Law & Religion UK is intended as a forum for what we hope is academically-rigorous exploration of the interactions between law and religion, together with the associated human rights issues. We welcome pertinent guest posts and comments on current developments that reflect the views and opinions of their respective authors and meet the General Conditions applying to the site. Those that do not meet these criteria or which are otherwise unidentifiable are unlikely to be published, especially comments that are abusive or defamatory.

Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington


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Wind turbines in Cornwall – diocese support for Good Energy appeal

Have circumstances changed since Church’s experience in Devon?

In one of our early posts  “Shrinking the Footprint” – But not in rural Devon  we reported on the problems experienced with the proposed installation of two small agricultural-sized wind turbines in each of the parishes of East Anstey, and Chittlehampton & Black Torrington. Following last week’s headline in the Church Times Diocese backs wind farm despite local opposition it is pertinent to examine how attitudes towards climate change (and wind turbines in particular) have changed over the intervening four years.  Continue reading

Jehovah’s Witnesses and discrimination: JWs Association v Turkey

The background

In Jehovah’s Witnesses Association and Ors v Turkey [2016] ECHR 453 the facts were as follows. For many years, the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in İzmir and Mersin had been allowed to worship in private premises. The authorities in both cities then decided to close down their prayer rooms on the grounds that the Urban Planning Act (Law no. 3194) prohibited worship in premises that were not designated for that purpose and imposed certain conditions on the building of places of worship. Continue reading

Ecclesiastical exemption: where things stand in the four jurisdictions

In view of the fact that the ecclesiastical exemption from listed building controls has become a matter of some political interest in both Northern Ireland and Wales, we thought it might be useful to provide an overview of how things currently stand across the four jurisdictions.


In England (and currently in Wales), the “listed denominations” under the Ecclesiastical Exemption (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (England) Order 2010 are exempt from listed building controls. Currently, the listed denominations in England are the Church of England, the Church in Wales, the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union and the United Reformed Church. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 22nd May

The EU Neverendum grinds on – apart from which, it’s been quite an interesting week…

The Queen’s Speech

We noted the Queen’s Speech, insofar as it touched on issues of law and religion, and some aspects of it have already come in for adverse media comment from precisely that perspective. According to Christian Today, the proposal for a Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill provoked Simon McCrossan, head of public policy at the Evangelical Alliance, to respond:

“It’s extreme to try and tell religious groups what they can and can’t teach under the guise of fundamental British values. It’s extreme to threaten to send Ofsted inspectors into churches if they don’t teach British values. This government’s trying to fight extremism with extremism and the main casualty will be our fundamental freedoms.” Continue reading

Same-sex marriage and the Church of Scotland

At its session today, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland approved proposals by 339 votes to 215 to allow ministers and deacons in same-sex marriages to continue in ministry; however, the Kirk will not solemnise same-sex weddings in its churches.

Old_logo_of_the_CoS copy

The Overture amending the Ministers and Deacons in Civil Partnerships Act sent down to presbyteries by last year’s General Assembly under the Barrier Act had received sufficient support to be presented for enactment: 26 presbyteries approved the Overture, 18 opposed it and one was tied (which was taken to count as disapproval). The Committee on Returns to Overtures concluded that the definition should be amended to refer more directly to the civil law definition. Continue reading

Bellringing, inappropriate behaviour and judicial review: TH v Worcester Cathedral

In TH v Chapter of Worcester Cathedral & Anor [2016] EWHC 1117 (Admin) the claimant was a member of the Worcester Cathedral’s Guild of Ringers. In February 2015, the Chapter revoked his membership of the Guild and permission to ring at the Cathedral (‘the first decision’); and the Bishop invited him to sign an agreement that placed conditions on him ringing bells in all other churches within the Diocese (‘the second decision’).

Both decisions arose out of findings that the claimant had behaved inappropriately with children and young people. The original concerns were investigated by the Cathedral Chapter and advice was taken from Worcestershire County Council’s safeguarding officer: the Local Authority Designated Officer (“the LADO”). Both the first and second decisions followed the LADO’s advice. There was no question of any criminal conduct, however, and that remained the situation [1 & 2]. Continue reading

Lawyers in hijabs? Barik Edidi v Spain

The facts

Ms Zoubida Barik Edidi is a Spanish advocate. In the course of a trial of Islamic terrorist offences before the Audiencia Nacional, at a hearing on 20 October 2009 she sat in the part of the courtroom reserved for the parties, wearing her advocate’s gown and a hijab. No comment was made on that occasion; however, at the hearing on 22 October the President of the Court asked her to return to the part of the courtroom reserved for members of the public, on the ground that the lawyers appearing before the court should either be bareheaded or wear the appropriate headgear: the biretta (connoisseurs of ecclesiastical tat please note).

On the following day, she told the Observatory of Justice of the Madrid Bar about the incident. Her subsequent administrative appeals and her request for judicial review were dismissed, as was her appeal to the Constitutional Court. Moreover, no action was taken on her request for disciplinary sanctions against the President of the Court who had asked her to return to the public area of the courtroom. Continue reading