Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Law for Catholics

An old friend thought to encourage me to publish this on my blog. I'm impelled to because I think its very interesting:

Using the Law to your advantage: An Example for Catholics

Recently I happened to be walking through the grounds of a museum in the UK. I came
across a structure that appeared to be an exhibit. So as to not identify it, I can't give you specifics, but the "exhibit" quoted a written slogan, which appeared to deny the existence of God, or the efficacy of His actions in the world.

As a Catholic this gives me extreme cause for concern, and as a citizen I wonder what I can do about it. Fortunately, the law is meant to be there for everyone, and in this instance there are a few pieces of legislation which may be useful.

1) The museum in question is a public body, hence anyone can submit written questions to them for information and get written answers back. A few exemptions apply, but generally all information must be given, and the public body is not entitled to ask why.

The relevant legislation is the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (c. 36), or - in Scotland - the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (2002 asp 13).

In this instance, I hope to compel the museum in question to disclose whether the item is indeed an exhibit, if it is not then what it is doing there, and if it is who the artist(s) is/are, who commissioned it, the cost, and any written policy regarding it.

2) Whether the work is an exhibit or not, a second piece of legislation will help further. Public bodies have traditionally had responsibilities under the Race Relations and Disability Discrimination Acts to assess the impact of their policies and decisions. This has recently been extended.

The Equality Act 2006 (c.3) imposes the same burden on public bodies, extending it to age, gender, sexual orientation, and religion or belief. (Note: the groups do not necessarily mean a particular minority, for example something could be discriminatory by virtue of age, even if the "age" group affected is not young or old, but middling.)

This means that, in terms of this exhibit, the museum ought to have assessed the impact of hosting the exhibit on persons of religious belief, Christian or otherwise. After they have responded to my first request, I intend to use the FOI legislation listed above to enquire as to their responsibilities under this second Act.

Failure to respond to Freedom of Information requests, along with the operation of the Acts, is overseen by the Office of the Information Commissioner (Scottish Information Commissioner in Scotland). The oversight body for the Equality Act is the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

I hope and pray I'm successful in discovering the meaning of this strange "structure", but in the meantime, I thought I would share some legal resources with people of goodwill on the blogosphere. The Law exists for Catholics too. Use it!


  1. Go for it Matthew! We need to stand up for what is true and combat evil with the unusual weapon of the LAW. Very cleaver. God's blessings in your endeavor.
    P.S.- I like your blog and read it often.
    Ron Grutza in Hershey, PA USA

  2. I am perplexed by this post. Why desist from naming the museum concerned? Objects in it are in the public domain and it would be helpful for others to see the one you mention themselves. I entirely share your concern but I think you are being unnecessarily oblique. What offence would be caused?

  3. As I said, it wasn't I who wrote that. This is a fellow who has to exercise caution in his public dealings due to his occupation, in a similar way that I might with medical issues. He meant the post merely to encourage others against this dictatorship of relativism.