Tag Archives: Scottish Politics

Failure of Scottish Parliament to use its existing powers to end, or even debate, religious segregation in Scottish state schools


Amidst all the debate about adding powers to the existing extensive range already held by the Scottish Parliament it is salutary to note that it has not used the powers that it has had in its fifteen years of existence to consider change in, or even debate, the divided system of state primary and secondary schools in Scotland that separates a minority  of Roman Catholic schools from the great majority of misnamed ‘non-denominational’ schools that are actually Protestant and which allow Church of Scotland and other Protestant denominations access to the pupils for ‘religious observance’ and related activities.

The Scottish Parliament has even consented in, without debate or challenge, the ‘guidance’ which the Scottish Government has issued for the conduct of religious observance in state funded schools.

Parliaments are supposed to hold Governments to account. There is no sign of this in relation to religious aspects of state education in Scotland.

Could there be some relationship between this ostrich like ‘head in the sand’ attitude of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government and the continuation of problematic aspects of religious sectarianism that continue to be manifest in Scotland?

Scottish Government religious subsidy of the week – 3 – £70,000 pa to Edinburgh Interfaith Association

In addition to the £120,000 pa that the Scottish Government gives to Interfaith Scotland it also grants £70,000 per annum to the Edinburgh Interfaith Association (EIFA), which does not appear to acknowledge this source of funding on its website.

The work of EIFA which focuses on Edinburgh, the wider region and internationally, overlaps considerably with Interfaith Scotland and involves work in Scottish schools. Details of its work are to be found at http://www.eifa.org.uk

There are nine different faith representatives and one Christian on the Board. Most of these denominations are, like EIFA itself, probably charities, and thus already benefit from tax relief on income and gains, rates relief and gift aid.

According to the 2011 census 2.1 per cent of the Scottish population has a non-Christian religion.

Surely these denominations and charities should be able to cooperate among themselves out of their religious good will and for the public good without additional state subsidy.

Edinburgh Secular Society receives no government funding and is entirely resourced by the voluntary activity of its members and supporters

Religious subsidy of the week – no 1

Jesus Christ drives the moneychangers out of the temple

The Scottish Government  contributed towards the developments costs of the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) which serves 12 denominations. SCPO was established in 1999 to help churches

  • Engage effectively in the new political process
  • Translate their commitment to the welfare of Scotland into Parliamentary debate
  • Contribute the range and depth of their experience, and their faith reflection on that experience, to the decision-making process.

These churches are all also likely to be charities which benefit from exemptions from taxation on income and gains from charitable activities as well as rates relief and gift aid and some of them have substantial resources.

SCPO operates as part of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland. The Church recognises that ‘by undertaking this core activity ecumenically, the Church is able to be better informed and have stronger influence on political debate’ (proposed deliverance May 2012).

The 11 other denominations are not particularly generous to SCPO. They contributed £8250 of the £93,111 cost of SCPO in 2013. The rest of the cost fell on the Church of Scotland (SCPO Annual report 2013)

So why did these churches have this privilege of government funding? Are there not some other organisations that might benefit from government funding so that they, too, might enhance the effectiveness of their lobbying with the Scottish Government and with the Scottish Parliament?

Should the Scottish Government have ever been involved in funding such activity?

ESS is investigating the size and duration of the Scottish Government grant to SCPO and would welcome any further relevant information.

Source http://www.actsparl.org