Tag Archives: Religious Representatives

Edinburgh Secular Society challenges undemocratic religious representatives

Edinburgh Secular Society Vice-chair Colin Emerson has submitted a petition to The Scottish Parliament to ask it to instruct The Scottish Government to bring forward legislation to remove the legislation which places a requirement on the all 32 local authorities in Scotland to appoint three ‘religious representatives’ to their education committees.

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Edinburgh Secular Society comment on the 2011 census religion statistics

News release – For immediate release – 8th Oct 2013

Edinburgh Secular Society comment on the 2011 census religion statistics.

• “No religion” polls at 37 per cent…higher than The Church Of Scotland.

• Church of Scotland polls at 32 per cent…a 10 per cent fall since the 2001 census.

• Another 7.5 per cent of the total Scottish public turn their back on the Kirk since the last count.

• ESS questions the mandate of the Church of Scotland to have privileged access to our education system.

The religious statistics produced after Scotland’s 2011 census show, as many had expected, that religion is an ever decreasing choice for many Scots.  The 2011 census figures for Scotland reveal such plunging numbers declaring religious beliefs that it is predicted in a few years the total number of people declaring any religious belief will be a minority.  The most striking figure is that “no religion” has increased dramatically to 37 per cent. This is higher than The Church of Scotland at 32 per cent which is a reduction of well over 400,000 from its numbers in the 2001 census.

An ESS spokesperson said, “We respect individual adult religious choice but the Church of Scotland cannot presume to speak for anyone other than its followers. It continues to impose its minority beliefs in our non-denominational schools and together with other religions has unelected representatives on all Scottish education committees. Almost two million Scots now declare that they have no religion. So what does that mean for the age-old religious assumption of church involvement in our education system? Religious Observance is still compulsory and evangelising missionaries use this  to infiltrate the school system.”

ESS continued:

“The right to evangelise is an important religious freedom but it does not extend to recruiting from our schoolchildren.”

ESS calls on the Scottish Government to begin the process that will :

  • Repeal the legislation that requires Religious Observance is all Scottish schools
  • Repeal the legislation that imposes unelected religious representatives on all Local Authority Education Committees.


  • Speakers available for TV/Radio and other interviews.  For further information contact Gary McLelland – Chairman on 07813060713 or Neil Barber – Press and Communications Officer on 07986183977.
  • ESS is a leading secular campaign group in Scotland. We are based in Edinburgh and cover a range of national issues relating to Secularism.  ESS believes in freedom of religion and freedom from religion.
  • ESS is affiliated to the National Secular Society, although views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the NSS.


Edinburgh Secular Society meet with representatives of the Church of Scotland

On Friday 27th September 2013, Gary McLelland, Colin Emerson and Norman Bonney (Chair, Vice-chair and Honorary President of Edinburgh Secular Society) met with representatives of the Church of Scotland at their offices in George St, Edinburgh. Present from the Kirk were Ewan Aitken (Secretary of Church & Society Council), Sally Fulton-Foster (Convener of Church & Society Council) and Sandy Fraser (Convener of Education Committee).

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Edinburgh Secular Society featured in the Herald

This interesting column by the Herald’s education editor, Andy Denholm, references Edinburgh Secular Society.

The ESS campaign has enjoyed a lot of press coverage, not surprising given the blatant undemocratic element of compulsory religious reps.

View online here.

Prof. Norman Bonney writes in the Scotsman

Prof. Bonney points out the glaring undemocratic privilege of compulsory unelected religious representatives to the Church of Scotland’s Sandy Fraser.


Letters from the Scotsman

An interesting set of letters in the Scotsman discussing Edinburgh Secular Society’s decision to publish a list of unelected religious reps in Scotland.


Edinburgh Secular Society publish updated Religious Reps data

View data here.

Edinburgh Secular Society has updated its published list of Religious Representatives.  This includes the details of another 5 un-elected reps, bringing the total to 96.

These religious reps are full members of their respective Education Committees, and entitled to full voting rights and expenses.

Edinburgh Secular Society has chosen to publish this data for two reasons, firstly, as these representatives hold a public office, it is only fair that the people know who they are.  Secondly, Edinburgh Secular Society wants to draw the attention of the public at large to this undemocratic religious privilege.

Support for Edinburgh Secular Society from the Scotsman

An interesting piece from Hugh Reilly at the Scotsman, very supportive of the ESS position on Education Committee Reps.

Edinburgh Secular Society is delighted that this contentious issue is finally being given due consideration.


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