Friday, 2 December 2011

Sectarianism - looking to the future

The much maligned Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill is in the final steps of its Parliamentary process. The focus of debate should now shift from whether this Bill is simply an example of gesture politics or about the dangers of unintended consequences of rushing legislation to what is it that we in Scotland can do to eradicate sectarian attitudes and behaviours.

That's why I am pleased that the Government is looking to tackle sectarianism with £3 million worth of new money towards local community projects that challenge bigotry and breaks down barriers.

The Moderator, Rt Rev David Arnott, has said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to a long-term community-based approach to tackling sectarianism and we look forward to engaging with the Government to help make that happen.”

Once the hubbub and party politics surrounding this issue has gone away (after this Bill finishes its passage through the Scottish Parliament), it will be time for a whole range of organisations, statutory and voluntary, to work together to help each other address the problem of sectarianism. From the Scottish Government, the churches, police, schools, trades unions, local authorities and most importantly local communities and grassroots charities. Eradicating hatred in society won't be a change that will happen overnight, but it is one which is surely not only possible but a task for which is at the heart of the Church's mission to love and to serve.

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