The Church of Scotland has said that the debate surrounding Scottish independence must consider "real issues" affecting the country.
In its response to the UK Consultation on Scotland's Constitutional Future, the Church welcomed the debate but insisted that constitutional change should be justified by an improvement in the nation's wellbeing, particularly in the areas of poverty, health and education.
The Church believes that the debate so far has been too narrowly confined to questions about the transfer of power.
"The key issue for the Church is to ensure that social justice would be improved by any
constitutional change," the response states.
"Critical questions in this debate will be about the values which reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ i.e. more about poverty, health, education and all the other aspects of human flourishing than it will be about a transfer of some, more or even all powers from one parliament to another."
The Church recommends that the process be managed by an independent body with experience of handling referenda, and that the timetable for the referendum allows sufficient time for the important issues to be fully debated.
Rev Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, said he would like to see cultural change that "builds better neighbourhoods", removes prejudice, and "welcomes strangers without question".
“The Church does not want the debate to be simply one of constitutional change in and of itself," he said.
"Self-determination for any nation is a good political principle that the Church supports and this
includes the right of the electorate to vote for or against constitutional change.
“The key issue is to ensure that social justice is improved by any constitutional change. Neither independence for Scotland, nor increased devolution, nor the status quo are prizes in themselves.
"The real victory lies in the alleviation of poverty, the reduction of ill health, forgiveness in the criminal justice system and in society.”
Scotland debate is about more than transfer of power
Published 13 March 2012