Law and religion round-up – 11th June

After some thought, we have decided not to quit blogging with immediate effect. And in other news…

St Mary Redcliffe and Edward Colston

The Religion Media Centre reports that a faculty has been granted for stained glass windows dedicated to the slave trader Edward Colston in St Mary Redcliffe to be replaced with windows depicting Jesus on a transatlantic slave ship, a cross-Channel migrant boat and a civil rights march. The original window was taken down after the statue of Colston was toppled into Bristol Harbour three years ago by anti-racism protesters. The new designs were chosen after a competition.

According to St Mary Redcliffe’s website, the Chancellor agreed that the original Victorian panels hindered the church from its mission of “singing the song of faith and justice”. The judgment Re St. Mary Redcliffe [2023] ECC Bri 1 became  available on 13 June 2023, and a case-note is in preparation.

Lack of legal recognition for same-sex relationships again

In Maymulakhin and Markiv v Ukraine [2023] ECHR 442, the Fifth Section found that, in light of the Grand Chamber judgment in Fedotova and Others, the absence of any legal recognition and protection for same-sex couples was a violation of Article 14 of the Convention taken in conjunction with Article 8. Verfassungsblog has a long comment on the judgment by Giulio Fedele, here.

Humanism and religious education in schools

In a guest post on humanism in schools, Russell Sandberg analyses the latest judgment on humanism and religious education in schools and explores how England is slowly catching up with Wales in terms of recognising the “or belief”’ part of “religion or belief” in the context of education law. He concludes:

 R (on the Application of Bowen) v Kent County Council [2023] EWHC 1261 (Admin) is an important milestone in the (regrettably) gradual recognition that freedom of religion or belief protects non-religious beliefs. The High Court judgment is particularly welcome in terms of how explicitly it states that the ECHR requires reading domestic legislation to recognise non-religious beliefs and in how it debunks many of the objections often given for extending protection in this way. It is now clear that a literal interpretation of England’s educational laws on this matter is not legally correct. This underscores how archaic and ripe for reform those provisions are. There remains much more to do, but Bowen is a (long overdue) legal landmark”.

Danish ID cards

Somewhat to our surprise, we learned this week that the Church of Denmark not only registers births and marriages but also issues identity cards that are valid for secular purposes. Apparently, they are often stamped with a cross, a lamb or some other Christian symbol – whether the recipient is a Christian or not. From 15 June, however, all certificates for non-members of the Church will have to be stamped with neutral symbols. Almost a candidate for “you couldn’t make it up”.

Quick links

And finally…

2 thoughts on “Law and religion round-up – 11th June

  1. The story about Denmark is not quite right. The Danish state church does not issue identity cards, partly for the reason that Denmark does not have a system of official identity cards. What the Church does is issue a range of documents in relation to its role as responsible for registration of all births and deaths. These documents will have a signature and a stamp. Each parish has its own stamp, and these may have Christian symbols as part of the design. What is changing is that the stamps can no longer have any Christian symbolism.

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