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Law & Religion UK is intended as a forum for what (we hope) is academically-rigorous exploration of the interactions between law and religion – broadly defined – together with the human rights issues associated with them. We are always interested in guest posts from colleagues in the field of law and religion.

We also welcome pertinent comments on current developments that reflect the views and opinions of their respective authors and meet the General Conditions applying to the site. However, those that do not meet those criteria or which are otherwise unidentifiable are unlikely to be published, especially comments that are abusive or defamatory. For more information see our comments policy below.

Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington

UKIP, niqabs, burqas – and bans

UKIP has made a commitment in its Manifesto to ban the public wearing of the burqa and niqab. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, UKIP’s leader, Paul Nuttall, said wearing a burqa or niqab in public was a barrier to integration and a security risk and that Muslim women who defied the ban would face a fine. Somewhat counter-intuitively, he also told Andrew Marr that “Manfred Weber, who’s the leader of the biggest group in the European Parliament, is now talking about an EU-wide ban. We can either be on the curve on this or behind the curve.” UKIP also proposes to outlaw sharia in the UK, though Nuttall told Marr that there were no proposals to ban Jewish religious courts because the Jewish population was smaller than the Muslim population.

All of which is interesting. A general ban on face-covering in public would no doubt survive a challenge at Strasbourg and probably at Luxembourg as well: see S.A.S, Achbita and Bougnaoui. There is, however, a slight snag with a UK-wide ban: Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 23rd April

A week dominated by…

…the General Election, June 2017

On 18 April we published a short post on the announcement by the Prime Minister of her intention to move a motion for an early election in the House of Commons on the following day, under the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. The House of Commons Library immediately published a helpful short guide to the election, and for anoraks, it answers the question: Will the Manchester Gorton by-election go ahead? vide infra. The House of Commons Library has also produced a briefing on the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

On 12:57 pm on 19 April, the Prime Minister moved “That there shall be an early parliamentary general election”. [HC Hansard, 19 April Vol 624 Col 681]. After a 90-minute debate, the House divided: Ayes: 522; Noes: 13.  Continue reading

Russian Supreme Court bans Jehovah’s Witnesses

On Thursday, after six days of hearings before the Supreme Court, Judge Yury Ivanenko handed down the operative part of a decision declaring the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be an extremist organisation, banning their activities and ordering that the JWs’ national headquarters in St Petersburg and its local properties to be forfeited to the state. According to Tass, the full text of the decision was to be furnished to the parties within five days. Russia Religious News carries summaries of the proceedings [scroll down]. Continue reading

Church of Scotland Theological Forum reports on same-sex marriage

The Theological Forum of the Church of Scotland has produced a report, An Approach to the Theology of Same-Sex Marriage, in advance of next month’s General Assembly. The report examines three overlapping kinds of argument in some detail:

  • arguments based on understandings of human rights;
  • analogical arguments which try to build outwards from traditional understandings of marriage; and
  • fully theological arguments for the admissibility of same-sex marriage.

Continue reading

Campaigning by charities (and Churches) during elections

It has been confirmed that so-called “purdah”, the pre-election period during which there are restrictions on contacts with civil servants and campaigning by charities – which include religious charities, whether they are registered with the Charity Commission for England & Wales or not – will begin tomorrow: Saturday 22 April. Continue reading

Criminal records checks – getting it right

Elizabeth Prochaska, Consultant in Child Protection Unit at Farrer & Co, has kindly permitted us to cross-post “Criminal records checks – getting it right” first published on the website of Farrer & Co in April 2017

In January, the DBS announced the results of its initial compliance inspections of registered bodies and identified inappropriate barred list checks as one of its biggest areas of concern. The DBS has been visiting registered bodies since March 2016 and checking compliance with the DBS code of practice. The inspections revealed that registered bodies are requesting barred list checks when they are not required. The DBS said: ‘This is an offence and may result in an RB receiving information they are not legally entitled to see and the applicant being inappropriately investigated for trying to work in an activity they are barred from.’ Continue reading