Bill's Archived Comments

for the week beginning: Monday, 27th May 2002

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Contents of this page (scroll down the page to see the full text of the article which interests you)

- The Church of Scotland is in decline and faces financial ruin (1 Jun 2002)

- Stephen Byers, Transport Secretary, resigns at last (28 May 2002)

- Scottish homophobia leads to homelessness (27 May 2002)

The Church of Scotland is in decline and faces financial ruin (1 Jun 2002)

The Board of National Ministry, which administers the Church's mission in the United Kingdom, has haemorrhaged £7 million of its capital reserves in the past year - they now stand at about £25 million, a reduction of 22% in one year.

The Reverend James Gibson is quoted as saying: "The seriousness of this situation must be clear to all. The need for reform and renewal to begin is now - not five or seven years from now - but now." Speaking at the recent General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (the annual meeting of the Church), he said: "To deny such urgency, and to fail in such a response, will mean that congregations, presently surviving by their fingertips may not exist at all." He called for "innovative, collaborative and courageous" plans for reform.

The Church of Scotland has been declining for years, and urgent reform has to start with the General Assembly which should be stripped of some of its power said Harry Reid, a former editor of the Herald. He added that only the Assembly could reform itself. "But I don't think it has the will to take the really tough executive decisions that have to be taken."

His 'solution' is for the Kirk to revive Easter as the most important Christian festival and stressed the importance of ecumenical work with other churches. As welcome as this might appear on the surface, it solves none of the underlying problems faced by the church - no doubt there are economies in expenditure that could be made, but increasing the Church's income by adapting some of its policies to suit modern styles of living seems not to figure. People like me, middle-class gay adults or adults living together as partners rather than married couples, seem to figure very low in the Church's priorities - frankly, I don't need the Church to tell me I am a sinner. There are many within the Church, as presently constituted, who are far further from a 'respectable' or 'wholesome' lifestyle than me or many unmarried heterosexual long-term partners. Frankly, unless there are genuine reforms in, for example, the 'Board of Social Responsibility' (the Church's body which oversees moral matters) then the relevance of the Church and it teachings to the lives of much of the population will continue to be low and declining. It will not deserve to survive, except as a fringe and very unimportant organisation. The worry is that as it continues to decline, whilst sticking to its alienating moral tenets, it will lobby (using its undoubted political clout, far in excess of its current support in the population as a whole) for public financial assistance - this must be resisted. I wish to see absolutely none of my taxes used to support this anachronistic institution.

Stephen Byers, Transport Secretary, resigns at last (28 May 2002)

At a hastily arranged press conference at 10 Downing Street today, former Transport Secretary Stephen Byers announced his resignation as a Minister. In his speech, after which no questions were taken, he stated that "those who know me well will know I am not a liar"; well, perhaps. In any case, this wretched man has now returned to the backbenches, where one trusts he will remain (it is probably too much to hope for that his constituents will turf him out at the next election).

Just a few weeks ago, it was confirmed that Mr Martin Sixsmith, former Communications Director in the Press Office in the Transport Department, had not in fact resigned when the former Minister had stated, vehemently and in Parliament, that he had - that announcement was accompanied by a substantial payment to Mr Sixsmith. Last week, relatives of victims of the Paddington rail crash last year, revealed their notes of a meeting they had with Mr Byers on 12th September last. These notes, which were not disputed in any significant way by Mr Byers, showed rather damningly that his contention that no decision had at that time been taken to put Railtrack into administration was open to severe doubt.

Read an earlier article on the saga leading upto his resignation by clicking here.

Scottish homophobia leads to homelessness (27 May 2002)

A report on BBC1 Scotland today revealed that young gays and lesbians in Scotland are too often the subject of ostracism by their families when they reveal their homosexuality (or when it is revealed for them against their wishes), leading to them leaving or being ejected from home. It seems that when they subsequently approach their local Housing Departments and/or Social Services for help in finding them someplace to live, they are then too often faced with hostility by officialdom and faced with this they are then forced to live on the street and to beg in order to survive; the safety net fails them. The report was based on a three-year research project by Stonewall in Scotland. It is sad that such things occur in what is supposedly a civilised country.

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Copyright © 2002 William Cameron