John Finnie, an Independent Member of the Scottish Parliament, has submitted a Private Member’s Bill to ban religious representatives from education committees. Mr Finnie’s Bill must get the support of 18 MSPs in order to be brought before parliament. John Finnie is jumping on the bandwagon of the Edinburgh Secular Society petition to repeal the Local Government Act to ban the Church from local-authority education committees.
Father Tom Boyle, assistant general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland for the Catholic Church, who also sits on East Renfrewshire’s education committee, dismissed the petition as an attempt to “remove any influence of religion from public life”. Fr Boyle told The Scotsman:
“This betrays their ignorance of schools in Scotland, which had their origins in the churches before they were transferred into the state system, and that’s why we take an interest in them, because they belonged to us. As well as that, the Catholic Church is one of the largest educators in the world, so we have a certain expertise. It’s the ongoing campaign to remove any influence of religion from public life in our country.
The Church of Scotland reminded people that it had started the Scottish education system and therefore had a right to its representatives on the committees.
Mr Finnie told the Scotsman newspaper: “In 21st century Scotland, when the single largest group of people identify as having ‘no religion’, obliging councils to appoint unelected religious representatives to their education committees is an archaic arrangement.
“This is about our democratic process, this is not an attack on our churches. Churches are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves. However, they have no democratic right to speak for the general populous.”
Protect the Pope comment: Of course this is an attack on the Churches and ecclesial communities of Scotland, and Christian voters should punish any member of the Scottish Parliament who supports Mr Finnie’s Private Member’s Bill. The Edinburgh Secular Society’s petition is clearly an attack on the Churches, as The Scotsman reports ‘UNDEMOCRATIC, unelected, unscientific and self-serving” church leaders should not have the legal right to make decisions on school education, according to cross-party politicians and secular groups.’