As of today I intend to put all published letters on this blog. Todays is in response to the wrong testimony given by Aidan O’Neill at the Scottish Parliament. It depresses me how ignorant our leaders are about Scottish history in general and Scottish church history in particular. Here is the letter.
If the remarks attributed to Aidan O’Neill QC are correct in the report headlined “Ministers refusing to conduct gay marriages ‘may face legal challenge’ ” (20 September) then they are inaccurate and should not be heeded by the Scottish Government.
No-one with any understanding of Scottish church history and the relationship between church and state could argue that the Calvinist view was one of separation of church and state.
The Scottish church adopted the Establishment principle which avoided on the one hand, Erastianism (where the state in effect governed the church) or theocracy (where the church governs the state).
The Establishment principle sought a middle way which was different from strict separation of church and state.
It meant that the state recognised the church and expected it to act as its agent in terms of marriage and moral issues.
This is why I, as a minister, am authorised by the state to perform marriages.
The whole of Mr O’Neill’s evidence is undermined by this basic error.
Once again I fear that, in its haste to appear progressive, the Scottish Government is rushing into the legislation on samesex marriage, without having adequate information as to the consequences and effects of this extreme change.