The Church of Scotland and the Humanist Society Scotland have made a joint appeal for a change to the way that spiritual development is approached in schools.
They want Religious Observance, currently a statutory requirement for
schools in Scotland, to instead be labelled 'Time for Reflection' in
order to increase inclusivity and reflect the diversity of school
children and their faiths.
The 2011 census revealed that around 32 per cent of the Scottish
population affiliate with the Church of Scotland, 16 per cent are
Catholic, 1.4 per cent are Muslim and 37 per cent say they have no
religious affiliation at all.
The percentage of Scots who associate with Christianity has decreased by 11 per cent in the last decade.
A joint statement released by the two groups asserts that their
proposed change in legislation will mean that "one faith belief system
[is not] promoted over another".
Douglas McLellan, Chief Executive of the Humanist Society Scotland,
has welcomed the surprising collaboration, with the belief that the
proposal will remove "the religious exclusivity of the current system
and bring about fairness and equality for all".
"If this change is made, it will bring current practices in-line with the modern demographic in Scotland," he asserts.
Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland
Rev Sally Foster-Fulton concurs. She argues that the proposed changes
will support "the community and spiritual development of all pupils
whatever their faith or belief", and will "enhance young people's
ability to celebrate difference rooted in respect".
The bid has not been received well by all members of the Christian
The Reverend David Robertson, a Free Church minister
and director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity, has
criticised the proposed legislation, branding it as "stab-in-the-back"
Christianity, and a sign of the Church "capitulating to the secularist
"Without Christian worship, Christianity does not exist. When the
Church says it does not want worship or prayers but instead advocates
what will inevitably be a state-sponsored non-Christian moralism, it has
reached the stage where it is no longer fit for purpose and should no
longer seek to style itself as Scotland's national Christian church," he
"It would be far better to have meaningful Christian worship which
pupils and teachers would opt in to, rather than force everyone to go to
the beige, bland, brain-dead, unquestioning banalities that
Christian think tank Ekklesia has called the proposed changes
"excellent news" and a positive step in building relationship between
different groups in Scotland.
"It is vital for a healthy society that people of different religious
and non-religious outlooks can learn to share public space fairly,
collaborate on common values, uphold the rights and dignity of all, and
negotiate disagreements with informed respect," said co-director Simon
"A 'Time of Reflection' in schools ought to be a space where these
virtues can be put into practice by breaking down barriers, challenging
prejudices and providing opportunities for the appreciation of different
viewpoints and experiences."