An independent Scotland: a religious or a secular state?

Scottish voters still await the details of the latest thinking of the Scottish Government on its plans for an independent Scotland.

All the evidence so far suggests that it will continue to envisage an independent Scotland as a religious state headed by the UK Protestant monarchy that excludes Roman Catholics from succession to the throne.

But in its attempt to get the backing of the Church of Scotland for its independence proposals will the Scottish Government go so far as accept the Church’s demands for the continuation of its existing constitutional privileges which it spelled out in a paper at its General Assembly last May?

The Church of Scotland demands;
  • ·        That an independent Scottish state recognise the authority of God
  • ·        That the monarchy should be retained and should have a continuing special relationship with the Church of Scotland
  • ·        That the monarch should have a Scottish coronation that ‘upholds  Scottish religious life and traditions’
  • ·        That the Church should retain the right to conduct marriage and appoint prison chaplains.
  • ·        And that the churches should retain the right to appoint three members of each local authority education committee.

It will be of great interest to voters to see how the Scottish Government responds in its White Paper of 26 November to these proposals by the Church to maintain its existing privileged position in Scottish society and politics in a proposed independent Scotland.

The Church’s position is spelled out at

About Norman Bonney

Researcher and writer on religion and the state

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