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.
Turkish Alevis and discrimination
This week the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR heard argument in Doğan & Ors v Turkey [No 62649/10]. The applicants complain about the authorities’ refusal to provide public services in religious matters to Alevi citizens and claim that they are discriminated against in comparison to Sunni Muslims – on which, it should be said, Turkey has quite a bit of what might be described as “previous”. In May 2013 the Court gave notice of the application to the Turkish Government and put questions to the parties: in November 2014 the Chamber to which the case had been allocated relinquished jurisdiction to the Grand Chamber. Which is why this is the first you’ve heard of it…
Core Issues and Transport for London – again
Readers will no doubt remember the row about the refusal to allow an advertisement with the wording “NOT GAY! EX-GAY, POST-GAY AND PROUD. GET OVER IT!” on the outside of London buses: we posted about it here. The dispute went to the Court of Appeal and in R (Core Issues Trust) v Transport for London & Anor  EWCA Civ 34 the Court sent the matter back to the Administrative Court for a further hearing.
Core Issues Trust will be back in the Court of Appeal on Wednesday 10 June to seek leave to appeal the judgment of Lang J in R (Core Issues Trust Ltd) v Transport for London & Anor  EWHC 2628 (Admin) and the order for costs.
On 27 May, the European Commission released a brief Q&A on a consultant’s study undertaken on its behalf, Information to Consumers on the Stunning of Animals, and published earlier this year. The study consists of two parts: a consumer survey where people have been interviewed on their opinion about receiving information on stunning; and a collection of opinions from the main stakeholders at EU and national level in selected Member States (France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK). These were asked their opinions on the results of the consumers’ survey as well as on the possible consequences of introducing compulsory labelling of meat on the stunning of animals.
Only the Jewish Chronicle appears to have picked up this news item, on which it reports “Method of slaughter labelling a low priority for meat consumers, EU reports finds” . However, the Q&A has the Delphic comment:
“[t]he study reflects the opinion of a consultant but not that of the Commission. The consultant does not recommend compulsory labelling of meat obtained from animals slaughtered without stunning. The Commission will analyse the data in detail and will take action as appropriate with due regard to the various dimensions of the question.”
Chancel Repairs Bill [Lords]
The Chancel Repairs Bill was introduced by Lord Avebury on 3 June and printed. Our guess is that it will get no further than it has in the previous Parliament: nowhere.
The school run? OK for followers of the Belzer Rebbe…
Last week we mentioned that the Jewish Chronicle had reported that the British leaders of the Belz Chasidim had sent a letter to families with children at their two schools saying that for women to drive was against “traditional rules of modesty” and that, from August, children would be barred from school if their mothers drove them there. It subsequently emerged that the letters had been sent without the prior approval of the schools’ governors; and on Wednesday the schools backed down after the Equality and Human Rights Commission warned them that the proposed ban was unlawful and discriminatory.
So that’s all right, then.
- Office of National Statistics: 2011 Census: How religion has changed in England and Wales The decade 2001 to 2011 saw a fall in the number of people identifying as Christian, and an increase in those identifying with minority religious groups and those reporting no religion.
- British Religion in Numbers, (BRIN): Socio-Demographic Groups and Religious Affiliation in Britain. Press release from the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), here.
- European Court of Human Rights: Factsheet on freedom of religion updated May 2015 – fortunately we seem to have picked up almost all the cases mentioned.
- Marina Wheeler, UK Human Rights Blog: No call for revolution “Last week the Queen revealed that the newly-elected government had delayed its promised proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act. If this signals a willingness to listen and reflect, rather than an opportunity to bring potential rebels into line, then so much the better.”
- Cabinet Office: Prince of Wales correspondence with government departments.
- Ecclesiastical Law Society: Gospel and Law, Pentecost and Trinity Edition.
During the 3rd Day of the Lords debate on the Queen’s Speech, Lord Hope of Craighead (CB), former Deputy President of the UKSC and before that Lord Justice General, commented on the ECHR, making the following interesting analogy:
“ … I suggest that the Government need to recognise the extent to which the convention rights are so deeply embedded in our law as a result of decisions taken both by this House in its judicial capacity and by the United Kingdom Supreme Court since those days. Respect for those rights is firmly established in our jurisprudence and all the comparative work that has gone into it.
To get rid of all of that is rather like trying to get rid of Japanese knotweed, which we hear about at Question Time, [presumably at Gardeners’ QT not PMQs]. It will be as difficult and therefore one does wonder whether all the effort that is going into this is really worth it. I rather support the point made by the noble Lord, Lord McNally, that once one recognises the reality and also respects the convention, which I understand the Prime Minister now to favour, the problems are more imaginary than real, and one should be real about it and address the issue in that way.”
With thanks to Obiter J for the lead