Law and religion round-up – 17th April

A week in which “Happy Birthday to you” acquired a new significance

Rustat Memorial

On 12 April, Jesus College, Cambridge issued a statement that having taken advice and after much thought, the College Council had decided not to appeal the judgment in Re The Rustat Memorial, Jesus College Cambridge[2022] ECC Ely 2 – in which the Deputy Chancellor refused to grant a faculty to the College for the removal from the College chapel of the memorial to Tobias Rustat (1607/8-1694), who had invested in the African the slave trade. The decision not to appeal was accompanied by a call for the Church of England “to change how it deals with matters of racial injustice and contested heritage” and Sonita Alleyne, Master of Jesus College, was quoted as saying the rejection of the College’s petition “demonstrates the inadequacies of the church process for addressing issues of racial injustice and contested memorialisation”. The Church of England then released a statement on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury in which he said that he stood by his previous comments and that “Memorials to slave traders do not belong in places of worship”.

In that context, the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Church of England is establishing a new Contested Heritage Committee which “will focus on the Church’s priority of racial justice as it is manifested in the material culture in our churches and cathedrals”. It seems likely that the consistory court proceedings and the Church of England’s other involvement with the Rustat Memorial will be an early consideration of the new Committee. We note the Deputy Chancellor’s comment: Continue reading