The Church of Scotland has called for a positive debate on the EU that considers its role in promoting peace, security and international cooperation. The Church recognises that:
1. A referendum will be held and that could be in as little as four months.
2. The Church of Scotland General Assembly has supported remaining in the EU since 1996.
3. In this time of huge international challenge it is crucial to work together across national borders.
4. In deciding how to vote on this momentous decision we should consider issues of peace, security and international cooperation
The Rev Dr Richard Frazer, Vice Convener of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council said: "Since last year's General Election, we have known that there will be a referendum on the UK's continued membership of the European Union. There is likely to be a very short timescale to discuss such an important set of issues. It will be a decision which will shape our country, our communities andour lives for generations to come. It is vital that there is now a respectful, engaging, but above all positive debate which will focus on important issues.
"Since its report in 1996 "The European Union – Crisis or opportunity" the Church of Scotland has repeatedly affirmed the work of the European Union in promoting peace, security and reconciliation amongst European nations. As recently as 2014 the General Assembly stated its opinion that 'it is better for Scotland, Britain and Europe for the United Kingdom to remain in the EU.'
"At a time when there is great conflict in the world, when we are faced with millions of desperate people seeking refuge in Europe and where climate change is wreaking havoc, there is a need to work internationally and globally. We need a bigger picture of the world, not a smaller one. The decision on which way to vote in June is one for each individual to reflect on and make with integrity, but it is in working together, across national borders, that real progress will be made."
* The referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU will take place on 23 June.
* Church of Scotland http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/home