Law and religion roundup – 18th February

An end to havering on naming the new London Overground Lines…

Charity Commission statutory inquiry

The Charity Commission has announced a statutory inquiry into the activities of the Al-Tawheed Charitable Trust, first registered in 1994, whose charitable purposes include promoting the Islamic faith, supporting Muslim communities and promoting recreation, sport, social and cultural activities.

The investigation concerns an event held by an external organisation at the charity’s premises in 2020. Its current trustees, who were not in office at the time, told the Commission the event was a “religious remembrance programme” for Major General Qasem Soleimani, organised by a third party and not by the charity itself. At the time of his death, Soleimani was Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Qods Force and subject to sanctions imposed by HM Government. Video footage provided to the Commission shows speakers praising Soleimani, and antisemitic chants can be heard.

The inquiry will examine the following regulatory issues:

  • The management and administration of the charity by its trustees.
  • The oversight and control by the charity’s trustees of the use of the charity’s properties by third parties.
  • The charity’s relationships with partners.

Rise in antisemitism in the UK

The Community Security Trust’s Antisemitic Incidents Report 2023 records 4,103 instances of anti-Jewish hate recorded across the UK in 2023. This is the highest annual total ever reported to CST: a 147% rise from the 1,662 antisemitic incidents in 2022 and 81% higher than the previous yearly record of 2,261 incidents reported in 2021.

Abolishing the House of Lords?

Not any time soon, but a YouGov poll of 2561 adults in Great Britain conducted on 8 February reveals that 59 per cent of respondents would support replacing the Lords with an elected House. 13 per cent oppose the proposal and 28 per cent say they don’t know. Labour voters were more likely to be in favour, but even 57 per cent of Conservative supporters would be in favour of abolition.

Disputed altar frontal: St Nicholas Leicester

The four judgments in Re St Nicholas Leicester relate to a petition for the introduction of a new altar frontal displaying the colours of the Progress Pride flag.

In Re St Nicholas Leicester [2023] ECC Lei 1, Rees Dep Ch determined that three of the nine objectors had a “sufficient interest” in the petition, but subsequent correspondence required him to reconsider the standing of one of the three: see Re St Nicholas Leicester [2023] ECC Lei 2. In Re St Nicholas Leicester [2023] ECC Lei 3, sitting as Acting Chancellor, he set aside his original order in so far as he now considered that one of those three objectors did not have a sufficient interest in the petition. Since one of the two remaining objectors subsequently left the Church of England and did not respond to the Petitioners’ application, he too was no longer deemed to have “sufficient interest”.

In Re St Nicholas Leicester [2024] ECC Lei 3, handed down on 7 February, Gyane Ch concluded that a faculty should not be granted. The essence of her judgment was encapsulated at paragraphs [73] and [76]:

“[73]. The focus, purpose and celebration of the Holy Communion is for all to come to Jesus and remember His sacrifice. We come to the Communion table not to forget who we are or our identity but to remember the sacrifice of Jesus and our identity in Him. At the Communion table, ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus [ref 4]’. It is clear that there is not a unified belief that the proposed altar frontal achieves this message of oneness in Christ and, in my view, this is the purpose of the Altar frontal. The Petition is on the basis of drawing to the Communion table one group within the Anglican communion (albeit a marginalised one). It is therefore inherent in that objective that not all are represented in the design and the call to draw near…

[76] Further, I’m not persuaded that the message and mission to LGBTQIA+ people would be impacted by the refusal of this Petition. The message and mission of St Nicholas is carried by the passion of the community at St Nicholas’. I have no doubt this will continue. I also note there are Pride Progress flags within and outside the Church to indicate welcome. Any concern I have about the impact on mission and pastoral care is outweighed by my view that the Altar frontal should be of a design that all can gaze upon, and immediately focus on in remembrance, the saving work of Christ and Christ alone.”

A case note will be posted later this week.

“Read this faculty”: Re St Luke Blackburn [2024] ECC Bla 3

A “sad tale which illustrates the problems that may arise when a church fails to observe the terms and conditions of a faculty granted by the consistory court” – a 35-page judgment which is prefaced by the suggestion by Hodge Ch (at [1]) that:

Before commencing any of the works authorised by this faculty, each of the petitioners is to read this faculty and return a copy to the Registry bearing their signature and confirming that they have read this faculty and have understood its terms and conditions” [emphasis in original]. 

Religious slaughter

France

This week Full Fact rebutted the claim that France had banned the halal slaughter of chickens ‘weeks’ before Ramadan. The claim has been shared widely on social platforms, including ahead of Ramadan, which this year is expected to begin on 11 March. This first originated in a press release issued by the mosques of Paris, Lyon and Évry in March 2021, raising concerns about a “ministerial instruction” which it said could lead to a ban on the halal slaughter of poultry. 

However, the ministerial instruction—published in November 2020—did not ban the ritual slaughter of animals in France. It was issued to clarify the requirements around slaughter methods in abattoirs, as well as stunning methods. Both halal and kosher slaughter of animals in France is allowed in approved abattoirs as part of a 2011 religious exemption to 2009 EU legislation which regulates how animals should be immobilised and stunned before slaughter. The president of the Lyon mosque clarified that while the directive did not “ban” halal slaughter, there were concerns that the control conditions would lower the amount of poultry being slaughtered under Muslim religious rules.

Parts of Belgium

The case Executief van de Moslims van België and Others v Belgium (applications nos. 16760/22 and 10 others) [in French] concerned a ban on the ritual slaughter of animals without prior stunning in the Flemish and Walloon Regions of Belgium. The European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 9 (freedom of religion) of the Convention or of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) taken together with Article 9. The Court found in particular that by adopting the decrees in question, which had had the effect of banning the slaughter of animals without prior stunning in the Flemish and Walloon Regions while allowing reversible stunning for ritual slaughter, the national authorities had not exceeded their discretion (“margin of appreciation”) in the case.

However, under Articles 43 and 44 of the Convention, this Chamber judgment is not final. During the three-month period following its delivery, any party may request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber of the Court. If such a request is made, a panel of five judges considers whether the case deserves further examination. In that event, the Grand Chamber will hear the case and deliver a final judgment. If the referral request is refused, the Chamber judgment will become final on that day. Once a judgment becomes final, it is transmitted to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for supervision of its execution.

We intend to post a full note on the judgment later in the week.

Quick links

And finally…I

A challenge to the printers of the business card for Archbishop Santiago De Wit Guzmán, titular of Gabala, apostolic nuncio in Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Grenada, Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, and Santa Lucia; apostolic delegate in the Antilles (Papal Audience 15 February 2024). [With thanks to Luke Coppen.]

And finally…II

Cheap as chips at £950 a pop. Fergus Butler-Gallie rubbishes the whole thing here.

 

4 thoughts on “Law and religion roundup – 18th February

  1. When I worked in the Public Bill Office in the Commons, long ago, and someone brought in a particularly inane amendment, I’d often find myself muttering “RTBA” (Read The Bloody Act). Same applies to faculties.

  2. Pingback: Religion news 20 February 2024 - Religion Media Centre

  3. Pingback: Religion news 20 February 2024 – Religion Media Centre - Hecho en California con Marcos Gutierrez

  4. Pingback: Law and religion roundup – 18th February - 365 Political News

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