The 2013 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted for what is effectively “establishment by the back door” in any new constitutional arrangements for an independent Scotland, says lawyer and commentator Carla J Roth. She questions whether this is helpful or appropriate either for the church or for the nation.
Given that the Church of Scotland, like all major Christian denominations, conducts a good chunk of its internal business in public these days (with the boundary between what is 'internal' and what is 'external' increasingly stretched), media and communications can no longer be thought of - if it ever could - as a specialist function alone.
Ask anyone reporting or commenting on the 2013 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and they will tell you that proceedings this year are being dominated by two 'issues': the reception, or otherwise, of same-sex persons in the life and ministry of the Kirk; and later this week 'The inheritance of Abraham: A report on the promised land' (which has provoked a substantial preemptive assault by the pro-Israeli government lobby, on account of its advocacy of justice for Palestinians and Jews alike).
The Church of Scotland vote to allow civil partnered gay and lesbian ministers, despite no change in the official teaching on sexuality, shows that the drift towards accepting gay people in the Kirk is continuing, says Simon Barrow. Indeed, while seeking pastoral sensitivity towards their opponents, the advocates of change believe that full inclusion is now inevitable.