Church of Scotland: God would support ban on smacking children

God would support a ban on smacking children, the Church of Scotland has said.

The Kirk has come out in support of a ban and will tell MSPs that Jesus would not have countenanced violence against children.

Faith groups will give evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee on Thursday about the proposed Bill, which was introduced last September by John Finnie MSP.

Ahead of the committee meeting in Skye, Rev Peter Nimmo argued there are theological and humanitarian reasons to oppose physical punishment of children.

Rev Nimmo, a minister from Inverness, said: “Scripture constantly challenges social norms, both from the time when it was written and today.

“Through scripture we are encouraged to ask difficult questions about how we live and are in the world.

“In doing this our primary example is Jesus, who consistently challenged violence and highlighted that children were central to the world he called us to create.

“We believe that God would want us to give children the same protections as adults, ensuring they are able to thrive and flourish.”

Two meetings with faith leaders have been organised in Skye, with the Church of Scotland, Quakers and Humanists due to speak in support of the Bill.

However, several religious groups are arguing against the ban, including the Christian Institute, the Evangelical Alliance and the Free Church of Scotland.

In written evidence submitted to the committee, the Presbytery of the Outer Hebrides of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) said it is strongly opposed to a ban.

It said: “Reasonable chastisement, in the form of a mild physical punishment such as a smack, is one of the means belonging to parents whereby they are able to discipline their children when they are disobedient, out of love for them and for their good.

“It is a means which has been given to them by God (see eg Proverbs 22:15; Hebrews 12:9), and the state has no right to remove it from them.

“The absence of proper discipline in the home and in the school has been responsible in part for the lack of respect for authority in society.”

If passed, the legislation would remove the defence of “justifiable assault” in Scots law, which allows parents to use physical punishment on children.

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