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Religion, children and the family courts

26 APR 2013

Simon Johnson,

Barrister, Stour Chambers, Canterbury:

Munby LJ's (as he then was) decision in a dispute between parents about their children's religious upbringing in Re G (Education: Religious Upbringing) [2012] EWCA Civ 1233, [2013] 1 FLR 677 attracted much comment. Simon Johnson's article discusses it in the context of other decisions where issues of religion have been raised. The article considers R v Secretary of State for Education and Employment ex parte Williamson & Others     [2005] UKHL 15,    [2005] 2 FLR 374 (parents challenging the ban on corporal punishment in schools on the basis of their religious convictions), Re A and D (Local Authority: Religious Upbringing) [2010] EWHC 2503 (Fam),    [2011] 1 FLR 615 (analysis of a local authority's duty in relation to the religious upbringing of a child in care) and Re C (A Child) [2012] EW Misc 15(CC) (county court judge giving weight to the wishes of a 10 year old as to her religious affiliation). It shows how the court has approached the balancing of Art 9 rights to hold and manifest beliefs, the importance of the autonomy from the state of parents and children and the overarching principle that the welfare of the child is the court's primary concern in the context of disputes between parents, between parents and the state and, most intriguingly, between a parent and a child.

The full version of this article appears in the May 2013 issue of Family Law. 

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