Paper by Rev Erik Camb
CHRISTIANS for INDEPENDENCE.
Some thoughts for the next campaign.
- The words inscribed on the mace in the Scottish Parliament are Wisdom: Justice: Compassion: Integrity: Words appropriate to a time which one writer memorably wrote, “We should work as if living in the early days of a better nation.” A sentiment I trust that can be shared by all Christians working for the creation of Scotland as an independent nation. The work of Christians for Independence is about contributing a particular perspective to the creation of that ‘better nation’.
- Our particular perspective is that as Christians we look at our situation with eyes that have read the Bible stories. One of our critical roles as church leaders is to help people dip into the treasure chest of the wisdom and blessing of God.
- We should welcome and seek to participate in the new Citizens’ Assembly being set up to consider three broad issues: What kind of country should Scotland be? How can Scotland best overcome challenges, including those arising from Brexit? What further work is required to enable people to make informed choices about the future of Scotland?
- Overwhelmingly the situation which we look at is one dominated by concerns about the economy. If the majority of Scots are to vote for independence they will need to be convinced that an independent Scotland will be a prosperous Scotland. At the very least they will have to be convinced that even in the early days of independence we will not be a less prosperous nation.
- The economic arguments will be made by economists and politicians, but the specific Christian contribution will be about how that prosperity is created and distributed.
- In ‘The Wealth of Nations’ Adam Smith stresses that ‘No society can be flourishing and happy of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” Post war Prime Minister Clement Attlee said, “Charity is a cold, grey, loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.”
- Will our economy be environmentally friendly? We will make our contribution on the basis that ‘the earth is the Lord’s’ and on our belief about our responsibility for sustainable stewardship.
- Our arguments about a fair distribution of the fruits of the economy will be based on various Biblical beliefs about workmen being worthy of their hire; about the care of the vulnerable (whatever you do unto the least of these etc); respect for those whose contribution might be deemed marginal. (the widow’s mite story)
- Devolution, whatever its frailties, has brought great swathes of decision making closer to the people. MSPs are in our midst and easily contactable. We should be arguing for a more sensitive nation with a Parliament that serves, nurtures, protects and connects. 17 has great stuff about the demands for a modest living king who does not have wealth that puts him out of sight of the people….like a UK cabinet of millionaires! Jesus says whoever would be greatest among you must be the servant of all.
- We should be arguing for a more united nation where it is accepted that everyone who lives and works here is an important ‘Scot’. This rhetoric already exists but old divisions run deep. A critical contribution from the churches is a commitment to abandoning the old protestant/catholic; orange/green tribalisms. A Christian contribution has to be ecumenical and respectful, as well as open to other faith and secular beliefs. (a house divided stuff…love your enemy stuff)
- We should be arguing that an independent Scotland will be a better neighbour to the other nations that share these islands. That we should be engaged with the Commonwealth, the EU, and other Alliances. A better nation can be ‘a light to the world’; will love our neighbour.
- We should argue against Trident!