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RELIGION, THE LAW, AND MEDICAL ETHICS Religious meddling: a comment on Skene and Parker

By C A J Coady


The question of churches resorting to the courts to influence public policy is one that concerns the appropriate role of the courts and the appropriate conduct of religious authorities. I agree with Skene and Parker that there is no principled legal reason to exclude such interventions out of hand; but my comments are principally addressed to the political and religious reasons for being rightly concerned about such activity. These advert both to the nature of the liberal democratic compromise and to the nature and scope of religious authority (at least within Christianity). Reviewing some recent legal cases in Australia and the UKin which organised churches have had recourse to thecourts in pursuit of their religious interests in civil and political matters, Skene and Parker conclude somewhat reluc-tantly that they cannot find any decisive reason to deny the churches such access.1 I think that there is no such principled reason, but this tells us more about the proper role of the law rather than the proper role of the churches. They are right to be uneasy about the prospect of increased interventions by the churches in legal and constitutional matters, but this is not because such interventions are or should be somehow prohib

Year: 2016
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