Current News 

God has no place in British law

Despite the UK's long history of religious observance and the traditions of the churches, there is no place in British law for Christian beliefs two High Court judges have said.

JudgesIn the case of the Christian couple who have been barred from adopting children two High Court judges have ruled that Britain is a secular state.

The following is part of the ruling that they have handed down.

By Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson 7:00AM GMT 01 Mar 2011

"We cannot avoid the need to re-state what ought to be, but seemingly are not, well understood principles regulating the relationship of religion and law in our society.

We live in this country in a democratic and pluralistic society, in a secular state not a theocracy.

Although historically this country is part of the Christian West, and although it has an established church which is Christian, there have been enormous changes in the social and religious life of our country over the last century.

Our society is now pluralistic and largely secular. We sit as secular judges serving a multi-cultural community of many faiths. The laws and usages of the realm do not include Christianity, in whatever form.

The aphorism that “Christianity is part of the common law of England” is mere rhetoric.
Religion – whatever the particular believer’s faith – is no doubt something to be encouraged but it is not the business of government or of the secular courts, though the courts will, of course, pay every respect and give great weight to the individual’s religious principles.

The present dispute is merely one of a number of recent cases where the tension has been between an individual’s Christian beliefs and discrimination law as enacted by Parliament."

Christian Concern which campaigns on issues relating to public policy and supports believers in their respective stands for righteousness comment:

In a landmark judgment, which will have a serious impact on the future of fostering and adoption in the UK, the High Court has suggested that Christians with traditional views on sexual ethics are unsuitable as foster carers, and that homosexual ‘rights’ trump freedom of conscience in the UK.
      Read on....

Apart from the attack on the foundations on which our laws have been built, this ruling flies in the face of the UK's constitutional arrangement whereby our laws are decreed by Parliament which sits under the monarch (symbolised by the Mace in the Parliament) who in turn has pledged by oath in the Coronation Service to uphold the Word of God in the land.

Footnote: Part of the pledges taken by the British Monarch during the Coronation Ceremony:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: "Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolable the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?"

The Queen: "All this I promise to do. The things which I have here before promised, I will perform, and keep. So help me God."

Christians Together, 01/03/2011

Peter Carr 01/03/2011 16:26
Psalm 14

1 The fool[a] says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.

2 The LORD looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.

Martin Lisemore 01/03/2011 16:53
Well, that statement from the judges puts us all in our place. But are they not under oath of office also?

I can only put my thoughts with Peter's scripture. How can this nation hope to be prosperous under a Holy God if it's institutions deny Him in their practices?
Alec (Guest) 01/03/2011 17:32
From the footnote to the article:

The Archbishop of Canterbury: "Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God

There are a couple of questions here that need to be addressed.

1) What "power" does the Queen actually have? Surely it is purely symbolic - the real power lies with the Government of the day. OK, I know the Queen can actually refuse to sign any given Act of Parliament but that would create a constitutional crisis.

2) What does the "Laws of God" refer to? Which laws? Every one of the Old Testament ones? Or are we back to that old 3 fold division thing, with only the "Moral Law" applying, unless one advocates theonomy?

Are these "Laws of God" defined anywhere?

This type of thing opens up a huge can of worms.
RF (Guest) 01/03/2011 17:36
ML When has this country ever been prosperous [using that word however you like] under a holy God?

I will come back asap on an earlier query concerning another discussion point located elsewhere on site.
Martin Lisemore 01/03/2011 17:42
Roland, I said, 'hope to be prosperous.'

And in Biblical terms that doesn't necessarily mean rich in money or assets, but that were have prosperity in what we undertake as a God fearing nation.
RF (Guest) 01/03/2011 20:08
Thank you for the clarification. It seems reasonable to assume that you believe that up to now the country has not achieved prosperity [financial or otherwise] under a holy God;if that is your view I agree with you. I agree with you - that is right - you read it here; mind you it took some getting out; it was a bit like struggling to extract a fish bone lodged in my throat.

Bill Mackay (Guest) 01/03/2011 22:14
Alex siad "This type of thing opens up a huge can of worms."

Only for those who strain out gnats and swallow camels and who are hung up with semantics. the oath was written many years ago. For God's "LAWS" just substitute "ordinances" or "statutes" or "pattern for living" or "whatever word suits the context" and you should be OK.
Arguing about the 'letter of the law' is for legalists who want to sidestep the spirit of the law.
Alec (Guest) 02/03/2011 09:27
Bill said:

"For God's "LAWS" just substitute "ordinances" or "statutes" or "pattern for living" or "whatever word suits the context" and you should be OK."

The problem is, those expressions are so malleable as to be meaningless

The Queen takes an Oath and vows to uphold certain things. The things being upheld need to be clearly defined within a particular frame of reference, otherwise, you could have a situation where it becomes open to a legal challenge.

Personally I would like to see complete separation of Church and State - it is much neater and tidier and for an example, religious liberites in America havent doen too badly from it.

And there was no problem in JFK being a catholic either!

The idea that the UK is a "christian country" is nonsense - that idea went down the tubes a long time ago. Most people who tick "christian" in the census form do so for cultural reasons, not becasue they wake up each day and think "I know that my Redeemer liveth"

Much of the archaic nonsense about cornoation oaths and so on is a throwback to the Jacobite era

AndreaM (Guest) 02/03/2011 14:05
"The idea that the UK is a "christian country" is nonsense - that idea went down the tubes a long time ago."

Quickly followed by the country itself. Can anyone, Christian or otherwise, honestly say the UK is a better, safer, more moral place to live than it was, say, 20 to 30 years ago? Every few days we are hearing of another parent murdering their child that it's barely news now.

You are right, Alec, that many people tick 'Christian' just because they aren't any of the other options but our country is definitely not better off for having rejected Christianity. We are never left with a vacuum - some other influence will come in and fill the gap and it may be something far, far worse than what some people consider Christianity to be.
Martin Lisemore 02/03/2011 14:28
I agree with you - that is right - you read it here;

Roland. I could love you for that! But I won't!

Sorry I couldn't reply earlier, my server went wrong, and internet connections failed.

NOTICE: - The 'Response' facility on some articles may be restricted to CT site members. In these circumstances comments/questions from non-site members should be sent to the Editor by e-mail: editor<atsign>

Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Current News > God has no place in British law say judges