Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Holy Cow!

Yes, alright, Cranmer knows that Shambo is actually a bull, but he was trying to avoid the ‘load of bull’ headline, and he also has a rather more important theological point to make.

Apparently, this ‘sacred’ bull was given a death sentence after testing positive for TB. It is the policy (indeed, obligation) of the Welsh Assembly to minimise risks of the disease spreading. Under the 1981 Animal Health Act or The Tuberculosis (Wales) Order 2006, many farmers have had hundreds of animals destroyed as part of bovine TB controls. But a High Court judge in Cardiff has decided that Shambo raises Human Rights issues…

Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights guarantees the right to ‘manifest’ religious beliefs.


The Skanda Vale Community in Llanpumsaint, Carmarthen, is a Hindu community. They term themselves ‘multi-faith’, but their root is most definitely Hindu. David Anderson QC for the Hindu monks argued that Shambo was an animal of ‘considerable religious importance’ and as such a policy devised for farm animals could not be applied to it. He said members of the community believed that slaughtering the six-year-old black Friesian would be ‘a desecration of the temple’ (which is, in fact, a stable).

For the Hindu, and, indeed, all faiths that believe in samsara – the cycle of life and death – all life is sacred. Yet in the Hindu faith, it is the cow, not the bull, which is particularly honoured. The Rig Veda talks much of cattle, but it is the ‘milk-bearing’ herds which are equated with goddesses and the intrinsic notion of maternal provision.

By declaring that a ‘religion’ (undefined) may choose its own idols, decide that any arbitrary something may be ‘of religious importance’, and insist that it a bull is ‘a member of the community’, the judge has opened the floodgates for exemptions from law from anything that defines itself as a ‘religious community’. Public health and the economic wellbeing of the agricultural community are henceforth to take second place to spurious religious beliefs.

So the next time there is an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, Cranmer urges farmers to insist that their animals are ‘part of their community’; that all life is sacred; that their lifestyle has a heritage of millennia, and is founded upon the rhythms of nature and the bounty of Mother Earth; and that wholesale slaughter is a ‘desecration of the temple’, for in that temple dwells the Holy Spirit of God.

And let us see what a judge makes of that.

Yet the judgement on the ‘sacred bull’ came on the same day as that for Lydia Playfoot – a teenage Christian who wears a ring on her finger. She chose to join the ‘Silver Ring Thing’, and is one of a number of students at the Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex, who wears a silver ring engraved with a Biblical reference - 1 Thessalonians 4:3f – as a sign of her belief in abstinence from sex until marriage.

Paul Diamond QC claimed that her secondary school was breaching her human rights by preventing her from wearing the ring, while allowing Muslim and Sikh students to wear hijabs, turbans and karas. The school denied these claims, arguing that the purity ring is not an integral part of the Christian faith, and contravenes its uniform policy.


The tin-pot judge in this case needs educating, for nowhere in the Qur’an is there an injunction to wear a hijab, jilbab, or burkah, and neither did Guru Nanak demand that Sikhs wear turbans and karas. These are all cultural manifestations, and constitute personal expressions of faith adherence. If such interpretations are accepted by the school and the judge, it ought to be for Lydia Playfoot to decide how to express her commitment to a moral standard that is wholly in tune with her faith. Once again, it is one rule for minority faiths, but another for Christians. One wonders what the policy of the school would be if a married 16-year-old chose to wear a wedding ring.

But what annoys Cranmer even more is that the two recent cases brought by Muslims in challenge to their schools’ uniform policy were both awarded legal aid. The Playfoots now face a bill for £20,000. Cranmer feels like starting an appeal.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I'd be that sorry for the Playfoots - if this is to be believed they would stand to benefit greatly if she had won the case.

17 July 2007 at 09:36  
Blogger Buenaventura Durruti said...

The comment above is to be believed. Heather Playfoot is listed as Company Secretary at
http://www.silverringthing.org.uk/aboutus_ukteam.asp. It was also reported in The Times on 22 June.

While the Playfoot case left me totally unmoved, I am bothered by the way the that the school’s argument that rings pose a health and safety hazard was accepted without serious challenge; this argument strikes me as both dissembling and only marginally less ridiculous and dishonest than the answer given to me when I asked why trainers were banned at one of my children’s schools — that trainers are bad for children’s feet.

My twelve year-old daughter is however devastated; she had planned to found a new religion ‘The Followers of Bling’ which would require its adherents to manifest their belief in Bling, may She always shine, by wearing at least three items of visible jewellry.

I don't think the two cases can be compared. The peculiarity of Shambo's case was that he is isolated from other cattle, will never interact with them (eg in a market) and will not enter the food chain. This would alter the balance between public protection and rights to manifest religion which, I'd guess, the detailed judgement would state the Minister had failed to consider in reaching her decision. I think that a Hindu farmer with bovine TB in his or her dairy herd would get short thrift.

17 July 2007 at 10:12  
Anonymous CCTV said...

if this is to be believed they would stand to benefit greatly if she had won the case.

The Silver Ring Thing UK team is based in Horsham, West Sussex , although not all the team live in this part of the country. We are all volunteers so no one receives a salary from the Silver Ring Thing.

Each of us is committed to the goal of seeing the teenage culture of the UK changing; where young people are provided ALL of the facts relating to sex outside marriage, the risks of pregnancy, infections and the physical, emotional and spiritual consequences.

17 July 2007 at 10:20  
Anonymous CCTV said...

The comment above is to be believed. Heather Playfoot is listed as Company Secretary at
http://www.silverringthing.org.uk/aboutus_ukteam.asp. It was also reported in The Times on 22 June.

The Silver Ring Thing is a limited company because we import and trade and so it is difficult to have charitable status in the UK in these circumstances. We are however "Not-For-Profit" in that all the money we make is placed right back into getting the message of the Silver Ring Thing to all young people in the UK. None of the Directors take a salary, nor are any dividends issued. We therefore make NO PROFIT.

The Silver Ring Thing UK Team is made up entirely of volunteers giving their time free of charge. Giving up weekends, they travel around the country to meet young people and deliver the message of the Silver Ring Thing, enabling the vision for the UK to be fulfilled.

We rely simply on Good Will. The good will of King's Church who employ several of the SRT Team and allow them to work on SRT as part of their work for the church; the good will of the volunteers who give their time; the good will of SRT in the USA who provide much of our stock on consignment, and the good will of one individual who has loaned us money to get our first 1000 unit consignment of materials from the USA, an exhibition stand and a small amount of marketing.

Needless to say operating on a shoe string means that we are really up against it when trying to reach our entire nation. We can operate in the south east on good will, but we want to do so much more. Here is how you can help:


17 July 2007 at 10:23  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Buenaventura Durruti

I carry a Plaid Cymru card

and that suggests Wales is run by a political party which has as its goals To build a national community based on equal citizenship, respect for different traditions and cultures and the equal worth of all individuals, whatever their race, nationality, gender, colour, creed, sexuality, age, ability or social background

which is obviously why it issued an Order to destroy a bull...and why Clive Lewis, for the Welsh government, said in court: "Bovine TB is a serious infection which is capable of transmission from cattle to other animals, including wildlife and indeed capable of transmission to humans."

but from a Plaid Cymru member we get nothing....obviously Welsh farmers can expect no explanation from Plaid Cymru why they must slaughter cattle and Hindu recreatinists not

17 July 2007 at 10:31  
Anonymous Voyager said...



Michael started in practice at the Bar in 1974 and took silk in 1991. He sits as a Deputy High Court Judge (QBD and Administrative Court) and as a Recorder and has chaired Tribunals of Inquiry concerned with employment and public law issues. Michael is on the Attorney Generals panel of Special Advocates for cases involving National Security.

Michael’s practice covers the whole range of local government, public and administrative and employment law. His practice embraces all employment–related litigation in the High Court and Employment Tribunals, in particular discrimination claims, restrictive covenants and disciplinary cases.

He is the General Editor of the latest edition of the Administrative Law title of Halsbury’s Laws of England; General Editor of Administrative Court Practice: Judicial Review (2002); He is co-editor of Supperstone, Goudie and Walker on Judicial Review (3rd Edn 2005); Co-editor and author of Supperstone, Goudie and Coppel on Local Authorities and the Human Rights Act 1998; and co-author of The Freedom of Information Act 2000. He is a contributor to Tottel's Local Government Law; and is a Consulting Editor of Butterworths Local Government Reports. Michael was Chairman of the Administrative Law Bar Association (1996-98) and is on the Editorial Board of Public Law. Michael is a Bencher of the Inner Temple.

Michael was appointed CEDR accredited mediator in July 2005.

Circuit Bench Appointment - His Honour Judge Gary Hickinbottom

Lord Falconer has appointed His Honour Judge Hickinbottom to sit as the Designated Civil Judge for South Wales with effect from 1 August 2005. Currently the Chief Social Security and Child Support Commissioner for Great Britain, Judge Hickinbottom will continue in that role until a successor has been identified.

Gary Robert Hickinbottom was admitted as a Solicitor in 1981. He was authorised to sit as an Assistant Recorder in 1994 and appointed a Recorder in 1998. He was authorised to sit as a Deputy High Court Judge in 2001. He was appointed as a Circuit Judge in 2000 and Chief Social Security and Child Support Commissioner in 2003.


17 July 2007 at 10:37  
Anonymous Voyager said...


1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
2. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.


The judge said the cow’s death would interfere with the community’s right to “manifest” its religious beliefs under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.



The Welsh Assembly should take the case to the European Court of Justice in Brussels and have the EU Commission challenge the Deputy High Court Judge and establish once and for all his subordination to EU Directives

17 July 2007 at 10:45  
Anonymous Voyager said...


17 July 2007 at 11:18  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Name & Registered Office:
Company No. 04606880

17 July 2007 at 11:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the playfoots face a bill for 20K perhaps Cranmer could use his excellent blog to raise money for them. I will give £20 straight away.

17 July 2007 at 11:33  
Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Perhaps the Playfoots could cover their legal fees by suing for libel all those who have alleged that they stand to make a profit by this, when the company is a non-profit one and all its workers are volunteers. They might even raise the money to appeal or take this to ECHR as discrimination against Christians, because adherents of other religions are allowed to wear "religious" dress which is not integral to their religion.

17 July 2007 at 11:51  
Blogger Cranmer said...

His Grace is considering launching an appeal.

PayPal is a little involved. It was somewhat easier when almsgiving involved actual pennies.

17 July 2007 at 12:07  
Anonymous 16words said...

rings pose a health and safety hazard

I visited a DuPont chemical plant once. They insisted that I remove my wedding ring. So there are some serious people that consider rings a safety issue. But they also insisted that I remove my watch...

17 July 2007 at 12:50  
Blogger C4' said...

Double standards, that is what this country has descended to. When an SAS CO is sacked for being 'too brave', 'too close to his men' and 'not political enough', when a country gives a higher priority to Hindu bulls instead of Christian girls, it's time to leave and start a new life in America.

Blair, Brown and the left have raped this country to death.

17 July 2007 at 13:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe if the cow had worn a purity ring on it's nose it would have been executed.

17 July 2007 at 14:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These two judgements show the mess into which this country into, In one case we have a young lady making a stand against teensex and all that entails (Pregnancy, abortions and disease) and she losses. In the other a group of monks are being allow to keep a bull who is a disease threat to the local human and animal population. How twisted can we get, just starting with the biblical injunctions “The body being the temple of the Holy spirit” and “Worship the creator not the created”, these have now been reversed. What message is this sending out, on Teensex, go out, indulge what ever the consequences and we will pick up the mess. On keeping a disease d animal, - you can what ever the risk to others and we will clean up the mess. How sick can you get.

We are reaching the situation in this PC country were you can be of any religious group (When you get everything you want) except Christian (When you get slapped down hard).

17 July 2007 at 14:52  
Anonymous Observer said...

Judge Supperstone ruled, however, that the ring could not be regarded as a proper Christian symbol, and therefore the school had not breached the Act.

Yet a bull can be construed as having religious significance to Hindus even when infected with TB on the very same day under the very same Article 9 by another High Court Judge.

Is there some affinity for the Golden Calf in the Inns of Court ? Or do we perhaps see just how befuddled those in the legal profession really are ?

On what basis do we consider judges impartial as opposed to being political in every sense ?

It is a nostrum rather than a proven feature, but it is hard to accept the judiciary in this country in view of its errant and partisan approach to issues and judgments.

17 July 2007 at 15:42  
Anonymous Sunny said...

I hate throwing a spanner in the works but....

"neither did Guru Nanak demand that Sikhs wear turbans and karas."

No, but Guru Gobind, the tenth Guru did demand that is his Khalsa disciples. It is not a requirement for ordinary Sikhs but is for baptised Sikhs.

17 July 2007 at 17:53  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Sunny,

Indeed, His Grace is fully aware of this much later development, but there are many Sikhs (indeed, sikhs with a lower case 's') who would contest that Gobind Singh Sri was in accord with Guru Nanak Sri. The fact is that Nanak never intended to found a new 'religion' at all; merely encourage the spiritual to become more devout seekers of truth - or 'disciples', which is the meaning of 'sikh'.

But this, in any case, is off the point, which remains the extent to which High Court judges are determining what is religiously orthodox and what is not. The Government has opened up a can of worms by permitting any 21st-century judge in England (or Wales) to be the arbiter of religious orthodoxy.

17 July 2007 at 18:50  
Anonymous 16words said...

any ...judge in England ... be the arbiter of religious orthodoxy

I blame Luther. He started all this DIY religion business and now the world and his wife is either starting a cult or a paring off a sect and not even a chance of them being ignited, at least not in this life. Would it be churlish to ask His Grace who he would choose to decide true religion from false?

17 July 2007 at 20:43  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr 16words,

His Grace would trust no judgement but his own, tempered by the traditions of the Church, and subject to the Holy Ghost and the eternal illumination of Scripture.

17 July 2007 at 20:50  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I blame Luther.

You might - Jews blame Jesus Christ....but neither were lawyers, and that is the essence of the problem - that lawyers acting as Deputy High Court Judges are using their limited comprehension to declare a bull a cow, and a ring bearing Scripture a non-symbol while declaring headcoverings and Arab costume to be of religious significance.

It is all rather dangerous for judges who are losing legitimacy

17 July 2007 at 21:31  
Anonymous 16words said...

It is all rather dangerous for judges who are losing legitimacy

Agreed. The Americans may have an ultimately more manageable approach with their constitional separation of church and state. The issues this throws up seem to me to be inherently less divisive and the politics of judge selection more open to public scrutiny (i.e politics). For us it would mean defunding religious schools, among many other things. Not a great price to pay for social stability, though.

18 July 2007 at 08:29  
Anonymous Voyager said...

The Americans may have an ultimately more manageable approach with their constitional separation of church and state.

They don't have one....do read The 1st Amendment carefully...it states only that Congress may not ESTABLISH a STATE religion - it says nothing about separation of Church and State, a preposterous notion creating two classes of citizen and violating the 14th Amendment

18 July 2007 at 08:36  
Anonymous Observer said...

the politics of judge selection more open to public scrutiny (i.e politics).

but Judges are selected on politics....the Lord Chancellor was a member of the Cabinet...the Judiciary is political...it is the lopsided politics of the judiciary that is the problem.

As for selection - I know of at least one region where the Judge putting forward candidates for preferment is a senior Freemason.

The issue is not how judges are selected but the political balance of judges - in all countries judges are selected by politicians - they are a component of the political system...they are Civil Servants paid from the Consolidated Fund

18 July 2007 at 08:40  
Blogger Philipa said...

I visit your excellent site your Grace and rarely comment but must say that this is an excellent post I completely agree with.

If you start an appeal, I'll support it - let's march!

18 July 2007 at 12:55  
Blogger Buenaventura Durruti said...

I made no comment on the rights or wrongs of topping Shambo. I eat meat and do not share the views of the community on the scantity of animals' lives.

What I said is that I believe the court reached its decision because the government failed to look at the circumstances: he may be a bullock but he is not a farm animal nor part of the foot chain. If he were the court would quite rightly endorsed the decision. I think they would probably have reprieved him if he were was in an equivalent position for non- religious reasons.

19 July 2007 at 19:06  

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