Church leaders cite Bible in opposition to Scotland’s smacking ban

Leaders of a presbyterian congregation have cited Bible passages as they spell out their opposition to a proposed Holyrood bill that will outlaw smacking children.

A smacking ban has been proposed. Picture: John Devlin
A smacking ban has been proposed. Picture: John Devlin

The Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) made a written submission to Holyrood’s Equalities Committee ahead of a meeting in Skye to take evidence on the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill.

Proposed by the Greens’ John Finnie and backed by the SNP administration, the ban seeks to end the legal defence of ‘justifiable assault’ for parents or guardians who physically punish children.

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Smacking ban branded ‘tragic and depressing’
A smacking ban has been proposed. Picture: John Devlin

Evidence seen by the Herald newspaper from the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) leaders says that the ban would turn parents into ‘convicts’. The congregation also cites scripture, writing: “Reasonable chastisement, in the form of a mild physical punishment such as a smack, is one of the means belonging to parents whereby they are able to discipline their children when they are disobedient, out of love for them and for their good.

“It is a means which has been given to them by God (see e.g. Proverbs 22:15; Hebrews 12:9), and the state has no right to remove it from them.

“The absence of proper discipline in the home and in the school has been responsible in part for the lack of respect for authority in society generally.”

The ‘Proverbs’ section referred to makes reference to a ‘rod of correction’ to drive foolishness from children.

The Church of Scotland, however, cited the Bible to defend the bill, writing: “In Mark 10, Jesus welcomed children being brought for blessing, even when adults objected, and rebuked those who would have prevented this from happening. Later in the gospels Jesus affirms that the Kingdom of God belongs to children.

“The Church believes that the resort to violence should cease to be acceptable as our society comes to understand its negative impact.”