Church of Scotland supports Scottish independence
That’s to say, they don’t oppose it.
Indeed, the CofS is manifestly of the view that ‘Self‐determination for any nation is a good political principle that the Church would support’. According to their ‘draft response to UK consultation on Scotland’s Constitutional Future’, the sole determining factor in securing the Church’s support is ‘to ensure that social justice would be improved by any constitutional change’.
So, centuries of tied history, literature, language, literature, religion, philosophy and culture are subsumed to the very present social trinity of ‘poverty, health (and) education’. These, they aver, ‘reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ’.
So the Church of Scotland supports the agenda of the SNP if the objective is ‘the alleviation of poverty, the reduction of ill health, forgiveness in the criminal justice system and in society, cultural change that builds better neighbourhoods, removes prejudice that feeds things like sectarianism and welcomes strangers without qualification and all the other things that nurture human living’.
Not a word about the gospel or salvation or religious liberty. And to establish whether or not independence would yield these social benefits, the Church calls for a debate.
So, we have a debate and there are (as there tends to be) two competing, diametrically opposing and mutually exclusive views: the SNP separatists will say that these ‘values’ of Jesus will surely be fulfilled by secession; the Conservative/Labour/LibDem unionists will say that Christ’s purposes are better served by UK political union. How does the Church propose to adjudicate between these two extremes? Take a vote? Did Jesus preach democracy? As Margaret Thatcher told the Kirk some years ago in her 'Sermon on the Mound': “Nowhere in the Bible is the word democracy mentioned. Ideally, when Christians meet, as Christians, to take counsel together their purpose is not (or should not be) to ascertain what is the mind of the majority but what is the mind of the Holy Spirit – something which may be quite different.”
But appeals to Margaret Thatcher on matters Scottish will win no allies. By this Report, the Church of Scotland is aligning itself with the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland: Cardinal Keith O’Brien has long advocated Scottish secession from the Union saying he would be ‘happy’ if Scots voted for independence. Drawing parallels with the independence of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, he is of the view that ‘it is difficult to argue that ecclesiastical independence is acceptable but political independence is not’.
Significantly, when it comes to managing the process of democracy in a referendum, the CofS is of the view that the Section 30 order applied via the 1998 Scotland Act (which provides that Her Majesty may by Order in Council authorise the holding of a referendum on the independence of Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom is within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament) should be used as the basis for a discussion and agreement by both the UK and Scottish Governments. They say they would ‘not support any process if it were imposed’ by the UK Parliament. The Church is effectively empowering Alex Salmond against David Cameron’s conditions on both the question(s) and timing of the referendum. They add: ‘On the principle that decision making should be devolved to the lowest level practically possible, the view of the Church would be that the Scottish Parliament should be given powers to legislate for a referendum as that would mean the decisions about process would be taken as closely to those involved as possible.’
It is a curious spiritual and political blindness which preaches that ‘decision making should be devolved to the lowest level practically possible’ and ‘taken as closely to those involved as possible’, while simultaneously advocating direct Scottish membership of the European Union, which would necessitate a new application and acceptance of the acquis, lock, stock and barrel, which would shift decision making on some very crucial matters of social policy very far away from the Scottish people, and would do so in perpetuity.
But isn’t it refreshing to have a