IT is a sign of the times that the Church of Scotland has had to drop a policy that required its social care staff to be Christians. The move follows “heart-searching discussions” underpinned by the hard fact of life that recruitment of care staff is difficult enough without this extra stipulation.

In future, recruitment will be open to all, but new employees of CrossReach, the Kirk’s social care service, will be required to respect the charity’s Christian ethos and values. In addition, they’ll be advised that making a Christian commitment will be necessary later, if they are to advance to managerial or supervisory posts.

Questions have already been raised about that, as an initial lack of commitment might be held against capable candidates later. A sudden conversion for the sake of promotion might also be regarded with suspicion. But the Kirk will surely proceed in these matters on the basis of faith and trust.

The Christian ethos obviously underpins the Kirk’s approach to care. Christian charity: the words often go together. But the former has a monopoly on the latter, and the grateful recipient of care is unlikely to be too concerned about their helper’s religion.

The Kirk’s range of services is open to all faiths and none. Its hiring policy now matches that generous approach and, while its ideal is understandably that all staff would be Christians, reality has dictated an alternative approach to recruitment.