Religious leaders launch legal action against Scottish Government over Covid shutdown

Religious leaders in Scotland have started legal proceedings against the Scottish Government over the closure of churches.

Some religious leaders have indicated they are taking legal action against the Scottish Government. Picture: Getty Images
Some religious leaders have indicated they are taking legal action against the Scottish Government. Picture: Getty Images

Lockdown measures designed to stop the spread of coronavirus have forced the shutting of places of worship.

Some individual members from the Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) and a number of independent churches have now launched a claim for judicial review.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Read More

Read More
Almost half of Scots took advantage of Christmas relaxation rules as trust drops...

Rev. William Philip, leader of the Tron church in Glasgow city centre, said: “We are able to do some things remotely via broadcasting but many – especially the poorest, the oldest and those most vulnerable – have no access to this.

“They are excluded completely from the possibility of Christian worship and the comfort and encouragement in life and death only this can give.

“Due to the severe restrictions upon gatherings and significant distress this has caused, we have faced no alternative but to pursue legal action.”

As part of the latest lockdown rules, places of worship are only permitted to conduct weddings or funerals – with the number of attendees strictly limited – and to broadcast services online.

People sit at marked places to keep distance as they take part in a small church service. Picture: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

Communal worship can continue south of the border subject to restrictions on attendance.

A pre-action letter was sent threatening legal action on January 15, giving ministers until 5pm on January 21 to respond.

Lawyers for the faith representatives will now argue the regulations are in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Scottish Constitution.

However, not everyone was in agreement with the move.

The Church of Scotland stressed it did not support the legal action being undertaken by ‘some religious representatives’ who were ‘speaking for themselves’ and not for the church.

An official statement read: “We do not think threatening legal action is the right course to take when the country is under threat from Covid-19.

“We fully accept that the latest pandemic restrictions mean that we have to close churches again for the time being.

“The vast majority of our members understand and support these temporary restrictions.

“We will continue to work with the Scottish Government to ensure that reopening churches will happen as soon as it can be done safely.

“We, along with other faith community leaders, encourage people to take measures that will ensure their safety and the safety of others and be vaccinated when the opportunity arises.

“We look forward to the day we can be together again in church.

“In the meantime we are encouraged by the many church congregations across Scotland who are offering essential support -both spiritual and practical - to their local communities.”

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.