Law and religion round-up – 13th August

Blasphemy in Ireland, flying spaghetti in Germany, silly hats in Canada – just a typical week…

Ireland’s blasphemy laws “least restrictive in the world”? Possibly, but…

The Report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom 2017 noted that

“many countries in Western Europe, including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, and Italy, retain legislation on blasphemy, defamation of religion, or ‘anti-religious remarks’, though these laws are seldom enforced. In one promising development, Ireland’s coalition government announced in May 2016 its intention to hold a referendum on the removal of its blasphemy law” [212].

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Law and religion round-up – 11th June

A week dominated by the last gasp of the General Election campaign and the same-sex marriage vote in the Scottish Episcopal Synod…

You’re joking – not another one?

The UK finally struggled to the polls after what seemed an interminable campaign. After the Brexit referendum, every commentator seemed to be an expert on constitutional law; after Thursday’s vote, it’s now time for “hung parliament” expertise, to which we would look towards the Commons Library Briefings here. In brief:

“Hung Parliaments may result in formal coalition agreements, or government by a minority administration by way of a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement. If no party or group of parties is able to form a government, a further general election might be triggered under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. It is possible that over the lifetime of a Parliament, two or more of these options might occur”. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 4th June

Another serious incident in London …

The Labour Party, race and faith

The Labour Party published its Race and Faith Manifesto – which has quite a lot to say about race and ethnicity but not very much specifically about religion other than that Labour “will strengthen our communities’ rights to practice [sic] their religion free from persecution” and “defend the right to wear all forms of religious and other dress of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and many others”. It does, however, include a specific condemnation of antisemitism and pledges “a review the Prevent programme with a view [to] assessing its effectiveness and potential to alienate minority communities”.

The European Parliament and antisemitism

On Thursday, the European Parliament agreed a resolution urging stronger action against antisemitism across the EU.

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Law and religion round-up – 14th May

Reciprocal heresy trials”, an episcopus vagans and Matthew 6:3

At the end of a week of fast-moving events following the consecration in Newcastle of the Revd Jonathan Pryke as a “bishop in the Church of God” by the Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (REACH-SA), here, here, and elsewhere, we are left with little clarity on how events will be progressed by GAFCON, GAFCON-UK, AMiE or even the Church of England, which – no doubt wisely – has adopted a low-key approach to the situation.

The piecemeal release of statements &c has been followed by commentators, and many identifying themselves as evangelicals have been critical of the initiative and of the organizations concerned: Order! Order!”: Reflections on The Jesmond Consecration, Andrew Goddard, FulcrumShould evangelicals be embarrassed by Newcastle?, Ian Paul/Peter Carrell, Psephizo; and Why now? The deeply strange timing of the renegade conservative Anglicans, Andy Walton, Christian Today. Legal issues have been addressed by Andrew Goddard’s observations, supra, and Philip Jones’ piece A Rogue Bishop.   

[Update: This evening, Thinking Anglicans included a copy of the Q and A document handed out in the morning at Jesmond Parish Church about its reasons for the episcopal consecration. Legal issues are not addressed, although it states inter alia [emphasis added]:

“such [New Style] bishops need to be faithful to 1) the biblical miracles of the virginal conception of Jesus and his Resurrection and empty tomb; 2) the biblical ethic that sex should be reserved for lifelong heterosexual monogamous marriage; and 3) the biblical principle that means bishops should be male – all issues in the North East in recent years“.

[…]

“the aim is not to create a new denomination. No! This is one small but necessary step on behalf of faithful Church of England ministers and congregations nationwide in our mission to the nation. This is not a step of ‘leaving the Church of England’ It is the theologically liberal bishops and clergy that have ‘left the Church of England’ doctrinally. This is a step to preserve the Church of England’s heritage and mission which we have received”.]

A report in Christian Today on 9 May commented, “The Archbishop of York … is being kept informed but is yet to make a formal response”. We await developments with interest.

More about bishops

Following its final meeting in Dublin in 2016, Members of the Colloquium of Anglican and Roman Catholic Canon Lawyers held a reunion at the Venerable English College in Rome on Wednesday evening 10th May. Continue reading

Blasphemy, the Irish Constitution and Stephen Fry

So, rarely being one to shirk a challenge, here goes.

The (fairly) new law of blasphemy in Ireland is in the spotlight after media reports that the Gardaí have launched a blasphemy probe into comments made by Stephen Fry in 2015 on the television show The Meaning of Life. (See, for example, the Irish IndependentWhy is Stephen Fry being investigated by gardaí for blasphemy and what happens next?) Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 12th March

Social media (mis)use in the news, hate-speech – and another round in the saga of The Donald’s Executive Order…

News from Trumpton

Obiter J reports that legal action has been commenced against President Trump’s new Executive Order of 7 March on the entry of certain aliens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The new Order will replace EO 13769 on 16 March. The case is State of Hawai’i and Ismail Elshikh v Donald J Trump & Ors: Mr Elshikh is Imam of the Muslim Association of Hawai’i. It will be heard in the US District Court for the District of Hawai’i: the State’s Second Amended Complaint, seeking an Order invalidating portions of the Executive Order, is available here.

The Wall Street Journal subsequently reported that the Attorneys General of the States of Washington and New York had announced that they, too, will challenge it. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is to ask US District Judge Robart to apply his temporary restraining order to the new Order. According to a subsequent report, Oregon and Minnesota will also join the suit when an amended complaint is filed.

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Law and religion round-up – 15th November

A week completely overshadowed by the massacre in Paris…

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We rarely do very much by way of “Editorial”; but this week we can hardly let the tragic events in Paris go unremarked. If they tell us anything – apart, that is, from the seemingly-inexhaustible capacity of people to behave with extreme cruelty – they are, perhaps, a salutary reminder of the danger of religious fanaticism. The Muslim Council of Great Britain was quick to issue an unequivocal statement condemning the killings:

“The attacks once again in Paris are horrific and abhorrent, and we condemn this violence in the strongest possible terms … There is nothing Islamic about such people and their actions are evil, and outside the boundaries set by our faith.”

Nor is there anything Christian about an Islamophobic response.

Hate-speech and Article 10

Racist attacks are by no means one way; and last week the ECtHR struck a blow for sanity by declaring inadmissible a claim under Article 10 (freedom of expression) about the conviction of a French comedian, Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, for an incident during one of his shows.

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