Scottish Government cabinet minister’s gaffe – ignorance of the role of religion in Scottish public life

Church of Scotland Moderator Rev Lorna Hood being welcomed for her contribution to the Scottish Parliament’s weekly ‘Time for Reflection’

Scottish Government cabinet member Fiona Hyslop, who is Cabinet Secretary, for Culture and External Affairs, argued on the BBC Radio 4 Question Time on Saturday  19 April 2014 from 1.10 to 2.00pm, that Scotland does not have an established religion and that religion and politics are kept separate in Scotland.

As to church establishment while the position of the Church of Scotland is different from that of the Church of England the former does have a special status with respect to the monarch, who immediately on coming to the throne is required by the Act of Union of 1707 to swear ‘to maintain and preserve the True Protestant religion and Presbyterian church government in Scotland’.

The Church of Scotland is seeking to retain this special status should Scotland vote ‘yes’ to independence on 18 September 2014 and the Scottish Government has stated that it does not plan to change the legal position of any religion in the event of a ‘yes’ vote.

As to the claimed separation of church and state, the Scottish Parliament has a weekly’ ‘Time for Reflection’ which is dominated by contributions from a variety of religious denominations and council education committees have unelected voting members nominated by the Church of Scotland and (in the 29 mainland local authorities) the Church of Rome.

If Scottish Cabinet ministers do not understand how the present system of government of Scotland operates how can they convince the Scottish people to vote for independence and guide them through the constitutional complexities that will ensue?

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