Church leader speaks out ahead of Scots church closures court hearing

A church leader in Scotland has again affirmed the value of Christian worship as the court case challenging the Scottish Government’s decision to ban public worship during lockdown begins.

Churches in mainland Scotland have been closed since the current lockdown began on 8 January, but 27 church leaders are arguing in the Court of Session in Edinburgh today that the mandatory closure of churches is “unlawful”.

One of the 27, Revd Dr William Philip, Minister of The Tron Church in Glasgow, has highlighted the importance of the case, and why there should not be restrictions on the freedom to share the Gospel publicly in Scotland.

‘Criminalisation of worship’

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, he said: “We feel that, not just the closure of churches, but the criminalisation of any gathering for Christian worship for really more than half of the past year in Scotland is a really damaging and dangerous thing to have done.”

He said there is “a very important principle at stake”, and explained that private worship at home is not a substitute for being gathered together as a church to worship God “as we are commanded to do”.

He also pointed out that the ban on public worship is “unprecedented” in modern times, and explained that the right to freedom of belief and expression is “fundamentally enshrined in human rights declarations”.

‘Important principle’

It was announced this week that the ban may be lifted on 26 March, and the presenter asked Revd Philip if the court case had “come a bit too late”.

He replied: “Absolutely not, because it’s an important principle at stake.”

He cited former Prime Minister Theresa May who pointed out in the House of Commons that “even for the best of intentions, you set a precedent that has unintended consequences”.

He concluded: “There is no sense that this couldn’t happen again at any time, and it’s very important that this is settled clearly and we believe that it will be found to be unlawful.”

Also see:


Sturgeon announces churches to re-open under lockdown easing measures

Sturgeon urged to U-turn on church closures

No ban on Wales and NI church worship in post-Christmas lockdown

Nearly 700 church leaders urge politicians: ‘Don’t close our churches again’