Scotland’s Highest Civil Court Declares Worship Ban Unlawful

On Wednesday, March 24, the highest civil court in Scotland ruled against the manner at which the government handled churches during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the court, the church was unlawfully treated.  

It will be recalled that church services were banned during the pandemic. However, a Catholic priest, Canon Tom White, and 27 other Christian leaders confronted the extent of the ban before the law court in a legal action earlier in the month.

The ruling came in the height of government’s decision to permit churches to reopen with a limit of 50 members per service. This ruling will prevent further banning church services in the future.

White was represented by Aidan O’Neill QC in the lawsuit. He said that the impact of the ban on worship was fundamentally chilling. It also suggests that people in good conscience are to select between Caesar and God. Likewise, he called it an extraordinary abuse of the state’s power. Hence, he welcomed the ruling of the judge in the case.

“I’m overjoyed to hear that the court has understood the essential need to protect not only the physical and material health of our society. But also its spiritual needs and therefore overturned the disproportionate, unnecessary and unlawful blanket ban on public worship,’’ Canon White told the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) UK, which supported the challenge.

UK Director of ADF, Ryan Christopher, equally applauded the decision. He noted that the challenge was needed as he lauded Scotland’s high court for seeing what he felt the government could not see. This is in respect to the fact that freedom of religion and belief is a human right that should be highly secured. 

Christopher said that the court’s decision to declare the ban as unlawful means that the people’s faith will not be disregarded in this manner again. He said that this judgment is an evidence of the major importance of the role of the Church in the society. 

Likewise, he is optimistic that believers will see relief and a level of confidence now. He also noted that “we can trust that our fragile and damaged communities will never again be left without the church as a source of hope, comfort, and vital spiritual nourishment in times of crisis.” 

In conclusion, White appreciated people from across Scotland who supported financially and with prayers. 

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