Posts Tagged ‘Law Moral Ethical’

A few good links

Monday, January 21st, 2013

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Get Religion – Anti-gay marriage protests prompt ire of the BBC

The Mental Elf – Clinicians should consider referring depressed patients to Internet Support Groups, according to new RCT

iMonk – “Getting Better”

Opinionated Vicar - The National Lottery: pet parasite of the nation

Oxford Human Rights Hub – R (Hodkin): A Signal to Rethink Religious Worship

Society for Christian Psychology – Redemption and Restoration

Dr Robert Cargill – Is the Internet bringing about the end of organized religion?

PsychCentral – Lance Armstrong: Narcissist or “Optimist”?

Believer’s Brain – 4 Things Not To Say to a Depressed Christian

Normblog – Telling stories to win an argument

Patheos: Science and Religion – Do you believe in magic? Seriously.

The Emotionally Sensitive Person – Sunsets and Math Problems: Appreciating the Difference

The Salvation Army and #Workfare Controversy

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

To be upfront, I didn’t know what the issue was with the government Workfare scheme. I’ve not really been interested in this until this morning, when I read Johnny Void’s provocatively entitled post: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness (unless thou is the Salvation Army fibbing about workfare).

Void’s post alleges the Salvation Army continuous to use Workfare workers and he links to a rather grim story in the Daily Record (Scotland). Void also links to a Jobcentre referral to Mandatory Work Activity letter (dated 17th Jan) which clearly cites the venue as an Salvation Army shop.

I spoke briefly with Void and he Tweeted:

So, where to start with finding out about Workfare; Wikipedia of course:

Workfare in the United Kingdom refers to government workfare policies whereby individuals must undertake work in return for their benefit payments or risk losing them. Workfare policies are politically controversial. Supporters argue that such policies help people move off of welfare and into employment (See welfare-to-work) whereas critics argue that they are analogous to slavery and counterproductive in decreasing unemployment.

OK, where too next, Twitter of course, and the link given by a couple of folk was on the Boycott Workfare website, which I’ll let you read, but I will cite their raison d’etre:

Boycott Workfare is a UK-wide campaign to end forced unpaid work for people who receive welfare. Workfare profits the rich by providing free labour, whilst threatening the poor by taking away welfare rights if people refuse to work without a living wage. We are a grassroots campaign, formed in 2010 by people with experience of workfare and those concerned about its impact. We expose and take action against companies and organisations profiting from workfare; encourage organisations to pledge to boycott it; and actively inform people of their rights.

Bernadette Meaden kindly linked to Public Interest Lawyers who are challenging the government’s Workfare program in the courts on behalf of their clients.

BoycottWelfare Tweeted me directly:

The Boycott Workfare link is well worth reading; it very clearly sets out their objections to Charity Workfare. Here’s a quote:

By colluding with the government to increase the number of benefit sanctions charities are pushing vulnerable people further into poverty and destitution. Oxfam have refused to take part in workfare because they say it is incompatible with the goal of reducing poverty in the UK. When homelessness charity SHP left the Work Programme earlier this year they warned that sanctions were pushing vulnerable individuals further into poverty and leaving them with little option but to beg and steal. The increase in benefit sanctions is one of the reasons that we are seeing an increase in the use of food banks.

OK, so where are we?

Workfare is a highly controversial and contentious issue, so much so, that some big highstreet names and charities have very publicly suspended their involvement in the Workfare program.

The evidence suggests that the Salvation Army are involved in the scheme at some level, so what is the Sally Army’s formal response:

There is no mandatory voluntary work for the three sub contracts we deliver within the Work Programme. Anyone who volunteers their services to us does so in the knowledge that their benefits will not be affected.

We do not have any national agreements in place to provide mandatory 4-week work placements, but on a local level we are aware that our trading company has been approached by independent welfare to work providers which have been offering short-term work experience, locally, in some of our retail shops. We must stress that no placements are in place of paid work and we trust the decision of our local representatives to provide valuable professional experience.

We don’t take people in short-term placements for work that would otherwise be paid as we believe in empowering the person who is volunteering, by treating them with the respect that everyone in society is due. We believe strongly that every person has worth, irrespective of what they can offer society and it is our desire to help all who are willing to work, irrespective of their starting point. For some, the route to employment can be a long one with several milestones on the way.

Working in stages back into the workplace helps to build confidence as a lack of confidence is one of the overriding barriers to work. We believe that it is important that people on long term benefits ‘test’ themselves in the workplace, to gain work experience without any threat of losing benefit or having to start the process again.

It is sensible to partner with the private and voluntary sector to provide many of the programmes, not because the work will be done ‘on the cheap’ but because better value will be achieved by the flexibility of our sector to tailor programmes to individual need and achieve better results. We have the expertise and broad working base to help achieve effective outcomes.

How does this read to you? For me, I am left with absolutely no idea whether the Salvation Army participates in the Workfare scheme or not.

Whether you be for, or against, Workfare, it would strike me the prudent move as a Christian organisation, with such an morally explosive issue, would be to withdraw from the scheme and publicly state as much. Otherwise, you might just find yourself on the receiving end of responses such as this:

I have Tweeted the Salvation Army direct:

I’ll let you know if I receive a response.

UPDATE: Three Tweets received from BoycottWorkfare which really cast the Salvation Army in a poor light in regard to this issue:



Oh dear!

European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): Eweida, Chaplin, Ladele, McFarlane – Judgement Published

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Today (Tues 15th) at 9am GMT the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will announce its judgement on four applications that UK law has failed to adequately protect the applicants’ right to manifest their religion, contrary to Articles 9 (freedom of religion) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination).

I’ve blogged on each of these cases: Nadia EweidaShirley ChaplinLilian LadeleGary McFarlane

The National Secular Society and Equality and Human Rights Commission have both filed intervening submissions under Rule 44 §3.

Christian Concern made this comment in an email yesterday:

“These are landmark cases and we have waited a long time to get to this point. At stake is not only the future shape of Christian involvement in community life but the protection of important personal freedoms in a diverse society.”

Christian Concern are not the only group to consider this a landmark case, as we’ve already had the BHA and NSS publish their pre-ruling releases today.

In fact, these cases are viewed as so important even the Russian Orthodox Church has offered UK Christians moral support.

There’s one thing we can be assured of when this ruling is published, irrespective of the outcome. And that is there will be a flurry of ill-informed, polemic, alarmist headlines, and articles.

As with all things legal, it is often far more complex and nuanced than it first appears and that is why I won’t be personally attempting any analysis. I know my limitations and will await the experts in such matters.

I’m planning to create a list of links here on this post to opinion pieces and analysis. I know some bloggers have already begun formulating their posts and I will ensure they’re linked to here.

So perhaps bookmark this page and check back periodically over the next few days as the ruling is read, digested, blogged, and then linked to from here.

In the meantime, I’m out and about quite a bit today, so if you come across any good links on this matter, or if you write a piece yourself, let me know in the comments.




Back in September I said:

The case that I have most sympathy with is Nadia Eweida, the British Airways employee who was asked to stop wearing a cross at work. To me, this may be the most clear-cut case of religious discrimination and that is because of a potential disparity between the treatment of Eweida and other employees of different faiths.

The argument in Eweida’s case is that if other faiths are permitted to wear religious paraphernalia, as they were at BA, and this does not constitute a health and safety risk, then it is wrong to discriminate against one particular expression of faith.

We have to remember that in Eweida’s case the tribunal used the argument that there was no religious discrimination as “Christians generally” do not consider wearing a cross as a religious “requirement”. We have to watch for judgements using this reasoning, as it is secular courts pontificating on theological necessities. Complex and fraught indeed.

Also individual rights and freedoms do not depend on how many people agree with your conscience or speech.

Analysis and opinion Links

UK Human Rights Blog - Strasbourg rules against UK on BA crucifix issue

Cranmer - Victory for religious symbols; defeat for the religious conscience

Turtle Bay and beyond - Christian employees in the UK: A second class category

Unconfirmed Tweet:

This would be: Lilian LadeleGary McFarlane

Here’s a link to the NSS and BHA and whilst I’m at it Ekklesia: Here, here and here. All well chuffed with the result.

New piece on Ekklesia, written by Simon Barrow and comes complete with a quote from me!

Religion Law Blog (Barrister At Law – Neil Addison) - Eweida and Others – First Views

Religion Clause - European Court of Human Rights Vindicates Britain In 3 of 4 Cases Denying Accommodation of Christian Beliefs

Head of Legal - Strasbourg judgment: Eweida and others v UK

First Things - European Court’s Judgment in UK Religious Freedom Cases: A First Read

God and Politics - Letting employees wear a cross won’t destroy your business

Oxford Human Rights Hub - Religious Rights in the Balance: Eweida and Others v UK

Law and Lawyers - Eweida and others v UK ~ a look at what is being said?

Mrs Markleham - Eweida: what it all means

UK Constitutional Law Group – Ronan McCrea: Strasbourg Judgement in Eweida and Others v United Kingdom

A Range of Reasonable Responses – Eweida & Co: the Decision

Law and Religion UK - Chaplin, Eweida, Ladele and McFarlane: the judgment

Danny Webster - Legal right and religious wrongs

Co-belligerent Secularists and Christians force government to reform Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act

Monday, January 14th, 2013

An unlikely coalition of Christians and Secularists joining together in a rare act of unity has forced the government to reform Section 5 of the Public Order Act to give more protection to free speech.

Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act says a person is guilty of an offence if:

(a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or

(b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.

It was the word “Insulting” that caused the consternation, confusion and subsequent abuse of the Public Order Act. It’s a very vague and subjective term that allowed too much discretion in application.

This Act had been used against Christians on quite a few occasions, most notably in the case of Jamie Murray, owner of the Salt & Light Coffee House.

This was a truly bizarre incident in which the displaying of Scripture on a video screen prompted a police visit following a complaint. The police notified Murray that he was displaying offensive or insulting words which breached Section 5 of the Public Order Act; in other words, the Biblical texts contravened the act.

The Christian Institute have been long campaigning for the removal of the word ”insulting” from the act, together with the National Secular Society, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, and others.

website and Twitter account were set up.

Today the Christian Institute are declaring “Victory”:

The Government gave way tonight, and agreed to reform Section 5 of the Public Order Act to give more protection to free speech.

Campaign group Reform Section 5 (RS5) has been pushing for the change, which has seen many controversial arrests.

Today, in the House of Commons, Home Secretary Theresa May said the word ‘insulting’ would be removed from Section 5 of the Public Order Act, as part of the Crime and Courts Bill.

The amendment to the law was put forward by Lord Dear, a former HM Inspector of Constabulary, and when discussed in the House of Lords, peers voted by 150 to 54 in favour of the change.

The Government today announced that it would not overturn the amendment but will allow it to become law.

This is very good news for freedom of speech in this country.

U.S. 73% of Evangelical leaders support stricter gun laws

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Posted some ramblings on this in the U.S. on Unsettled Christianity.

Mrs Celestina Mba, the Sabbath and the test of proportionality

Friday, January 11th, 2013

I’m not a lawyer and so feel free to put me right on the issues I raise.

At the end of last year the Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed Mrs Celestina Mba’s appeal against an employment tribunal ruling that she was not constructively dismissed as a result of her refusal to work on Sundays.

In the original case Judge Heather Williams QC stated:

While the claimant’s belief is deeply held it is not a core component of Christian faith.

This is exactly the same line of argument used by an appeal tribunal in the case of British Airways worker Nadia Eweida:

Christians generally do not consider wearing a cross as a religious requirement.

In the dismissal of the appeal Mr Justice Langstaff…..

……stressed the importance of reading the Tribunal’s decision as a whole, and while acknowledging that this part of the decision [Sunday was not a core component of the Christian faith] was not well expressed, concluded that the Tribunal was not seeking to making a qualitative determination on the content of matters of faith. Rather, as the context and the cases cited made clear, the Tribunal was making a quantitative assessment as to the number of Christians who might be affected by the PCP. As many Christians are prepared to work on Sundays, it was appropriate for the Tribunal to consider this in weighing the extent of the discriminatory impact of the PCP as part of a proper assessment of proportionality, and thus there was no error of law. [48]


The problem with this approach is that the court is making a decision based on what is, or is not, a core component of Christianity.

At what point can a judge declare with some certainty that something is a religious requirement? Is it when more than 50% of religious adherents claim it to be so? Or is it when a religious text declares it as so? To what sources do we refer to corroborate such assertions?

Do individual rights and freedoms really depend on how many people agree with my conscience or speech?

Let’s face it, it’s an absolute quagmire for courts to pontificate on theological necessities, and yet I don’t see they have any choice with the current climate of Christian litigation.

It’s such a double-edged sword, as on the one hand, I don’t see Jesus advocating legal action against Caesar should he infringe the rights of his followers. But on the other hand, I can sympathise with the climate of fear of state encroachment on religious liberties.

Goodness knows what the solution is, but in the meantime, many folk are eagerly anticipating the European Court of Human Rights ruling on four complaints that UK law has failed to adequately protect the applicants’ right to manifest their religion, contrary to Articles 9 (freedom of religion) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination).

I’ve blogged on each of these cases: Nadia EweidaShirley ChaplinLilian LadeleGary McFarlane.

The ruling is due next week Tuesday 15th January.

UPDATE: Danny Webster has put together some thoughts on the upcoming ruling.

A few good links

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Hurriyet Daily News - Christianity no longer a religion, says Turkish minister

Haven - Myth and Stigma – Emotion vs. Intelligence: BPD & Rational Thought

British Religion in Numbers - Welcome to 2013

Psychology Today - How to Discover Our Core Gifts Within Our Wounds

Words on the Word - Keep ‘em coming back with the December Biblical Studies Carnival

Ekklesia - Another moral wrong from IDS on work and welfare

The Emotionally Sensitive Person - Loneliness: Additional Survey Results

Law and Religion UK - 2012 and 2013: retrospect and prospect

And finally The World of Mentalists 2012 Award Results:

Best Mood Disorder Blog
Purple Persuasion

Best Psychosis Blog
A Path With Heart

Best Eating Disorder Blog
Giant Fossilized Armadillo

Best Personality Disorder Blog
Beauty From Pain Blog

Best Anxiety, Stress or Trauma Blog
Conversations With My Head

Best Autistic Spectrum Disorder Blog
Aspergers & the Alien

Best Psychiatry, Psychology or Psychotherapy
Mind Hacks

Best Nursing, Social Work or Professions Allied to Medicine Blog
The Masked AMHP

Best Student or Academic Blog
World of Oid

Best Mental Health Not Otherwise Specified Blog

Chaos and Control

A few good links

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

UK Human Rights Blog - High Court rejects Humanist Association’s challenge to faith school proposals in Richmond

Law and Religion UK - Charitable status, public benefit and “closed” congregations: an update on Preston Down

Protect the Pope - French government orders surveillance of Catholic pro-marriage groups it suspects of ‘religious pathology’

Pink News - UK: Primary school writes to parents to explain that their child’s teacher will be changing gender

Francis Sedgemore - RIP Intellectual Property UK

Islamophobia Watch – Advertising Islamophobia hits London railways

Martin Webber’s Blog - Blogging: An essential research engagement and dissemination tool?

Accepting Abundance - Eyna, Are You More Than A Body?

No more wriggling out of writing - On the darker side of the sparkle

Quote of the Day

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Funny old world. The Church of England gets it in the neck from politicians regarding women bishops and gay marriage. The Mother of Democracy makes space for people elected on a fraction of the electorate’s votes to threaten the Church that if we don’t change our polity they will do it for us. In other words, “we don’t like how your people voted, so change the system in such a way that they get it right next time – or we will force you to do it”.

Source: Bishop Nick Baines - Great piece, do hop over and read it all.

Church of England and Church in Wales will be banned in law from offering same-sex marriages

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

This is extraordinary:

The Church of England and Church in Wales will be banned in law from offering same-sex marriages, the government has announced.

Other religious organisations will be able to “opt in” to holding ceremonies, Culture Secretary Maria Miller said.

But she added that the Church of England and Church in Wales had “explicitly” stated strong opposition and would not be included.

The plans are due to be introduced before the next election, in 2015.


Law and Religion blog look at the legal ramifications whilst Heresy Corner calls for equal Civil Marriage.

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