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Religion, Law and the Constitution

Balancing Beliefs in Britain

Javier Garcia Oliva (University of Manchester, UK) Helen Hall (Cardiff University, UK)



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14 May 2019
This book examines the existing constitutional and legal system in England, Wales and Scotland, through the prism of its treatment of religion and belief. The study encompasses questions of Church/state relations, but pushes far beyond these. It asks whether the approach to religion which has spread out from establishment to permeate the whole legal framework is a cause of concern or celebration in relation to individual and collective freedoms.

The primary focus of the work is the synergy between the religious dimension of the juridical system and the fundamental pillars of the Constitution (parliamentary sovereignty, the rule of law, separation of powers and human rights). Javier Garcia Oliva and Helen Hall challenge the view that separation between public and religious authorities is the most conducive means of nurturing a free and democratic society in modern Britain.

The authors explore whether, counter-intuitively for some, the religious dynamic to the legal system actually operates to safeguard liberties, and has a role in generating an inclusive and adaptable backdrop for our collective life. They suggest that the present paradigm brings benefits for citizens of all shades of religious belief and opinion (including Atheist and Humanist perspectives), as well as secondary advantages for those with profound beliefs on non-religious matters, such as pacifism and veganism. In support of their contentions, Garcia Oliva and Hall examine how the religious dimension of the legal framework operates to further essential constitutional principles in diverse settings, ranging from criminal to family law.

In a groundbreaking move, the authors also set the legal discussion alongside its social and cultural context. They consider how the theological perspectives of the larger faith traditions might influence members' ideas around the key constitutional precepts, and they include extracts from interviews which give the personal perspective of more than 100 individuals on contemporary issues of law and religious freedom. These voices are drawn from a range of fields and positions on faith. While the authors are at pains to stress that these sections do not support or advance their legal or theological conclusions, they do provide readers with a human backdrop to the discussion, and demonstrate its crucial importance in twenty-first century Britain.
By:   Javier Garcia Oliva (University of Manchester UK), Helen Hall (Cardiff University, UK)
Imprint:   Routledge
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
Weight:   921g
ISBN:   9780367313128
ISBN 10:   036731312X
Pages:   498
Publication Date:   14 May 2019
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Further / Higher Education ,  A / AS level
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Foreword Introduction Preliminary thoughts 1. Church/state relations and their historical evolution: whale knees or penguin wings? 2. Religion in the current paradigm: the flight of the penguin? 3. Non-religious beliefs in the current paradigm 4. The rule of law and the religious character of the Constitution and the wider legal framework 5. Parliamentary supremacy and the religious character of the Constitution and the wider legal framework 6. Checks and balances, separation of powers and the religious character of the Constitution and the wider legal framework 7. Human rights and the religious character of the Constitution and the wider legal framework Conclusion

Dr Javier Garcia Oliva, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Manchester. Dr Helen Hall, Lecturer in Law, Nottingham Trent University.

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