Comments: other legal views of the CofE response to government

Back in the late 60's when I was earning my undergraduate degree, I elected to take a course in Christian ethics and was quite taken with Niebuhr's "Moral Man and Immoral Society" as a compelling critique of the failure of governmental and economic systems to act in moral ways. I never thought at the time that his condemnation would also have to be directed at the "institutional" church. It matters not whether we are talking about the civil marriage response or the women bishops amendments. They are decisions to made to hold or appease power, a fact betrayed by a defense from tradition rather than rational argument.

Posted by David BIeler at Monday, 18 June 2012 at 3:50pm BST

There is also the Law Society's response to the Government's proposal, which led one commentator to remark "Considered clinically, as a matter of law the House of Bishops document seems to be tendentious scaremongering, for a non-legal purpose".

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Monday, 18 June 2012 at 4:51pm BST

"contrary to its doctrine or the religious convictions of its members..."
It's that last bit that rather begs the question in any event. I'd hate the thought of a challenge that assumed I agreed with the official C of E statement.

Posted by Marika at Monday, 18 June 2012 at 5:16pm BST

One might question why the Christian Church would ever have cause to question the efforts of the State to bring about justice and equality of opportunity for ALL of its citizens.

The scare-mongering tactics of the Bishops' reaction to the prospect of Gay Marriage seems to prejudice any attempt by other religious groups to carry out their enabling ministry to Same-Sex couples who want to place their loving monogamous relationships before God. This 'dog-in-the-manger' tactic does not win friends for the Church among the 'un-churched' either.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 19 June 2012 at 12:02pm BST

Shami Chakrabarti: 'The Church of England should have greater confidence in the strength of freedom of conscience protection under Article 9.'

Well, that wouldn't be the same article 9 that Ladele (a registrar who refused to carry out civil partnerships) and McFarlane (a relationship counsellor who opted out of working with gay couples) were expected to rely upon, would it?

Solemnising a marriage should indeed be considered a 'manifestation of religion', but, should she prove wrong, I'd love for Karen Monaghan, QC to be willing to 'eat crow' and pay for the financial impact of any reliance by the CofE on her published counsel. If she's not just giving professional credibility to informal advice, one might tell her: 'put your money where your mouth is'.

Posted by David Shepherd at Tuesday, 19 June 2012 at 2:14pm BST

Ladele is completely different as that case is one of an employee of the secular state as opposed to a church proving ceremonies according to or contrary to their doctrine.

The freedom of religious belief tends to the absolute whereas the 'manifestation' of religious belief is not and has to be balanced with the rights of others.

The two instances are very different.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 9:18am BST

The parish priest has a statutory duty established by an Act of Parliament to solemnise the marriages of all legally eligible partners of any faith or affiliation, who want a church wedding and who are resident or have a qualifying connection.

The solemnisation is not a religious belief, but aspects of the ceremony are a manifestation of that belief.

If we agree that Article 9 has to be balanced with the rights of others, why shouldn't the Article 12 and Article 8 rights be considered also? In which case, as I indicated, the learned QC's reassurance of Article 9 exemption is unreliable.

Posted by David Shepherd at Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 11:16am BST
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