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Civil religion in the UK, Canada, Australia and the Commonwealth

By Norman Bonney,
Manchester University Press, October 2013

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Thursday, 16 June 2011

Time for Reflection in the Scottish Parliament - Message to MSPs

The Scottish Parliament's weekly Time for Reflection on Wednesday 15 June 2011 was conducted by President Cecil O. Samuelson of Brigham Young University, Utah, USA.

Brigham Young University is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also known as the Mormons.

President Samuelson is a member of the first quorum of the Seventy of the Church which ranks below the 12 Apostles and the three man presidency, the most senior of whom is the 'living prophet'.

Latter Day Saints believe that a Book of Mormon contains the history of God’s dealings with people who lived in the Americas between approximately 600 BC and 400 AD. The Book is believed to have been written onto gold plates by a prophet named Mormon. Before these people perished, their record was safely hidden away. Joseph Smith obtained these ancient records through the angel Moroni in 1827, and through God he was able to translate them.

Commenting on the event, Norman Bonney, National Secular Society Council member for Scotland, stated that while most members of the Scottish Parliament may know that the Mormon Church has a history of polygamy they may not know that the church is still dominated by an exclusively male hierarchy and that Brigham Young University is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Providing a platform for religions with male only priests would seem to be in conflict with the principle of equal opportunities between males and females which had been such an important founding and influential principle of the Scottish Parliament.

The recently announced review of procedures in the Scottish Parliament will provide an opportunity to think through the theory and practice of Time for Reflection and to consider the National Secular Society's proposals that, in order to respect the views of the one third of the population that cannot be said to be religious in any way, one third of the weekly sessions should involve silent contemplation by MSPs without the involvement of any external religious or other representative or the complete abandonment of the weekly occasion.

Norman Bonney
Council member for Scotland, National Secular Society