There is a touch of unjustified smugness and arrogance about the claim by the new Moderator of the Church of Scotland that reconciliation is the business of the Church (Scotsman.com, 18 May).
There is not a hint of reconciliation in the claim by the Church that it should retain all its existing privileges in any constitutional changes that might occur as a result of September’s referendum. It still wishes for pre-eminence among churches and, for instance, seeks the retention of seats for itself and other denominations on council education committees
It seems increasingly the case, backed by the views expressed the Equality and Human Rights Commission, established under the UK Equality and Human Rights Act 2010, that the reservation of seats for the Churches of Scotland and Rome on education committees goes against the principles of the act that gives equal status to all religious organisations, philosophies and belief systems.
Uncomfortable as it may be for those two churches, the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament, these institutions cannot continue to turn a blind eye to possibly illegal discriminatory arrangements for the appointment of council education committees.
Prince Edward, the Queen’s representative at the opening of the Assembly, pleaded that the Christian sense of responsibility should prevail over the assertion of “legalistic rights”. It is profoundly concerning if the monarch’s representative has been won over to the case of the Church that laws can be overlooked if they are inconvenient. In the cause of reconciliation, the Church and the Scottish Government might seek independent legal opinions as to whether the current arrangements for the appointment of religious representatives to council education committees are actually in conformity with the relevant laws.
Prof Norman Bonney
Honorary president, Edinburgh Secular Society