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Clarifying the definition of religion under English Law: the need for a universal definition?

Sandberg, Russell ORCID: 2018. Clarifying the definition of religion under English Law: the need for a universal definition? Ecclesiastical Law Journal 20 (2) , pp. 132-157. 10.1017/S0956618X18000030

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There is no universal definition of religion under English law. Instead, different definitions have been developed by courts and tribunals in relation to different religious rights. Although there have been moves towards the harmonisation of these different definitions, recent decisions have reversed this trend. This article explores for the first time how this has led to a confused and contradictory case law. It begins by surveying how religion has been defined in registration law, charity law, human rights law and discrimination law: the moves towards harmonisation and the counter-tendencies in the recent decisions. It places the recent decisions within their broader legal context and points out a number of contradictions and uncertainties. Arguing that a universal definition of religion under English law is now needed, it synthesises the case laws to identify the elements of a universal definition that already exist. The article examines how these can be refashioned in order to remove inconsistencies that exist in different areas of law. Drawing upon insights from the sociology of religion the article concludes by proposing a new definition.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Cardiff Law & Politics
Additional Information: PDF uploaded in accordance with publisher's policies at (accessed 15.06.18).
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)
ISSN: 0956-618X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 October 2017
Date of Acceptance: 1 October 2017
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 03:01

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