(393) RELIGION IN PARLIAMENT HOUSE
October 2004 saw issues of religion – or at any rate, connected to religion – heading into the Court of Session. On 12 October an action began before Lady Paton, between the Free Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing). The case concerns the ownership of about 100 churches and manses. The FCS (Continuing) split from the Free Church in 2000 when the latter refused to reopen investigations into claims of conspiracy and sexual misconduct against a leading liberal Free Church minister, professor Donald MacLeod. The FCS (Continuing) claims to be the true Free Church, having faithfully adhered to the principles on which the church was founded at the Disruption of 1843, and therefore to be entitled to retain the property of the Church. The FCS (Continuing) enjoys the support of about one-fifth of Free Church ministers and about one-tenth of the total congregation of 11,500. At the other end of the Christian spectrum, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland announced on 13 October that it would be seeking judicial review of a decision by the Scottish Executive that its consent was not needed before North Lanarkshire Council could implement a scheme to make St Aloysius School, Chapelhall, a mixed-faith campus school on a new site. The transfer of six other Catholic primary schools in the diocese of Motherwell to mixed-faith campuses has been agreed, but the Church believes that the Executive decision contravenes the provisions of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 on denominational schools. At the heart of the dispute lie concerns about whether the new schools do enough to respect the need for a Catholic ‘ethos’ in the schools, the plans for which already include separate pupil entrances, reception areas and staff rooms, as well as the retention of religious iconography. One wonders whether a modern Tertullian would have cause to repeat the observation of the pagans about the early Christians, See how they love one another”.