Victory for Scottish church leaders as judge rules government acted unconstitutionally when criminalising gathered worship

Mar 24, 2021 by

from Christian Concern:

In an historic judgment, today a judge has ruled that the Scottish Ministers’ decision to ban and criminalise gathered church worship during the current lockdown was unconstitutional and a disproportionate interference of Article 9 ECHR rights.

The ruling is believed to be the first successful legal case against covid regulations in the UK.

Handing down judgment, Lord Braid also ruled that online worship is not real Christian worship, stating that it is not for the Scottish Ministers to: “dictate to the petitioners or to the additional party, that, henceforth, or even for the duration of the pandemic, worship is to be conducted on-line. That might be an alternative to worship but it is not worship. At very best for the respondents, in modern parlance, it is worship-lite.”

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, 27 Scottish church leaders, from a range of Christian denominations, had brought the legal action stating that the unprecedented closures were unlawful and breached Human Rights law and the Scottish constitution.

The leaders come from the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), the Free Church of Scotland, the Church of Scotland, and a number of independent churches.

Their claim came in response to the restrictions outlined by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, on Friday 8 January 2021, which made it a criminal offence for churches in the highest tiers, to hold in person services and, for example, to conduct baptisms.

At a full judicial review hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh earlier in March, the leaders had sought a declarator (an declaration order) that the restrictions on churches were unlawful and a declarator which would allow people to attend church, should the tier system be reintroduced.

There has been no attempt to close churches in Scotland since the persecution of the Presbyterian church, instituted by the Stuart kings, in the 17th century.

Read here

See also: Nicola Sturgeon broke the law in banning Christians from churchby Archbishop Cranmer

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