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Churches' response to homosexuality


The Church of Scotland & homosexuality

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About the Church of Scotland and other religions in Scotland:

Following the union of the Crowns of Scotland and England in 1603 CE, attempts were made to forcibly conform the Church of Scotland to the Church of England (Anglican) model. The resultant conflict ended in 1690 with the establishment of the Church of Scotland as a Presbyterian denomination. It is referred to as The Kirk. The government recognizes The Kirk as the national church of Scotland. However it "... is not an established church and is independent of state control." 1

The Scottish Government reports in its 2001 census that:

bullet Just over two-thirds (67%) of the Scottish population identified themselves with a religion. 65% of the population considered themselves Christian (65%). This includes 42% members of the Church of Scotland, 16% Roman Catholics and 7% Other Christian.

bullet None of the non-Christian religions total more than 1% of the population each.

bullet 27.6% of the population state that they have no religion. 2

The Church of Scotland's membership is in decline.

bullet Almost 50% of those identifying themselves as being of The Kirk are over the age of 50.

bullet Although 47.3% of those responding to the 2001 census report that they were brought up in that faith, only 42.4 identify themselves with it today.

Church attendance is also in decline. Christian Research, a part of the Bible Society, estimated that the average weekly attendance at all churches would decline from 751,000 in 1990 to 457,600 in 2015; the latter figure would be less than 10% of the population. The Church of Scotland's weekly attendance averaged 320,800 during 1990, 208,400 during 2005, and is expected to drop to 145,700 by 2015. Still, Scotland's church attendance is higher than that elsewhere in the UK. By 2010, church attendance is expected to be 9.9% in Scotland, 5.5% in England, and 5.8% in Wales. 3 

A Church of Scotland congregation in Aberdeen appointed Rev. Rennie, who is openly gay, to be their minister. The selection was confirmed by the local presbytery. It was accepted by the denomination's General Assembly during 2009-MAY after a debate. At the 2011 General Assembly, a previous general ban on lesbian and gay clergy who are in loving, committed same-sex relationships was lifted.

Topics covered in this section are:

bullet "Clause 28:" Teaching about homosexuality in Scotland's public schools
bullet Appointment of an openly gay minister; initial reactions

bullet 2009 General Assembly (GA) approves ordination of a gay minister

bullet 2009 GA: special commission & overture to ban gay clergy. 2011 GA: Ban ends. Reactions.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Religion in Scotland," Wikipedia, read 2009-MAY-26, at:
  2. "Analysis of religion in the 2001 census: Summary report," The Scottish Government, at:
  3. Christopher Claire, "Cathoolic church moves into Pole position," Scotland on Sunday, 2008-MAY-25, at:

Copyright 2000 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-JAN-21
Latest update: 2011-JUN-11
Author: B.A. Robinson

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