'Transformative Accommodation' and Religious Law

Jackson, Bernard
May 2009
Ecclesiastical Law Journal;May2009, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p131
Academic Journal
This paper examines the concept of 'transformative accommodation', which the Archbishop of Canterbury invoked in his February 2008 lecture on 'Civil and religious law in England', stressing the need for both the state and religious communities to contemplate internal change. Although he made no substantive proposals on jurisdictional issues, this proved the focus of subsequent public comment. I suggest that jurisdictional issues cannot be avoided, despite the diplomatic interest in doing so, as may be seen from a reading of the January 2008 European Islamic 'Charter of Values'. Missing from the debate thus far is consideration of the (necessarily theological) criteria for accommodation within religious communities. I seek to provide a preliminary discussion of such criteria from the viewpoint of Jewish law. First, an outline of some published research on religious marriage in Judaism and Christianity is provided as a case study. I then sketch the jurisdictional situation in the modern State of Israel, before considering the possibilities for transformative accommodation in English law, in the light of the preceding analysis. A brief conclusion indicates some questions that the analysis might pose for Christianity.


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