192 pages – by Christopher Dwyer, with a preface by Baroness Julia Neuberger, edited by Paul Foster
Prepared by Christopher Dwyer, former solicitor and barrister, and the first British (legal) civil servant at the EEC HQ in the early 1970s, the volume offers an extremely careful conspectus of current law in relation to: Freedom of Religion; Religion and Employment; Access to Goods and Services; Marriage, Divorce, and Civil Partnership;
Children and the Family; Religion and Education.
In the Preface to the volume, Julia Neuberger comments that although religion ‘has lost legal power, concepts of human-ness are often religiously inspired’, and that ‘case by case, subject by subject . . . Dwyer [offers] eminently accessible discussions of current practice’.
Revew by Frances Gibb, Legal Editor at The Times :
With religion and the law in increasing conflict, this excellent resumé of the current state of play is perfectly timed. Christopher Dwyer, a barrister, looks at how the law is adapting to a society that no longer assumes everyone to be Christian, but where numerous religions co-exist and many people have none. Christians, he says, may feel they are being left behind in the law's efforts to respect the rights of others, although, in Dwyer's view, they are mistaken.
Despite grappling with what he concedes is a ‘moving target’, Dwyer succeeds in providing a readable and clear account of the existing law on the Church of England and other religions, spanning statute and common law offences. He looks at the impact of the European Convention on Human Rights and at the specific workings of religion and the law in the workplace, on marriage and civil partnership, on parents' and children's rights, and in education.
In his thought-provoking account Dwyer brings light and detachment to an often-impassioned topic. He concludes that in recent decades, ownership of the principles of justice and morality has been claimed by ‘human rights’. So ironically, we now see a secular state imposing belief in those human rights, ‘a concept as nebulous . . . and open to challenge’ as any religious one.