The former Bishop of Grafton, Keith Slater, resigned on 17 May 2013 and retired to the Diocese of Brisbane. In 2015 under the terms of the Diocese of Grafton’s Professional Standards Ordinance 2004 (the “2004 Ordinance”), his successor, Bishop Sarah Macneil, deposed him “from Holy Orders in the Anglican Church of Australia” in accordance with the recommendation of the Professional Standards Board of the Diocese of Grafton . The matter ultimately came before the Appellate Tribunal of the Anglican Church of Australia, in Appeal of Keith Francis Slater  19 January. It’s an unusual judgment.
Oh well, back to work…
Religious observance in Scottish schools
The Times reports (£) that an online poll by YouGov for its Scottish edition has found that (55 per cent of Scots believes that children should not be made to participate in religious observance at school. 38 per cent of all Scots (and 48 per cent of SNP voters) feels that there should be no place for collective worship in the Scottish education system and a further 17 per cent wants children to be able to opt out, even without parental consent. [Thanks to British Religion in Numbers: see below.]
Church and State in Scandinavia Continue reading
Not much excitement this week unless you’re a statistics geek…
In his post Baptism and Godly Living, Philip Jones explores a priest’s obligations in relation to conducting infant baptism and the circumstances under which this might be delayed. Whilst most of those commentating on the recent report in the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror managed to locate and quote Canon B22, Philip extends his considerations to the requirements for godparents within Canon B23, who are required to be “be persons who will faithfully fulfil their responsibilities … by the example of their own godly living”, and must normally be baptised and confirmed, though the minister may dispense with the requirement of confirmation. He notes that the situation is different from that considered by the Court of Arches in Bland v Archdeacon of Cheltenham  1 All ER 1012, which under the 1603 Canons effective at that time, a deliberate refusal to baptise (as distinct from a failure to baptise due to forgetfulness or laziness) should be charged as an offence of disobedience to ecclesiastical law rather than as neglect of duty.
He concludes by saying that “despite the [current] broad wording “as he thinks fit”, it is unlikely that Canon B22(2) empowers the bishop to support an outright refusal to baptise a baby merely because of disapproval of the parents’ lifestyle,” which would be to impose a condition of baptism that is not found in ecclesiastical law. “The dictum in Bland … suggests that the bishop’s power is limited to agreeing that the incumbent may delay the baptism. It is true, however, that any delay may be indefinite, in which case there may be little practical distinction between delay and refusal”. However, such an approach would be viewed as being little better than the comments attributed to the Chester diocese spokesman. Continue reading
Almost two years ago I posted what I described as “an entirely personal theological rant by a non-theologian” – Doctrine and law – servants or masters? – in which I mused about the seeming dissonances between what the Churches teach and what their adherents actually believe. On reflection, perhaps I was being slightly disingenuous: having trained as a reader in the C of E and written a thesis for the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Diploma in Theology, while I could certainly not be described as any kind of theologian in a professional sense I am not a complete theological illiterate. But I was reminded of that post when I came across an interesting and thoughtful article by Jonathan Chaplin, Director of the Cambridge-based Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, on the Fulcrum website [9 April]: “Christian Scholarship Beyond the Theological Guild”. Continue reading
“Spiritual influence”, niqabs, burqas, Islamic marriage, breakaway churches and LEGO bricks – the odds and ends of a fairly eventful week…
Undue “spiritual influence”
In February we noted that the elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, had been accused before an Election Court inquiring into his re-election of securing his victory, inter alia, by bringing undue “spiritual influence” to bear on Muslim electors. On Thursday, in what was by far the biggest religion story of the week, he was found guilty, deposed from office, barred from standing in the new election and ordered to pay £250,000 costs. Next week we will publish a further analysis of the current position on “spiritual influence” as clarified by the Election Commissioner, Richard Mawrey QC.
Lord Neuberger and niqabs
The recent speech to the Criminal Justice Alliance by the President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, Fairness in the courts: the best we can do, caused considerable media reaction – see, for example, the Telegraph, the Mail and the Guardian – which may have led some readers to draw the erroneous conclusion that the PSC had said that Muslim women should be allowed to wear niqabs while giving evidence.
In fact, that is not what he said; and on 18 April the Supreme Court issued a clarificatory press release as follows: