Spiritual leaders across Scotland are suing the government after the Scottish Minister closed churches and outlawed all public worship.
Christian Legal Centre represents the 27 church leaders from a wide range of Christian denominations, including the Free Church of Scotland, the Church of Scotland, and several independent churches.
In a move that caught the eye of religious freedom organizations, restrictions put in place by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon shockingly made it a high-level “criminal offense” for churches to meet in-person. It even banned infant baptisms with just the family in attendance.
Church leaders say the government’s statement conflicts directly with the “long-established and traditional authority Scottish churches have had over their own affairs, free from state interference. This is enshrined in the 1592 Act, the 1706 Act for Securing Protestant Religion and the Church of Scotland Act 1921.”
BREAKING: A group of Scottish church leaders has launched a claim for judicial review over the Scottish Minsters’ unprecedented decision to close churches and criminalise public worship during the current lockdown.
— Christian Concern (@CConcern) January 29, 2021
Church officials notified the Scottish Ministers on Jan. 15, pleading for them to re-open churches. They explained that closing churches violates the European Convention of Human Rights law and the Scottish Constitution.
Additionally, the emotional and spiritual needs within the congregation and community cannot be addressed if these public restrictions across Scotland remain in effect.
The church leaders pointed out in their claim they clearly understand the significance of COVID-19 and the difficult decisions the Scottish Government has had to make in an effort to protect communities.
But the church officials say they believe the Scottish Ministers’ have “failed to appreciate that the closure of places of worship is a disproportionate step and one which has serious implications for freedom of religion.”
The Scottish Ministers’ replied by denying the claim and asserted that the state can “regulate the secular activities of Churches…for the purposes of protecting public health” and that churches must “comply with secular law” and remain closed.
According to Christian Legal Centre, Scotland hasn’t attempted to close churches since the 17th century during the persecution of the Presbyterian church.
Now church officials are asking for houses of worship in Scotland to remain open so people can attend services and events without fear of prosecution.
In the claim, the church leaders “hold that public corporate worship, involving the physical gathering together of Christians…are fundamental and indispensable aspects of their religion,” and that “in the absence of the gathered people of God, there is effectively no church.”
Scottish Ministers’ say they are making decisions based on “science” to warrant several lockdown measures, including church closures.
–Metro Voice and wire services