanctuary, in its original meaning, is a sacred place, such as a shrine. By the use of such places as a haven, by extension the term has come to be used for any place of safety. This secondary use can be categorized into human sanctuary, a safe place for people, such as a political sanctuary; and non-human sanctuary, such as an animal or plant sanctuary.
In many Western Christian traditions including Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, and Anglican churches, the area around the altar is called the sanctuary; it is also considered holy because of the belief in the physical presence of God in the Eucharist, both during the Mass and in the church tabernacle at other times.
In many churches the architectural term chancel covers the same area as the sanctuary, and either term may be used. In some Protestant churches, the term sanctuary denotes the entire worship space while the term chancel refer only to the area around the altar-table.
In many Western traditions, altar rails and sometimes steps would demarcate the sanctuary or chancel from the rest of the building. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches of Syro-Malabar Church, Byzantine rite and Coptic Orthodox Churches, the sanctuary is separated from the nave (where worshippers pray) by an iconostasis, literally a wall of icons, with three doors in it. In other Oriental Orthodox traditions, a sanctuary curtain is used.
The terminology that applies the word sanctuary to the area around the altar does not apply to Christian churches alone: King Solomon's temple, built in about 950 BC, had a sanctuary (\"Holy of Holies\") where the Ark of the Covenant was, and the term applies to the corresponding part of any house of worship. In most modern synagogues, the main room for prayer is known as the sanctuary, to contrast it with smaller rooms dedicated to various other services and functions.
Although the word \"sanctuary\" is often traced back only as far as the Greek and Roman empires, the concept itself has likely been part of human cultures for thousands of years. The idea that persecuted persons should be given a place of refuge is ancient, perhaps even primordial, deriving itself from basic features of human altruism. In studying the concept across many cultures and times, anthropologists have found sanctuary to be a highly universal notion, one which appears in almost all major religious traditions and in a variety of diverse geographies. \"Cities of refuge\" as described by the Book of Numbers and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament, as well as the Bedouin idea of nazaala, or the \"taking of refuge\", indicate a strong tradition of sanctuary in the Middle East and Northern Africa. In the Americas, many native tribes shared similar practices, particularly in the face of invading European powers. Despite tensions between groups, many tribes still offered and received sanctuary, taking in those who had fled their tribal lands or feared persecution by the Spanish, English, and French.
A sacred place, such as a church, in which fugitives formerly were immune to arrest (recognized by English law from the fourth to the seventeenth century). While the practice of churches offering sanctuary is still observed in the modern era, it no longer has any legal effect and is respected solely for the sake of tradition.
Immunity to arrest afforded by a sovereign authority. The United Nations has expanded the definition of \"political\" to include race, nationality, religion, political opinions and membership or participation in any particular social group or social activities. People seeking political sanctuary typically do so by asking a sovereign authority for asylum.
During the Wars of the Roses of the 15th century when the Lancastrians or Yorkists would suddenly gain the upper hand by winning a battle, some adherents of the losing side might find themselves surrounded by adherents of the winning side and unable to return to their own side, so they would rush to sanctuary at the nearest church until it was safe to leave it. A prime example is Queen Elizabeth Woodville, consort of Edward IV of England.
In 1470, when the Lancastrians briefly restored Henry VI to the throne, Edward's queen was living in London with several young daughters. She moved with them into Westminster Abbey for sanctuary, living there in royal comfort until Edward was restored to the throne in 1471 and giving birth to their first son Edward during that time. When King Edward IV died in 1483, Elizabeth (who was highly unpopular with even the Yorkists and probably did need protection) took her five daughters and youngest son (Richard, Duke of York; Prince Edward had his own household by then) and again moved into sanctuary at Westminster Abbey. She had all the comforts of home; she brought so much furniture and so many chests that the workmen had to break holes in some of the walls to move everything in fast enough to suit her.
In the 20th century, during World War I, all of Russia's Allies made the controversial decision in 1917 to deny political sanctuary to Tsar Nicholas II Romanov and his immediate family when he was overthrown in that year's February Revolution part of the Russian Revolution because of his abuses of power and forced to abdicate in March in favor of Alexander Kerensky's Russian Provisional Government. Nicholas and his family and remaining household were sent to Tobolsk, Siberia that summer while Kerensky kept Russia in the war when it couldn't win, enabling Lenin and his Bolsheviks to gain the Russian people's support in overthrowing Kerensky in that year's October Revolution. The Russian Civil War started that November and in July, 1918, with Lenin losing the civil war, Nicholas and his family were executed on Lenin's orders while confined to the Ipatiev House in Yekaterenburg.
In 1970, Simonas Kudirka was denied U.S. sanctuary when he attempted to defect from the then-Soviet Union by jumping from his \"mother ship\", 'Sovetskaya Litva', onto the USCGC Vigilant when it was sailing from New Bedford while Kudirka's ship was anchored at Martha's Vineyard. Kudrika was accused of stealing 3,000 roubles from Sovetskaya Litva's safe and when the U.S. State Department didn't help him, Kudrika was sent back to the Soviet Union, where he was convicted of treason and sentenced to ten years of hard labor but because Kudirka could claim American citizenship through his mother, he was allowed to return to the United States in 1974. His plight was the subject of Algis Ruksenas' 1973 book Day of Shame: The Truth About The Murderous Happenings Aboard the Cutter Vigilant During the Russian-American Confrontation off Martha's Vineyard and the 1978 TV movie The Defection of Simas Kudirka, starring Alan Arkin.
Later in the 1980s, Estonian national and alleged Nazi war criminal, Karl Linnas, was the target of several sanctuary denials outside the United States before he was finally returned in 1987 to the then-USSR to face a highly likely death penalty for alleged war crimes that he was convicted of in 1962 (see Holocaust trials in Soviet Estonia). Linnas died of a heart attack in a Leningrad prison hospital on July 2, 1987, while waiting for a possible retrial in Gorbachev's courts, 25 years after Khrushchev's courts convicted him in absentia.
The concepts of sanctuary and asylum are defined very similarly at their most basic level. Both terms involve the granting of safety or protection from some type of danger, often implied to be a persecuting, oppressive power. The divergence between these terms stems primarily from their societal associations and legal standing; while asylum understood in its political sense implies legally-binding protection on the part of a state entity, sanctuary often takes the form of moral and ethical activism that calls into question decisions made by the institutions in power.
In many instances, the sanctuary is not incorporated into the law but operated in defiance of it. Efforts to create a sanctuary for the persecuted or oppressed are often undertaken by organizations, religious or otherwise, who work outside of mainstream avenues to ameliorate what they see as deficiencies in the existing policy. Though these attempts to provide sanctuary have no legal standing, they can be effective in catalyzing change at community, local, and even regional levels. Sanctuary can also be integrated into these levels of government through \"Sanctuary bills\", which designate cities and sometimes states as safe spaces for immigrants deemed \"illegal\" by the federal government. These bills work to limit the cooperation of local and regional governments with the national government's efforts to enforce immigration law. In recognition of their progressiveness and boldness in the face of perceived injustice, \"Sanctuary bills\" are commonly referred to as \"activist law\".
For the last few centuries, it has become less common to invoke sanctuary as a means of protecting persecuted peoples. Yet, the 1980s saw a massive resurgence of cases as part of the U.S.-Central American sanctuary movement. This resurgence was part of a broader anti-war movement that emerged to protest U.S. foreign policy in Central America. The movement grew out of the sanctuary practices of political and religious organizations in both the United States and Central America. It was initially sparked by immigrant rights organizations in well-established Central American communities. These organizations first opposed U.S. foreign policy in Central America and then shifted towards aiding an ever-increasing number of Central Americans refugees. Working in tandem, immigrant rights organizations and churches created many new organizations that provided housing and legal services for newly arrived immigrants. These organizations also advocated for the creation of sanctuary spaces for those fleeing war and oppression in their home countries. By 1987, 440 cities in the United States had been declared \"sanctuary cities\" open to migrants from civil wars in Central America. 59ce067264