Today, a chamber of the European Court of Human Rights announced its decision in the highly-anticipated Eweida and Others v. United Kingdom, a group of four consolidated cases brought by British Christians who alleged that the UK had violated their religious freedom under the European Convention on Human Rights. From the claimants’ perspective, the outcome was, at best, mixed: the chamber ruled in favor of only one of the four claimants. With respect to the other three, the chamber accepted the government’s argument that important countervailing interests, including the protection of gay rights, outweighed concerns about religious freedom.
The claimants alleged that their employers had violated their religious freedom by disciplining them for manifesting their Christian beliefs. Nadia Eweida, a British Airways employee, and Shirley Chaplain, a hospital nurse, complained that their employers had forbidden them from wearing cross necklaces at work. Lillian Ladele, a public registrar, lost her job when she declined, out of religious conviction, to officiate at civil partnership ceremonies for same-sex couples. Gary McFarlane, a psychotherapist, was fired by a sex counseling service because of his objections to providing sexual advice to same-sex couples. British courts had ruled against all four claimants, who then applied to the European Court for relief.
I won’t get into the details of the analysis here, but, briefly, the European Convention provides that individuals have the right to manifest their religious beliefs, but that governments may limit that right if necessary to protect important countervailing interests, such as public health and “the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” With respect to the first two claimants, the chamber held that Read more
The Oxford Journal of Church and State has posted The Pragmatic Pulpit: Politics and Changes in Preaching Styles in the Church of England, 1660–1760 by R. Barry Levis (Rollins College). An extract of the piece follows.
Victorian evangelicals and Tractarians shared a negative assessment of the eighteenth-century church. E. B. Pusey, for instance, saw the deficiencies of his contemporary church stretching back to the previous century. Pusey, as well as the other Tractarians, maintained that the eighteenth-century church had “suffered deeply, both in lukewarmness of life and degeneracy of faith, until the horrors of the French Revolution awoke us as out of a death-sleep.” In another context, he noted with disdain that “the eighteenth century was comparatively a stagnant period of the Church,—in England, owing to the violent revolution, whereby so many of her best members, the Non-juring Clergy, were ejected, and that, at one time, the State set itself to corrupt and degrade her, and her writers looked for strength in foreign alliances;—abroad, through the development of the principles of the ultra-reformation, and the influence of degraded England and corrupted France.” Instead, Pusey looked with particular nostalgia toward the seventeenth-century divines.
Many in the eighteenth century would have concurred with this judgment that the Church of England suffered from decay in both discipline and doctrine. Fiction writers portrayed its clergy as incompetent buffoons. Henry Fielding famously depicted Parson Trulliber in Joseph Andrews as more at home in the pig sty, “but two steps from his parlour-window,” than the pulpit. Trulliber had a special gift to arouse female members of his congregation with his preaching. One overly stimulated congregant who “to say the truth, the parson had exercised her ways than one; … , resolved to receive the bad things of this world together with the good.” Jane Austen painted an obsequious Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice. Likewise, William Hogarth produced several satirical etchings skewering the clergy.
Here’s some local law-and-religion news from around CLR headquarters. Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY), who represents the congressional district adjacent to St. John’s, is calling for federal funds for houses of worship damaged in Hurricane Sandy last fall. Under present law, houses of worship are not eligible for FEMA assistance, presumably because of Establishment Clause concerns. Meng says she will attempt to amend pending federal disaster legislation to allow FEMA to make grants to houses of worship. She points out that “many churches, synagogues, mosques and temples are ‘pillars of their communities’ that provide essential services – such as employment, child care and food pantries – to local residents.”
Next month, Harvard University Press will publish Indigenous (In)Justice: Human Rights Law and Bedouin Arabs in the Naqab/Negev edited by Ahmad Amara (PhD Candidate, NYU), Ismael Abu-Saad (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev), Oren Yiftachel (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev). The publisher’s description follows.
The indigenous Bedouin Arab population in the Naqab/Negev desert in Israel has experienced a history of displacement, intense political conflict, and cultural disruption, along with recent rapid modernization, forced urbanization, and migration. This volume of essays highlights international, national, and comparative law perspectives and explores the legal and human rights dimensions of land, planning, and housing issues, as well as the economic, social, and cultural rights of indigenous peoples. Within this context, the essays examine the various dimensions of the “negotiations” between the Bedouin Arab population and the State of Israel.
Indigenous (In)Justice locates the discussion of the Naqab/Negev question within the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict and within key international debates among legal scholars and human rights advocates, including the application of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the formalization of traditional property rights, and the utility of restorative and reparative justice approaches. Leading international scholars and professionals, including the current United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, are among the contributors to this volume.