Law and religion round-up – 16th January

No rules were broken during the preparation of this post, nor were any suitcases involved…

Clergy Discipline Measure again

In answer to a Written Question from Rachael Maskell (Lab, York Central, when a presentation of proposals to reform the Clergy Discipline Measure would be made available to members of the Ecclesiastical Committee, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous, replied:

“The Ecclesiastical Committee have not, as yet, been formally apprised of the recommendations made either by the Lambeth Working Group or the Implementation Group. The Implementation Group would be very happy to present their proposals to the Ecclesiastical Committee as part of the ongoing work over reforming clergy discipline. The Group envisage being in a position to do this from May 2022.”

Ritual slaughter

The Government has reiterated its intention of preserving the practice of ritual slaughter of animals without pre-stunning. In answer to a question from Matthew Offord (Con, Hendon) Jo Churchill said:

“The Government is committed to supporting the rights of Jewish communities to eat meat slaughtered by the shechita method. This is secured in our legislation by the derogation from stunning that applies when animals are slaughtered in accordance with religious rites.”

Furthermore, ritual slaughter will not be within the remit of the Animal Sentience Committee (ASC) to be established through the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, introduced in the House of Lords on 13 May 2021. [The progress of the Bill to date has been summarized in a House of Commons Library Briefing].

At the Report stage in the Lords on 6 December 2021, there was a proposed amendment that:

“Recommendations made by the Committee [ASC] must respect legislative or administrative provisions and customs relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage”.

However, In his response, Lord Benyon explained that decisions in this area would not sit with the ASC:

“This amendment would require the animal sentience committee to have regard to certain other matters of public interest, such as cultural traditions. It bears repeating that the purpose of the committee is not to make value judgments on the weight that animal welfare should be given in relation to other matters of public interest. That is for Ministers, who are rightly held to account in Parliament”.

Consultation on membership of the Crown Nominations Commission for future Archbishops of Canterbury

On 14 January 2022, the Archbishops’ Council launched a consultation on a proposal to change the make-up of the body which nominates future Archbishops of Canterbury. The proposal would give the worldwide Anglican Communion a greater voice on the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) for the See of Canterbury. The proposal would increase the Anglican Communion representatives to five while reducing the number of members from the Diocese to three.

As at present, there would also be nine other members from the Church of England, including six elected by General Synod. The consultation, which will include key partners from across the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, will run until March 31. As part of the consultation General Synod will debate the proposal at its meeting in February; it is anticipated that a final proposal will be put to the General Synod for a vote in July.

Wales: guidance on Religion, Values and Ethics syllabus

The Welsh Government has published its curriculum guidance on the teaching of the Religion, Values and Ethics syllabus. Russell Sandberg has produced an analysis of it, here.

Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016

The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 was passed by the (then) National Assembly for Wales, based on recommendations from the Law Commission. It makes major changes to the tenure of residential property in Wales. Commencement has been delayed by a number of legal and practical issues, but the Welsh Government now intends that it should be commenced on 15 July 2022. The provisions of the Act have important implications for all landlords, including churches that let residential property for occupation in Wales or who house clergy or church workers in church-owned properties.

There is a helpful summary, updated on 14 January, on the Cytûn website, here. We urge any reader who might be affected by the forthcoming changes to read it carefully. [With thanks to Gethin Rhys.]

“Treble’s going“?

In Re A Redundant Church Bell [2021] ECC Oxf 11, the petitioners sought to display a redundant treble bell dating from the 1630s at the base of the church tower, notwithstanding the risk that it might be stolen from the church, which was left open during the day.  However, there were differences of opinion between the churchwarden, the Diocesan Senior Church Buildings Officer and the Diocesan Bells Adviser as to the degree of risk of theft and whether the bell should be displayed at ground level or on the first floor of the tower.

The Chancellor, after considering judgments discussing the risks of church artefacts being stolen, determined that retaining a treasured artefact would always carry some degree of risk, wherever the artefact was retained. He therefore gave the petitioners to choice of retaining the redundant bell on display either on the ground floor or on the first floor of the tower

The Chancellor concluded by stating [our emphasis[:

“[31]. This anonymised judgment can, and should, be made publicly available and disseminated to the parish, the DAC, the Bells Adviser, the Archdeacons, ecclesiastical judges, registrars and lawyers, and interested members of the public, in the usual way: but there should be no indication that this judgment relates in any way to this particular church. For this reason, I have refrained from attaching any relevant photographs to this judgment in case they might help to identify the church”.

A new journal

The Journal of Religion, Culture & Democracy, a new peer-reviewed, open-access scholarly journal focused on the intersection of religion and civil society, is inviting article submissions to be considered for publication in its inaugural volume in 2022. The journal will be published under the auspices of the Center for Religion, Culture and Democracy. The inaugural volume will focus particularly on “fundamental principles or historical notions regarding the relationships between religion, civil society, and the individual human person”.

To submit a manuscript, go to the JRCD’s “For Authors” page. Accepted manuscripts will be published online upon completion of the editorial process. Submissions received after 1 October 2022 will be considered for publication in 2023.

Quick links

And finally…

To all those tedious spammers who keep asking us if anyone has shopped at various exotic-sounding vape emporia, mostly in the US: No – I get my e-juice supplies from our local Co-op: FC.

3 thoughts on “Law and religion round-up – 16th January

    • Absolutely. Even a small treble bell might weigh five or six cwt, but bell metal is valuable stuff and bells have been known to get nicked.

    • Although security was the rationale for the anonymisation of the name of the church, there are a number of mixed messages from the various actors within this case.

      The requirement that “the parish (and the Bells Adviser) should seek to ensure that details of the precise location of the redundant bell are not published on the benefice web-site or any other public or social media, or any bells register or database” seeks agreement on confidentiality that are not within the gift of the Chancellor, parish or Bells Advisor.

      Nevertheless, we at L&RUK will abide by these wishes, regardless of the temptation to follow up the various clues within the judgment document.

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