Lobbying for specialness

Religions teaming up to demand special status for religion, again.

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

They plan to hold an interfaith conference on the subject in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, in July.

The call follows an interfaith meeting convened by the Church of Scotland.

Why? Why are they doing that? Why can’t they just do what they do without trying to make it mandatory and part of the government and official and something that everyone has to defer to?

And what role is it that they want to be recognised in any written constitution for Scotland? Religion’s role in making stupid arbitrary rules that stunt people’s lives? Religion’s role in sowing guilt and fear? Religion’s role in distracting people from the real world? Religion’s role in interfering with education? Religion’s role in keeping women down? Religion’s role in marginalizing people who are sexually non-conformist?

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.”

How nauseating. A constitution isn’t a prize ceremony. It’s not the job of a constitution to single out special groups for “recognition.” Religions shouldn’t be “staking a claim” to anything. Religions should do their own jobs and leave other people’s alone.

A Scottish government spokesman said: “We propose no change to the legal status of any religion or Scotland’s churches.

“The interim constitution will, however, give full legal force to the ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights) which guarantees freedom of conscience and religion.

And that’s all that’s required. Freedom, yes; recognition, get out of here.


  1. Jean says

    I don’t know specific examples for Scotland but I have no doubt that if someone were to list the “contributions” of churches towards women and children then the best that could be added to the constitution is that churches will be tolerated despite of those “contributions”.

  2. Al Dente says

    The churches see their role in Scottish society eroding and want to legally prop it up. Otherwise the clergy might have to get honest jobs.

  3. Seth says

    I’m certain that a fair accounting of the many witch-burnings undertaken by the authorities of Scotland at the behest the Scottish clergy would be present in any constitutional attempt to ensure ‘…that the contribution of faith to Scottish society should be properly recognised…’

    What? Their little gaggle of soft-headed priests didn’t think about being held accountable for the many horrible crimes done in their name? They just want the touchy-feely bit of ‘recognition’, without an assessment of what their faith has *actually* contributed to Scottish society?

    Well, colour me shocked.

  4. AsqJames says

    representatives of Scotland’s diverse faith traditions were united in the view that the contribution of faith to Scottish society should be properly recognised

    Yes, especially their contributions to football related violence. And let’s not be too parochial here, Scottish religionists’ contribution to Northern Irish society shouldn’t be forgotten either.

  5. Patrick says

    This is slightly more than special pleading. The Church of Scotland already has a powerful constitutional presence, as does the Roman Catholic church. For example, all local authorities are required by law to have three religious representatives as full voting members of their Education Boards, and those persons are nominated by the churches themselves. Priests and ministers tend to have free access to Scottish state schools and are often left to their own devices while teachers take the opportunity of a welcome coffee break. Thank goodness that the school holidays have now started and priests and ministers won’t be able to fetishise torture porn week (or Holy Week as they’d like to call it) and frighten impressionable young children without their parents’ knowledge or consent. The problem is that the SNP don’t want to change that. They are quite happy with the status quo and have no ambition for a secular Scotland, which would also require ditching the English monarchy. As I wrote a few months ago (http://bit.ly/1sqQrIH):
    The second impoverishment of vision is that the SNP are committed to retaining the pernicious influence of kirk and church in a new Scottish society, perpetuating the sectarianism and division that causes such fundamental harm in Scotland today. This is a determination to embed the infrastructure of division into our constitution. The influence of the church in Scottish public life is deeper and more pernicious than I had ever realised before I came back to live in Scotland some nine years ago. For instance, all councils are obliged to appoint three church representatives to sit on their education boards, and many councils actually permit these religious appointees as members of full council as well, a fact which would horrify most secular Scots. Secularism is ensuring that no religious party is privileged in law or the practice of government, at any level in a state. This protects the interests of all religious groups and ensures that none are disadvantaged by privileging another above them. The educational apparatus at the heart of our sectarian division is promised to be continued. Denominational schools would continue unabated in an independent Scotland. In other words, publically-funded schools will continue to indoctrinate their own particular brands of religion to children as young as five and six, acting as incubators of sectarianism and division for the next generation. State-sponsored bigotry has no place in a society which strives to secure equality for people of any religious persuasion or of none.

  6. says

    If there’s a historical section explaining how Scotland got to this point, mentioning religion there might be reasonable.

    Anything that would give them a protected or authoritative role in civil society, just, no.

  7. Dunc says

    There are a couple of draft Scottish constitutions kicking around (one from the SNP in 2002, one from the Constitutional Commission in 2013), and neither goes beyond the standard “freedom of conscience and religion” protections you would expect from a modern European nation. The Commission’s model constitution makes it explicit that the right to freedom of religion includes “freedom not to believe or participate in any religion”.

    They are free to lobby as much as they like, but I really don’t fancy their chances if they want anything more than that.

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