Two years ago we posted Still writing on the “graffiti wall of death” which marked the ninth anniversary of the first appearance of Law & Religion UK on 17 February 2012, and the achievement of 2 million page-views in January 2021. On 9 February 2023, the blog passed the 2.5 million page-view milestone and this post reviews some of the highlights over the last two years.
In our 2021 post we noted that the impact of COVID-19 had featured in a significant number of posts since the first confirmed cases in January 2020. The second wave of infections in the UK (October 2020 to mid-February 2021) had peaked on 19 January 2021, but in the week that the third national lockdown was imposed, the government decided not to suspend public worship in England although this was not the case elsewhere in the UK. We continued to post rolling weekly updates of new legislation and guidance on coronavirus COVID-19, starting in August 2020 and ending on 21 August 2021.
Restrictions in England were reduced from January 2022, and as the situation improved, these reduced to a monthly frequency until a post in May 2022 which included al the subsequent updates until September 2022. Nevertheless, the focus of the blog (and the interests of our readers) remained on core “law and religion” issues, which is reflected in the statistics for the most read posts in the twelve months during 2021 and 2022.
In both years there was the usual mix of posts of issues of general interest: church bells and the law, churches as charities, and churchyard regulations; more topical items such as the approaches of religion to vaccines, and changes to the the registration of marriage; and the on-going interest in parochial fees. During 2021, the most read post was Churchyard Regulations – the practicalities of enforcement which was first published in 2016, and in view of a recent judgment on family graves, is probably due for an update. In 2022, Professor Mark Hill’s recent consideration Principles of Canon Law and the Mind of the Anglican Communion topped the “non-Parochial Fees” blogs, and Should the Church of England be disestablished? by Jonathan Chaplin will be of current topical interest.
On 22 April 2022, we posted an Index which listed some of the more popular areas of ecclesiastical law we have covered in L&RUK, including more detailed links to specific topics within these headings. Further headings continue to be added. Since then a link to the Index had been added to the task bar of each new post. Within the Analysis of L&RUK heading are links to some of the more important milestones since 2012, and to statistics of our most read posts pre-2022.
In addition to exceeding 2.5M page-reads, there have been other milestone events: on 11 June 2022 we marked ten years since the start of regular blogging on Law and Religion UK, and in January 2023 we exceeded 1,000 subscribers and asked whether readers would consider making a donation to The Billable Hour – the lawyers’ charity that raises money for Save the Children.
Since 2012 we have posted updates on the progress of the blog to mark what appeared to us, at the time, significant milestones. The L&RUK milestones page of the Index has a summary of the relevant dates and links to posts tracing the development of the blog. The day-to-day content of L&RUK is determined, to a large extent, by current events, and the (internal) WordPress system provides us with real time feedback.
In February 2022, we reported that Dame Catherine Wybourne OSB, aka @Digitalnun, died following a long illness. A whole swathe of Twitterati, including ourselves, felt that we had lost a friend, even though we never met her face to face. Her making the keynote speech Religion and the Internet at the RSA’s Faith 2.0 conference, here, remains as relevant as it did in February 2011, and may have persuaded some of us about the benefits of blogging.
Blogs and the long-term issues
Also last year, Archbishop Cranmer stopped blogging after 16 years, and this raises the question: “to what extent is access to information on the internet important?” – some information will no longer be available, either through the deletion of the source material, or a change in the URL?” With regard to “law and religion” sites which are not currently active, our BlogRoll indicates that for some, such as Edward Peters’ blog In the Light of the Law, Gillan Scott’s God and Politics, and Neil Addison’s Religion Law blog, the content is still directly accessible. [Frank points out that some, such as iBenedictines, may be accessed via the Wayback Machine].
There is also an issue for blogs such as L&RUK which link to material external to the site, for example: pre-September 2018 when we linked to consistory court judgments held on the Ecclesiastical Law Association site; and in relation to the COVID-19 restrictions, and the different approaches of government and the Church of England on links to the their respective advice.
With these thoughts in mind, we move forward to reaching 3 million page-views in late 2024, or perhaps sooner.
David and Frank