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Light sensors cause religious row


One of those ridiculous ultra-religious stories that make you go WTF. From BBC News:

A couple have taken legal action after claiming motion sensors installed at their holiday flat in Dorset breached their rights as Orthodox Jews.

Gordon and Dena Coleman said they cannot leave or enter their Bournemouth flat on the Sabbath because the hallway sensors automatically switch on lights.

The couple's religious code bans lights and other electrical equipment being switched on during Jewish holidays.

They have now issued a county court writ claiming religious discrimination.


This follows another recent news, involving the interdiction to use phones on Sabbath, even by emergency services workers. To creatively work around the restriction,

Rabbi Levy Yitzhak Halperin issued a new set of rules involving the use of a specially designed case that prevents phones from being shut down accidentally. To confirm response to dispatch, workers are permitted to hold a small metal pin between their teeth and press the necessary buttons on the phones

Below are some hilarious comments on the light sensor topic from the atheism forum RichardDawkins.net:

Another solution for operating phones:

Another solution was something retarded like a phone whose numbers were in a constant state of being pressed. Jewish law forbids you from completing an electrical circuit during the Sabbath so when you pressed the button on the phone, it actually depressed the button and you could dial the number that way. This way, you weren't technically completing an electrical circuit.

On rabbis:

the best part about orthodox jews and their idiosyncrasies is that the rabbis generally dont seem to be foisting them onto them, instead the rabbis are the ones who use there knowledge of scripture to find ingenious loopholes around as much of the inconveniences as possible

Are the jews really doing work?

The people are not doing any work. They are not forbidden to move during the Sabbath.

If the landlord's movement sensor activates a light during the Sabbath that is surely allowed unless the sensor itself is an Orthodox Jew?

Discrimination by whom?

They are not consciously switching on the lights - the lights are automatic - thus they are not contravening the rules of their superstition. Furthermore, the light sensors are treating every person equally, regardless of their age, sex, race, superstition, etc., so how can any one claim discrimination. Any way, discrimination by whom? A light sensor?

Candles are not a solution

Candles are to be lit 18 minutes before sunset Friday, so that the work of lighting the fire is not done after Sabbath commences.

[signature] Johann Hari: "I respect you as a person too much to respect your ludicrous beliefs"

How about the fridge?

I'm sure we can all sleep soundly KNOWING that this same couple diligently unplugged their refrigerator/freezer so that the automatic thermostat incorporated therein wouldn't complete an electrical circuit to the compressor during the sabbath!