SCOTTISH humanists have called on the government to scrap the requirement for local councils to keep three spaces for religious representatives on education committees.

Launching its Enlighten Up campaign, the Humanist Society of Scotland has published details of all 88 religious representatives currently sitting on local authority education committees in Scotland.

The society has, effectively, audited those religious representatives, and found some of their beliefs “worrying”.

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The Free Church of Scotland claimed the humanists were being petty and ignoring a deal made between church and state.

As part of the 1973 Local Government (Scotland) Act, every council in Scotland’s education committee must include a representative from the Catholic Church, another from the Church of Scotland, and a third who reflects the religious beliefs of the area.

Each of those representatives has equal voting rights with the local councillors on the committee.

The humanist audit says Pastor David Fraser, who sits on Clackmannanshire Council’s committee, last year claimed Satan was to blame for the death of five-year-old Scott Chiriseri.

The Alva Primary School pupil died after being stabbed multiple times by his mother Farai, who was deemed insane at the time and was ordered to be detained in a secure hospital.

At Scott's funeral service in Alva Parish Church, Pastor Fraser told mourners: “Satan tricked Farai, she was trusting in a lie. If that gets your hackles up, remember that Jesus died for all sin.”

Rev Michael Rollo who sits on the committee at Falkirk believes in faith healing, while Dr Nagy Iskander, of South Lanarkshire, has been called one of "Europe’s most active creationists".

Gordon MacRae, the society’s chief executive, said: “The presence of unelected religious representatives is anti-democratic and out of step with modern Scotland.

"Parents should not be left guessing who has a right to make decisions over their children’s education.

"Every full voting member of local education committees should be accountable through the ballot box.“

MacRae said the religious groups should, at most, have the same rights as teachers, parents, trade unions and community groups.

The Humanist Society's campaign is supported by professor of biology Dame Anne Glover, a former chief scientific advisor to the Scottish Government.

She said: “A vibrant and engaged modern Scotland needs an education policy that reflects the reality of modern Scottish society. That is why I support the Enlighten Up campaign for education reform in Scotland.”

Rev David Robertson, the moderator of the Free Kirk of Scotland, said the move was part of a campaign by the humanists to exclude all forms of religion from school “except to be taught as some kind of mythology or fairy story.”

Robertson said: “I find it interesting that the Humanist Society, which is funding itself by charging people fortunes for weddings and funerals and other things, is using that money to then seek to remove the religious representatives education committees. I think it’s very intolerant actually.”


The National View: Dated laws mandating religious members on education committees must be reformed