Law and religion round-up – 19th November

A week in which Aussies voted in favour of same-sex marriage, a report on charity trustees confirmed what we already knew and the C of E ran into an unexpected storm…

New research on charity trustees in England and Wales

The Charity Commission has published a report into trusteeship, Taken on Trust: the Awareness and Effectiveness of Charity Trustees in England & Wales which calls for changes in the way boards are recruited and supported. The report, which is based on research carried out by a team led by Professor Stephen Lee, of the Cass Business School, concludes that there are 150,000 fewer trustees in England and Wales than was previously believed, that payment of trustees remains relatively rare, with only 2,000 charities – 1.6 per cent – paying their trustees, and that boards of trustees are still disproportionately middle-class, white, male and elderly. [Full disclosurethis item is written by a white, male, elderly, middle-class charity trustee…] Continue reading

Second Church Estates Commissioner’s questions, 26 October

Yesterday, 26 October, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman, answered oral questions in the House of Commons [links available from here].

In answer to a question from Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab) on the vexed issue of the closure of the Heritage Lottery Fund strand for listed places of worship, she said that the Church still regretted the decision by the HLF to close the Grants for Places of Worship Scheme but that the Church Buildings Council was in close discussion with the HLF about a way forward. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 22nd October

A week in which the main theme seemed to be discrimination on grounds of gender or sexual orientation

Church of England to debate blessings for same-sex couples?

Last week, as we noted, the Hereford Diocesan Synod passed a resolution requesting the House of Bishops to initiate the formulation of a discretionary liturgy for use following the registration of a civil partnership or a same-sex marriage. The BBC subsequently reported this under the headline Church of England to discuss same-sex blessing, stating that “The general synod will now debate a form of service described as ‘neither contrary to nor a departure from’ the doctrine of the church”. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 15th October

Sero sed serio…

… as until Friday, we thought it was going to be a quiet week for news, despite the MPs’ return to Parliament after the break for Party Conferences. In addition to our Saturday posts on Sex segregation in school, and the disposal of Ian Brady’s remains, reviewed below, shortly after the publication of this round-up, the Church of England issued a statement concerning the meditation that had taken place with the sexual abuse survivor known as “Gilo”; this prompted a response from Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc.

Sex segregation in school

On Friday, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services And Skills v The Interim Executive Board of Al-Hijrah School [2017] EWCA Civ 1426. The issue of principle before the Court was

“whether it is direct discrimination, contrary to sections 13 and 85 of the Equality Act 2010 for a mixed-sex school to have a complete segregation of male and female pupils over a certain age for all lessons, breaks, school clubs and trips” [1]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 1st October

And the party conference season grinds on – but in real life (and amongst the episcopi vagantes) …

“Living wills”

Sky News reported that, during the course of a hearing last week in the Court of Protection about the treatment of an elderly man who is in a minimally conscious state, Francis J said this:

“It should be compulsory that we all have to make living wills because these cases would be resolved much more easily. We all ought to be encouraged to tackle these issues. If there was some sort of campaign to educate people about these sort of things I think people would actually do something about it.” Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 10th September

End of “silly season” brings news from around the UK, and a new motu proprio 

Hijabs in primary schools

There were various reports (eg in The Sunday Times and the Evening Standard) that “Children as young as three are being allowed to wear the hijab in British nurseries and primary schools.” The ST reported that its survey found that a fifth of 800 primary schools, including Church of England schools, list the hijab as part of their uniform. “Campaigners” objected, 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].

Continue reading