CALLS been made to scrap the requirement for local councils to keep three spaces for "unelected" church representatives on education committees.

As part of the 1973 Local Government (Scotland) Act, every council in Scotland’s education committee must include a representative from the Catholic Church, another from the Church of Scotland, and a third who reflects the religious beliefs of the area.

Now the Scottish Secular Society has petitioned the Scottish Parliament scrap the law, saying the nominees are not accountable to the electorate or to their chosen representatives and yet "hold the balance of power" in 19 of Scotland’s 32 education committees.

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"We believe there is a need to remove this constitutional anomaly that imposes unelected church appointees," said a spokesman.

"These privileged positions, for which only members of the specified churches are eligible, are a hangover from legislation dating back almost a century, and their presence directly contravenes the education secretary’s own stated emphasis on local democracy."

The Scottish Secular Society said the petition was in "the name of democratic accountability and universal human rights".

The Humanist Society of Scotland earlier this year published details of all 88 religious representatives currently sitting on local authority education committees in Scotland.

One representative, Pastor David Fraser, who sits on Clackmannanshire Council’s committee, last year claimed Satan was to blame for the death of five-year-old Scott Chiriseri.

The Alva Primary School pupil died after being stabbed multiple times by his mother Farai, who was deemed insane at the time and was ordered to be detained in a secure hospital.

Spencer Fildes, Scottish Secular Society’s equalities officer said: "This situation is the very negation of democracy. More than that, it is directly discriminatory, by creating positions of governmental power for which only members of certain specified religious groups are eligible."