Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Church of Scotland ministers back 'Yes' vote

Christians for Independence statement Image copyright Christians for Independence
Image caption The statement released by the pro-independence group 'Christians for Independence' has 33 signatures

More than 30 Church of Scotland ministers have signed a declaration of support for Scottish independence.

They believe a "Yes" vote will create a more socially just Scotland and rid the country of nuclear weapons.

Former Church of Scotland moderator Dr Andrew McLellan called the Trident missile "the worst thing in Scotland".

The pro-Union Better Together campaign said people of all faiths and none were saying "no thanks to separation".

The Right Reverend Dr Andrew McLellan said: "September 18th is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remove the worst thing in Scotland.

"Speaking against nuclear weapons is good, campaigning against nuclear weapons is good, and praying for their abolition is good.

"But what will change everything is voting 'Yes' in the referendum."

'Stability and security'

Other signatories include Norman Shanks, former convener of the Kirk's church and nation committee, and Ron Ferguson, former Herald columnist and retired minister of St Magnus Cathedral in Orkney.

The statement was co-ordinated by the pro-independence group Christians for Independence.

Convener Dave Thompson MSP said the group had been "overwhelmed" by the number of Church of Scotland ministers backing the "Yes" campaign.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland later issued a statement reaffirming the Church's neutral position on the independence referendum.

Rt Rev John Chalmers said: "Recognising the broad range of views among its members and ministers, the 2014 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland decided almost unanimously to remain neutral on the issue of independence for Scotland.

"There are 794 serving ministers and 1,050 retired ministers, a total of 1,844 so approximately 1.8% signed this statement as is their right.

"The Church is as keen as ever to encourage wide debate and discussion on the issues which matter - social justice, poverty, education, peace".

A Better Together spokesman said: "People of all faiths and none are saying no thanks to separation because we don't want the risk and uncertainty that comes with leaving the UK.

"By saying no thanks to separation people in Scotland can have the best of both worlds, more decisions made in Scotland, distinct Scottish institutions and the strength, stability and security of being part of the bigger UK."

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