Thousands of Bibles are being sent to Scottish law courts and judges as part of a campaign urging them to reflect on the Christian virtues of justice and mercy.
But Terry Sanderson, head of the National Secular Society, blasted the scheme saying it “could put the Sharia laws of the Middle East to shame”.
The initiative has been launched by the Scottish Bible Society (SBS) and it is backed by one of Scotland’s most respected legal figures, Lord Mackay of Clashfern.
Lord Mackay, a former Lord Chancellor and Lord Advocate of Scotland, wants to highlight the Bible as the “foundational source book for Scotland’s legal system.”
The SBS, of whom Lord Mackay is the honorary president, is also sending an introductory pamphlet to every court in the land.
The pamphlet, entitled The Bible in Scots Law: A Guide for Legal Practitioners, features an introduction by Lord Mackay.
The 83-year-old says: “I believe the teaching of the Bible is vitally important for guidance in daily living for all of us.
“The words and phrases of the 1611 King James version have permeated modern English, and this makes it a valuable book of reference, but the modern version is especially useful in dealing with our day-to-day challenges.
“If we use it in this way, we will soon learn that what it says about human beings is as true today as it was when it was originally written all these years ago.”
He added: “The Bible is a unique resource as the foundational source book for Scotland’s legal system.
“The SBS is pleased to have the opportunity to donate a Bible to courts, so that it is readily available for reference in any case which may arise.
The pamphlet also reminds the courts of the Queen’s acceptance of the Bible as the “Royal Law” during her coronation, and argues that legal professionals should be bound by this.
However, the scheme has angered secularists.
Mr Sanderson said: “What Lord Mackay is proposing could put the Sharia laws of the Middle East to shame.
“He and the SBS make absolutely no concessions to the progress of legal thought over the past two millennia.
“Killing witches and homosexuals and stoning adulterers are all clearly stated legal requirements in the Christian holy book. Are they seriously suggesting that Scottish sheriffs and judges should follow the Bible to the letter?”
Lord Mackay is a former elder of the Free Presbyterian Church in Scotland, and he also acted as the Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2005 and 2006.
Last month it was revealed that the Royal Mail is planning to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible with a series of special stamps.
The commemorative stamps, which are due to be produced next year, were prompted by numerous requests from members of the general public.
The move was welcomed by Mervyn Storey, MLA for North Antrim, who was one of those who petitioned.
Mr Storey said: “The Authorized or King James Version of the Bible, is the most influential piece of literature in the English Language.
“However the King James Version didn’t just influence our literature and language. It also had a beneficial influence upon political and constitutional affairs.”