Law and religion round-up – 21st May

And as the Election campaign grinds on… 

General Election 2017

The three main UK parties’ manifestos are now published: Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat. Unsurprisingly, there is little about “religion” in any of them; however, the Lib Dems have said that, if elected, they will introduce opposite-sex civil partnerships, while the Tories seem to have put the “British Bill of Rights” on the back burner for the whole of the next Parliament.

Prime Minister answers LGBT questions from Pink News readers

Theresa May answered questions posted by Pink News readers on a range of LGBT issues ahead of the General Election. Continue reading

The Conservative Manifesto and human rights

The Conservative Party has published its Manifesto in advance of the General Election. On the issue of the UK’s continued adherence to international human rights obligations, it says this: Continue reading

Conservative religious views, parental access, the ECHR – and blogging: A v Cornwall Council

In a rather unusual case, Dingemans J has had to consider whether the moral attitudes – as revealed by his blog posts – of a father who was estranged from the mother of his son supported the Family Court’s decision not to allow him parental access.

The background

In A v Cornwall Council [2017] EWHC 842 (QB), A believed that abortion and same-sex relationships were both wrong. A’s relationship with M had broken down and he was refused contact with their son, S. A claimed that the Council had prevented him having direct contact and had not supported his application to have S live with him because of the views he had blogged about abortion and same-sex marriage – and that the Council had violated his Convention rights. The Council denied the claim and said that it had conducted proper safeguarding inquiries about S and had made proper recommendations to the Family Court that had taken the relevant decisions [1]. Continue reading

Russian Supreme Court bans Jehovah’s Witnesses

On Thursday, after six days of hearings before the Supreme Court, Judge Yury Ivanenko handed down the operative part of a decision declaring the Jehovah’s Witnesses to be an extremist organisation, banning their activities and ordering that the JWs’ national headquarters in St Petersburg and its local properties to be forfeited to the state. According to Tass, the full text of the decision was to be furnished to the parties within five days. Russia Religious News carries summaries of the proceedings [scroll down]. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 9th April

“Egg-bound” thinking by Church and State this week…

… but un oeuf is un oeuf, and so no more egg-related puns. However, we certainly didn’t expect the CofE Easter story statement to be about the “Trinity of Chocolate” (Cadbury, Rowntree and Fry). It was left to Dr Michael Sadgrove, Dean Emeritus of Durham, to inject a degree of sanity into the Church’s position in his comments to the Church Times.

Gratefully accepting a gift-horse of a metaphor, the BHA described it as a storm in an eggcup; it was a gift to the cartoonists and bloggers, while Quakers might shed a silent tear for three businesses founded by Friends. Meanwhile, the willingness of Theresa May to wade into this media-generated nonsense emphasized her lack of action on weightier matters. David Tollerton, of Exeter University, suggests that the whole affair is redolent of “dog-whistle politics”: an undercooked mess that feeds English nationalism, while Esther McConnell, a direct descendant of John Cadbury, pointed out in a tweet that, as a Quaker, he didn’t celebrate Easter anyway.

A busy week in the courts Continue reading

The ECtHR and church tax: Klein v Germany

Background

Under German law, the Roman Catholic Church (with about 23.7 million members) and the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD, with about 22.2 million members) have the status of public-law entities and are entitled to levy a church tax and/or fee – Kirchensteuer – on their members. (There are similar arrangements in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and some cantons of Switzerland.) The status of Churches and religious societies is governed mainly by Articles 137 to 141 (the “Church Articles” – Kirchenartikel) of the Weimar Constitution of 11 August 1919 as incorporated into the Basic Law by Article 140.

Historically, the church tax has been 8 or 9 percent of income tax liability and the only way to avoid it is formally to leave your Church: Kirchenaustritt.  Continue reading

Jehovah’s Witnesses lose appeal to block New Moston inquiry

In Tayo & Ors (Trustees of Manchester New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses) v Charity Commission for England and Wales [2017] UKUT 134 (TCC), the trustees of Manchester New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses lost their appeal against the First Tier Tribunal’s refusal in 2015 – which we noted at the time – to review the Charity Commission’s decision to open a statutory inquiry into the charity under s 46 Charities Act 2011. Continue reading