In January 2014 the Catholic Truth Society published a booklet “Guide to ReligiousFreedom and the Law” written by me.
It is described as “an attempt to provide information on aspects of the law relating to Religious Freedom and Discrimination which are of specific interest to Catholic Institutions and individual Catholics in particular the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010.”
The CTS booklet is not of course my first book on the subject however the CTS booklet is far more specific and targeted than most law books. “There are a large number of Books and official guidance covering Discrimination and Human Rights Law but the specific exemptions in the law which apply to religious organisations are often covered in a cursory way or relegated to footnotes. In this CTS book by contrast the exemptions and how they apply is the main area of interest”
By concentrating on what are the specific legal issues applying to the Catholic Church, Catholic Organisations and individual Catholics I hope that the booklet will be easier for non lawyers to understand. In any law book there is a balance to be struck, cover everything and the book becomes unreadable except to the professionals, do not cover everything and someone is bound to complain that you have ignored an issue that they consider important. I can only hope I have struck the right balance with this Guide.
One of the areas of Equality Law I am very conscious I did not cover is Disability Discrimination. This is not because the subject is unimportant but because of the need to keep the booklet focused. I have however provided weblinks to organisations representing Blind and Deaf Catholics who can provide help and guidance in this area
Though the booklet is aimed primarily at a Catholic Audience I hope that it will also be of assistance to members of other religions and Churches since many of the legal questions are common across religious boundaries.
Though the booklet is designed to give legal advice it is not my intention to encourage litigation or 'I know my rights' confrontations. Recourse to the law and to litigation should be the very last resort of any individual. If at all possible disputes are best resolved through patient discussion away from the glare of publicity.
I take the opportunity provided by the Booklet to to explode one persistent legal myth. Despite frequent assertions to the contrary there is absolutely NO legal rule which prevents a Roman Catholic becoming Prime Minister or indeed any form of Government Minister. There are of course legal restrictions preventing the Monarch from being, or being married to, a Roman Catholic but there are no other restrictions preventing Catholics playing their full part in Society. I refer those who are interested to my earlier posts on the subject A Catholic Monarch ? The Act of Settlement 1701 and Myths about Catholics and the Monarchy
The booklet deals with the legal situation in England, Wales and Scotland but not Northern Ireland which, for historical reasons, has its own legislation dealing with Religious Discrimination. It is available from CTS priced £2.50