Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu

European Consortium for Church and State Research
(Oxford 2011)

For the first time in its twenty-three year history, the European Consortium for Church and State Research met in England last weekend, at St Stephen’s House Oxford. The Consortium was established under the auspices of the EU by leading professors in the field in Church-State relations in major European countries and has increased in membership including recently the emergent Eastern European democracies. The Consortium convenes annual conferences, whose proceedings are published, and a Journal of Church and State, together with a series on Law and Religion.

This year’s meeting from 29 September to 2 October, was on the subject of ‘Religion and Discrimination Law in the European Union’. The keynote address was given by Sir Nicolas Bratza, President-Elect of the European Court of Human Rights who spoke of the Strasbourg  jurisprudence on  to cases concerning freedom of religion under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. He commented on the clutch of cases pending in the European court where proceedings have been brought against the United Kingdom government: Eweida  and Chaplin, raising the issue of wearing the Christian symbol of the cross in the workplace; and Ladele and Macfarlane, where the clash of religious beliefs and homosexuality are to be addressed.

The programme for the event can be downloaded below:

The plenary sessions of the conference concerned debate arising out of written reports circulated in advance from each of the 30 participating countries. They focussed, respectively, on the cultural and social history of equality legislation, the protection afforded to the public by anti-discrimination provisions, and the exceptions from these which are prescribed for religious organisations. The drafts of the country reports and other papers are available below. They will be revised and  published in 2012.

At the General Assembly of the Consortium, Professor Mark Hill QC was elected President. He will take up office on 1 January 2012. Professor Hill is Chancellor of the Diocese in Europe and of the Diocese of Chichester, author of Ecclesiastical Law and Religious Liberty and Human Rights. He is an Honorary Professor at the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff University and an occasional contributor to the Church Times.

Professor Hill said:

“I am delighted to have been selected by my European colleagues to lead the Consortium at a time of change and challenge for religious communities throughout Europe as national Governments seem to be retreating into secularism. I hope that the Consortium will continue to make a substantial contribution to pan-European scholarship in the field of Church and State and I thank the Consortium for placing confidence in me to promote its activities internationally.”

The conference in Oxford was supported by generous grants from the Ecclesiastical Law Society, the Religion and Society Programme at Lancaster University, and with financial support from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York together with a collection of diocesan bishops.


2011 Oxford