FOR Alan Taylor to suggest that the Orange Order speaks more for those of a Protestant persuasion than the Church of Scotland is a demonstration of how facts are not allowed to get in the way of a good story ("Time the Kirk spoke out on the real issues", The Herald, July 4).
The idea that the Orange Order speaks for anyone except its own members is laughable. They stand for an unjust world and the Church of Scotland rejects their beliefs as outdated, outmoded and just plain wrong.
The issues with which the Church of Scotland grapples are at the heart of most people's lives. At our General Assembly we spoke out forcibly about the challenges of climate change, the injustices of human trafficking, the need for zero tolerance on domestic abuse, the tragic plight of the Palestinians, the problems being caused by the reforms of the welfare system, the need for a radical reform of our economics, the deep wrong of payday loans, the iniquities of the Budget, the need to support kinship carers, the challenges for people of faith living in China, the significance of changes to the protection of vulnerable people legislation, the work being carried out by the church in some of the poorest communities in Scotland and abroad and much, much more.
No other organisation in Scottish civic society has an agenda that is as broad or as detailed as the Church of Scotland. Not even political parties and certainly not the Orange Order.
Those commentators who criticise the Church of Scotland for not speaking out are clearly choosing not to listen to what we say. Maybe it's because what we say doesn't suit their own agenda. Maybe it's because they want to set our agenda, as they seem to want it to be mostly round sex and sexuality. But that merely suggests that it is they, not we, who are obsessed with such issues.
Underlying their critique is often the idea that we struggle to make ourselves heard because we choose not to have one person who can become a well- known face in the public eye to act as a figurehead. What they really mean is they want another voice in the ring looking for a fight so they can reduce public debate to the level of a confrontation. However, the Church of Scotland is dealing with the reality of human living and all its nuances. But that is more difficult to make sensationalist headlines out of.
Denominations that hold to the "one person speaks with all authority" model run the risk of being out of line with a majority of their own members. Our presbyterian model of reflection, consultation, debate and discernment may struggle at times to respond to a 24-hour news cycle or a demand for an instant quote, but at least it has an authenticity rooted in the real life of the church.
There is a strong argument to suggest that an obsession with staying ahead of the 24-hour news cycle, and speaking in sound-bites, has undermined meaningful public debate, stifled the space for disagreement and made our political processes more dysfunctional than they need to be.
The Church of Scotland speaks when it has something to say. What we say is rooted in our life and experience, and that is what gives it authority – not the fact that we are the church.
For more than 450 years we and others have helped shape Scottish society for the good. We shall continue to do so on our terms, ignoring commentators who need to spend more time checking their facts on what the church is speaking out about.
Rev Sally Foster Fulton,
Church of Scotland Church and Society Council,
121 George Street, Edinburgh.
AS one of the "saps" who delivers Thought for The Day, I am provoked into a response to Alan Taylor. Thought for The Day is not an opinion piece, or a platform on which to speak out on real issues.
But as to the substance of Alan Taylor's piece, that the Kirk does not speak out: clearly he does not read the many reports delivered to the General Assembly, discussed by it, and voted on. This year, the Kirk has spoken, for example, on the purposes of economic activity, climate change, food production, the living wage and human trafficking. And on the Kirk's website today is a reaction to the discovery of the Higg's Boson.
What Alan Taylor seems to lament is the reluctance of the church to jump on the media merry-go-round and issue sound-bite-sized reaction to every passing headline, purely to satisfy the endless appetite of journalists for comment. This would be a junk food approach to real issues deserving of thoughtfulness.
Rev Blair Robertson,
21 Blacksey Burn Drive,
ALAN Taylor's words could not have been more timely.
In the context of an interview dealing with behaviour in the world of banking, Ken Clarke, the UK Justice Minister, referred to "moral bankruptcy" as a factor in what has developed. From the content of the Bible it should be possible for the Kirk to draft an explicit ethical code of personal conduct for all Scotland's (or the UK's) citizens to abide by, regardless of their religion.
This could give us all a set of rules to live by for those of all religions and none and give the Kirk the role of composing the ethical code and convincing Parliament to promulgate it and ensure that it is taught. A secular application of religion.
66 Grenville Drive,
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