Presbytery power

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THE wording of your report (22 May) on the decision of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on the question of the ordaining of gay ministers is unfortunately misleading in one, all important detail.

You state that “it will now pass to the presbyteries to vote for or against it, and if approved would become church law next ­summer”.

This wording suggests that the views of the presbyteries will finally decide this matter. Even if they vote in favour, the subsequent assembly is not bound to agree and enact accordingly. This has happened in the past, and it could happen again, which is why the decision already taken by some ministers, members and adherents to leave the Kirk is doubly regrettable.

(Rev) AG McGillivray

Larchfield Neuk

Balerno, Edinburgh

IT SHOULD be no surprise that the Misuse of Drugs Act which pitched the UK into Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs” was introduced by Ted Heath’s disastrous government, elected in 1970. 

It contained no scale to assess the harm done by individual drugs and the arbitrary exclusion of alcohol and tobacco meant that the act was neither scientifically nor medically based. 

Yet when I suggested the decriminalisation of narcotics in a motion to the 1980 General Assembly on much the same grounds as Allan Massie (Perspective, 28 May) I was defeated by 468 votes to five. 

One of the five was the late, great Andrew Heron who was later teased by the BBC’s Stewart Lamont: “Did I just witness the Kirk’s safest pair of hands supporting its loosest canon?”
Heron’s explanation was that when in the past the assembly had been far-sighted on complex issues these had usually come up on a Friday afternoon after most delegates had gone home. 

But whenever the assembly in full session had beyond peradventure known its mind when faced with a major social issue like drugs, historically it had ­always been wrong.

(Rev Dr) John Cameron

Howard Place

St Andrews, Fife

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