Dissent; Moderator Must Not Forget the Basics of Christianity AS PRESSURE ON THE EXECUTIVE

Daily Mail (London), January 31, 2000 | Go to article overview

Dissent; Moderator Must Not Forget the Basics of Christianity AS PRESSURE ON THE EXECUTIVE


Byline: GERALD WARNER

WHEN the Right Rev John Cairns, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, expressed his support for the repeal of Section 28 at the same time Cardinal Winning was campaigning for its retention, the media sensed a story. 'Churches split over Section 28' was the inevitable headline.

It was borne out by the simple juxtaposition of the moderator's remarks that 'Section 28 is an utterly useless law. It creates stigma', alongside the Cardinal's line that homosexual conduct is a perversion. Clearly the Christian denominations were not singing from the same hymn sheet.

When reaction to the moderator's statement was forthcoming -from other dignitaries of the Kirk and rank and file members in the pews - a rather different picture emerged.

Among those opposing the Mr Cairns' stance, on the grounds that repeal of Section 28 was incompatible with Christian principles, was the convener of the Kirk's Board of Social Responsibility.

The moderator turned out to be just as much at odds with the majority of members of the Kirk as he was with Cardinal Winning.

Indeed, on the specific issue of promoting homosexuality in schools, the cardinal was more representative of the views of the members of Scotland's national church than its own moderator.

The phenomenon of progressive church leaders leaving their congregation far behind in their courtship of the secular world and its values, is peculiar to the past half century. But it is likely to become even more of a feature of church life in the future.

The most extravagant example in Scotland is Bishop Richard Holloway, Primus of the Episcopalian Church, whose opinions are so diametrically opposed to the traditional teachings of Christianity - on homosexuality and other issues - as to make him more of a spokesman for Cool Britannia than for his own flock.

At the root of the problem is the decline in church membership. If present trends continue, both the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland and the Kirk itself will be extinct by 2030.

That slump in numbers brings with it a corresponding reduction in influence. …

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