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Judge gives go ahead for Scottish churches to challenge closure

March 2021

Revd Dr William Philip
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A judge has granted permission for a group of 27 church leaders to challenge the Scottish government’s ban on gathered worship.

Ruling that the case has merit, a hearing has been ordered to take place remotely on 11 and 12 March. It could result in churches being allowed to reopen.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, the leaders come from a range of Christian denominations, including the Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), and a number of independent churches.

Lawyers for the group say forcing the closure of churches is an unlawful breach of human rights law and the Scottish constitution.

William Philip, minister of The Tron Church in Glasgow, said, ‘At a time when we have been forcefully confronted with the fragility of mortal life, we have allowed the message of the eternal to be eclipsed entirely by the earthly in the national consciousness.

‘There is an urgent need for a message of hope and salvation. This is the calling of the Christian Church – especially in dark and difficult days: Jesus Christ is the only hope that dispels all fear, death included.’

Meanwhile, churches in England and Wales have abandoned their legal action against closures in those nations after they were allowed to reopen.

One of the church leaders involved was pastor of Trinity Grace Church in Ramsbottom, Oliver Allman-Smith.

He said that although the government hadn’t given a reason for the U-turn in policy, he believed their pressure played a role.

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