Law and religion round-up – 8th April

And as we emerge from Easter week…

Children’s Funeral Fund for England

On 31 March, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a Funeral Fund for grieving parents who have lost their child. Under the scheme, parents will no longer have to meet the costs of burials or cremations; instead, fees will be waived by all local authorities and met by Government funding. The intervention brings England in line with Wales and follows a cross-party campaign by bereaved parents to remove fees for funerals of those under the age of 18.  [See Comments, below].

Pilot minor repairs fund

Also on 31 March (did no-one in Whitehall realise it was Holy Saturday?), Heritage Minister Michael Ellis announced a pilot scheme for minor repairs to listed buildings of all faiths and denominations in Manchester and Suffolk “to increase community engagement and vital heritage management skills”. Eligible places of worship in the pilot areas will be able to access a £500,000 minor repairs fund.

The pilot is the result of the Taylor Review, Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals, and the projects, expected to begin in early autumn, will receive a total of £1.8 million over the next two years. Community support advisers based within the Church of England dioceses of Manchester and St Edmundsbury and Ipswich “will work with the custodians of listed places of worship to identify and strengthen relationships within their local area and develop greater community partnerships”.

Open-access articles from the Oxford Journal of Law & Religion

Under the banner Global Review, OUP has posted a series of articles from the OJ LR on open access. Several are two or three years old, but we should have thought that there was something here for almost everyone (and it’s far too long for “Quick links”):

Asia

Americas

Europe

Middle East

Africa

Australasia

Public benefit and religion in Victoria

The National Secular Society reports that “The Australian state of Victoria is considering ending the status of ‘advancement of religion’ as a charitable purpose and rescinding religious institutions’ automatic tax exemptions”. On a careful reading of the report, the actual situation is a little more complicated than the headling would suggest: the proposal is contained in a private Member’s bill rather than emanating from the State Government.

That said, however, the report quotes former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard as suggesting that removing tax concessions from Churches could push recalcitrant ones to take firmer action over child sexual abuse and, in the light of the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, that argument might have some traction.

New publication

And while we’re in Australia, a new book has been published in the ICLARS Series on Law and Religion. Religious Freedom and the Australian Constitution: Origins and Future, by Luke Beck of Monash University, looks at the origins of Australia’s constitutional religious freedom provision.

According to the publisher’s flyer, “It explores the political activities and motives of religious leaders seeking to give the Australian Constitution a religious character and the political activities and motives of a religious minority seeking to prevent it having a religious character. It also examines Section 116, dealing with separation of religion and government, and argues that until now scholars and courts have misunderstood it. The book shows how the origins of the provision lead to Section 116 being conceptualised as a safeguard against religious intolerance on the part of the Commonwealth.”

Routledge is currently offering a 20% discount on the cover price.

Quick links

And finally…I 

😊 Easily the best April Fool we saw on the Web:

And finally…II 

In drafting our responses to “Recent queries and comments“, it is not always easy to evince the information sought by the questioner, either through the cryptic nature of the search, the spelling of case names, or the subject matter. This week’s batch included the query “wood pips in jam”, which followers of Q1 (Season F, episode “Fakes and Frauds) might have thought referred to the 19th-century practice of creating fake (but cheap) raspberry jam by this method. However, following the misplaced worries regarding the re-use of jam jars, we posted Are wood-chips the new jam-jars? in which we suggested that the risks identified by HSE associated the storage of wood pellets was a real concern for churches and others switching to this fuel source.

4 thoughts on “Law and religion round-up – 8th April

  1. Just to be clear the Church of England does not charge fees for the funeral of a child so the element of the funeral cost that is now being made free is the costs of the funeral directors not the clergy…

    • Indeed: and some denominations that still have open burial grounds don’t charge fees (other than, eg, the costs of grave-digging) in any case. But I think that what the Funeral Fund is to cover is not funeral directors’ fees but charges by local authorities for the use of crematoria or burial in a local authority burial ground.

  2. For some time, the position of the Church of England Parochial Fees has been “No fee is payable in respect of a burial of a still-born infant, or for the funeral or burial of a person dying within sixteen years after birth”. Perhaps the upper age limit might be raised to reflect the proposed secular scheme?

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