Calls for a Scottish ‘Faith Commissiomer’

Logos Scotland, which marked its launch with a report on the role of churches during Covid, said it ‘wants to see a change within Scottish public life’ during Covid-recovery.

Shona Haslam, the Chief Executive of the group, said it was established for Chris- tians to engage in Scottish politics ‘at a higher level’ and encourage ‘religious-literacy’ in the government.

“I don’t think it’s the fault of government. faith communities haven’t been very good at talking to government in ways that government understands and can use,” she said.

“We need more faith groups to understand the context, the budget constraints, the mechanics of government so that we can respond in a way that’s useful.”

The group is calling for an independent Faith Commissioner in a similar fashion to the Scottish Government’s Children and Young People’s Commissioner.

“It was really about helping government understand where faith communities are coming from and helping faith communities understand where government is coming from,” Haslam said. “We would want somebody who is robust and can speak truth to power.”

Haslam said it was ‘heartening’ to see the police in England change the guidelines allowing priests to give Last Rites at a crime scene in light of the murder of David Amess MP, ‘but in Scotland we’re still waiting for that to happen.’ “It’s not just government: there’s a lot of different public bodies that we need to work with to make sure they understand where faith groups are coming from.”

Logos Scotland is calling for priests to be declared as key workers, which post-Covid would allow general communities to have access to facilities such as church halls, which were used following the Peebles High School fire.

Michael Robinson, one of the trustees at Logos Scotland, said priests played an ‘absolutely vital role in our communities’ throughout the pandemic.’

“One of the hopes of Logos going forward, is that they’re recognised as those community leaders on the ground, not just leaders of the Faith communities, but leaders in their own right and can connect with wider society.

“During lockdown especially, the perspectives of faith communities and leaders wasn’t really taken into account, Logos is allowing that positive voice to be heard.”

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