Today, 11 June 2022, marks ten years since the start of regular blogging on Law and Religion UK with the post Lay employees and church discipline; this examined the increasingly-complex issue of the employment status and employment rights of lay employees of religious organisations in the case of Fernández Martínez v Spain  ECHR 6030/07. Since then we have published over 3,313* posts which have attracted a total of 2,357,331* page-reads. Links to the more popular areas covered are now included in the recently created L&RUK index, to which additional headings will be added in the future.
During this time we have provided updates on the progress of the blog to mark what appeared to be significant milestones, most recently on 7 February 2021; this coincided with the ninth anniversary of our first post Prayers at council meetings on 17 February 2012, and with the achievement of 2 million page views on 29 January 2021. During 2020 there were two significant periods of down-time and which caused us concern regarding the future of the blog – three continuous weeks in October and almost two weeks in January/February. Nevertheless, after changes to our internet provider and hard work by our IT consultant, John Lagrue, the readership quickly resumed to its former levels, much as it did in 2018 when subscribers were required to re-register as the blog was modified to enable it to become GDPR compliant.
Over the past couple of years, the COVID-19 has had a significant impact on faith groups. In addition to our coverage of the impacts of the pandemic, from 28 July 2020 to 21 August 2021 we posted weekly, rolling updates of the current legislation and guidance. As the number of legislative changes decreased, the frequency of these updates was reduced to monthly until the May 2022 update, which now also includes subsequent changes. COVID-19 related issues featured in a substantial number of our posts and formed the basis to two joint papers, one of which now forms a book chapter, and also a monograph which is currently in preparation. Our COVID-19 posts provided UK faith groups with an up-to-date snapshot of the current restrictions, although our routine “law and religion” coverage continued as before.
Apart from these COVID-19 related posts, there have been relatively few changes to the format or coverage of L&RUK. The recent changes to the Home Page rationalized a number of additions which had been added piecemeal to satisfy legal requirements, or to clarify the blog’s terms and conditions to readers. An exception was the introduction of an Index to the post, which in addition to assisting others in negotiating the content of the blog is of use to ourselves when writing posts.
With regard to content, an early addition was the “round-up” of events that did not warrant a stand-alone post – initially this was on an occasional basis but it soon became a monthly, then weekly event to which the “Quick links” item was soon added. The round-up for 13 August 2017 included the first appearance of “Queries and Comments” – an attempt at answering recent questions on “issues of law and religion in the United Kingdom which arose this week through searches of the blog. This feature continued until February 2020 at which time many of the questions arising had been addressed already. In future, however, some of these may be published in a different format, in addition to which answers to the Annual Quiz (2012 – present) will also be included.
With regard to the future posts, we expect to reach 2.5 million page-reads by early January next year. As ever, the content will be issue-driven, and although we would have preferred COVID-19 concerns to have concluded, there are some indications that a further wave is likely. Of currently scheduled events, primates at the Lambeth Conference will meets for 12 days in Canterbury, starting on 26 July 2022; however, in view of the recent announcement that the Conference will not pass resolutions, but will instead make short statements known as “Lambeth Calls”, it appears that there will be little legislative content. Whilst we will not be reporting on the on-going dialogue concerning the former Dean of Christ Church Oxford, the outcome of the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) Review and the Governance Review will be of interest, particularly in relation to the role of the future Dean in relation to the Cathedral and the College.
An important forthcoming event in October this year is the 30th anniversary in October this year of the LLM in Canon Law at Cardiff University; we are grateful to Professor Norman Doe who through the LLM course provided a catalyst to this, and to a number of other blogs in this area. We also acknowledge the involvement of the authors of our guest posts, and also our readers for their continued encouragement.
David and Frank