The Centre for Law and Religion explores the relationships between laws of the state and laws of religions.
Our interdisciplinary research studies religious and legal concepts in terms of legal history, theology, and the sociology of religion.
Our key areas of interest include religion law, the study of state law applicable to religious organisations, and religious law, the internal rules of religious organisations. We also undertake comparative research into the religion laws of different states, the relationship between state religion law and religious law, and the relationships between the internal laws of religious organisations.
Law, religion, and society
The lives of religious organisations and their members are regulated by a complex system of rules – not only of religious organisations themselves, but by the laws of state.
In the medieval period, the law of the western Christian Church was studied in major European universities, who awarded degrees in Canon Law to their graduates. The English Reformation of the sixteenth century put an end to such study in England and Wales. Nevertheless, religion and canon law have been fundamental to the development of the common law and the civil law traditions, such as in the fields of marriage and family law, criminal law, trusts, contract, and public law.
There has been an increasing interest in the law relating to religion and religious organisations in the UK. There is more legislation affecting religion, such as the protection of religious freedom under the Human Rights Act 1998, and more cases involving religious groups appearing in court. The Centre for Law and Religion contributes to the growing literature on law and religion.