A senior Church of Scotland minister has called for a more co-ordinated strategy by the Scottish Government and others to tackle sectarianism in Scotland.
The Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, made his appeal in a message to MSPs ahead of the 14 December 2011 debate on the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill.
He said that what was needed was a more joined-up approach with the right leadership, such that it could enjoy broad support and lead to meaningful change.
At present the Bill, promoted by the governing Scottish National Party (SNP) has been criticised and opposed by all other parties in the Scottish Parliament, as well as many football fans, civic and faith groups. But in amended form it is still likely to become law.
Mr Galloway commented: “We all want to see a Scotland that is free from hatred and bigotry. This will take time and effort, and this Bill will not itself be enough.”
Locally led and locally delivered community initiatives are what will drive social and cultural change, he suggested.
In his letter to MSPs about the debate, Mr Galloway argued that it is churches, schools, charities, police and statutory agencies which need to be at the heart of a national anti-sectarianism strategy.
He continued: “This Bill, coming to the end of its process, must not be the end of the conversation but the opportunity to start a fresh attempt to tackle sectarianism. There is a lot of important work that is already taking place and these must be warmly commended and it should be recognised that we are not starting from scratch.”
* Convener's blog: http://churchsociety.blogspot.com/