Church of Scotland “sinfully” intolerant of gays

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A report by prominent members of the Church of Scotland concludes that it is institutionally homophobic and they must embrace lesbian and gay Christians.

The Presbyterians are the largest Protestant denomination in Scotland, with 520,000 members.

The report into same-sex partnerships from the working group of the Mission and Discipleship Council will be presented to the General Assembly next month.

It dodges the issue of whether gay people should serve as ministers or church elders, instead concentrating on the treatment of gay people.

It also says that many practising Christians think that gay monogamous relationships are acceptable.

Last year’s General Assembly voted to allow ministers to bless same-sex couples who had had a civil partnership.

That decision was overwhelmingly rejected by the local presbyteries, revealing the divisions over gay issues in the church.

The report focuses on biblical interpretation, though its authors did speak to two Church of Scotland ministers who are in civil partnerships.

It concludes:

“Many people are both gay and Christian; having a homosexual orientation is not a matter for censure; having a homosexual orientation does not preclude service to Christ in the church and the world.

“A homosexual orientation should not be a barrier to any role in church and state, and the Church should oppose all forms of discrimination on these grounds, both in environments where the Church carries authority and in society at large. There is a way to go here.”

Stonewall Scotland’s Calum Phillips was unimpressed that the report:

“Theological debates may be very interesting, but same sex relationships are a fact of life, and I would expect all organisations, whatever their basis, to recognise that lesbians and gays have exactly the same rights to a full relationship under the law,” he told The Guardian.