Religion and Belief


Christ Church welcomes diversity amongst its members, staff and visitors, recognising the particular contributions to the achievement of its statutory objects that can be made by individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

This section provides a general overview of legislation relating to religion and belief, and our response as we endeavour to ensure that discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief does not take place.

Legal Context

Discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief – or lack of religion or belief – is prohibited by the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act covers both employment and study, and outlaw discrimination on grounds of "any religion, religious belief or similar philosophical belief".

Neither religion nor belief is defined by the law. However, political beliefs are excluded from the legislation, albeit that the dividing line may be blurred in some cases. Factors that are considered when deciding whether there is a religion or belief may include whether there is collective worship, a clear belief system, or a profound belief affecting way of life or view of the world.

People are protected from discrimination on the grounds of their perceived religion or belief as well as their actual religion or belief: for example, if a person is discriminated against because they are believed to be Muslim, but are in fact Christian, they are still protected under the law.

The legislation allows there may be some cases where indirect discrimination on grounds of religion or belief is legal, but this is only where the indirect discrimination can be objectively justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

The legislation allows for direct discrimination where there is a genuine occupational requirement (GOR) and this may particularly apply in some instances in the Cathedral.

Vocational training

Higher Education Institutions may require a prospective student to profess a particular faith as a condition of access to a course of study, but they can only do so where the course of study is a vocational course, and the profession of that faith will be a necessary condition of later employment in the job for which the student is training.

College Response

Christ Church policies and practices which are relevant are as follows:

Recruitment and selection - Christ Church recruits staff without regard to religion or belief (See Staff Handbook) except in relation to recruitment for certain defined posts within Christ Church Cathedral where a genuine occupational requirement (GOR) exists.
Training and development or Teaching, learning and research - No relevant policy.
Conditions of service or Student Support - The staff handbook contains the major terms and conditions for staff. These include the regulations on faith.
Monitoring - The University has discussed the issue of monitoring by faith with the Staff Consultative forum and has concluded that such monitoring would not be welcomed by staff at present. Christ Church follows this guidance.
Publishing - Christ Church does not publish statistics on the faith distribution of staff.

Recruitment and selection - All colleges and departments admit students without regard to their faith. The sole exception to this is courses which lead to a career in the Christian ministry where a GOR exists.
Training and development or Teaching, learning and research - Students may apply to the University Proctors (via the Censors' Office) for amended examination times if these clash with religious observance.
Conditions of service or Student Support - Not applicable .
Monitoring -  The University does not monitor its student numbers by faith because of the feedback from staff on this matter. Christ Church follows this guidance.
Publishing - Christ Church does not publish statistics on the faith distribution of students.

Support and Advice

Guidance on our personnel policy may be sought from the Steward or, the Sub-Dean in relation to the Cathedral. Students should contact the Senior Censor.

The University Equality and Diversity Unit (DEO) provides a network of harassment advisers and is also responsible for updating the Code of Practice on Harassment.

The University also offers training in best practice for those involved in the admissions process, recruitment and selection, management and teaching.

Further Information

The University website contains useful information about centrally-located places of worship for a range of faith groups. Student societies also maintain close links with relevant places of worship and are excellent sources of information. The University website also provides information in relation to religious festivals throughout the year, as well as a number of links to relevant legislation and external bodies.