Law and religion round-up – 22nd September

A week in which there was a larger crowd outside the Supreme Court building than at Horse Guards, Whitehall…

.. but fewer classical references in the media and other reports, which were restricted to inclusion of Aristotle and Marcilius of Padua in the written case for Joanna Cherry QC. After the Supreme Court Justices insisted that the appeals being considered had nothing to do with Brexit, the Court was prompted to change the title of its informative web page from “Brexit-related judicial review cases” to “Prorogation-related judicial review cases”. However, the URL remains unchanged:

Independent review of Prevent

The Government has published the terms of reference for the independent review of the Prevent programme.

The review, which will be led by Lord Carlile, will focus on the current delivery of Prevent and make recommendations for the future of the Government’s strategy for safeguarding those vulnerable to radicalisation. It will include looking at how effectively Prevent is delivered at local and national levels, how effectively the Prevent statutory duty is being implemented, how it might be improved to respond to justified criticisms and complaints, and how it interacts with other safeguarding strategies. The review will report to Parliament by August 2020.

Is vegetarianism a protected characteristic?

“No”, said the Employment Tribunal in Mr G Conisbee v Crossley Farms Ltd & Ors [2019] ET 3335357/2018, primarily on the grounds that – unlike veganism – there is no generally-agreed consensus among vegetarians as to what, precisely, it entails. Which leads us to wonder whether there is a generally-agreed consensus among Christians as to what Christianity entails: compare and contrast, for example, The Revd Dr Ian Paisley and Pope Pius IX. We noted the case here.

Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme

We understand from the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance that the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, under which trustees of listed places of worship can reclaim the VAT charged on repair projects and alterations, will continue until the end of March 2021. It was due to come to an end on 31 March 2020.

Parochial Fees 2020

On 18 September, the Office for National Statistics reported that the Consumer Prices Index was 1.7% in August 2019, down from 2.0% in July 2019. The Parochial Fees for 2020 will be based upon this rate of inflation. Last year the Church published the revised parochial fees about one month after to ONS announcement of the rate of inflation.

Bishop-Elect of Monmouth

On 19 September, the Archdeacon of Rochdale, the Ven Cherry Vann, was elected as the next Bishop of Monmouth, securing the necessary two-thirds majority vote from members of the Electoral College on the last day of its meeting at Newport Cathedral. The Press Release stated “Ms Vann will be the Bishop-Elect until the appointment is formally confirmed by the Archbishop at a Sacred Synod service. She will be then be consecrated bishop at Brecon Cathedral – the seat of the current Archbishop – and enthroned as the 11th Bishop of Monmouth at Newport Cathedral”. The Church in Wales will then have three female diocesan bishops.

Unrelated to the election of Archdeacon Vann, at its meeting on 11-12 September, Governing Body of the Church in Wales welcomed (but did not endorse) a motion requesting draft legislation to change the electoral college system of electing bishops in the Church in Wales was carried. The Report from the Electoral College Review Working Group is available here.

Recording religion in Greece? No longer

Earlier this month, we mentioned a ruling by Greece’s Data Protection Authority that keeping records of the religious affiliation and nationality of schoolchildren violated the Constitution and the ECHR and that it was also illegal to ask parents to submit an official statement declaring that their child was not an Orthodox Christian in order to exempt the child from religion classes. Kathimerini now reports that the Education Ministry has decided to end the practice of schools publishing the religious faith and nationality of pupils on school certificates and the Ministry’s Myschool website. It is also scrapping the declaration requirement for exemption from religious instruction.

Commenting on the decision, Education Minister Niki Kerameus said that the Ministry’s aim was to cultivate an environment for learning in schools which was free, creative and without exclusion or discrimination and respectful of religious convictions:

“It was deemed that the inclusion of religion and nationality in qualifications and certificates of studies is not necessary and does not serve their sole purpose, which is to attest to the performance and successful completion of the student’s studies.”

The only question in our minds is why it could ever have been thought to be either necessary or appropriate in the first place.

Our men in the Vatican

On 19 September, in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the Conference organized by the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of its founding. The Pontiff said:

“The work of the Society, bringing together experts from different Churches – Eastern Catholics, Orthodox and Oriental Churches – is of fundamental assistance to ecumenical dialogue. How much we can learn from one another in all areas of ecclesial life: theology, the experience of spirituality and liturgy, pastoral activity and, certainly, canon law.

Canon law is essential for ecumenical dialogue. Many of the theological dialogues pursued by the Catholic Church, especially with the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Churches, are of an ecclesiological nature. They have a canonical dimension too, since ecclesiology finds expression in the institutions and the law of the Churches. It is clear, therefore, that canon law is not only an aid to ecumenical dialogue but also an essential dimension. Then too it is clear that ecumenical dialogue also enriches canon law.”

The Congress was attended by The Worshipful Professor Mark Hill QC, Chairman of the Ecclesiastical Law Society, together with Professor Norman Doe of the Centre for Law and Religion.

Quick links

And finally…I Lay not up for yourselves?

The BBC reports that the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland are suing metal detectorist Derek McLennan for a share of the Viking treasure which he found in 2014 on land owned by the Kirk in Dumfries and Galloway. The National Museum of Scotland paid almost £2M for the items. Rather than M Rice-Davies, Matt 6:19-21 applies.

And finally…II Twelve good (wo)men and true?

The Daily Telegraph reported that a case at Chelmsford Crown Court collapsed after a woman “simply followed the crowd” and accidentally joined the jury. She had been sitting outside in the pool of people summoned for jury service and had followed a group into the courtroom and joined them on the jury bench.

Reassuring the would-be juror, HHJ Seely said “Don’t worry, none of us noticed or noted it. The person who should be there for some reason did not head down. There were 12 people sworn in as jurors yesterday, you were not one of them. There is no question of me discharging you, you’re not on this jury”. The case was restarted with the original jury, and the woman returned to the pool and was able to serve on another jury.

2 thoughts on “Law and religion round-up – 22nd September

  1. Female bishops in the Church of England – correction
    Frank, you say above (under ‘Bishop-Elect of Monmouth’): “The Church in Wales will then have three female diocesan bishops, whereas in the Church of England only five out of the twenty-six diocesan bishops are women.”
    In fact, there are 42 diocesan bishops in the C of E, not 26, but 26 of them are members of the House of Lords as ‘Lords Spiritual’, including all five of the women diocesans.
    In addition to the five female diocesans, there are 17 women suffragan bishops in the C of E and two more women are suffragan bishops-designate (Rose Hudson-Wilkin and Olivia Graham – both due to be consecrated on 19 November 2019). Since January 2015, therefore, 24 women have been appointed as C of E bishops compared with 20 men.

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