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

Huberta the Hippopotamus, the Bishop who wouldn’t resign – and the Diocese of Mzimvubu

In a further guest post, David Scrooby, an attorney of the Republic of South Africa, follows up his previous post on the dispute between Bishop Mlibo Ngewu and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

In 1930 a hippopotamus named Huberta became famous as she walked 1600 miles from Lake St Lucia in northern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) to near Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, crossing over the great rivers of the Diocese of Mzimvubu (DOM).

Reflecting this epic journey, Mlibo Ngewu has moved from the KZN High Court to the Eastern Cape High Court, and in Ngewu v Archbishop Makgoba & Others (EL197/2016, ECD497/2016 [2017] Eastern Cape Local Division, East London Circuit (25 May 2017), (unreported) his position as Bishop of the Diocese of Mzimvubu was the cause of further litigation in a secular court. He was again unsuccessful and Acting Judge Nicola Molony dismissed the application for an interdict against the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, with costs. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 28th May

A very, very sad week – and not one for flippant straplines…

The atrocity in Manchester

The appalling news from Manchester is beyond words. How society might react to it, however, is a legitimate matter for concern: there have already been calls in the social media for mass internments (of whom, precisely?) – and worse. Possibly one of the most measured reactions on Twitter was from Adam Wagner:

“1/ A few thoughts on the horrendous terror attack on my brilliant home town of .

2/ Terrorism isn’t just senseless violence. It has a purpose, which is to terrorise us. We, the public who watch in terror, are victims too.

3/ It’s totally natural to respond to terror with fear, anger, sometimes even a need for revenge; an ‘eye for an eye’. That’s what they want.

4/ The very best human societies are open, tolerant, multicultural. Terrorism makes us close up, retreat into our safe, small groups.

5/ In times of fear and retreat we must trust the rule-based system we build in better times. It’s insurance against our worst natures.”

Church of Scotland on same-sex marriage

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has agreed in principle to the report of its Theological Commission, An Approach to the Theology of Same-Sex Marriage. Continue reading

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

Bishops sans frontières

On Sunday 14 May, the document Consecration of New Style Bishops – Q&A was handed out at Jesmond Parish Church. It explained the rationale behind the episcopal consecration of its curate, the Revd Jonathan Pryke and the perceived need for “New Style Bishops” operating within a non-diocesan remit. Although legal issues were not addressed in the document, it provides a framework within which these issues may be discussed and it also raises questions concerning the development of this initiative within GAFCON, GAFCON-UK and AMiE. Continue reading

Objection to episcopal election in the Anglican Church of Canada

The Anglican Church of Canada has issued the following press release:

House of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC & Yukon registers objection to election of the Rev. Jacob Worley

For immediate release

The House of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC & Yukon in the Anglican Church of Canada has registered its objection to the episcopal election of the Rev. Jacob Worley in the Diocese of Caledonia. Their objection is registered under Canon 4 (b) vi  “That he or she teaches or holds or within five years previously taught or held anything contrary to the Doctrine or Discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Continue reading

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