PQRM Committee Writes To All MSPs
(The letter copied below was sent to all MSPs, the Prime Minister and a number of other political figures, by the Rev D M Blunt on behalf of the Church's Public Questions, Religion & Morals Committee.)
Dear Member of the Scottish Parliament,
We write following the referendum in Scotland on 18th September which saw a majority vote against independence and thus in favour of remaining in the United Kingdom. We believe that the result provides us with an opportunity to consider where we are as a nation and what course we should be taking. As a Christian church we are not ashamed to say that for guidance on these things we turn to the Word of God, the Bible.
Countless words were spoken and written during the referendum campaign but little attention was given to the place of the Christian religion in our nation. Since 1560 reformed Christianity has been the dominant influence on Scotland’s culture, a fact reflected in the Union of 1707 where care was taken to ensure a permanently Protestant monarchy throughout the United Kingdom and to secure a Presbyterian church establishment in Scotland. We believe that through the blessing of God these two constitutional provisions have contributed greatly to the stability and success of our nation over the last three centuries.
In their blueprint for independence the Scottish Government indicated that they wanted to deprive Scotland of the first of these time-honoured provisions. The white paper entitled Scotland’s Future contained the following statement with regard to the Act of Settlement of 1701: “An independent Scottish Government will promote, and support amongst the Commonwealth States with the Queen as Head of State, a ... measure to remove religious discrimination from the succession rules.”
This proposal, which could lead to a Roman Catholic occupying the throne, represented a major threat to Scotland’s identity as a Protestant nation. Currently the monarch must promise to “maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law,” as our Queen did at her coronation, but a Roman Catholic could hardly make that promise. With other Christians we made our concerns known to the Lord and we are thankful for the result of the referendum for it means we have been spared from this dangerous proposal, as least for the present. The church as a whole has not been as watchful over our Protestant throne and Presbyterian establishment as it ought to have been and we trust that this deliverance will make us more zealous for these vital institutions in the future, for our historic liberties are bound up with them.
In the referendum campaign much was made of “the sovereignty of the people” but sadly the fact that God is sovereign in all things was lost sight of. He is ever at work in the world for the good of His cause. The church is at the centre of God’s purposes and we believe it should be foremost in the minds of our politicians in all their debating and lawmaking. In the Bible we are told that “God is the judge” and that He “putteth down one, and setteth up another” (Psalm 75:7); we note that following the referendum the leaders of two political parties have relinquished their positions.
While we face a variety of political, economic and social challenges as a nation our real problem is a spiritual one: we have forgotten that our first priority should not be any earthly kingdom but the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Its moral values are timeless and they are binding upon us all but sadly we have been trying to change them to suit ourselves. We have sinned grievously as a nation and therefore our prayer is that there would be national repentance. May we give heed to this promise in God’s infallible Word: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
The political focus is now on the Smith Commission. We have no particular view as to what further powers, if any, should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Rather our great desire is that whatever further constitutional changes may take place as a result of the present process nothing should be done which would lead to a further weakening of the Christian character of the United Kingdom, whether considered as a whole or in terms of its constituent parts.
Finally we assure you that in our congregations we remember our parliamentary representatives regularly in prayer and especially those who are in government, that the Lord would guide them in their work. We do so recognising that one day we shall all be accountable to Him for all that we have done.
David Blunt (Convener)
Scottish and British Flags
By The Laird of Oldham
[CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons