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Et Tu Kirka? Reflections on the Church of Scotland’s new alliance with the Humanist Society

 If anyone doubted the corruption that is at the very heart of the Church of Scotland (and the reason that Church is dying and deserves to die), then todays joint press release from the Church and the Humanist Society, should remove any such doubts.   If the mess that the C of S got itself into with last Assemblies convoluted decision on homosexual ministers was a suicide note, today’s press release is the dagger being thrust in and twisted. Even to someone like yours truly who, despite genuinely hoping for some kind of change and renewal, still did not expect much – this has gone below my lowest expectations.  Let me explain.

Church and Humanist Alliance

The Secular Societies in Scotland have been campaigning against Religious Observance in state schools in Scotland.  They thought they would not be able to get a ban on such observance and so have taken the first step by asking that RO be opt-in rather than opt-out.  A not unreasonable position.   But those who want rid of RO need not have been so cautious.  Yes, the Secular Societies are tiny and have only a fraction of the membership of the Church of Scotland, but the Church of Scotland is spineless and totally confused about what it is supposed to be doing.  In response to the petition on RO currently before the Scottish Parliament, the C of S has issued a joint statement with the Humanist Society and will be presenting a joint approach to MSP’s this coming week.  You can read this joint press release at the end of this article – but let me just give you the lowlights.

Time For Reflection? 

The C of S wants RO in schools to be changed to ‘time for reflection’ and to be ‘inclusive’ of all faiths and beliefs in order to help spiritual development. For those who don’t quite understand the language codes of the liberal elites this just simply means that no more Christian worship will be allowed in state schools.  Instead our children will be subjected to the banalities of liberal ‘inclusive’ moralism. It is explicitly stated that RO in schools should NEVER be confessional in nature, it is not worship and should not include prayers.  One can of course understand why the Humanist Society loves this.  It is exactly what they stand for – godless secular humanism lifted to the status of State religion.  What totally beggars belief is why the C of S has gone for this.   Why would they want to remove Christian worship from what has traditionally been the Scottish Christian education system?  Do they really want to commit suicide?

Why? 

The only answer I can think of, apart from sheer stupidity, is politics and self-interest.  The clergy and bureaucrats who make these kind of decisions, know full well that their congregations are declining, that they are losing 20,000 plus members per year, that their finances are in severe trouble (with the pension scheme being tens of millions in debt and a significant number of the larger evangelical congregations leaving).  But they don’t really care.  There is enough silver to be sold off to keep them in jobs for a few years.  What they really do care about is the fact that with the rapid secularisation of society, the nice cosy arrangement they have had with the secular state is under threat.  What will they do if they are not allowed to be schools chaplains or other religious functionaries of the state?  How can they maintain the illusion of importance and significance?  When Secular Scotland began their campaign I thought it had no chance of succeeding just now, but I had reckoned without the spineless Machiavellian leadership of the C of S.  In order to preserve their positions they have done a deal with the humanists (who in turn of course are aspiring to be humanist chaplains).   For the Humanist society this also has the advantage of giving one in the eye to the newish Scottish Secular Society, who have proved themselves far more adept at advancing the secular agenda.

The End of Knox’s Vision?

So now we have the extraordinary situation where the Church, which claims to be the Church of John Knox, is undermining his core policy, that there should be a Christian school in every parish.  We have a church that is now collaborating with the atheists to prevent Christian worship and prayers happening in a State education system – a system created by the churches when they handed over their schools on condition that they remained specifically Christian.  I sometimes wonder if the Monty Python scriptwriters are sending out C of S press releases!   Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, who is to Christianity in the Church of Scotland, what Tony Blair was to socialism in the Labour party, came out with this extraordinary statement:   “We welcome this exciting opportunity to collaborate with our humanist colleagues in supporting genuinely inclusive Time for Reflection in schools that supports the community and spiritual development of all pupils whatever their faith or belief. Scotland is a wonderfully diverse nation. Regular, inclusive Time for Reflection will enhance young people’s ability to celebrate difference rooted in respect.”  No it won’t.  Sally and her atheist allies won’t allow confessional worship (so all those who believe in that are excluded), she won’t allow Jesus to be Lord (because that would be exclusive of all other lords), and any young person who dares to uphold any kind of biblical morality will quickly be excluded to the naughty corner to reflect on the dangers of their exclusivity.    Difference will only be allowed as long as it fits in with the absolutes of the Humanist religion.

More ‘Christian’ Non-Thinking

Matters are not helped when the self-styled Christian ‘Think-tank” Ecclesia predictably jumps in –  “It is excellent news that a major Christian denomination and a society representing the concerns of a growing number of ethical, non-religious people in a plural society are agreed that the concept of ‘Religious Observance’ in schools should be replaced by an equal and inclusive ‘Time for Reflection’,” commented Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow.  We would love to ask Mr. Barrow whether ‘equal and inclusive’ includes those who wish to express a biblical view on sexual morality or celebrate the divinity and resurrection of Jesus.

Beige Banalities

Let me give you a couple of examples of how this will work.  The deputy head of a secondary school here in Dundee proudly boasted that they would never allow any one who believed in an absolute truth to speak at a school Assembly.  To which the only response has to be- ‘is that an absolute truth?”    I was once asked to give a talk on BBC Radio Scotland’s thought for the day.  Sure, I said. No problem.  Will I just go into the BBC Dundee studio and do it live?  Oh no, they replied, as though I had suggested stripping naked on live TV (although on reflection they might have preferred that – we do after all have to be ‘inclusive’ of the naturist community).  Send us a script, lets do some rehearsals and then we will record it.  So I did.  But the script got rejected.  Why?  You cannot mention ‘Britain’s Christian traditions’.  Why not?  Because that might offend some people.  Ok, can I say, ‘as some would say, ‘Britain’s Christian traditions’?  No.  You really want me to speak to 250,000 people without offending any of them?  No wonder thought for the day is so banal!  Suffice it to say I was not allowed to give the thought for the day on the Beige BBC.  That is what the new CofS/Humanist time for reflection will be like.  It will not be the multi-coloured rainbow of our diverse society but the beige Disneyesque moralism of our liberal elites.

So where do we go from here? Lets take time to reflect:

1)    Secular Scotland’s petition makes a whole lot more sense than this C of /Humanist Alliance.  In fact I almost feel like apologising to my friends and fans in Secular Scotland for not supporting them from the off.  I feel sorry that they too have been stabbed in the back by this CofS/Humanist marriage of convenience.   Personally I prefer an honest atheist to a dishonest ‘Christian’!   If the C of S stab in the back for Christianity is accepted I would suggest that Christians should automatically opt their children out of this compulsory State godless religion.   It would be far better to have meaningful Christian worship which pupils and teachers could ‘opt in’ to, rather than force everyone to go to the beige, bland, brain-dead, unquestioning banalities that would inevitably result.

2)    When are C of S evangelicals actually going to do something about their denomination?  We keep being told we are in it in order to influence it.  That we are on the cusp of taking over. I suppose it could be that the darkest night is before dawn.  But is that really what is happening here?  Who is going to stand up to this nonsense?  Why do evangelicals keep allowing their church to undermine other Christians in Scotland?  Do they realise how frustrating it is for so many of us, who are battling away, constantly to be stabbed in the back by the C of S?    Why are the Catholics, with all their problems, more faithful and consistent?   If evangelicals can’t turn this around, if they can’t prevent this kind of Christian suicide, why on earth do they remain in submission to a denomination that is increasingly becoming a major obstacle to the Gospel?  And before I get the usual plethora of e-mails moaning about ‘dividing the body of Christ’ and bringing Christian disunity, could I simply ask fellow believers to reflect on why those of us who have the knife in our backs, should not at least expect our ‘brothers and sisters in Christ’ to be the ones who are preventing the knife, not wielding it!

3)    For all of us as bible believing Christians.  Given that we cannot expect the State schools to teach our children the faith, (should we ever?), then what are we doing to equip our children to face up to the sea of humanist/Buddhist/liberal anti-Christian propaganda they will be compelled to swim in?  One hour of Sunday school per week is nowhere near enough.  We need a revival of family worship; we need suitable apologetics material for children and young people (not telling them what to think, but showing them how to think), we need to be salt and light in our state schools; and we need to campaign, set up and work for proper Christian schools – which will genuinely be inclusive and provide the true diversity and equality that the Gospel does.

To finish:  As this is Burns night – some words from the Bard might be appropriate.  Burns seemed to have an admiration for the Gospel and the Bible, but little time for the hypocrisies of the established church.  In the Cottars Saturday Night he wrote the following:

Compar’d with this, how poor Religion’s pride, 

In all the pomp of method, and of art; 

When men display to congregations wide
Devotion’s ev’ry grace, except the heart,
The Power, incens’d, the pageant will desert,
The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole;
But haply, in some cottage far apart,
May hear, well-pleas’d, the language of the soul;
And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enroll.

Men (and women) can play at religious politics all they want.  They can link with the humanist society and seek to use the ‘pomp of method and of art’ to retain their power.  But it is only the Book of Life that will prove manna for the poor.  Its about time the Kirk stopped speaking the language of power, and instead started speaking the Word of the Lord.  Its time to stop playing the role of the politician and instead start being the prophet.  For Scotland’s sake.

David Robertson

Dundee

25th January 2014

Note:  For the sake of Latin pedants!  The original version of this had the title Et Tu Kirkus (intended of course to mimic Caesar’s last words Et Tu Brute)….but the vocative of Kirk is Kirke if masculine and Kirka if feminine hence the revision!

Appendix:

Joint Press Release from the Church of Scotland and Humanist Society Scotland

January 25th 2014

The Church of Scotland and Humanist Society Scotland have called for legislation to be brought forward to change Religious Observance in schools to “Time for Reflection” as a way of making these events more inclusive and clearly not gatherings where one faith or belief system is promoted over another.

Reverend Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland said: “We welcome this exciting opportunity to collaborate with our humanist colleagues in supporting genuinely inclusive Time for Reflection in schools that supports the community and spiritual development of all pupils whatever their faith or belief. Scotland is a wonderfully diverse nation. Regular, inclusive
Time for Reflection will enhance young people’s ability to celebrate difference rooted in respect.”

Douglas McLellan, Chief Executive of the Humanist Society Scotland said: “We welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Kirk. We urge the Public Petitions Committee to make strong recommendations for the change of Religious Observance to ‘Time for Reflection.’ This removes the religious exclusivity of the
current system and brings about fairness and equality for all. If this change is made, it will bring current practices in-line with the modern demographic in Scotland.”

The Church of Scotland and the Humanist Society Scotland will make their joint submission as additional evidence to the Petition Committee of the Scottish Government on Tuesday, 28 January, when there will be discussion of the petition of
the Scottish Secular Society (PE01487) to make Religious Observance an opt-in activity. They will ask the Public Petitions Committee to urge the Scottish Government bring forward legislative proposals to remove the reference to “Religious Observance” in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 and insert “Time for Reflection” instead.

Ends

MF
The Church’s commitment to Time for Reflection as it would call Religious Observance can be expressed in five core principals.

. Head teachers decide who leads Time for Reflection
. Outside leaders, including chaplains, do so to assist the school in delivering a Time for Reflection agenda defined by the school, bound by the need to be genuinely inclusive
. Should be built on the exploration of sensing as defined by the 2000 review
. Time for Reflection is not or never should be confessional in nature nor is it worship or state sponsored prayers
. The best Time for Reflections are often pupil led