Scottish Churches offer post-vote reconciliation

by
12 September 2014

PA

Campaigning: the leader of Liverpool City Council, Joe Anderson, with Ed Miliband, raises a Saltire on Liverpool waterfront, on Tuesday. Mr Miliband has urged towns and cities throughout the UK to fly the flag in support of the Union

Campaigning: the leader of Liverpool City Council, Joe Anderson, with Ed Miliband, raises a Saltire on Liverpool waterfront, on Tuesday. Mr Miliband...

CHRISTIANS across Scotland must play their part in national reconciliation after the independence referendum, no matter what the result, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Revd John Chalmers, has said.

He has planned a service at St Giles's Cathedral in Edinburgh on Sunday 21 September, where leaders from each side will commit to working together, whether the people of Scotland have voted Yes or No a few days earlier.

Explaining the idea, Mr Chalmers wrote on the Church of Scotland's website: "The Church still holds the capacity to bring people of good will together under a banner of unity and a national church such as the Church of Scotland owes it to the nation to allow this to happen."

The independence campaign had been divisive and focused on the "deeply unpleasant" minorities on each side who had intimidated fellow Scots. "If we do not behave respectfully to one another in the run up to the 18th September, what on earth makes people think that we will behave differently on the 19th September?

"Scotland may be in danger of becoming a divided country for some time to come. Magnanimity in victory and graciousness in defeat will be of the utmost importance," he wrote.

His message was echoed in an open letter signed by leaders of 16 denominations in Scotland, which urged Christians to pray and to fast next week, in the build-up to the referendum on Thursday.

"What kind of nation do we wish Scotland to be? History shows us over and over again that prayer changes things and that God responds to the prayers of his people," the leaders said. They included representatives of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland, the Scottish Evangelical Alliance, the Methodist Church in Scotland, and the Church of Scotland.

On Sunday, churches are encouraged to include prayer for both the vote and the aftermath in their services, and on the eve of the referendum, on Wednesday, a national day of prayer and fasting will be held.

The RC Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh, the Most Revd Leo Cushley, said last month: "No matter the result of the referendum, I would hope that all Catholics will continue to engage positively in public discourse, and ensure that the Christian message and its values are better expressed and understood, to the benefit of the whole community."

Both the Yes and No campaigns have been galvanised by recent polls that suggest a surge of support for independence. One, for The Sunday Times, reported a two-per-cent lead for Yes, when those undecided are excluded - the first time independence has nudged ahead of those in favour of staying in the UK.

David Cameron, Ed Miliband, and Nick Clegg all abandoned the normal Prime Minister's Questions in Westminster on Wednesday to travel to Scotland to join the No campaign trail.

Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister and current MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, announced on Monday a cross-party deal to offer more powers for the Scottish Parliament in the event of a No vote, which he described as "nothing less than a modern form of Scottish Home Rule".

He said that the necessary legislation would be immediately introduced by whichever party won the General Election next year. His offer was dismissed as "too little, too late" by the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, Alex Salmond, on Wednesday.

Question of the week: If you had a vote, would you opt for Scottish independence?

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