LAW AND FAITH IN A SCEPTICAL AGE by ANTHONY BRADNEY

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2009.00476.x
Publication Date01 Sep 2009
AuthorRUSSELL SANDBERG
LAW AND FAITH IN A SCEPTICAL AGE by ANTHONY BRADNEY
(Oxford: Routledge-Cavendish, 2009, 184 pp., £70.00)
In a post-9/11 age where debates about religious dress and religious laws are
ever-present in public discourse, it is unsurprising that the academic analysis
of the interface between law and religion has blossomed. Much has changed
since Bradney's last monograph on the topic, Religion, Rights and Laws
published in 1993.
1
Whilst in 1993, Bradney's was something of a lone voice
in the United Kingdom, in 2009 there are now specialist journals of repute
dedicated to this subject, distinct research clusters at Cardiff, Bristol, and
Oxford Brookes and even a professional association ± the Law and Religion
Scholars Network ± which has around a hundred members in the United
Kingdom.
2
Moreover, the legal framework concerning religion has changed.
In 1993, Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights had not
been incorporated into domestic law, discrimination on grounds of religion
or belief was not prohibited and, whilst the offence of blasphemy existed,
English criminal law did not specifically outlaw the stirring up of religious
hatred and did not provide tougher sentences to crimes that were religiously
aggravated. Given these vast changes in both the law and its study,
Bradney's new monograph is surely timely, if not overdue.
In some respects Law and Faith in a Sceptical Age provides a much-
needed update of areas previously covered in Religion, Rights and Laws.
Chapters on the interaction of religion with education and family life appear
in both books whilst the new chapter on `Incitement to religious hatred'
replaces the earlier `Blasphemy, heresy or whatever means the good'. On the
other hand, some substantive areas are now missing (`Religion and work'
and `Charity') while there are two notable new additions, a chapter on `The
established churches' and a general chapter on `Protecting religiosity,
religion and religious communities'. Both of these additions are welcome.
With the exception of specific works on the Church of England, particular
analysis of the established churches has been a curious omission from most
book-length treatments on law and religion in the United Kingdom whilst the
inclusion of the general chapter seems to underscore the fact that there is a
body of law that applies to religion. Moreover, Bradney's insistence that it
was not the primary purpose of Religion, Rights and Laws to provide an
exposition of legal rules seems also to apply to Law and Faith in a Sceptical
Age. This is a monograph not a textbook, addressing the question of whether
aliberal, secular state can protect religion and whether further
accommodation can and should be made.
As Bradney notes in his introduction, two premises underpin the book: the
first is `that in the twenty-first century Great Britain is a largely secular
421
1A.Bradney, Religion, Rights and Laws (1993).
2 See the LARSN website at .
ß2009 The Author. Journal Compilation ß2009 Cardiff University Law School

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