BY Ian Dunn | April 11 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Nation must protect religious freedom

Churches and faith groups are calling for the role of religion to be recognised in any written constitution for Scotland.

The call follows an interfaith meeting convened by the Church of Scotland at which the Catholic Church was represented by Archbishop Emeritus Conti of Glasgow.

Scotland’s religions now plan to hold an interfaith conference on the subject in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, in July.

The Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church have joined forces with other major religious and faith groups to ‘stake a claim’ for recognition in a written constitution.

A joint statement released by those who attended the interfaith meeting said: “At a meeting, chaired by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Lorna Hood, representatives of Scotland’s diverse faith traditions were united in the view that the contribution of faith to Scottish society should be properly recognised whatever the future holds.

“All the churches and faith communities present agreed Scotland’s diversity of religious belief is an important reflection of Scotland’s wider society. It is intended the conference will help inform their responses to both the constitutional consultation and the wider political debate beyond the referendum. The conference will transcend political differences and any statements agreed will make no endorsement of either side in the referendum campaign.”

The Scottish Government has said it will publish a draft constitution to inform the independence debate.

John Deighan, the Scottish bishops’ parliamentary spokesman, said ‘the hesitancy’ to embrace the religious leaders request was rooted in ‘a misunderstanding.’

“Religious freedoms are not to be feared , they are not about imposition but rather allow people to follow their conscience,” he said. “It needs to be understood better.”

He said that any Scottish constitution should not only explicitly mention protecting freedom of religion, but also reference it, in its preamble.


—This story ran in full in the Apri l11 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.


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