Humanist Society Scotland have released a chapter of a landmark report into the role of religion in Scots Law

  • The chapter on education is being released as a prelude to the full report later this year, and is being released without charge to the public domain.
  • The launch comes the day after HSS hosted its biggest-ever Annual Conference in Edinburgh, with over 160 delegates.
In 2014, Humanist Society Scotland commissioned three academics at the University of Glasgow to undertake an audit of the place of religion in Scots law. With a rapidly-changing legal situation regarding many aspects of Scottish life, there was a need to have an authoritative guide to the ways in which religious ideas, rules and influences were to be felt in the legal frameworks governing the lives of everyday people. The result is a compendium of where religious and church influences are to be felt in areas such as Education and Marriage, in the special status of the Church of Scotland, formerly the nation’s “Established church”, and in areas such as equality and employment law. The Report to be published later this year will provide a comprehensive guide to the ecclesiastical and religious dimensions of Scots law.
The aim has been to create a public resource to better inform debate and understanding of the way in which Scots are affected by religion through the law. It is offered free to download.

In a prelude to the launch of the full Report, the Chapter on Education is previewed here. Looking at everything from the management of schools to the appointment of school chaplains, this provides an outline of the legal principles embedded in Scots law on education, the legislative sources of the law, and how it stands now in 2015.

Speaking about the release of the chapter, HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae said:
“This landmark report offers the first comprehensive review of the legal framework for religion in Scotland. This chapter comes a few weeks after the latest Scottish Household Survey found that 47%, nearly 1 in 2 people, in Scotland identify with no religion. Despite the Churches maintain a special status well in excess of their day to day role in people’s lives. By presenting the cold hard facts we hope to generate a debate of how we create a modern society that reflects the diversity of beliefs in 21st Century Scotland.”
“Today’s chapter looks at the role of religion in schools and highlights that it is: 143 years since Protestant schools became state run non-denominational schools, 97 years since Catholic schools became state run denominational schools, 69 years since religious observance in non-denominational schools became law, and only 42 years since the law required local authorities eduction committee to include unelected seats for Church leaders on their Education Committee.”
Professor Callum Brown of University of Glasgow who led the academic research team said:
“The place of religion in Scots law has not been systematically analysed for nearly a hundred years. The Project we have undertaken has explored comprehensively the ways in which religious ideas and church influences are to be found in education, marriage, leisure and in employment and equality legislation, and a lot else besides. This is an exciting resource which should help to inform debate about religion at a time of rapid constitutional change.”
Contact Us for further comment.
This is the first major piece of research commissioned by HSS since the 2012 Religion and Education Survey:
About HSS:
Humanist Society Scotland seeks to represent the views of people in Scotland who wish to lead ethical and fulfilling lives guided by reason, empathy and compassion. We provide a range of non-religious ceremonies and campaign for a secular state. HSS has over 14,000 members across Scotland.


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