The last word on the “pews vs chairs” debate…

…or would that be too much to hope for?

Of the wide range of guidance issued by the Church Buildings Council (CBC), that entitled “Seating” is one of the more prescriptive, and last month we reviewed its application following recent consideration in the consistory courts. A further judgment has been handed down which re-states its advisory status, queries the rationale of an important aspect of this guidance, and raises important issues on the perception of aspects of the petition. Continue reading

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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Reuse of graves – further considerations

Cemetery development at the local and national level

Re St Peter Terwick [2017] ECC Chi 2 is a relatively straightforward case concerning the development of a churchyard through the re-use of land formerly used for burial. However, it is important since in addition to the Chancellor’s summary of the diminishing availability of space for burial, the judgment records “the exemplary manner in which the parish has set about converting its aspiration into reality”. The Chancellor suggests that “parishes elsewhere should not be deterred by the need to ‘lift and deepen’ or to re-position memorials”; furthermore, he indicates that in future cases, the court would be happy to give directions to address and determine preliminary issues where proposals for the reuse of graveyards are under consideration. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 6th August

A week that saw everything from an important ruling on the scope of the Guidance on the Prevent Duty to mistaken identity in a Cardiff pub..

Prevent

The Prevent Duty, under which “specified authorities” – includiing schools and colleges – must show “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”, is somewhat controversial. Supporters insist that it is fundamentally about safeguarding students against all forms of extremism, while critics argue that Prevent predominantly targets – and stigmatises – Muslim communities. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 30th July

A busy week, dominated by the tragic case of Charlie Gard.

Charlie Gard

We have been following the recent Charlie Gard case, but we refrained from reporting on day-to-day developments in the case because we felt that the issues involved were beyond our remit and the medical aspects were well outside our specific expertise. In his judgment in Great Ormond Street Hospital v Gard [2017] EWHC 1909 (Fam) Mr Justice Francis commented:

“A lot of things have been said, particularly in recent days, by those who know almost nothing about this case but who feel entitled to express opinions. Many opinions have been expressed based on feelings rather than facts” [1].

“The world of social media doubtless has very many benefits but one of its pitfalls, I suggest, is that when cases such as this go viral, the watching world feels entitled to express opinions, whether or not they are evidence-based” [11]. Continue reading

New Southgate Cemetery Bill – Update

Lengthy passage of the Bill almost complete

In addition to the ballot bills included in the Commons Votes & Proceedings for 19 July on which we have reported, there were a number of Lords Messages including Private Bills [Lords]: New Southgate Cemetery Bill [HL], paragraphs 34 to 37. These indicate that the Private Bill relating to New Southgate Cemetery has completed its passage through the House of Lords and was read unopposed in the Commons for the first and second time.  Continue reading