A Glasgow priest has set up an action group to lobby the Scottish Government over the current ban on public worship.
Canon Thomas White, of St Alphonsus Church in the Calton, Glasgow, has set up a group called Freedom For Faith with the intention of launching a legal challenge to the government’s blanket ban on public worship.
Though the Kirk has accepted the government’s renewed restrictions, some members of the Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland have threatened to seek a judicial review, claiming that the ban violates basic human rights of religious expression and represents a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Christian Legal Centre in Scotland said: “The closure of churches in Scotland is unprecedented, with no attempt to close them since the Stuart kings made it a capital offence to meet for worship and listen to preaching other than that of the established church.”
A round-robin letter, signed by some 30 church leaders has been sent to Holyrood asking Scottish ministers to “reconsider the decision in respect of the closure of all places of worship”.
The letter acknowledges that the Scottish Government under First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is acting in good faith “to act for the common good”, but says that “if this request is rejected, then our clients intend to challenge the lawfulness of the regulations by petitioning for judicial review”.
The ministers describe the current restriction as “disproportionate”, a view echoed in a statement by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland last week in which the scientific evidence, or lack of it, for churches and places of worship as a significant vector for infection was questioned.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has acknowledged the importance of communal worship but insists on the basis of advice from her national clinical director Jason Leitch and others that the ban is essential to protect public health.