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Equality Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:39 am on 9th June 2009.

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Richard Kornicki: Our understanding is that it is a distinct tightening of the law. For example, the explanatory notes make clear that a youth worker would not be entitled to the benefit of the exemption. As this is now formulated, it represents a misunderstanding of how religion works. It is not simply an activity that takes place once a week in a particular place; it is about the whole of life. Important functions will be carried out that will be relevant to religious activity that might be more than, or different from, simply leading liturgical worship.

I can give you a brief example from The Catholic Heraldof 29 May, in which an advertisement was placed by the Catholic archdiocese of Liverpool for an “Assistant co-ordinator for Faith Formation (Marriage  and Family Life Ministry)”. It mentions a diocesan-wide role and a requirement to be a practising Roman Catholic. It is primarily concerned with teaching on marriage, family and life issues. It would be inconceivable that the Church would be required to appoint to that post somebody who was, for example, a flagrant divorcee in a parish who had remarried somebody else civilly, and demonstrated by their life publicly that they were wholly at variance with the teaching that they were supposed to be promulgating.