Edinburgh Council removes religious representatives from votes on education

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

Religious leaders no longer have the right to vote on education matters across Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Council is following in the footsteps of the Highlands, Orkney and Fife which all earlier this year removed voting rights historically held by religious representatives on education. 

By law, three religious representatives must be included among the members of education committees across Scottish councils. 

Edinburgh Council argued that decisions on education should be taken by those who are democratically elected and cited a legal opinion advising that it was within the law for the council "to either confer or remove such voting rights".

Former Church of Scotland Moderator Derek Browning told Edinburgh Live that the vote gave the impression of "a thin end of a wedge whose aim is to remove representation altogether".

"This is not so much a matter of democracy, but rather one which is opposed to religions playing any part in our country at large," he said. 

Roman Catholic Archbishop of of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley was equally concerned and suggested there was "another agenda at hand such as one that is inimical to faith, be it in schools or elsewhere in the public square".

An Equality Impact Assessment carried out by Edinburgh Council prior to the vote acknowledged fears among faith groups that the decision might be the start of a "slippery slope" towards removing the right of religious representatives to attend and speak at education meetings altogether.