Sir James Munby - High Priest of Secularism
Sir James Munby, Head of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice in England and Wales, is a self-regarding, pompous, publicity-seeking pillock.
That is not His Grace's assessment, but that of His Honour Sir Nicholas Mostyn, barrister, judge and keen farmer, who famously named his pigs after Munby following a legal procedural dispute.
But it is a judgment with which His Grace wholeheartedly concurs. For Sir James Munby has delivered a speech in which he asserts that the law of this country is secular, and that Christianity no longer informs its morality or values. In this multicultural, multi-faith, relativist, pluralist state, only secularism can deliver justice that is neutral - i.e., only that which is secular can be truly just. And so out go 4000 years of the social history and religious tradition that defined Judaeo-Christian jurisprudence and developed notions of morality, and in comes the mumbling Munby's mundane reasoning of the supremacy of "secular neutrality".
It is not the task of judges "to weigh one religion against another", he pontificates, for "the court recognises no religious distinctions". And, apparently, "Christian clerics have, by and large, moderated their claims to speak as the defining voices of morality and of the law of marriage and the family".
"Happily for us," Munby avers, "the days are past when the business of judges was the enforcement of morals or religious beliefs."
Except, of course, when it comes to enforcing the state orthodoxy of equality and the inviolable beliefs of secularity. In this new theology, there is no theos: human rights are sacred writ, and salvation is found in the veneration of secularism. Therein lies the true source of freedom and justice.
Except, of course, it is no freedom at all; indeed, it becomes a manifest oppression to Christians seeking to live their lives in spirit and in truth. What are the foundations of British notions of virtue and morality if they are not Christian? What is the basis of English law if not Christian? The influence of the Church in the courts may have declined, but it has not "disappeared". And it is bizarre that Munby posits that the antithesis of the secular state is theocracy: 26 bishops in the House of Lords and a Monarch who is Supreme Governor of the State Church can hardly be compared to the infallible fatwas pronounced by Iran's ayatollahs.
It is interesting that Munby designate himself and his colleagues "secular judges", since he swore an oath "by Almighty God that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth...and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will."
Setting aside that it is a strange secularist that swears by Almighty God: it is of more immediate concern that Munby swore allegiance to the Queen, whose Coronation Oath demands the maintenance of the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law.
Perhaps Munby might remind himself that the XXXIX Articles of Religion as found in the Book of Common Prayer still constitute the law of the land. And Article 37 is quite clear:
The King's Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction.This has not been repealed and so still forms part of the British Constitution through the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Act of Union 1707. The clergy of the Church of England are still required to acknowledge that the Articles are ‘agreeable to the Word of God’ (Canon C15 of the Declaration of Assent). And clergy are also obliged by law to baptise, marry and bury. And as Church courts are courts of the Realm, and Measures of the General Synod have the effect and status of Acts of Parliament, Munby appears to be completely ignorant of the fact that the Constitution remains fundamentally Christian.
But his speech follows the judgment of Lord Justice Laws a few years ago, who, sweeping aside the centuries-old Anglican Settlement and the constitutional position of the Queen (not to mention manifesting scant comprehension of the Christian faith), determined: ‘The precepts of any one religion - any belief system - cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other.’
Empowered by EU Enlightenment, these judges are becoming judicial activists in their aggressive secularism. The Christian faith is intricately bound with the constitutional and legal basis of British society. Our values, virtues and notions of morality stem from a Judaeo-Christian foundation. It is not for the Judiciary to declare the relationship dead.
It is ironic indeed that we are winding back the clock on the 1689 Act of Toleration and 1829 Roman Catholic Relief Act, and moving toward the reintroduction of a religious bar to holding office. Christian magistrates, registrars, paediatricians, GPs, teachers, nurses and foster parents are finding it increasingly difficult to manifest their faith without risk of disciplinary action, dismissal or prosecution for offending the ascendant secular religion.
Freedom of religion is now universally subordinate to the rights of minorities: laws protecting people from discrimination must take precedence over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.
And now we have a Royal Charter which amounts to state regulation of the press. Politicians and lawyers have conspired to nullify our ancient and hard-won liberties: we are no longer free.
Happy Reformation Day.