Hip Hip Hooray for Scotland

By the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707, Scotland retained its own legal jurisdiction. By more recent and less well-thought-through legislation, Scotland now has what it likes to call its own “Government” and what its citizens call the “daft wee parliament” at Holyrood in Edinburgh.

The daft wee parliament – also known as the Numptorium – is dominated by Communists masquerading as Scottish nationalists. The Communists, of course, want to leave the UK and rejoin the European Soviet, to which Ireland bizarrely ceded her hard-won independence after only half a century of self-government.

Just as well for the Scottish population that the Communists have not yet succeeded in separating Scotland from England. For the Kommissars of the EU, having been both late and grossly incompetent in their negotiation of vaccine contracts, have succeeded in jabbing only a quarter as many of their population as Britain has.

In Ireland, which has had only a third as many deaths per head of population as the UK, the churches remain firmly shut, and, as discussed here a couple of weeks back, the Cardinal seems disinclined to bestir himself to do something about it.

In England, restrictions on going to church were relaxed some time ago. But in Scotland, as in Ireland, you couldn’t go to church. Period. In Scotland, as in Ireland, the Catholic bishops failed to do anything significant about getting the churches open again.

But the Protestants are made of sterner stuff. Some two dozen Protestant clerics of various denominations got together and went to Edinburgh to seek judicial review of the Scottish soi-disant “Government’s” decision to keep the churches closed.

And the Court of Session, bless its little black silk stockings, has ruled that the ban on public worship during the pandemic, inflicted by the Numptorium, was an unlawful breach of the petitioners’ human right to freedom of religion under Article 9 of the European Human Rights Convention.

Lord Braid ruled that the regulations “constitute a disproportionate interference” in freedom of religion, that had gone “further than they were lawfully able to do”.

His Lordship dismissed attempts by the Scottish “Government” to weasel out by pretending that places of worship had not really been closed because they were being used for food banks and various other purposes that had nothing to do with worship.

Churches, said His Lordship, were prevented from opening for their primary purpose of worship. It was “simplistic” or “misleading” to suggest otherwise. “It is no more correct to state that churches remain open because certain activities may be carried out there than it would be to state that cinemas remain open because they are used as jury centres.”

He also agreed that the regulations effectively criminalised worship, for anyone who opened a church or gathered with others to worship “would be committing a criminal offence”.

The pretend “Government” had also argued that people were not prevented from practising their religion because many churches have been able to conduct services online. Yeah, right.

Lord Braid disagreed: online services “are best viewed as an alternative to worship, rather than worship itself”, and participating in some aspects of church activities from one’s home “does not amount to collective worship … however many broadcasts or internet platforms may exist”, the closure of church buildings for public worship means Christians “are effectively prevented from practising or manifesting their religion”.

He said: “It is impossible to measure the effect of those restrictions on those who hold religious beliefs. It goes beyond mere loss of companionship and an inability to attend a lunch club.”

When the Scottish Catholic Bishops scandalously sat on their trembling hands and did nothing, Canon Thomas White joined the court proceedings on his own initiative. The judge said of him: “There is an additional party, Canon Thomas White, a Roman Catholic priest. I allowed him to participate in the process, as a person directly affected by the issues raised in the petition. … The additional party supports the petitioners and the orders they seek. He provides an additional perspective in relation to Roman Catholicism, both on the constitutional issue and on the European human-rights issue.”

Only when Canon White had acted on his own initiative did one Catholic Archbishop and two Bishops submit affidavits in support of the petitioners.

Lord Braid had some fun at the expense of the Numptorium’s regulations, by citing their full title in all its inglory: “The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Amendment (No 11) Regulations 2021 (SSI 2021/3). “For simplicity”, he said, “I will simply refer to them as ‘the Regulations’.” I have read many such examples of secondary legislation. Never before have I seen a chain of as many six pairs of parentheses. How the Communists love their bureaucracy!

The petitioners sought three orders:

  1. A declaration, known in Scots law as a declarator, that the Regulations are unlawful insofar as they purport to require the closure of churches in Scotland and to criminalize public worship;
  2. An order quashing (in Scots law, “reducing”) those parts of the Regulations that had removed exemptions that had formerly permitted worship;
  3. Declarator that everyone may leave his place of residence to go to church.
    After the judge decided to grant permission for the petitioners to seek judicial review, the Scottish Government caved in.

Canon White said: “I am overjoyed at the result. The court has understood the essential need to protect not only the physical and material health of our society but also its spiritual needs. Therefore, it has overturned the disproportionate, unnecessary and now deemed illegal blanket ban on public worship”.

Churches in Scotland are now open again. Thanks to Canon White and the 26 Scottish Protestant pastors, worship resumed on 26 March. What is more, the judge told the Scottish Government that even if there are future lockdowns the churches must remain open for worship, and no nonsense. That was the reason why the petitioners asked for the two declarators.

In Ireland, however, even though there have been only one-third as many deaths per head of population as in Great Britain, the churches will remain firmly shut until 29 June, more than two months after Scotland’s churches reopened.

Here is what you can do to make your Bishops realise they are not creatures of the Irish State and that they could and should have acted, and acted no less decisively than the Canon and the pastors in Scotland, to get the churches open at once.

Just email them this article, with a short covering note in your own words, politely but firmly inviting them to be more active in protecting the right to worship in future.

As Lord Braid said: “The essence of the petitioners’ case is that an integral part of Christianity is the physical gathering together of Christians for prayer, proclamation of the Gospel, the celebration of Communion and the administration of the Sacrament of Baptism. The essential physical element of these aspects of their faith is absent from virtual, internet events.”

Bottom line: “Since the regulations do interfere with the constitutional right of the petitioners to worship, notwithstanding that they have as their primary purpose the protection of health and preservation of life, they will be beyond the constitutional competence of the respondents if that interference is not proportionate.”

Hurrah for the Court of Session!