BY Ian Dunn | August 10 2012 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


SNP marriage bill poses a threat to religious freedom

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has written to Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warning her that she risks destroying religious liberty in Scotland by insisting upon legalising same-sex ‘marriage.’

The cardinal’s letter notes the bishops of Scotland are ‘deeply disappointed’ that the Scottish Government decided to proceed with its plans to re-define marriage two weeks ago ‘especially because the government simply ignored its own consultation.’

That consultation ‘returned a result of two to one against the redefinition of marriage, showing quite emphatically that there was little will for the legalisation of same-sex ‘marriage’ among those who responded to the consultation,” the cardinal writes.

“We advise the Scottish Government once again not to proceed with its plans to legalise same sex ‘marriage’ and to leave in place the common understanding of marriage as uniquely the union of a man and a woman.”

The cardinal also tells the SNP politician that the Scottish Government’s stated intention to see the UK equality act amended to protect religious celebrants before proceeding with legalising marriage does nothing to assuage his fears.

“The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland believes that there is considerably more at stake here than the religious freedom of celebrants,” he writes. “We believe that religious freedom itself is at stake, in the sense not just of freedom of worship, but of freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of action.

“Specifically, if a same-sex ‘marriage’ law is enacted, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland urges that not only should no pressure be put on the Church to solemnise same-sex ‘marriage,’ but no penalty or sanction should accrue for not doing so.”

The cardinal also writes that he and his brother bishops require assurances that ‘no one should be prosecuted under the law for speaking against the legislation or upholding in private or public discourse the view that the nature of marriage is a union solely of a man and a woman.’

The Scottish bishops now seek to discuss these and other matters with the Deputy First Minister.



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