Law and religion round-up – 29th November

An astonishingly busy week, dominated by the continuing row over the refusal to screen the Lord’s Prayer advert. But there was other stuff as well… 

That cinema advert

Last week we mentioned what we thought was a potential major row over the refusal of leading cinemas to show a 60-second advertisement, based on The Lord’s Prayer, from December 18 as part of the ad reel before Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We were right; and the affair continues to rumble on. Our own view is that, whether or not the refusal to take the ad was a sensible decision (and it probably wasn’t), in strictly legal terms there’s probably no case to answer. But others think differently: see the comments to our post (and Twitter, passim).

Stop press: The Mail on Sunday reports that the Church of England has complained about the decision to the Equality and Human Rights Commission on grounds of discrimination. The report speculates that the EHRC could begin a test case under the Equality Act 2010. We’ll see.

Compare and contrast

In the debate following the Lords question on banning that advert the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government, Baroness Williams of Trafford, (Con), said:

“My Lords, we have made clear our expectation that all schools should actively promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs … These are the bedrock of British values and, without them, we cannot expect any young person to play a full part in civic society in this country.”

On the same day, the High Court handed down its judgment in R (Fox & Ors) v Secretary of State for Education [2015] EWHC 3404 (Admin), on which we hope to post a note later this week. Warby J ruled in favour of the three humanist parents and their children who challenged the Government’s relegation of non-religious worldviews in the latest subject content for GCSE Religious Studies. He stated that this conclusion can best be analysed on the basis of an error of law in the Secretary of State’s interpretation of the education statutes [76]. Hmm… Continue reading