Saturday, 17 December 2005

employment status of the clergy

Updated 24 December
The Church Times has two reports on this, both can be found at Church studies employment ruling; scroll down for Shiranikha Herbert’s report of the case.

A court case with significant implications for the Church of England (and other UK Anglicans) was decided in the House of Lords this week. Although the case itself concerned a claim alleging sex discrimination in the (presbyterian) Church of Scotland, it could have much wider ramifications in the long term.

The best newspaper reports of this are in the Scotsman and the Guardian.
Scotsman Susan Mansfield and (scroll down) Julie Sabba Ex-minister wins right to sue Kirk for sex discrimination
Guardian Clare Dyer Kirk minister sacked over affair wins right to lodge sex bias claim
Update also Woman ex-minister to sue Kirk over sex ‘bias’ by David Lister in The Times

The full text of the Law Lords ruling is online here:
Judgments - Percy (AP) (Apellant) v. Church of Scotland Board of National Mission (Respondent) (Scotland) and a PDF of this, which may be more convenient because it is some 60 pages long on paper, is here.

Other press coverage:
Observer before the judgement Minister awaits sex bias verdict … against God
The Times/PA News Woman vicar cleared to bring sex claim
Herald She worked for God on high, but her boss is down on earth
BBC Ex-minister wins sex claim fight

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 17 December 2005 at 12:58pm GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Heading for French style "separation of church and state" ? Next it will be headscarf bans, legislation that discriminates against religions, and state controlled church... Dooh! ;-)

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 17 December 2005 at 3:02pm GMT

Was there not some discussion about the loss of freehold being replaced with acceptance of clergy right to go to tribunal?

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 18 December 2005 at 1:35am GMT

Merseymike is right. The proposals for common tenure would indeed give the clergy the right to go to employment tribunals. In the five-minute discussion which passed for a "debate" of these proposals at the London Diocesan Synod, there were some priests who were extremely doubtful about the ability of an employment tribunal to deal with the office and work of a priest. (I think they're mistaken, and in any event the government isn't going to wear setting up an entirely different tribunal to deal with the C of E clergy.)

In any event, the lady whose nookie inspired the case under discussion isn't Anglican but a Church of Scotland minister.

Posted by: Alan Harrison on Monday, 19 December 2005 at 1:16pm GMT

Yes ; thats what confused me - did the regulations relate to all ministers of all churches?

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 19 December 2005 at 3:40pm GMT

Merseymike --

I guess establishment is establishment -- I've been told that Queen Victoria was asked why she always spent Christmas & Easter at Balmoral & she repled, "Oh, those are much too happy occasions for a PRAYERBOOK service!"

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Tuesday, 20 December 2005 at 2:21am GMT

I thought that the key line from Lord Nicholls was "It was time.. to recognise...etc". Isn't he saying "herewith we bring about a change [in effect] in the law"?

Notwithstanding the hypocrisy of harsher discipline of some leaders compared to others for what the church would theoretically say are identical "sins", if the appointment and discipline of its spiritual leaders and teachers isn't a spiritual matter for the church (or mosque or synagogue or temple) without interference from the state, what is?

If not, it is hard for me to imagine what real effect the churches' autonomy in matters spiritual should have? Surely religious freedom must allow for some differences on ethical and moral issues - even differences that the state disagrees with, or are downright wrong! Or is religious freedom to be relegated to the private sphere?!

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 29 December 2005 at 10:21pm GMT
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