Tag Archives: Syndicated

Why the UK monarch swears to disavow the Roman Catholic religion

This Saturday 21 September sees the consecration ceremony in Edinburgh for the new Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews. This, of course, will be of significance to substantial elements of the local population, many of whom identify with the Roman Catholic Church even if they do not all closely follow some of its advice on personal life and morality. 

However, it is important to appreciate that bishops and Archbishops of that Church are appointed by the Vatican which is a foreign state with official standing at the United Nations. Unlike most Catholic citizens the hierarchy of the Church owes fundamental loyalty to Rome - indeed as the case of the former incumbent of the position, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who is now exiled and in seclusion following recent publicity even though he would prefer to live in Dunbar, demonstrates. Their future careers and the perquisites of personal life depend on them being in the favour of their superiors in Rome. The control exercised by the Pope and his advisers over the bishops of the Church is one reason why, at various times and in various countries, governments have, in order to protect their independence from foreign control, demanded control over the appointment of the bishops. 

And it is fear over the potential control exercised over a UK monarch by that Church that the monarch cannot be a Roman Catholic and that the monarch is required to swear, as the Queen did on 4 November 1952 before the UK Parliament, to reject the authority and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. The Accession Declaration Act of 1910 still binds the likely next monarch, Prince Charles, to do the same and no major political party is currently proposing at present to change the laws in this respect whatever the outcome of the referendum in a year's time.

Letter in the Edinburgh Evening News 20 September 2013 

The consecration of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Edinburgh and the Scottish independence referendum

The timing of the consecration of the new incumbent Roman Catholic Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews on Saturday 21 September in Edinburgh, sandwiched between the SNP Scottish Government's promotion of independence in a debate in the Scottish Parliament and a pro-independence rally in the same city on the day following the religious service, can be no accident. The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland appears to be indicating sympathy for a 'yes' vote in the independence referendum in a year's time.

At a time when a substantial number of citizens in Scotland are thus calling into question many aspects of the UK union to which the majority of Scots have assented for over three centuries then it would also seem also appropriate to challenge aspects of the prevailing religious settlement which privilege the Roman Catholic Church whether in an independent Scotland or within a continuing UK.

The scandal over the retirement and enforced exile of the previous incumbent and the appointment of his successor highlights that fact that bishops and Archbishops of the Church of Rome are appointed by the Vatican. They are agents of a foreign multi-national organisation headquartered in Rome and are subject to its discipline and dependent on it for their future career and personal well being. The ultimate loyalty of the leaders of that Church, but not the ordinary Roman Catholic Scottish citizen, lies beyond the boundaries of Scotland. It is thus understandable that some states at some times have not allowed Rome to appoint the bishops of the Church in their countries.

There is, then, a need to ask whether the apparent support of the Church of Rome for Scottish independence does not conceal a desire to expand its influence in a possibly independent Scotland beyond its current control of a large multi-million pound chunk of the current Scottish education budget which the Scottish Government and Parliament currently grants to it.

The issues surrounding the appointment of the new Archbishop make it clearer as to why UK laws require a new sovereign, according to the Accession Declaration Act of 1910, to repudiate, before Parliament, the doctrines and authority of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church is governed by a foreign power and citizens in determining their vote in the referendum in a year's time will need to bear in mind the possible implications of the result for the power and influence of this Church in the future life and government of Scotland.  

Foreign power signals support for Scottish independence

The Vatican's appointee to the Roman Catholic bishopric of Edinburgh and St. Andrews signalled his  Scottish national sentiments on Sunday in a press interview where he indicated that he wears the saltire on his cuffs.

It is no accident, then, that his consecration ceremony as bishop and the accompanying publicity is scheduled for this coming Saturday 21 September in Edinburgh on the same weekend which sees a pro-Scottish independence rally in the same city one year ahead of the referendum.

But since the bishop is appointed by a foreign power, the Vatican, and his future life will be very much dependent on it as has been shown by the fate of his predecessor, can Scots be sure that he will put their interests ahead of those of the foreign power that appoints him?

And does the Vatican expect to exercise more influence in an independent Scotland than it does at present?

Foreign power appoints Scottish bishop and holds another captive

Last week there were concerns about American evangelicals infiltrating Scottish schools.

Today Scotland on Sunday reports that the Vatican appointee to the Roman Catholic bishopric of
Edinburgh and St Andrews has begun his work in Scotland and has stated that he does not
expect his predecessor to return to Scotland, where he clearly wanted to be, in the near future.

Two concerns arise.

Firstly, is it acceptable that a foreign power which has representation at the United Nations
should be appointing the bishop of a significant Church in Scotland? And not only that - he
will also be continually accountable  to Rome during his appointment. Why do we allow a
foreign power to have such influence inside Scotland?

Secondly, in its treatment of the retired predecessor bishop, Keith O'Brien, it looks like the
Roman Catholic Church is guilty of human trafficking and human rights violations by
restraining and controlling his movements through the influence that it has over his future
economic and personal well being.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien is a prisoner of the Vatican.

Persecuted Christian sect could claim discrimination against Scottish Local Authority

The Scotsman reports (7 September) that South Lanarkshire Council has peremptorily ended a chaplaincy of the American based Church of Christ, and the voluntary roles of members of the Church in schools in the area, partly because of their espousal of religious doctrines that reject the idea of evolution.

It would seem that this Church would have a strong claim of discrimination on grounds of religion and belief under the Equality Act of 2010 against South Lanarkshire Council, since, like all local authorities in Scotland, it allows representatives of other denominations to preach their unscientific beliefs in the divinity and resurrection of Jesus Christ and of the virginity of his mother as part of the school curriculum.

Why is one sect singled out for opprobrium and exclusion and others granted privileged access to influence pupils in our state funded schools?

The only fair policy towards religious observance is to exclude it from publicly funded schooling and leave parents and children free to practice religion if they wish in their time out of school. Any other policy involves the government or education authorities dictating which churches and sects should be granted access to pupils in schools to spread their unscientific views.

Scotland not a Christian country – official

I have news for Angus Logan who complains (letters 3 September) about secularist campaigns to separate church and state.

Scotland is no longer a Christian country - at least in the view of the Scottish Parliament that decided on 9 September 1999 by a vote of 99 to 9 with 13 abstentions, that it would not have exclusively Christian prayers. 

Recent surveys have also indicated, what the 2011 census will shortly probably affirm, that Christians are now no longer, or only slightly, a majority in the Scottish population. Time for Reflection in the Scottish Parliament will thus have to adjust to this by lessening the contributions that Christians make to its proceedings if it is to reflect its founding principles.

Letter in the Scotsman 4 September 2013

For more on this visit and www.normanbonney.blogspot.co.uk and www.paganparliament.co.uk

Why does the Scottish Government give ‘guidance’ on religious worship in state schools?

On Tuesday (3 September 2013 ) a petition is being presented to the Scottish Parliament to change pupil’s participation in state school religious observance from an ‘opt-out’ to an ‘opt-in’ basis. But isn’t a debate needed in the Scottish Parliament as to whether there should be religious worship at all in our schools?

Scottish Government guidance on religious observance was re-issued in in 2011. That government should be issuing ‘guidance’ is surely, in itself, questionable. What business does government have in determining religious rituals in school?

The guidance holds out ‘Time for Reflection’ (TFR) in the Scottish Parliament as a model for religious observance in schools. But to be reflective of belief in Scotland TFR has had to provide time for 6 major faith traditions (Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Judaism, Bahai’i) and 14 different Christian denominations but even then it has not given fair representation to atheist, humanist and other non-religious beliefs.

I have some considerable sympathy for teachers given the impossible task of creating unifying religious observance for pupils from such diverse backgrounds which all insist on own their separate religious distinctiveness.

Also worrying is the shelter which the current guidance gives to Christian evangelical groups to step into our schools to influence the education of our children as is evident a new report by the Edinburgh Secular Society.

Is it not about time that the Scottish Parliament fulfilled its initial promise of more transparent and participatory government by actually debating whether religious observance in our schools should be a compulsory legal requirement at all?

Letter in the Scotsman 2 September 2013. Full version
For more on Christian evangelical penetration of state schools visit www.edinburghsecularsociety.com 

Worries over a free press in Scotland

Reports today from a former Scottish Roman Catholic bishop confirm, what has been clearly apparent in recent weeks - that the church hierarchy in Scotland has consistently blocked inquiries into sexual and related abuses in the church.

But there are also deep concerns as to why these matters have only recently been reported by the Scottish press. Much of the Scottish press held the Roman Catholic Church in awe and was reluctant to publicise negative news about the Church for fear of being considered sectarian.

It took the London press to break the near blanket self-censorship of criticism of the Church by the Scottish press and media. 

Congratulations to the Observer for breaking the story and for continuing coverage, and to the Scottish press for being brave and following its lead.

Valid public criticism of the Church must not be confused with religious hatred.

Too often the Scottish press has simply regurgitated to Scottish readers the handouts from the Church's previously powerful press office.

There thus are justifiable fears over the possible power of the Roman Catholic Church in a nominally independent Scotland should Scottish voters decide to back this course in next year's referendum.

The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland under the leadership of now disgraced and exiled Cardinal Keith O'Brien has been a clear supporter of devolution and Scottish independence since it expects, in an independent Scotland, to be a big fish in a small pond..

LSE Politics and Policy Blog post — Church of England ripe for reform

The Church of England is failing in its official UK state Christian mission and with falling market share is ripe for privatisation 

LSE blog by Norman Bonney


Monarchy, religion and the state:
Civil religion in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the Commonwealth

Norman Bonney, Manchester University Press
Autumn 2013 (online advance order offers with Amazon and Blackwells)

This thorough and contemporary examination of the religious features of the UK state and its monarchy argues that the long reign of Elizabeth has led to a widespread lack of awareness of the centuries old religious features of the state that are revealed at the accession and coronation of a new monarch.

It is suggested that the next succession to the throne will require major national debates in each realm of the monarch to judge whether the traditional rituals which require professions of Christianity and Protestantism by the new monarch are appropriate, or whether they might be replaced by alternative secular or interfaith ceremonies.

It will be required reading for those who study the government and politics of the UK, Canada, Australia and the other 13 realms of the monarch. It will also appeal to students and lecturers in history, sociology and religious studies and citizens interested in the monarchy and contemporary religious issues.

For more information visit Manchester University Press

Available in Australia and New Zealand from Footprint Books

USA Palgrave Macmillan

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