Church of Scotland supportive of closures - your views

The front page headline in your newspaper on Saturday misrepresented the Church of Scotland’s position on closing places of worship during the pandemic.

The Church of Scotland does not support the legal action over temporary building closures launched against the Scottish government.

Individuals who have signed a statement supporting this course of action are speaking for themselves.

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We do not think legal action is the right course to take when the country is under threat from Covid-19 and 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. Along with other faith community leaders, we encourage people to take measures that will ensure their safety and the safety of others and be vaccinated when 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.

Our buildings may be temporarily closed but the Church is open and ministers and worship leaders continue to inspire their congregations with the Good News of Jesus Christ online and through telephone services.

Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Assembly Trustees

Rev Dr George Whyte, Principal Clerk of the Church of Scotland

Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

Tainted justice

I don’t know about Denmark, but something has been rotting in the State of Scotland, a concern not dispelled by the Crown Office seeming to capitulate to the parliamentary committee of inquiry’s demand for evidential material.

That it should ask the committee not to make the evidence public, as though the public was not entitled to know, makes one wonder if it has learnt anything.

That “ask” reveals that those in charge of that Office have not abandoned their role as the Praetorian Guard of the Scottish Government/SNP officialdom, a role exercised against the public interest in seeking to frustrate a legitimate parliamentary inquiry in doing its duty to lay bare the truth of a disgraceful episode.

There are two questions to be answered: do they now admit error in threatening Alex Salmond with prosecution if he dared reveal the evidence, and is all the material being delivered? The committee should not take its word for the latter.

I hope the Lord Advocate and his senior officials will now reflect upon their recent conduct, and will now desist in the vengeful prosecution of supporters of Alex Salmond, having failed to nail him on 13charges.

Mark Hirst, a journalist, faced eight months of anxiety before coming to trial, only to see the judge decide swiftly that he had “no case to answer.” Craig Murray is now involved in a trial. Is there now a habit of malicious prosecution embedded in our criminal justice system?

There is much for we citizens to be concerned about: a civil service politicised and compromised after ingesting doses of amnesia and obfuscation; a First Minister who declared the inquiry would be given whatever it asked for, but who quickly shunted that responsibility to the Lord Advocate, who seemed anxious to shield her when the opposite applied.

We have seen the chief executive of the governing party, spouse of the First Minister, as is now public knowledge, seeking to have Alex Salmond prosecuted in England, not in pursuit of justice, but as a tactic to weaken his position in the Scottish system by making him “fight on two fronts.” In 60 years in public life, I cannot recall any such egregious action by any party official anywhere in the UK.

In his winding up speech on behalf of Salmond, Gordon Jackson QC, hobbled by a pre-trial order prohibiting use of evidence now to be revealed (?) could only hint to the jury, when he said something “stinks.”

The joint actions of the Scottish Government and the Crown Office have gone beyond “stinks.” The stench of political corruption now hangs over this nation.

To make the air clean again, beyond the parliamentary one, whose forensic limitations were exposed by Alastair Bonnington and Brian Wilson, we need a judicial inquiry equipped with all the powers to command evidence from all sources.

Jim Sillars, Grange Loan, Edinburgh

Sturgeon’s motive

Nicola Sturgeon' pleading to the EU to "leave a light on" for Scotland seems to have backfired with Scottish voters because her seditious threat to hand over confidential Covid vaccination supplies has turned a huge searchlight on her true intention.

That is to undermine the UK state any way she can, even if it includes endangering the Scottish and UK's own vaccination policy.

Allan Sutherland, Willow Row, Stonehaven

Report silence

How interesting to read Brian Monteith's reminder of the scandalous fact that "the OECD report into Scotland's educational decline...has been postponed by more than a year, conveniently until after this May's election." (Scotsman, January 25).

Why could this be? Is it at all possible that here is yet another inconvenient truth Sturgeon and Swinney don't wish to become public knowledge?

Sounds like a case of hiding your darkness under a bushel.

F Scott, Morningside Drive Edinburgh

Polling shortfall

There are many examples all over the world where democracy is being attacked, so as citizens we really need to vote.

However, only about 58% of registered voters in Edinburgh and Lothians voted in the last Scottish Parliamentary election in 2016. This seems quite low to me. Elections for the Scottish Parliament are due to take place in May this year.

Also, about 7% of the Scottish population have non-UK nationality. A German EU citizen I met in Princes Street recently had lived in Edinburgh for over 20 years but had never registered to vote.

Some of your readers may not be aware that they can vote in Scottish Parliamentary elections if they are resident here. You don't have to be Scottish (but you do have to be over 16).

You can register to vote at the website www.mygov.scot/register-to-vote-scotland.

I encourage everyone to register and take part in this democratic opportunity to shape our community.

Patricia Baillie Strong, Regent Terrace, Edinburgh

EU minnows

The behaviour of the EU during the vaccine crisis tells us a lot about the dynamics of that bloc and where power lies.

First, the UK only discovered that the EU was going to close the border with Northern Ireland from a tweet to prevent the Pfizer vaccine getting into the UK by a “back door route”!

Not only did the EU omit to tell the UK this, but they also forgot to tell the government of Ireland, which is supposed to be a member state.

Naturally, the Irish Taoiseach was incandescent about this. It must be remembered how Boris Johnson was slated when he used the threat of doing much the same thing during Brexit negotiations, but this was the EU deciding unilaterally to close the border.

In the end, when Boris Johnson spoke to her in a “robust” manner, she was eventually persuaded to backtrack. She had, apparently not even told Michel Barnier about this, which typifies the way that things are run in that dysfunctional bureaucracy.

Perhaps those who, like the SNP talk about getting a “seat at top table”, with resonances of school pecking order will now realise that there is only one seat at top table and it is occupied by Germany.

Macron and Barnier may think they have a seat there, but they do not. All other seats are “below the salt” and the SNP had better get used to the idea.

Andrew HN Gray, Craiglea Drive, Edinburgh

Choice of hijab

Monday February 1 is World Hijab Day, a day for empathy and to combat any misunderstandings around a cultural practice: what’s not to like?

However other campaigners such as The Council of Ex-Muslims remind us of countries where failure to wear the hijab risks fines, imprisonment or worse.

I am quite prepared to be told that for every woman who feels it is an oppression, there is another who will assure you it’s her choice.

So maybe in addition to this event, Tuesday February 2 should celebrate “World freedom not to wear the hijab day”

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive

Indy jobs loss

Nicola Sturgeon has stated that unemployment will rise by 80,000 after Brexit. Whether this is over one, two or five years is not clear.

She has given no forecasts for the rise in unemployment after Independence if we left the UK, but considering that we do four times as much trade with them compared with what we do with the EU the rise would likely be considerably higher.

We would also lose £10-12 billion of Barnett formula income annually which would need to be replaced.

Cabinet Secretary for Finance of Scotland Kate Forbes has given no indication of how taxes would rise or expenditure be reduced to cover this shortfall.

The SNP government has thus far failed to produce an economic case for Independence and until they do so they are risking the economic wellbeing of all Scots in their obsession with staging Indyref2.

Jack Watt, St Ola, Orkney