Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Church of Scotland and civil partnerships

The Church of Scotland is to discuss and debate civil partnerships at its General Assembly in May this year. The issue has been addressed in a report produced by the Legal Questions Committee. A press release describes the report, and the report in full should be available on the Church of Scotland website nearer the week of the assembly.

It is difficult to gauge the early responses to this report. Two responses from evangelical organisations in Scotland suggest that the report will be strongly opposed. Forward Together and Rutherford House have both issued press releases on the matter. However the permissive tone of the report, which claims to protect conscience on all sides of a complicated matter, points to likely acceptance of the report without any significant changes. Ministers in the CofS will be free to bless civil partnerships in this case, and it will be impossible for the church to stop people in civil partnerships entering the offices of eldership and ministry.
It is impossible to tell whether there will be any constructive opposition in the event of the report being passed. Evangelicals within the CofS appear unable to agree a course of action that will either stop the report being accepted or provide a coherent response in such an event. Whatever the circumstances the church will continue to lose members. It is difficult to imagine how this report won’t add to the numbers leaving the Kirk.

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