HUMANISTS have stepped up their campaign for the removal of religious representatives on council education committees, calling for the politicians to make a change in the law an electoral issue.

Launching a second report in as many weeks, the Humanist Society Scotland said its new Enlighten Up campaign was aimed at ensuring every member of local authority education committees were accountable through the ballot box.

It said the report "exposes several worrying examples of religious appointees who have full voting rights without ever seeking a mandate from the electorate".

It includes one pastor, Clackmannanshire representative David Fraser, who, it says, said Satan was to blame for the death of a five-year-old child last year and that Noah's Ark had been found.

The Society's report also cited Highland Council which, it again says, allowed religious representatives to influence a vote which defeated the coalition of SNP, Liberal Democrats and Labour members running the council and comments by the authority's deputy leader which described the arrangement as an “historic anomaly” which “threatens democratic decision-making”.

Last week it released its 'Religion in Scots Law' report which found that while other areas of public life, including marriage, have become more secular, education is the "major exception".

Council education committees must reserve three places for religious representatives one from the Catholic Church, one from the Church of Scotland and another for an alternative religious group.

There are also rules governing the amount of time which should be set aside for "religious observance" in schools.

Speaking as they prepared to launch the campaign outside the Scottish Parliament, Gordon MacRae, HSS chief executive, said: “The presence of unelected religious representatives is anti-democratic and out of step with modern Scotland.

“Parents should not be left guessing who has a right to make decisions over their children’s education. Every full voting member of local education committees should be accountable through the ballot box.

“Instead religious groups, should have the same, not more, rights as teachers, parents, trade unions and community groups to contribute to and shape local education decisions.

“The law to force councils to appoint religious representatives only came in under the Conservative Government in 1973. As we look to the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections we hope Scotland’s politicians will agree that it is time to end it once and for all.”

Dame Anne Glover, professor of biology, and former Chief Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Government, said: “A vibrant and engaged modern Scotland needs an education policy that reflects the reality of modern Scottish society. That is why I support the Enlighten Up campaign for education reform in Scotland.”

The Church of Scotland has in recent days described itself as a "defining force" in shaping Scotland's education system in the face of Humanist Society criticisms, adding that its "active interest in the moral and spiritual development of children" was "measured and appropriate".

It said: "Repeated scrutiny of the current arrangements by Members of the Scottish Parliament in recent years has not found any compelling need for change."

The Catholic Church was also challenged the Humanist Society to "put their money where their mouth is" and set up their own schools representing their views if they felt strongly about the issue.