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UK News

Church of Scotland disagrees with faith leaders threatening legal action against Scottish government if places of worship can’t reopen

by Chantalle Edmunds

The Church of Scotland has said it doesn't think threatening legal action against the Scottish Government, if places of worship cannot reopen, is the right course to take when "the country is under threat from Covid 19."

The Church took to Twitter and said it fully accepted “that the latest pandemic restrictions mean that we have to close churches again for the time being."

It added: "The vast majority of our members understand and support these temporary restrictions. We will continue to work with the Scottish Government to ensure that reopening churches will happen as soon as it can be done safely."

The response comes after a group of church leaders in Scotland sent a letter to the Scottish Government on Friday calling on it to reverse lockdown rules which mean that churches have to be closed for corporate worship.

The 30 church leaders from a range of denominations wrote that if their request was rejected, they'd have no choice but to pursue a judicial review.  

 

The letter sent to the SNP on Friday follows an open letter from 500 church leaders to Scotland’s First Minister on Monday making the same request.

The leaders, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, said that they believe the Scottish Ministers’ have "failed to appreciate that the closure of places of worship is a disproportionate step, and one which has serious implications for freedom of religion".

The letter argued that the regulations, that came into force on 8th January, are in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.

It added that with suitable restrictions in place, public transport, essential shops, professional sport, and the court system continue to function.  Yet, places of worship are closed. 

Rev Dr William Philip of the Tron church in Glasgow City Centre, said: "The severe restrictions upon gatherings of churches throughout recent months, and in particular the enforced complete closure to public worship, has brought significant distress, suffering, and ill-health to many in our congregation.

"Many of these are vulnerable people, and the church community serves as a life support for many at this time. We urge the government to reverse these measures urgently."

Earlier in the week, a Scottish Government spokeswoman defended their decisions to prohibit in-person worship: "We know how tough this decision will be for many people, a statement read.

"However we must take action across society to stop the virus spreading further, so we can protect public health and save lives. This virus can spread anywhere that there is close human contact without exception. Test and Protect tells us where people were in their 48-hour infectious period.

"So we know that on one day last week the seven-day number for places of worship was 120 and data from yesterday (Monday) shows the seven-day number for places of worship is 38, underlining the essential decision to require places of worship to close for public health reasons."

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