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Defining the Divine

Sandberg, Russell 2014. Defining the Divine. Ecclesiastical Law Journal 16 (2) , pp. 198-204. 10.1017/S0956618X1400009X

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Abstract

At first glance, it appeared to be a technical and dry decision about the operation of the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855, yet the Supreme Court judgment in R (on the Application of Hodkin) v Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages was actually one of the most significant decisions related to law and religion in 2013. The Justices of the Supreme Court held that a church within the Church of Scientology could be a ‘place of meeting for religious worship’ within section 2 of the 1855 Act. In so doing, the Supreme Court overruled one of the most well-known decisions in English religion law, R v Registrar General, ex parte Segerdal. In Segerdal, although the Court of Appeal had held that a chapel within the Church of Scientology could not be registered under the Act, the reasoning of their Lordships differed: Buckley LJ and Winn LJ focused on what they perceived to be the lack of ‘worship’, refusing to define the ‘chameleon word’ religion, while Lord Denning emphasised the phrase ‘religious worship’, holding that this required ‘reverence or veneration of God or a Supreme Being’ and that this was not met in the case of the Church of Scientology, which was ‘more a philosophy on the existence of man or of life than a religion’. All of these statements have been questioned by the bold Supreme Court judgment in Hodkin, which provides guidance on how the terms ‘religion’ and ‘religious worship’ are to be understood by English law in the twenty-first century.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0956-618X
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2019 14:09
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/59369

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