Church of Scotland

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The Church of Scotland (The "Kirk" in Scots) is the established church in Scotland. Reformed in terms of theology and presbyterian in terms of organization, it has its origins in the 16th century Scottish reformation.


The key figure in the Scottish reformation was John Knox, an Edinburgh preacher and disciple of Swiss reformer John Calvin. The reformation in Scotland is usually dated to 1560,[1] the year the Scottish Parliament formally rejected Papal jurisdiction. In the following turbulent 130 years, there was a great deal of conflict - at times armed - between various factions in the United Kingdom (formed from the union of Scotland and England in 1603), and religion was often a defining factor in the shifting alliances that shaped the dynastic, political and cultural landscape of the time. (See British Civil War). Specifically, Presbyterianisms, Episcopalianism and Catholicism were vying for supremacy in this period. With the ascendancy of the House of Orange in the Glorious Revolution of 1690, the predominance of the Presbyterianism Kirk was assured.[2]

Church organization

Rejecting a distinction between bishops and the clergy, and, indeed, downplaying the distinction between clergy and laity, each Church of Scotland congregation is governed by a Kirk Session consisting of body of elected elders, the minister considered to be but a special case of elder. The church as a whole takes decisions at the annual General Assembly, at which both elders and ministers are represented.[3]

Role in education

As a result of the zeal of early reformers to spread the Word of God, Scotland became the first country in the world to pass a law requiring a school to be established in every parish, in 1616. By the end of the seventeenth century, this goal was achieved, and Scotland is generally held to have been the first modern country to have instituted a system of universal public education., a source of great pride among Scots and their descendants to this day.

Liberal position on women

There has been full equality between men and women in the Church of Scotland since 1968.[4]


While recognizing the theological, scriptural and traditional difficulties, the Church of Scotland is generally tolerant of homosexuality. A recent report concluded that: Many people are both gay and Christian; having a homosexual orientation is not a matter for censure; having a homosexual orientation does not preclude service to Christ in the church and the world. A homosexual orientation should not be a barrier to any role in church and state, and the Church should oppose all forms of discrimination on these grounds, both in environments where the Church carries authority and in society at large. [5]

It is sympathetic to the the homosexual agenda[6]. This has led the leading conservative Christian Pat Robertson to describe Scotland as "dark country full of homosexuals"[7]. The homosexual agenda is exemplified by support for the repeal of laws banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools[8], the recognition of same-sex marriage[9], the adoption of children by homosexuals[10] and qualified support for abortion[11].


  6. A challenge to unity: same-sex relationships as an issue in theology and human sexuality
  7. 'Dark land' with 'strong homosexuals,' televangelist says
  8. Kirk 'accepts' Section 28 repeal
  9. Kirk backs gay 'wedding' choice
  10. Kirk gives blessing to gay couples adopting
  11. What the Churches Say:The Church of Scotland