WHO DECIDES WHAT IS PREACHED?

Some time ago we pointed out that whilst those who hold  to the traditional concept of marriage were still able to preach that biblical view within our churches it would be a different matter for chaplains employed by secular bodies such as hospitals, prisons or the forces.

Government ministers have repeatedly insisted that no one should be sacked from their job for voicing opposition to same-sex marriage and have built in special “protections” for clerics into the Government’s Marriage Bill.

Since then we have seen the parting of the ways between Strathclyde Police and part time chaplain Rev Brian Ross.

Mr Ross claims that after a meeting with a senior officer his services were dispensed with because his views go against the force’s equality and diversity policies. Mr Ross was told that postings on his blog on the subject of marriage did not fit with the force’s equality and diversity policies. This well before any legislation has reached the statute book. 

Strathclyde Police claim Mr Ross was sacked was because he sometimes wore the wrong uniform and did not make appointments to see people.

More seriously for all those who are school chaplains is the following report sent to us by the ever vigilant Kate who forwarded the article below from yesterday’s Southern Reporter concerning a discussion within Scottish Borders Council about what school chaplains can be allowed to preach.

Fears that school chaplains could preach their views on issues such as gay marriage to pupils has led Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to alter its guidelines, writes Kenny Paterson.

Parents will now be allowed to see the written agreement between a head teacher and school chaplain after Tweeddale West councillor Catriona Bhatia raised concerns over the possible content of school services.

The amendment was made by SBC’s education committee as it agreed a revised religious observance policy for schools, as well as updating the role of the chaplain.

Councillor Bhatia said: “Parents may be comfortable with religious observance around Christmas, but a particular chaplain may be anti-gay marriage and introduce that into their service.

How do we know what the content will be of the chaplain’s service?

Some chaplains will stay away from issues such as that (gay marriage), but others may sway into it.

Some religions have different rules and they are entitled to that, but they should not be introduced in our schools.”

Colin Easton, SBC’s policy manager, replied: “The head teacher will be responsible for the content.

They will appoint the chaplain and will develop the religious observance programmes.

The head will frequently develop it in discussions with senior pupils. We think this provides sufficient safeguards.”

Councillor Michelle Ballantyne said the policy cannot cover all eventualities, adding: “Some parents think that it is right to preach about gay marriage, others don’t.”

The religious observance policy – which aims to promote the spiritual development of pupils and differs from religious education – was last updated in 1984, and councillors agreed to look at it again within two years.

Committee member Graeme Donald said: “It is a timely report as school inspectors are in the process of conducting a review of religious observance and religious education, while the Church of Scotland is reviewing its own thinking on both.”

How many ministers acting as school chaplains, and that is practically all CofS ministers, will agree to having the content of their preaching and teaching of the Bible decided by a head teacher who will probably be an atheist? If a single objection is raised by a parent concerning the written agreement in whose favour do you think the head teacher and Council will decide?

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About Campbell

Now retired but once upon a time a parish minister in Glasgow, before that the South West and initially the Black Isle. Been a prison chaplain and lecturer. Still am constantly bemused by the weird world around me.
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