The question has been raised with regards to the petition in Edinburgh City Council to remove religious observance (RO) from schools: is this a good way to spend £10 million during austerity, to abolish RO in one education authority?
As a secularist, a mother and the chair of Secular Scotland, I say No. Of course not. That is the problem with the current provisions under the Education Act of 1980. It requires ludicrous levels of resources to change it.
We at Secular Scotland, on the other hand, have a petition lodged with the Scottish Parliament which would change RO to opt in.
This leaves RO intact for those who want it, but ensures parents will be given real freedom to choose if they do, along with the information to make the choice, something which does not happen now, despite being required by law. In fact, only 20 per cent of parents are informed by the school that they can opt out, and doing so is actively discouraged, often with no provision made for those who do.
Often kids who opt out are made to feel like they are being punished, and sometimes the parents’ wishes are ignored. By supporting our petition, you can keep RO if you want it for your child. The changes would be made once only, at parliamentary level, so there would be no wasted resources. The provision would be the same everywhere in Scotland, with no patchwork as one authority abolishes and another retains.
You can read and sign our petition at scottish.parliament.uk/gettinginvolved/petitions/religiousobservance. Seven hundred people have agreed that this is the best solution and signed in the first 24 hours. We would welcome everyone’s support.
Rev T Graeme Longmuir (Letters, 4 June) misses the point about the “exodus” from the Church of Scotland. It is true that very few congregations will leave (not least because the establishment will play hardball with buildings and money) but the exodus is already happening.
The Church of Scotland lost 15,000 members last year, the equivalent of 100 churches, a pattern which has been continuing for many years.
The recent decision of the General Assembly will only see that decline accelerate – any Church which moves away from the Bible in order to curry favour with the metro-elites loses all its radical edge and attractiveness, especially to the young. As a wise man once said: “He who marries the spirit of the age will soon be divorced.” Thankfully, there are churches in Scotland which remain faithful to the Bible and many of them are seeing considerable growth.
It is to be hoped that the Kirk will return to its biblical roots before it commits suicide.