The Secularisation of the British Constitution

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In recent years, the relationship between law and religion has been subject to increased scholarly interest. In part this is the result of new laws protecting religious liberty and non-discrimination, and it may be that overall levels of litigation have increased as well. In all this activity, there are signs that the relationship between law and religion is changing. While unable to address every matter of detail, this article seeks to identify the underlying themes and trends. It starts by suggesting that the constitutional settlement achieved by the end of the 19th century has often been overlooked, religion only appearing in the guise of inadequately theorised commitments to individual liberty and equality. The paper then considers the role of multiculturalism in promoting recent legal changes. However, the new commitment to multiculturalism cannot explain a number of features of the law: the minimal impact of the Human Rights Act 1998, the uncertain effect of equality legislation, an apparent rise in litigation in established areas of law and religion, and some striking cases in which acts have been found to be unlawful in surprising ways. In contrast, the paper proposes a new secularisation thesis. The law is coming to treat religions as merely recreational and trivial. This has the effect of reducing the significance of religion as a matter of conscience, as legal system and as a context for public service. As a way of managing the ever-deepening forms of religious diversity present within the United Kingdom, such a secularisation strategy is implausible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-399
Number of pages29
JournalEcclesiastical Law Journal
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The Secularisation of the British Constitution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this