Church fury over historic mistakes on 'English kirk'

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THE leader of Scotland's 43,000 Episcopalians has claimed that his church has been "written out" of Scottish history and hit out at the caricature of his church as the "English Kirk".

The Most Rev Dr Idris Jones, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said that the popular version of history which has pitted Presbyterians such as John Knox against Roman Catholics, sidelines the place of the Episcopal Church in the nation's history.

He said: "It is true that the Episcopal part of Scottish history has been played down. That's down to the way history has been taught. That's what happens in history, minorities tend to be wiped out from history, that's not just true about us, but also the part that Roman Catholicism has played in Scotland's history."

He added: "For example, if you look at the list of bishops in St Mungo's, in Glasgow Cathedral, you see a great list of Protestant bishops. They were Episcopal bishops, and for many people that comes as a surprise.

"We carried out a study in one of my churches, in Montrose, to see where people came from. We discovered that the majority of people were native-born Scots. So to characterise the Episcopal church as English-led and supported is not true."

The Episcopal Church in Scotland fell into a steep decline from the end of the 17th century when the defeat of the Stuart kings of Britain led to Presbyterianism being made the established faith in Scotland. Episcopalians were relegated to the status of an underground church.

Michael Russell, the former Nationalist MSP and Episcopal lay-preacher, said: "There is a strong argument for saying that John Knox was more an Episcopalian than a Presbyterian, he did believe in bishops. Presbyterianism as we think of it was more due to Andrew Melville, who came on the scene later."

Historian Michael Fry said: "People think of Culloden and the Jacobite Rising being Catholic-Protestant when in reality the Highland clans were mainly Episcopal. But I think the Episcopal Church has allowed itself to be seen as the English church by down-playing its own heritage as an underground church."

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