Church of Scotland proposes changing religious observance in schools to 'time for reflection'


The Church of Scotland has proposed changing religious observance to a 'time for reflection'.

The Kirk said a time for reflection in schools would help shift the debate about religious observance in schools from an argument between opposing views to learning together.

The time for reflection proposed by the Kirk is based on five core principles:

  • Head teachers decide who leads time for reflection
  • Outside leaders, including chaplains, do so to assist the school in delivering a time for reflection agenda defined by the school, bound by the need to be genuinely inclusive
  • time for reflection should be built on the exploration of sensing as defined by the 2000 review: sensing mystery, values, meaningfulness, changed qualities of awareness, otherness and challenge
  • time for reflection is not, and should never be confessional in nature. It is not worship or 'state sponsored' prayers either
  • The best time for reflection is often pupil led

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said: "All time for reflection/religious observance should be genuinely inclusive of people of faith.

"This will not be easy but the Church believes that it can be achieved and to do so will make very significant contribution to creating a genuinely inclusive society that moves beyond tolerance to deep respect, understanding and common living based on real self-understanding about others beliefs and values.

"Some argue that because every community is diverse, this kind of collective reflection is impossible, but that is a defeatist attitude, suggesting that because people see the world differently, we cannot work together to find common ground.

"This cannot be a debate where only one side 'wins' and the other 'loses.' That is not good for our children or our society. This has to be more about what we can do together that what divides us."

However, Free Church minister and director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity, the Reverend David Robertson, accused the Church of Scotland of "capitulating to the secularist agenda".

He said a time for reflection would be a "meaningless mishmash" with no real spiritual value.

Rev Robertson said: "Without Christian worship, Christianity does not exist.

"We hope and pray that the Church of Scotland will wake up to the dangers all Christians face and that it will stop committing suicide in the name of Christianity.

"If the national Church cannot stand for Christian worship except in the private clubs of its rapidly declining congregations, then we wonder what it does stand for?

"When the Church says it does not want worship or prayers but instead advocates what will inevitably be a state-sponsored non-Christian moralism, it has reached the stage where it is no longer fit for purpose and should no longer seek to style itself as Scotland's national Christian church."